‘Twas the (Blockbuster) Trade Before Christmas

Written by: Ray Butler

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Disclaimer: There’s always a few of my fantastic followers who despise reading about the gigantic trades that go down in my fantasy baseball league. If that tag applies to you, stop reading now. Instead, read the first installment of my December top 100 prospects.

There’s nothing like burning the midnight oil a couple of nights before Christmas in order to finalize a gigantic trade in your fantasy baseball league, but I found myself in that exact scenario last night. Eventually, two league mates and I dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on what might be the biggest trade in our league’s history. If nothing else, it’s certainly the largest three-team trade in league history.

As requested, here’s a little context on the format of my fantasy league: The League of Ruthless Gentlemen is a 12 team, 14 category league featuring OBP, HR, R, RBI, K, TB, NSB, IP, H, BB, K, ERA, QS and NSV. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs each season. (Most) prospects currently cost $8 FAAB to keep from one season to the next.

I’ll get to the specifics for my team, but first, here’s what the trade looks like from the outside looking in (note: Each team in our league begins each season with $100 FAAB):

Team A trades: Fernando Tatis Jr., Wander Franco, Gavin Lux, $50 FAAB

Team A receives: Ronald Acuña Jr., Taijuan Walker

Team B trades: Ronald Acuña Jr., Cody Bellinger, Jack Flaherty, Matt Chapman, Taijuan Walker

Team B receives: Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Wander Franco, $42 FAAB

Team C trades: Eloy Jimenez

Team C receives: Cody Bellinger, Jack Flaherty, Matt Chapman, Gavin Lux, $8 FAAB

So who won the trade? What team are you hoping I am?

I’m Team C, and I’m ecstatic about this trade. Don’t get me wrong: Trading Eloy Jimenez hurt my heart. I was planning on Jimenez being a powerful fixture in my outfield for the next decade. But I simply couldn’t pass up on this return.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it’s feasible that Cody Bellinger and Eloy Jimenez have similar fantasy production throughout their careers. Jimenez is more than a year younger, but Bellinger will retain eligibility at a position (1B) my team could use some youth at (my other first basemen are Jose Abreu and Joey Votto). Since Bellinger is a 1B/OF player for the foreseeable future, he also slots as my fourth outfielder behind J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi and Michael Conforto. Positional flexibility is one of the keys to life in fantasy baseball, and I’m buying low on a player who hit 25 home runs, stole 14 bases and posted a .343 OBP last season. Ecstatic.

Pessimistically, maybe a 23-year-old Jack Flaherty doesn’t replicate his 2018 success next season, but a 2019 ERA that’s closer to his 2018 FIP (3.86) still makes the right-hander extremely useful. Optimistically, perhaps Flaherty takes the next step in 2019 and cements himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Who knows? What I do know is this: young, impact pitching doesn’t grow on trees. Flaherty now takes his place amongst my pitching staff that already includes Justin Verlander, Patrick Corbin, David Price and Carlos Martinez.

Matt Chapman’s 24 home runs, 100 runs scored and .356 OBP were some of the most under-the-radar stats in baseball last season. As I discussed in the latest Ramblings (which you should read), Chapman’s 2018 BABIP and track record suggest he may reach base less in the future, but he’ll still play an important role on my team nonetheless. The only other third baseman on my roster is Rafael Devers, a player with obvious superstar potential who may need another season or two to fully-acclimate to the manner in which big league pitchers attack him. Chapman is solid, 25-30 home run insurance for Devers at third base, and he can also slot at my Utility position when matchups are favorable. Chapman’s two offseason surgeries give me some pause, but every report I’ve read suggests the 25-year-old will return to full health well before Opening Day 2019. If nothing else, as a rosterer of Devers, it’ll be nice to watch aethetically-pleasing defense when I tune in to Athletics games. I’m pumped to roster Chapman.

Gavin Lux was simply the cherry-on-top of this deal for me. Had I slept on it, I might have been able to pull the trigger on this trade without receiving the middle infield prospect, but an earlier version of this blockbuster featured me receiving Bo Bichette as part of my return for Eloy (with a lot of different moving parts compared to the final version), so receiving Lux instead isn’t a horrible consolation prize. You’ll read much more about the 21-year-old later in my December top 100 prospect list, but the 147 wRC+ he posted at BOTH High-A and Double-A last season as a 20-year-old speaks for itself. He’s quickly become a notable prospect, and he’s an easy keeper heading into next season.

“Team B” and I have been negotiating an Eloy Jimenez trade since the trade deadline last season. I never really thought I’d trade Jimenez until Cody Bellinger became a possibility in return (Flaherty and Chapman had been included in the return since the start of negotiations).

“Team A” now rosters both Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto in the same outfield and likely will for the next decade. For a team that also rosters Paul Goldschmidt and Alex Bregman, this trade likely cements this team as a playoff contender for the foreseeable future.

“Team B” is in full-rebuild mode and wasn’t going anywhere in 2019 anyways. Trading Ronald Acuña Jr. will keep him up at night, but he now rosters Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Royce Lewis, Bo Bichette, Wander Franco, Alex Kirilloff, Luis Robert, Joey Bart, Jesus Luzardo, MacKenzie Gore, Sixto Sanchez, Casey Mize and Mitch Keller (and much more) in what is undoubtedly the best farm system in the history of our fantasy league. If “Team B” can hold steady and stay healthy, the future looks awfully bright.

I’ve already discussed my thoughts on the trade from my team’s perspective, but I now add Cody Bellinger, Jack Flaherty and Matt Chapman to a core that led my team to a second place finish in my league last season. If Gavin Lux can duplicate his success from last season in 2019, he’ll likely be a top 25 prospect knocking on the door of everyday, big league playing time in 2020.

What a trade. It’ll be fun to keep up with the many pieces of this deal over the next 5-10 seasons. Oh, and get you a fantasy baseball league that executes bombshell trades two days before Christmas.

Who won this trade? Let me know by replying to this link on Twitter!

Follow is on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of photographer John Amis and the Associated Press

 

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