The MLB trade deadline has come and gone. There will still be a few trades made in August, but the players involved must clear waivers. That means that any team can make a claim and take the player and his salary. With the economy as bad as it is, it's possible that more players will slide through waivers than ever before. Teams will be reluctant to take on an overpaid player just to keep him from a rival. Remember in 2000 when the Yankees claimed Jose Canseco to keep him off the Red Sox? They paid him millions to sit on the bench. That wouldn't happen today. Those were the days when payrolls and biceps grew absurdly.
One man that's not overpaid is Roy Halladay. The Toronto ace stayed put, as we forecasted last week. No way he gets through waivers, so Halladay can make fishing plans for October. The Halladay non-deal left a wake however, and there were some significant players changing hands in the days leading up to the deadline. Fantasy fortunes fell and rose with those deals. Let's revisit some well-known players that changed venues. Those that found a better fantasy situation are for better. Those whose fantasy value dropped are for worse.
Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies: The reigning Cy Young winner was the most significant arm dealt last week. Lee's mediocre 8-9 record was a product of poor support in Cleveland. That will not be an issue in Philadelphia. Switching from the AL to the NL is a boon for elite pitchers, most recently demonstrated by CC Sabathia last season. The early results are very promising for Lee: his first game for the Phillies was a complete-game win over the Giants in San Francisco. Lee's fantasy value increases as he figures to fatten his won-loss record and to maintain or even improve an impressive ERA (3.02) and WHIP (1.27).
Victor Martinez, C/1B, Red Sox: The Cleveland fire sale also included their All-Star catcher. The Red Sox were able to get Martinez in a package headlined by Justin Masterson. As good as Martinez was for the Indians, his fantasy value appreciates in Boston. Martinez was a better hitter on the road, away from Progressive Field. He hit .265 with a .789 OPS in Cleveland; he hit .311 with an .880 OPS everywhere else. At Fenway Park, Martinez is a lifetime .313 hitter with a .913 OPS. Batting between Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis won't hurt either. In two games for Boston, Martinez is 6 for 11. By the way, Masterson will stay in the bullpen for Cleveland, so he is not worth a pickup at this time.
Jarrod Washburn, SP, Tigers: Before the trade deadline Washburn owners were hoping for a trade to the Phillies or Yankees. That didn't work out, but he was dealt to a first place team, Detroit. That's not the jackpot a deal to Philadelphia would have been, but it is an improvement. The Tigers are 15th in runs scored, much better than the 29th-ranked Mariners. Washburn is still available in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues. Grab him if he's available in yours.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Braves: LaRoche's annual second half surge was very much in doubt a week ago. In Boston, he was not getting the at bats necessary to be useful in fantasy. The swap for Casey Kotchman changes all that. Kotchman inherits LaRoche's part-time role and fantasy irrelevance in Boston. LaRoche returns to Atlanta, where he enjoyed his best season, in 2006. Importantly, LaRoche is a career .300 in the months of August and September. In three games for the Braves, he is 4 for 9 with a homerun. LaRoche is available in about 70% of Yahoo leagues.
Ryan Garko, 1B/OF, Giants: The outfield eligibility gives Garko some fantasy value. As a pure first baseman, he would be worth much less. Garko leaves Progressive Field, one of the tougher places to hit in baseball for AT&T Park, which is better. The switch from the AL to NL should help as well. Garko moves to a less competitive league and to a situation where he does not have to face a Tim Lincecum or a Matt Cain. San Francisco has the top-ranked pitching staff in baseball.
Orlando Cabrera, SS, Twins: Cabrera is riding a 13-game hitting streak, begun with the Athletics. Cabrera gets a boost from leaving a pitcher's paradise, the Oakland Coliseum, for a hitter's park. Cabrera also moves into a better lineup, hitting in front of Joe Mauer instead of Scott Hairston. Cabrera is available in about 60 percent of leagues.
George Sherrill, RP, Dodgers: Every season a closer or two is traded at the deadline. This year it was Sherrill's fate to disappear into fantasy irrelevance. Unless you play in a league that uses middle relievers, he has no value as Jonathan Broxton's caddy.
Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox: This deal was a head-scratcher. A healthy Peavy had a chance to go to Chicago before, but vetoed the deal with his no-trade clause. The injured Peavy did not object, however. I guess he figured he wouldn't have to show up much in Chicago while he rehabs his ankle. Peavy will be out for a while -- he will need a rehab assignment once his ankle is better. Don't expect to see him until September. If, and that's if, Peavy plays again in 2009 you are looking at perhaps five or six starts for the White Sox. He's also swapping a terrific pitcher's park (San Diego's) for a hitter's park (U.S. Cellular Field). Peavy's home/away splits are dramatic. It's hard to further damage a player's value when he's on the DL, but this deal does.