Fantasy fallout from the revised Betts deal

ByTristan H. Cockcroft ESPN logo
Monday, February 10, 2020

After six long days, the Mookie Betts trade finally appears to be complete. While the original proposal, which included most notably prospect Brusdar Graterol going from theMinnesota Twins to the Boston Red Soxwas the more compelling one for all the non-Betts parts involved than the revised one, there's still plenty to note from a fantasy angle.

Kenta Maeda, dealt by theLos Angeles Dodgersto the Twins in both iterations, should experience a boost in value despite the league switch. Since finishing 19th among starting pitchers on the 2016 Player Rater and 47th among starters in Wins Above Replacement that season, Maeda has averaged 24 starts, 11 relief appearances and 138 innings pitched over the past three years, bouncing back and forth between rotation and bullpen to make his management in fantasy leagues more difficult. In Minnesota, he should be a full-time starter capable of 30-plus starts and 170-plus innings. Considering his 2016-19 FIP ranked 36th (3.71) and his WHIP 24th (1.15) out of 164 qualifiers, that would make him a pretty good one. That should also vault him up a couple of spots among my starting pitchers, to No. 45, as the firmer role lends more confidence in drafting him.

The Red Sox should also present greater opportunities for two players they acquired from the Dodgers: OFAlex Verdugo and SS Jeter Downs. Verdugo, who batted .294/.342/.475 in 106 games before suffering an oblique injury in August, should replace Betts in right field for Boston. He has .290-20 potential if he's granted everyday at-bats and can stay healthy. Certainly he's a more interesting fantasy option now than new teammateJackie Bradley Jr., belonging in the top 70 at the position in the same general area you'd find a Kole Calhoun or Franmil Reyes.

Downs, a .276/.362/527 hitter in 119 games split between Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2019, is a top-100 prospect who should not only take over as the franchise's top prospect, but has an outside chance at reaching the majors in late 2020. He's a middle infielder with five-category rotisserie potential, as well as strong enough patience and extra-base ability at the plate to be a good find in points-based leagues. Plus, second base appears to be a position of long-term need for the Red Sox. The addition of catching prospect Connor Wong, while less notable for fantasy since he's probably more than a year away and not necessarily a high-impact type, only helps strengthen the deal for the Red Sox in comparison to the original one.

Graterol, who was headed to the Red Sox in the original proposal but now lands with the Dodgers, has a 100-mph sinker and solid slider. It's not unusual that the Twins regarded him as more of a reliever than a starter when they auditioned him in the majors late last year, and the Dodgers can certainly use him in that role in 2020. ConsideringKenley Jansen's 2018-19 struggles, Graterol could quickly put himself in position as the team's closer of the future, and he's well worth an NL-only or dynasty stash.

Luke Raley, the final piece involved who went from the Twins to Dodgers, slashed .302/.362/.516 in 33 games for Triple-A Rochester and could fit the platoon-type role that the Dodgers seem to love. He's not fantasy-relevant for now, but might become a daily-league consideration if promoted.