Grading Fantasy Baseball Trades: James Paxton, Eric Thames, Aaron Judge

Apr 19, 2017

An Andrew Benintendi is causing immediate regret

It’s that time again – time for our weekly Grading Trades column, and you know what that means. That’s right, we get to take a look at this week’s trades that went down across the fantasy baseball world and decide how much or how little we like them, or provide some feedback on trade offers you might be a bit torn on. As always, thanks to all who submitted their trades.

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Standard 5×5, 14-team keeper league. I recently accepted an offer of Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Severino for my Andrew Benintendi. Did I get fleeced? I kind of regret this trade.

Fleeced is such strong word, but kind-of-maybe…

Adrian Gonzalez has been a fine fantasy hitter from 2006 through 2015. He became more of a “holy crap I need a first baseman” type of fantasy player last year and early returns this year don’t seem to be much prettier. I’m also assuming he was the throw-in for this trade.

A-Gon had a bit of a resurgence with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014, but he has seen a steady decline in Hard Hit rate, ISO, and just offensive production in general since then. In my opinion, he should get strong consideration for the Hall of Fame, but he’s just old and doesn’t hit the ball with as much authority as he used to. It also doesn’t help that top first base prospect Cody Bellinger is ready for the big leagues and will likely force the Dodgers’ hand at some point this season.

At least you got Severino in this deal, though his upside every five days still doesn’t come close to matching what Benintendi is capable of producing nearly every day. I won’t beat a dead horse even deader, but yeah – you didn’t do so hot in this trade my friend. Regroup and make the best of it for the rest of the fantasy season, but just know your league mates will probably not let you live this one down for a while.

I’m in a 16-team keeper league and I need to know if Eric Thames is for real. I turned down an offer of my James Paxton for Eric Thames straight up. Both are looking really good to start the year. Should I reconsider?

Absolutely not.

Listen, Eric Thames has come on the scene like a bat out of hell and that’s all fine and dandy. Long-term, however, is the reality that James Paxton has shown us what his beast mode looks like and he’s also younger and flirted with this sort of ability for years. He’s finally making good on it. Thames, on the other hand, has always been this very strong hitter but could never put it together because he had a horrible approach at the plate and seemed too eager to offer up at nearly everything.

Thames seems to be a completely different hitter now, but it’s only April and pitchers just have to re-figure him out. And believe me, the league will adjust to Thames soon enough.

I’d be giving up Aaron Judge for Aaron Nola. I need quality starters in a bad way. Jake Odorizzi and J.A. Happ are both on the DL and in a 14-team keeper league, there’s not much available I like. We’re also limited to 50 waiver wire transactions per season to limit pitcher streaming. 5×5 where we track QS over W.

Man, sorry about your luck. On the bright side, Odorizzi’s stay on the DL should be a short one – assuming the Tampa Bay Rays don’t rush him back. Happ on the other hand, that’s a situation worth monitoring. While an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage in his elbow, soreness and inflammation of any kind is a pretty polite warning sign for pitchers before it leads to something more debilitating.

Regardless of your injury situation, I’d actually be inclined to pull the trigger on this trade unless there’s another starter on that owner’s squad you like better. Judge is certainly connecting with his prodigious power, but his swinging strike rate is still a bit worse than league average for this season and his strikeout rate is ginormous – over 30% on this young season so far. It’s better than the 44.2% K rate he posted over 95 PAs last season, but still.

Judge is going to mash home runs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got close to 30 on the season. But, will he make enough contact and get on base enough to be any better than Chris Carter? I have my doubts entering his first full season.

Nola on the other hand, holy cow give me some of that. He’s pitching on an okay Philadelphia Phillies team, but his K/9 and B/9 have both improved and his swinging strike rate has shot up dramatically. It’s not like he’s pitched against the punchless Toronto Blue Jays or San Diego Padres either – he handled the Washington Nationals twice. I know it’s early in the season and small sample sizes being just that. I’m a firm believer in the talent Nola possesses and being able to provide high-K upside with a better than league average ERA and WHIP on the regular.

Being in a keeper league and being able to fill a big need at the moment, though I think you may be overreacting just a tad given how early in the season we are, I’d say this is a pretty fair trade you may benefit more from than you realize.

To satisfy that fantasy baseball itch that is making trades, we’re grading and providing feedback on them as you submit them. Tweet us at @FantasyProsMLB with the trade details and use #FantasyBaseballTrades and we’ll let you know what we think about the deal.

Lance Rinker is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Lance, check out his archive or follow him @LanceMRinker.

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