MLB Transaction Analysis: Kenta Maeda, Jarrod Dyson, Manuel Margot
It’s finally here again, folks. At the time of writing, pitchers and catchers are in the process of reporting to their respective camps, signaling the start of baseball season once again. That, however, does not mean that teams around the league have completed shoring up their rosters for 2020. As the past week or so has shown, the MLB Hot Stove has not cooled all the way down just yet.
Kenta Maeda sent to the Twins
Some prospects, including young hurler Brusdar Graterol, changed organizations in this trade, but Maeda was the centerpiece, and he will join the Twins’ pitching staff in their pursuit of a second-straight AL Central title. This is certainly a great get for the Twins after Maeda, since leaving his native Japan, has turned in four years of solid, sometimes fantastic, work on the mound for the Dodgers.
In 2019, Maeda made 26 starts and 11 additional appearances out of the pen. As a starter last season, the veteran right-hander posted a 4.14 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9 while averaging almost 5.1 innings per outing. Maeda has not been one for large sums of innings per year, topping out at 175.2 in 2016 so far during his career in the States.
With the Twins almost certain to rely on him as an integral piece of their rotation, it would not be surprising to see Maeda set a new personal high in innings pitched or, at least, close to it. Given the fact that he has never failed to punch out more than a batter per inning in any of his big-league campaigns to this point, a 200-strikeout effort is certainly not out of the question. Pair that with an ERA that likely ends up around 4.00 alongside a steady WHIP, and Maeda makes for a nice number three or four SP for fantasy rosters. On top of that, he should see plenty of opportunities for wins with the support of a tremendous offense.
Jarrod Dyson joins the Pirates
Fantasy baseball veterans are more than aware that speed is the name of the game with Dyson. Well, he is a plus defender in the outfield, too, but that’s not going to assist much in terms of fantasy production aside from possibly getting him in the lineup more often. There may just be an opening in Pittsburgh for Dyson to get in the lineup often, as the necessity for this signing came due to Starling Marte being traded to Arizona back in January.
Interestingly enough, Dyson spent the last couple of years in Arizona, seeing a career-high 452 plate appearances in his age-34 season of 2019. Though managing only a meager .230/.313/.320 slash line, he popped a personal-best seven home runs while recording a double-digit walk rate (10.4 percent) for the second consecutive campaign and, most importantly for prospective fantasy owners, swiped 30 bases in 34 attempts.
Dyson’s 30 steals last summer marked the fifth time in his career that he has hit or eclipsed that mark. He may not offer much of anything else, but for those in search of “cheap” speed in the last couple rounds of fantasy drafts, Dyson has shown no signs of slowing down on the basepaths.
Manuel Margot sent to Tampa for Emilio Pagan
Since being shipped to San Diego from Boston back in November 2015, the Padres waited for the much-hyped Margot to solidify himself offensively. There have been glimpses at times over the past few years, and now the Rays seem confident that the still-young 25-year-old can realize his full potential, after trading away their dominant closer to acquire his services.
Over the past three seasons, Margot put up a very mediocre .248/.303/.394 slash line while averaging 11 homers and 16 stolen bases for the Padres. The path to regular playing time in Tampa this year is not completely clear for Margot, but the mixing-and-matching Rays will almost assuredly get him some substantial at-bats. Heading toward fantasy drafts this spring, Margot is probably best left off your board in standard-depth mixed formats but is an interesting target with upside in AL-only leagues.
On the other of this swap, Pagan loses a ton of fantasy appeal here, going from a source of saves to a set-up man for baseball’s best door-slammer over the course of 2019 in Kirby Yates. That does not necessarily mean that Pagan is now useless for fantasy purposes, as his numbers that included a 2.31 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 12.3 K/9 were phenomenal across the board last season, and he is definitely the top handcuff for Yates. For those who like to utilize the strategy of piling up dominant, non-closing relievers, there are not many more attractive options than Pagan.