The trade deadline has come and gone, and new opportunities have come about as a result.
The most obvious of them are in the closer role. Non-contenders aren't as concerned about preserving leads, so they like to deal off that volatile asset while it's at its peak value. The Red Sox got the ball rolling by shipping Brandon Workman to the Phillies over a week ago, and more recently, the Royals, Mariners and Diamondbacks decided to cash in on their most coveted bullpen piece.
So now they all need someone else who can handle their save chances, which would seem to make for priority pickups off the waiver wire except that two of those teams (the Mariners and Diamondbacks) have uninspiring choices and the third (the Royals) has too many to narrow down.
In fact, your best choice for saves off the waiver wire might be from the last team you'd expect — one that recently snapped an amazing streak of nine consecutive saves recorded by different relievers. Turns out only one is responsible for the past three.
We discussed the deadline deals and a lot more on Tuesday's edition of the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast. Follow all our podcasts and subscribe here.
SEA Seattle • #63 • Age: 29
Yes, the Rays have earned their reputation for stubbornly refusing to assign bullpen roles, but would you believe that Emilio Pagan recorded 12 of their final 16 saves last year? They quietly settled on him as the guy, which means manager Kevin Cash is perfectly capable of settling on someone else now. Three consecutive saves reflects a developing trust for Diego Castillo, a guy who at least has the strikeout capacity for the role.
Greg Holland RP
TEX Texas • #40 • Age: 37
Or you could roll the dice on the 34-year-old Greg Holland again, but I'll remind you we already made that mistake once this year, when Holland recorded a save before Trevor Rosenthal got his first. So just because the Royals turned to Holland with a one-run lead in the ninth inning Monday doesn't mean Mike Matheny has settled on his choice to replace Rosenthal, particularly with young bat-missers Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont waiting in the wings. Still, the early nod makes Holland the early favorite.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #26 • Age: 29
One of the more under-the-radar deadline developments is that Tony Gonsolin for sure has a rotation spot, securing it with Ross Stripling's move to the Blue Jays. In only one of his four starts has he gone the minimum required to secure a win, but he was also bouncing between the majors and the alternate training site and should really be able to settle in with that splitter/slider combo now. Combining this year's numbers with last, he has a 2.18 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 in nearly 60 innings as a major-leaguer.
Austin Riley 3B
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 26
With two more hits Monday, Austin Riley is batting .395 (15 for 38) with three homers and 10 strikeouts over his past 11 games. It represents the first signs of life he has shown since homering nine times in his first 18 major-league games early last year. His strikeouts have been down during this hot stretch, and his overall numbers against breaking balls are vastly improved. It's too early to say for sure whether he's a changed player, but the power potential is enormous if he is.
SEA Seattle • #6 • Age: 39
There's really no one else who can fill the ninth-inning role for the Mariners. Taylor Williams, Dan Altavilla and Austin Adams have all been traded. Matt Magill is on the IL. It's Yoshihisa Hirano or bust at this point, and it's worth noting the right-hander was warming up as Marco Gonzales was closing out his complete game Monday. Hirano doesn't have the swing-and-miss arsenal you'd like to see in the role, but he was a trusted part of the Diamondbacks bullpen the past two years.
Ty France 1B
SEA Seattle • #23 • Age: 29
After acquiring him from the Padres in the Austin Nola deal, the Mariners apparently plan to make Ty France an everyday player, which is notable considering the 26-year-old hit .399 with 27 homers and a 1.247 OPS in just 296 at-bats at Triple-A El Paso last year. Granted, it was in the PCL, which became a most exaggeratedly hitter-friendly league with the introduction of the juiced ball, but he was the only one putting up those kinds of numbers. It's more of a wait-and-watch situation, but the triple eligibility might compel you to leap now in deeper leagues.