Just when you thought the trade deadline might go out like a lamb, the Dodgers made sure we would get at least one more blockbuster in, acquiring Rangers' ace Yu Darvish in a deal announced just after 4 p.m.
The deal gives the Dodgers a replacement for fallen ace Clayton Kershaw down the stretch, and could give them the best one-two punch in baseball in the postseason if Kershaw's back heals as expected. As for the Rangers, they get another talented piece to add to the infield at the cost of a rental. Let's look at the Fantasy ramifications for both teams:
Dodgers acquire SP Yu Darvish
Darvish has the reputation of an ace, but he hasn't really been one since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Even before he was tagged for 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Marlins last week, he was putting up another mid-3.00s ERA. However, what he might lack in high-end run suppression, he more than made up for with an elite strikeout rate, giving him 148 in 137 innings over his first 22 starts.
And those run prevention numbers could get a nice boost with this move. The Rangers didn't give Darvish much help, ranking as the 21st-best defense in baseball, per FanGraphs.com. The Dodgers, on the other hand, rank second in defense, which has given an already dominant pitching staff even more of a boost.
Because he is such a strikeout pitcher, Darvish doesn't necessarily rely on the defense as much as your typical pitcher. However, he should still get some help from the defense on the margins, especially with Yasmani Grandal behind the plate. Jonathan Lucroy's decline as a pitch-framer was noted in our piece on his decline Sunday, while Grandal has saved his pitchers the second-most runs in baseball, per BaseballProspectus.com.
Darvish hasn't been quite what we hoped this season, but he's got a better supporting cast around him in Los Angeles, and should benefit from a more favorable league (goodbye, DH!) and home ballpark (goodbye, Globe Life Park!). These might all be fairly marginal improvements, but add them up, and there is good reason to expect much better from Darvish than his 4.01 ERA moving forward.
If you were worried about Darvish, don't be. Perhaps the uncertainty surrounding his future played a part in his recent swoon (7.20 ERA over the last 28 days), but it should be smooth sailing from now on. He knows where he is going to be for at least the next few months, and that is in the heat of a pennant race. Expect Darvish to remain a top-15 starting pitcher moving forward.
The Rangers don't have any obvious fill-in options for Darvish worth getting excited about. Someone like Nick Martinez will likely get the call, and that is as underwhelming as I am hopefully making it sound. One name to keep an eye on, however, is Yohander Mendez, down at Double-A Frisco.
Mendez hasn't been particularly impressive in his second turn at Double-A, posting a 3.86 ERA. However, he is the closest thing to a legitimate pitching prospect the Rangers have in the upper minors. If he gets the call, he would certainly be worth a look in AL-only leagues, and could push his way into mixed-league relevance too.
Calhoun is, as of now, the only name of note for our purposes in this deal. He was ranked as a top-25 Fantasy prospect in Scott White's midseason update, with Scott calling a second-half callup "likely."
Of course, that was before the trade. You might think moving from a contender to a rebuild might increase his chances of getting called up, but Texas isn't your typical rebuilding team; at least, not in the infield. The Rangers just don't have any obvious place for him, with Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo all under team control through the end of next season.
Calhoun is a fringe-y defensive prospect, which means the bat is really going to have to play up for him to stick. That holds especially true on a team like Texas, where he might be limited to a corner outfield spot – he played 12 games in left field at Triple-A – or possibly a DH.
The good news is, the bat really does look like it can stick. Since getting to Double-A as a 21-year-old last season, Calhoun has clubbed 50 homers in 231 games, while sporting just a 11.7 percent strikeout rate. That low strikeout rate didn't lead to a respectable batting average in 2016, but he has hit .298 in 2017, and .283 overall in his minor-league career. Calhoun manages to generate big power from a 5-foot-8 listed frame, and doesn't have to sell out for it, ala Odor.
Scouts have questions about whether he has the physical tools for the bat to play up, given his height. However, to my eyes, the bat doesn't look like much of a question. The question is whether he has a place to play in Texas. He doesn't seem to have much left to prove in the minors, after dominating in Triple-A, so don't be surprised if the Rangers end up giving him a call to see if he can handle an outfield spot.
He would obviously be more valuable as a middle infielder in the long run, with Jonathan Schoop-esque upside. However, if he does get called up for 2017, it seems more likely he would do so as an outfielder, which would definitely limit his upside for 2018. This isn't a must-add player, especially before he gets called up. But, Calhoun is an interesting prospect, one to definitely keep an eye on, wherever he lands on the defensive spectrum.