Rafael Furcal to the Cardinals: MLB Trade Deadline Deals and the Fantasy Impact

At the MLB trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal and cash considerations to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league outfielder Alex Castellanos.  Tommy Rancel, over in the FanGraphs section, covered the deal when it happened, so now here at RotoGraphs, we’re going to discuss the fantasy ramifications.

On the Cardinals side…

It’s tough to figure just how Furcal will fare in St. Louis as he has spent most of this season either struggling or on the DL.  In fact, he’s played in just 38 games this season and posted a triple slash line of .196/.270/.246 with a downright atrocious .239 wOBA.  However, if you figure that he’s now at full health and will regress towards his career averages, then you just might find yourself a productive little shortstop here.  The Cardinals, obviously, picked him up to be a defensive upgrade, but they’re also counting on him to improve their production from the leadoff spot.  Cards’ leadoff hitters this season have amassed just a .262 average with a .313 OBP which translates to just 51 runs scored and 7 stolen bases;  good for 2nd to last and last in the NL respectively.  With a veteran leadoff hitter like Furcal getting on base early, perhaps Tony LaRussa will be a little more aggressive with his runners and we’ll see a boost in SB production from Furcal.

With a new shortstop in town, incumbent Ryan Theriot will make the shift over to second base.  Had this been before July, there wouldn’t be any question about a non-change in fantasy value, however, after hitting .205 for the month with a 2.5 BB% and .225 OBP, there’s a good chance that secon dbase truns into a platoon with Theriot and Skip Schumaker.  Not that Schumaker has done anything to warrant extended playing time, but LaRussa could just opt to go with whomever is hot at the moment.  Downgrade Theriot for now, but keep an eye on the situation as he should be the one to receive the bulk of the work.

For the Dodgers…

The acquisition of Castellanos is really a non-factor for fantasy purposes right now, but we could hear from him in the future if he works a little more on his plate discipline.  While he’s sporting a .408 wOBA down in Double-A and has 19 HR with 10 SB, he’s also sitting on a 24.0 K% and just a 6.1 BB%. Making the jump to the majors with a K-rate like that would be tough to do.  Still, for a guy his size (5′ 11″ 180 lbs), he’s got good pop with a little bit of speed and I agree with Rancel’s guess that he’ll make for a decent 4th OF or right-handed side of a platoon.

The real fantasy value that comes from this deal is the vacancy left at shortstop in L.A.  Dee Gordon…..COME ON DOWN!!!  Gordon struggled in his initial call-up, hitting just .232 with a .250 OBP, but he also swiped 9 bases in his 22 game stint.  Upon his demotion to Triple-A, he went on to hit .375 with another 8 steals and started to cut down on the strikeouts.  He could stand to draw a few more walks, but hopefully that comes with a little more experience and maturity.  Gordon should make for a solid option in NL-only leagues and, if you’re looking for stolen bases, should be a viable source in mixed leagues as well.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

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