This article is part of our Regan's Rumblings series.
Well, that trade deadline sure started slowly and ended with a flourish (Zack Greinke!) didn't it? Greinke may be 35 and four years removed from his career season in 2015, but he's still carrying a 2.90 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and ratios that are even better than that 2015 Cy Young season (8.3 K/9, 1.3 BB/9). An already good Houston rotation just got that much better. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Yankees failed to address their pitching deficiencies, while teams like the Braves bolstered their weakness (the bullpen) and others (hello, Arizona) improved their farm systems.
Whether due to trades that opened up playing time, injuries or just a change in how an organization views a player, we can see a number of players across the league who can now be expected to have increased fantasy value for the rest of the season. Here are 10, but if you have questions on others, hit me up in the comments section.
Willie Calhoun (OF-TEX)
I don't know whether Calhoun is more than a part-time DH/LF, but wouldn't it be great to find out? It does finally appear that the Rangers are going to give the 24-year-old a real opportunity. Calhoun is batting a solid .283/.321/.553 in 134 plate appearances. Most encouraging is that, while 33 PA is a small sample size, Calhoun has hit four home runs off LHP, leading to an interesting .226/.273/.742 slash versus southpaws. Last year in the same number of PA, Calhoun's OPS was just .445. Calhoun's Statcast data is also very encouraging:
Hard Hit %
Since his latest promotion, Calhoun is hitting .303/.343/.727 with three home runs in eight games. Perhaps now that he knows he's going to be out there pretty close to every day, Calhoun can settle in and show the upside he flashed the past three seasons in Triple-A in which he hit a combined .298/.365/.509. Even once Joey Gallo returns from a wrist injury (likely late this month), it will probably be Nomar Mazara losing at-bats as long as Calhoun is still hitting.
Matt Thaiss (3B-LAA)
Primarily a first baseman prior to this year, Thaiss was moved by the Angels to the other infield corner this year due to the presence of Albert Pujols, Shohei Ohtani and (until he was released) Justin Bour. Whether he can handle the position long term is up in the air, but it does appear at least that Thaiss will get regular playing time the rest of the way in 2019. He's hitting .223/.293/.547 overall with five home runs in 58 plate appearances with a .241 BABIP and 32.8 K percentage conspiring to keep his BA down. The power is a bit surprising, as in 404 minor league games, Thaiss recorded just 15 home runs per 550 at-bats, well below average from an infield corner. I suppose it's worth noting that all five of Thaiss' home runs have come against Detroit, Seattle and Baltimore, teams whose pitching staffs rank 13th, 14th, and 15th/dead last in the AL in team ERA. Thaiss ranks as RotoWire's No. 3 Angels prospect, so one would think he'd get plenty of slack and wouldn't be succeeding too many at-bats to the likes of David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo and Wilfredo Tovar. Thaiss had been hitting just .195/.304/.379 versus LHP in Triple-A this year, so whether he can hit them consistently and avoid the platoon label remains to be seen, but Thaiss should be in the lineup five to six days a week.
Jake Lamb (1B/3B-ARI)
Lamb's career looked to be on the rise back in 2017 when he hit .248/.357/.487 with 30 home runs, giving him his second consecutive season of at least 29 home runs and 90 plus RBI. In 2018 however, a shoulder injury limited Lamb to just 56 gamers and likely impacted his final, disappointing slash line of .222/.307/.348. Throughout his career, Lamb has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching, posting a .589 OPS in 225 PA since 2017. Lamb is still not hitting for much of an average this year, but a .231/.372/.451 slash is still a nice improvement over last year. He's also hitting .250/.380/.525 in his last 16 games and appears settled into playing regularly against RHP. Lamb does have a 1.300 OPS versus LHP this year, but that's coming in just 15 PA, so his path to every day playing time is probably a rough one. Bottom line though: Lamb combined for 59 home runs in 2016-2017 and he's still just 28, so after a rough 2018, things seem back on track.
Chris Martin (RP-ATL)
Shane Greene is the Braves new closer, with fellow new Brave, Chris Martin, set to settle in as a late-inning set up man. Martin has combined (Texas/Atlanta) for a 3.00 ERA and elite 44:4 K:BB in 39 innings. The 33-year-old has averaged 95.9 mph with his fastball, so despite an unusual career path, Martin has the profile of an elite reliever. After relatively little success in 2014 and 2015 with the Rockies and Yankees, Martin went overseas for a two-year stint in Japan before returning stateside in 2018. Now suddenly, Martin is on the radar to close for a contender. Sure, Greene is the guy right now, but Greene has a blown save and a loss in his first two appearances with the Braves. Greene still has a 2.03 ERA, but his FIP sits at 3.96, and he's lost two mph off his fastball since 2017. Greene should get additional opportunities to show he's the guy, but if he continues to falter, Martin could step in.
Aaron Sanchez (SP-HOU)
Sanchez struggled to a 6.07 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 23 starts with the Blue Jays, so of course he comes to Toronto and tosses six hitless innings as part of a combined no-hitter. This is also an Astros team where Wade Miley is 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA and made Ryan Pressly an elite reliever. Sanchez has had one very good season in his career, going 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA back in 2016, but injuries and inconsistency have taken their toll on his career since that time. His first start with the Astros was a direct result of mixing up his pitches, as Sanchez threw more curveballs and fewer four-seam fastballs. Amazing what a change of scenery and coaching staff can do for a struggling guy with good stuff. Now of course it's just one start and it's tough to erase the memory of the rest of Sanchez's 2019 (and 2018 for that matter), but he'll get a chance to stick as the No. 5 starter on a championship contender. Not a bad place to land.
Eric Thames (1B-MIL)
With Jesus Aguilar now in Tampa Bay, Thames further cements his role as the primary first baseman, at least against RHP. For the year, Thames is hitting .245/.353/.486. Not a spectacular line, but it does represent an increase of 55 points of OPS over last year. Against RHP, the results are improved— .250/.355/.509, while the struggles (.675 OPS) against lefties continue, against whom he's hit just .189/.282/.377 in 181 PA since 2017. At this point, his power can't be in doubt, as Thames has recorded at least a .241 ISO in each of the last there years. He's also continuing to strike out a ton (32 K percentage) while drawing a fair number of walks (12.5 BB percentage), likely meaning he will continue to have more value in leagues that count OBP and not batting average. Thames will continue to be at risk for playing-time downgrades barring improvement in his contact rate, but now he has Travis Shaw (.162 BA) to contend with for playing time and not Aguilar, which should help his cause.
Luis Arraez (2B-MIN)
Arraez doesn't offer much power or speed, but despite that, he appears to be the preferred option over Jonathan Schoop, at least for now. Schoop has much more power, but his .254/.301/.456 slash is uninspiring at best, with teams putting more emphasis on getting on base, Arraez's .353/.427/.442 start is enough to get him a look. So, who is this guy? I knew admittedly nothing about the 22-year-old prior to a few weeks ago. He did hit .310/.361/.397 between High-A and Double-A last year, but hit just three home runs and stole four bases. Arraez continued to hit in Double-A and Triple-A this year (combined .344/.409/.401) before his big league promotion. With the Twins competing for a playoff spot, Arraez will continue to play if he's hitting, but if he does struggle, Schoop represents an easy Plan B. Arraez won't contribute much outside of BA/OBP and runs, but if you need those categories, he can help.
J.D. Davis (OF-NYM)
With Dominic Smith out perhaps until early September with a foot injury, Davis should be in line for everyday at-bags in left field. He has hit a surprising .297/.366/.483 through 297 PAs, including 11 home runs. Davis previously hit just .194 in 181 PAs with the Astros in parts of the last two seasons, but his performance in 101 games at the Triple-A level from 2017 to 2018 was impressive— .335/.400/.589 with 22 homers in 450 PA. He struck out a reasonable 19.3 percent while walking in 10 percent of his PAs in Triple-A, so the power and plate discipline are there. Many a player doesn't blossom until later in their career, and at 26, maybe that's Davis. It will be very interesting to see what he does with regular playing time.
Adam Haseley (OF-PHI)
With Maikel Franco's surprising demotion to Triple-A, that likely means Scott Kingery becomes the full-time third baseman, thus freeing up outfield at-bats. The Phillies did also acquire Corey Dickerson, and Roman Quinn is seeing some time in LF, while Jay Bruce could return from the IL soon. All that said, Haseley's playing time is still an unknown, but he could get a shot. Haseley is batting just .247/.295/.425 with three home runs and a 16:3 K:BB in 78 PAs. Haseley is a former No. 8 overall pick (2017), so we know the talent is there, and perhaps he'll now get a shot to prove it. He's a career .292/.360/.441 hitter in 919 minor league at-bats with 25 homers and 18 steals. Solid but not spectacular, but he's still just 23, so if you believe in the talent as I do, grab him in deeper formats. He's probably not a 12-team mixed league option, yet, as we'll need to see his performance trend up first.
Isan Diaz (2B-MIA)
Diaz was recalled to make his MLB debut Monday against the Mets, and despite going 1-for-4, we have to call it a success. Diaz connected for his first big league homer in the sixth inning, and it came off a pretty good pitcher in Jacob deGrom. All Diaz did in Triple-A was bat .305/.395/.578 with 26 home runs, an 11.3 BB percentage and a decent 22.1 K percentage. That strikeout rate is much improved over last year's 27.4 percent mark, and his power is way up with a .273 ISO versus last year's AA/AAA mark of .167. CEO Derek Jeter is starting to see some benefits of the Christian Yelich trade with Diaz now up, Jordan Yamamoto showing some promising signs, Lewis Brinson back in center field and Monte Harrison likely to get a look once he's recovered from a wrist injury. Diaz though may be the best of the bunch. His promotion should result in more Starlin Castro at third, Brian Anderson in RF, and either Harold Ramirez or Garrett Cooper on the bench.