On Tuesday, July 22, the San Diego Padres agreed to send third baseman Chase Headley to the New York Yankees in exchange for utility man Yangervis Solarte and minor-league pitcher Rafael De Paula; the Yankees also received $1,000,000 in salary relief.
Currently, the New York Yankees sit just three games above .500 at 51-48; however, they are just three and a half games behind the AL East leaders and two games out of the second American League wild card spot. Although this trade doesn’t instantly make the Yankees a postseason favorite, it does certainly help their chances to play in October.
Now, let’s analyze the players involved and see how this change of scenery will affect their fantasy baseball value.
Headley is having a fairly typical year by his standards. However, his .229 batting average is well below his career mark of .266 and, if the season were to end today, would be the lowest of his career.
It seems long ago that Headley was in the MVP discussion, but in reality, it’s been just two years. In 2012, Headley hit .286 with 31 home runs and led the league with 115 RBIs – he finished fifth in the National League MVP voting.
Despite those great numbers, don’t expect anything like that to happen again- it was a complete anomaly. Not counting his ridiculous 2012 season, Headley has never hit more than 13 long balls or brought in more than 64 runs.
Getting shipped to the east coast will not cause Headley to have a resurgence to the likes of 2012, but I certainly don’t see it hurting him and here’s why.
For starters, playing for the New York Yankees is much more desirable than the San Diego Padres, especially this year. The Padres, as a team, currently rank last in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. The Yankees, while not the best, are still better, sitting at 21st in runs scored, 16th in average, 19th in on base percentage, and 21st in slugging.
Secondly, Headley’s fantasy baseball stock should improve because the hitters around him will be much better. In San Diego, Headley was surrounded by the likes of Cameron Maybin, Seth Smith, Carlos Quentin, and Yasmani Grandal. On his new ballclub, Headley will be in the middle of a lineup containing Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
A third reason that Headley should be seeing brighter days ahead is due to the change in ballpark. Yankee Stadium is much, much more hitter friendly than PETCO Park.
In 2014, 45 games have been played in Yankee Stadium. During those games, 112 balls have cleared the outfield fence. In complete contrast, 52 games have been played at PETCO Park totaling in just 68 deep flies. Since its opening in 2009, there have been 1,180 home runs hit at Yankee Stadium; during that same time period, only 678 have been hit at PETCO Park.
Those three reasons seem to give a pretty solid backing to Headley performing better in New York. Now, this doesn’t make him a fantasy must-own, but he’s better than most other third baseman available.
Headley is owned in 41% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. Other third baseman that should be available include Chris Johnson (owned in 41.7% of leagues), Nick Castellanos (16.9), Xander Bogaertes (53.3), David Freese (11.9), and Juan Uribe (9.3).
One last thing to note about Headley is that he is currently in the middle of a hot streak. He’s batting .323 in July, with one home run and nine runs driven in.
Yangervis Solarte has very similar numbers to Chase Headley. The rookie currently has a slash line of .254/.337/.381 to go with six homers and 31 RBIs.
Although he does have similar stats to Headley, he is owned in far fewer fantasy baseball leagues (16.8% ownership) because he doesn’t play everyday; he started in 71.4% of the Yankees’ games this year.
His hitting does give him some fantasy value, but his ability to play multiple positions gives him more. Of those 70 games he has started, 56 have come at third base, 13 at second base, plus one lone game at shortstop.
Solarte’s fantasy stock is not improved by being traded to the Padres; in fact, it gets worse. For the same reasons that Headley gets better in New York, Solarte will not perform as well in San Diego; however, he should see more consistent playing time, the question is what position will he be playing.
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