There was quite a bit of action this week as teams adjusted their rosters to plan for the postseason. Now that it's September, it also means that rosters have expanded, which should make for a fun month of watching rookies develop. Here's a look at some of the top moves that were made over the past week:
FRIDAY, AUG. 27
Mike Leake to the 15-day DL
The Reds’ 22-year-old rookie made the jump directly from Arizona State to the Major Leagues, winning a spot in the rotation during Spring Training. He seemed to handle the transition quite well, as he went 6-1 with a 3.53 ERA before the All-Star Break. However, he started to wear down in August, so much so that the Reds opted to move him to the bullpen to keep his innings under control. He didn’t fare any better in his two relief appearances, and was placed on the DL with shoulder fatigue. He should be back in September, but will most likely be used in relief. Travis Wood took over Leake’s spot in the rotation, and Aaron Harang has since been activated from the DL as well. Utility man Juan Francisco was called up from Louisville to take Leake’s roster spot.
Brian Fuentes traded to Minnesota
The Twins now have three capable closers on their roster as they picked up veteran lefty Brian Fuentes from the Los Angeles Angels. Just one month ago, Minnesota picked up Matt Capps from the Nationals, who took over the closing duties from Jon Rauch. Rauch had performed fairly well in the role, saving 21 games, but was moved to a middle relief role. Manager Ron Gardenhire has stated that Fuentes will likely be used as a setup man for Capps, which means that his fantasy value will take a huge hit. Fuentes was 4-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 23 saves in 27 chances with the Angels this year, and could still pick up the occasional save for the Twins. Righty Fernando Rodney will now pick up saves for the Angels, but his unimpressive track record makes him a risky fantasy option. He has an ERA of 3.83 and six saves through Thursday.
MONDAY, AUG. 30
Nelson Cruz activated from the 15-day DL
Cruz made his return from his third hamstring-related DL assignment of the year on Monday. He has been a top fantasy performer when he’s been healthy, but has been limited to just 77 games due to hamstring injuries in both legs. Cruz returns to a .320 batting average, .587 slugging percentage, 16 home runs, 64 RBI and 15 stolen bases, and should be inserted into fantasy lineups immediately. David Murphy has been the recipient of extra playing time in right field this year due to Cruz’s many injuries, and should still be in the outfield mix, splitting playing time with Julio Borbon. Murphy is hitting .274 with eight home runs and 47 RBI through Sunday, while Borbon is hitting .267 with just 27 RBI and ten stolen bases.
Ian Stewart to the 15-day DL
The Rockies’ third baseman strained his right oblique muscle while in the batting cage on Friday, forcing him to miss at least a couple of weeks. Stewart was hitting .264 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI in 115 games. Melvin Mora will handle the third base duties until Stewart returns. He is hitting .273 through Sunday, with three home runs and 27 RBI. At this point in his career, the 38-year-old Mora is nothing more than average offensively, making him a less than ideal fantasy pick. In a corresponding roster move, the Rockies activated Clint Barmes from the bereavement list.
Manny Ramirez claimed off waivers
The Manny saga is finally over, as the Chicago White Sox picked up the aging and injury-prone slugger off waivers on Monday. The 38-year-old comes to Chicago with 554 career home runs, 1828 RBI and a career average of .313. He will be used primarily as a designated hitter for the White Sox, and may get the occasional start in left field as well. Mark Kotsay will probably lose the most playing time due to this deal. Kotsay has been unproductive for the most part while serving as the team’s primary DH, backup first baseman, and occasional outfielder, hitting .233 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 90 games through Sunday. Andruw Jones could also see a decrease in playing time as well. He’s hitting just .215, but has 18 home runs in 251 at-bats.
TUESDAY, AUG. 31
Jeff Francoeur traded to Texas
Francoeur’s days of playing regularly appear to be behind him following his trade to the Texas Rangers. He did not do too much with the bat for the New York Mets, as he hit just .237 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI in 124 games. His batting average has fluctuated drastically throughout his career, and he hadn’t hit over 20 home runs in a season since 2006. He should get some playing time against lefties while with the Rangers, but that doesn’t amount to much in terms of fantasy value. Lucas Duda was called up from Buffalo to fill Francoeur’s spot in the outfield. The 24-year-old hit .304 with 23 home runs and 87 RBI in 115 games between Double-A and Triple-A and could have some value if he gets regular playing time.
Aaron Harang activated from the 15-day DL
The Reds were without their Opening Day starter for two months due to muscle spasms in his lower back. Harang was a combined 12-31 from 2008 to 2009, despite posting a respectable ERA of 4.52 over that stretch. He maintained a healthy strikeout ratio of 8.07 per 9 innings from 2006 to 2009, and topped the 200 strikeout mark twice during that span. This season, Harang was a slightly less reliable fantasy option, as his strikeout rate dropped to 6.72 per 9 innings, and his ERA jumped to 5.02 before he landed on the DL on July 6. On the plus side, he’s already matched his win total (six) from each of the past two seasons, and with the Reds leading the National League in runs scored, he should have an easier time picking up some wins.
Aroldis Chapman recalled from Louisville
The 22-year-old Cuban fireballer finally made it to the big leagues on Tuesday as the Reds added him to their roster. Chapman hit 102 mph on the radar gun during his debut and should be exciting to watch from here on out. The fact that he was promoted before September means that he will be eligible to appear in the postseason, giving the Reds an almost unfair advantage against their opponents. Cincinnati is using him as a reliever, and with Francisco Cordero already entrenched as their closer, Chapman’s fantasy value should be minimal. Nevertheless, this is one kid to keep an eye on.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 1
Ian Kinsler activated from the 15-day DL
Kinsler has had a rough year, landing on the DL on two separate occasions and being limited to just 76 games before his most recent DL stint. Out since July 29 with a strained left groin, Kinsler is eager to salvage what’s left of the season by putting up his usual productive numbers. From 2007 to 2009, he had established himself as a solid fantasy option, averaging 23 home runs, 100 runs and 27 stolen bases a season over those three years. Kinsler has managed a .298 average and 55 runs scored in 76 games this year, so he can obviously still produce when healthy. Cristian Guzman, Joaquin Arias, Alex Cora and Andres Blanco all saw time at second base while Kinsler was out. Arias has since been traded to the Mets in a deal that brought Jeff Francoeur to Texas. The remaining three should stick around as backups through the month of September.