Here's a look at some of the top moves in baseball last week, as the regular season starts to wind down. And this week we'll also include a look at recently called up rookies.
Scott Baker, RHP - activated from the 60-day DL
Impact: Baker finally returned to the mound for the first time since 2011 following a long recovery from Tommy John surgery. His velocity has been down this year, and the results during his rehab assignment were not encouraging (5.46 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 16 strikeouts in 29.2 innings). Still, he managed to pitch five shutout innings Sunday against the Brewers, giving up just a couple of hits and a walk over those frames. He'll get another couple starts with the Cubs this year, and the right-hander with a career 4.13 ERA could potentially have a bit of value in deeper NL-only leagues.
Aaron Harang, RHP - recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas
Impact: The huge righty failed to impress during 22 starts with the Mariners this year, going 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA. The Mets decided to pick him up and give him a chance to possibly make a few starts down the stretch. He pitched well the last couple seasons, so there's a chance that he could rebound a bit and help out a fantasy team the rest of this season. However, it's more likely that he continues to pitch like he did with Seattle, so the safest bet would be to avoid him altogether.
Scott Diamond, LHP - recalled from Triple-A Rochester
Impact: Diamond was the Twins' best starter last season, and the only member of the rotation to start at least 20 games (with 27). He went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA in 2012, his first full season in the big leagues, so there were high hopes for him in 2013. Unfortunately, he has seemed like a completely different pitcher this year, going 5-10 with a 5.52 ERA over 20 starts, while allowing batters to hit better than .300 against him. His impressive showing during his stint in the minors earned him another crack at holding down a rotation spot, though fantasy owners shouldn't expect a sudden turnaround.
Carlos Corporan, C - activated from the 7-day DL
Impact: With Jason Castro nursing a knee injury, Corporan could get a fair amount of playing time if Castro's injury continues to be an issue. Corporan has shown some power in limited playing time this season, hitting seven home runs in 50 games. Now that he's recovered from his concussion, he could provide some late-season help for those in deeper leagues, depending on how the playing time shakes out.
Christian Bethancourt, C - recalled from Double-A Mississippi
Impact: Bethancourt has been regarded more for his defense than for his offensive abilities, though he did make some strides at the plate this season at Double-A. The 22-year-old hit .277 with 12 home runs and 45 RBI in 90 games, and also added 11 stolen bases for good measure. He's not likely to get a lot of playing time the rest of this season, but there's a possibility that he could open the 2014 season as the Braves' starting catcher if they don't re-sign Brian McCann. However, he may have to beat out Gerald Laird and Evan Gattis, who are both still under team control next year. Still, for fantasy owners in deeper leagues, he could make for an interesting sleeper pick.
Ike Davis, 1B - placed on the 60-day DL (right oblique)
Impact: It was a disappointing campaign for Davis, whose season is now over due to a strained right oblique. The 26-year-old first baseman hit .205 with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 103 games, only one year after he clubbed 32 round-trippers and drove in 90 for the Mets. Lucas Duda will hold down first base the remainder of the season, with Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker and Andrew Brown sharing the outfield duties.
Howie Kendrick, 2B - activated from the 15-day DL
Impact: Kendrick missed more than a month with a strained left knee, after hitting .301 wit 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 108 games. The Angels appear to be taking a cautious approach with him, as they kept him out of the lineup during their series in Toronto because of the artificial turf. That said, he's still a significant offensive upgrade over Grant Green, who had been filling in at second base for Kendrick recently.
Josh Reddick, OF - activated from the 15-day DL
Impact: Reddick needed just a couple weeks off to deal with his sprained wrist, and hopefully the time off did him some good. The 26-year-old outfielder managed to hit just .213 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI in 97 games before the injury, which is well below his numbers from the last couple years. Fantasy owners should probably expect more of the same lackluster production from him the final weeks of the 2013 season.
Ruben Tejada, SS - recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas
Impact: The Mets intentionally postponed Tejada's promotion until Tuesday to delay his free agency eligibility until after the 2017 season. He's expected to play regularly over the remainder of the season, though his career OPS of just .647 makes him only worth a look in deeper NL-only leagues. Light-hitting Omar Quintanilla had been serving as the Mets' regular shortstop and will be relegated to a backup role.
Clay Buchholz, RHP - activated from the 60-day DL
Impact: Buchholz got off to an amazing start this season before shoulder bursitis shut him down for three months. Through 13 starts, he was a perfect 9-0 with a sparkling 1.61 ERA and a strikeout rate of nearly a batter per inning. While fantasy owners probably shouldn't expect the same type of numbers from Buchholz as he posted before the injury, he should still be safe to activate in just about all league formats. With Felix Doubront struggling lately, the Red Sox decided to give his turn in the rotation on Tuesday to Buchholz. Doubront may earn a spot start or two down the stretch, but as of now, his fantasy relevance would appear severely diminished.
Brendan Ryan, SS - acquired from Seattle for a player to be named
Impact: Ryan is one of the best (if not the best) defensive shortstops in baseball, which unfortunately counts for nothing in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. He'll get a chance for some playing time in New York with Derek Jeter's ongoing injuries. Fantasy owners who were unfortunate enough to give Ryan a chance to prove himself were "rewarded" with a .194 average over 141 games last season, and another sub-.200 average so far this year. His other numbers aren't good enough to make his lousy average tolerable, so he's best avoided in just about all league formats.
By popular demand, here's a quick rundown of some of the top rookies who have been called up this September, along with their future outlook:
Nick Castellanos, DET - possible future All-Star OF who is ready for the majors now
Michael Choice, OAK - power OF bat who could be a fantasy asset as soon as next year
Brian Flynn, MIA - quality LH SP looking to make a case for a spot in next year's rotation
Billy Hamilton, CIN - OF with amazing speed who could help a fantasy team on his SB numbers alone
Erik Johnson, CWS - RH SP prospect with all the tools to succeed; vying for 2014 rotation spot
Jimmy Nelson, MIL - solid RH SP who could battle for a rotation spot next year
Jose Ramirez, CLE - speedy 2B who made the jump from Double-A; likely needs more minor league seasoning
Jonathan Schoop, BAL - decent middle infield bat who could be vying for O's regular 2B job in 2014
Plus two more rookies who were called up just before Sept. 1 who are worth noting:
Abraham Almonte, SEA - speedy OF who's getting plenty of AB's this September; projects more as a 4th OF
Taijuan Walker, SEA - top RH SP prospect with ability to miss bats and rack up K's; possible future star