Sometimes the food at the cocktail hour beats that of the main course.
Such was the case with this year's MLB winter meetings. The weeks preceding the annual event brought us big news surrounding big fantasy baseball names, most notably Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Prince Fielder, three of the top 15 players overall in my early 2014 rankings. The meetings themselves, by comparison, saw no players ranked within my top 190 overall changing teams.
That's not to characterize the week as entirely forgettable. This was a week of lower-tier talent changing hands, a respite, if you will, before a dessert of bigger news. Remember that Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Garza, Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz and a slew of closers remain unsigned, and there's always the possibility of a David Price trade upcoming.
And, even if this was the baked-chicken-breast-with-side-of-rice-pilaf of winter meeting meals, it was still a tasty, albeit plain, dish. One that is especially relevant to those seeking value on the lower-rankings tiers.
Let's examine the week's happenings, going in order of fantasy relevance:
In a three-team trade, the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Mark Trumbo and two players to be named later, the Chicago White Sox acquired Adam Eaton and the Los Angeles Angels acquired Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago
It's the rare trade more exciting in fantasy than for the on-field terms, though Diamondbacks fans might insist they're every bit as excited, being that they received a player who, in the past three seasons combined, has hit six fewer home runs (95) than the players the Diamondbacks surrendered have played major league games (101). Whatever your take on Trumbo -- and most critics will cite his questionable left-field defense and his low on-base percentage -- the case can be made that every player in this trade improved in fantasy value.
Trumbo improved most, primarily because the deal meant departing a pitching-friendly park for a hitting-friendly venue, even if the 2013 statistics at Angel Stadium and Chase Field had them close, and both middling-to-pitcher-friendly. He'll benefit thanks to more homer-friendly, left-field dimensions, as Chase Field had the seventh highest home run/fly ball percentage to left (16.2 percent) with Angel Stadium 22nd (12.1 percent). Keep in mind that he has hit 63 of his 95 homers to left field, 41 of those to "far left" (20 percent of the field working from the left-field line to the right). Normally a first-half performer -- 60 of those 95 homers have been hit before the All-Star break -- Trumbo might enjoy a quick start despite the league switch, earning himself a bump to 103rd in my overall rankings (14th among first base-eligibles), but there's little question that such a hot start would make him an ideal midseason trade candidate.