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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE TRADE FALLOUT: TRAVIS SHAW GETS NEW START IN MILWAUKEE, TYLER THORNBURG LOSES CLOSING CHANCE

The Boston Red Sox got in on the Winter Meetings action early on Tuesday when they traded third baseman Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers for hard-throwing reliever Tyler Thornburg.  On the surface this is a deal that doesn't carry a lot of impact both in real and in fantasy baseball but it does have some rippling effects.  As far as Shaw is concerned, the Red Sox had no need for him due to the presence of Yoan Moncada and Pablo Sandoval and a fresh start was needed here anyways after he hit just .242 in 2016.  Never considered a top prospect coming up the Boston system, Shaw became the starting third baseman for the Red Sox early last season when Sandoval was lost to injury.  A very good April soon descended into pronounced struggles for Shaw and the arrival of Moncada doomed his outlook there.  There is some power here however as Shaw cracked a respectable 16 home runs in 530 at-bats last season and his 71 RBI was a solid total as well.  Still Shaw has limitations that show up in a very high 25.1 K/9 rate which is a detriment to the batting average.  Overall though Shaw should be looked at closely in NL-only leagues as he is slated to be the Brewers' starting third baseman to begin 2017 and he should have a decent leash on a team that is clearly in rebuild mode.  Some more home runs and RBI are what Shaw will contribute to a fantasy baseball team but that is as far as his impact goes.

When it comes to Thornburg, the real shame is that his move to Boston removes the chance for him to close in Milwaukee where he was considered the favorite to do so.  Thornburg possesses the classic high strikeout stuff to be an impact closer as he whiffed batters at a crazy high 12.09 rate a year ago.  Toss in his sparkling 2.15 ERA and Thornburg was on some early sleeper lists.  That is no more as Thornburg will pitch in setup for closer Craig Kimbrel.  On the flip side though, the Brewers will now likely turn to Corey Knebel to finish games to start 2017 as the former 2013 first round pick also has the high K rate (10.47 in 32.2 innings last season) to help there.  However Knebel has some pronounced control woes that showed up in his as his BB/9 has been over 3.00 each of his three MLB seasons and it crested to a very ugly 4.41 a year ago.  That is never a good thing in the ninth inning and that makes Knebel far from a sure thing there.  Still with only 30 players out there who collect saves, Knebel needs to be on all cheat sheets at closer.


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