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Sunday 17th Dec 2017

It is frenzy time for sure as the final trade deadline moves are made before today's 4 PM ET deadline. Of course there are still waiver swaps teams can make with one another, but that game among and between the clubs is nearly complex and political as what goes on in the capital.

Certainly this past week there were some trades involving some interesting prospects, and we will review a couple of them. But the most interesting transaction of the week involves new Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. And, despite the presence of ex-Giant Eduardo Nunez, Devers has claimed third base, playing there every day since his call-up, hitting .300-2-3 his first week. Just 20, Devers has 399 minor league games under his belt, posting .296-49-256 totals with a decent 133 walks to 294 whiffs, good for a .354 OBP, which is solid enough for such a young player. If there is a name to watch for the rest of the year, like Gary Sanchez last year, and Carlos Correa the season previous, Devers is the man.

The Marlins swapped their closer with an eye on the future, and part of the A.J. Ramos spoils was former Mets hurler Merandy Gonzalez. Signed by the Fish in 2013, Gonzalez, still just 21, has been quite good, going 29-14, 2.98 over 345.3 frames with 302 strikeouts, with a 1.14 WHIP, and opposition batting average of .226 with just 11 homers allowed. This season, pitching first at St. Lucie, then Columbia, Gonzalez is a combined 12-3, 1.78 over 106 innings with 89 strikeouts and a solid 0.98 WHIP with just 21 bases-on-balls. 

The Mets certainly are gearing up their pen for next year, for they might have swapped Gonzalez, but then nabbed Drew Smith from the other Florida team in exchange for Lucas Duda. Smith, 23, is probably further along the development line, having twirled at five locales this season, assembling a 1-3, 1.53 mark over 47 innings with seven saves over 12 attempts. He's converted 13 of 19 over 126.6 minor league innings with 140 whiffs, holding hitters to a .190 average while compiling an 0.90 WHIP. Smith has thrown as high as Triple-A Durham for an inning this season, but will probably finish the minor league season at Binghamton, though a September call-up is certainly a possibility.

Arizona pitcher Silvino Bracho is another youngster who has prettymuch been a yo-yo, having just been recalled for the sixth time this year. Make no mistake, Bracho is a potential serious closing prospect with 83 saves over 92 attempts during the six years since he signed as a 20-year-old. Bracho has 293 strikeouts over 201 innings, holding opposing hitters to just a .205 average while posting a 2.40 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, having allowed just 157 hits. Closer, as we know, is about as volatile a slot as there is, but on a team where Fernando Rodney leads the pen pack followed by the likes of the de la Rosas (Jorge and Rubby), Bracho could well be the man by next year. Meaning in your deep league, stash and watch, or for other formats, certainly watch.

While we are staring at those irritating saves, Oakland will give Blake Treinen every opportunity to earn the stopper gig this season. The 6'5" right-hander moved into the closer role with the Nationals last year, converting one of three while posting a  2.28 ERA over 67 innings with 63 whiffs and a decent 1.22 WHIP. Handed the stopper job to start 2017, Treinen, like so many of his positional mates this season, just couldn't hold the job with a 5.73 ERA and 1.62 WHIP for the Nationals, relegating the 29-year-old, who actually blew his first save chance in Oakland, allowing a homer to Kendrys Morales. Still, Santiago Casilla has been moved back to a setup role (he entered in the seventh on Sunday) and Bob Melvin has been pretty clear about giving Treinen every opportunity to earn the job this season. 

Turning to a couple of hitters, if you are in a deep American League format, Omar Narvaez is a name to check out. A 25-year-old Venezuelan, Narvaez is hitting a cool .292-1-9 with the Pale Hose, but has walked 23 times to 26 strikeouts, good for a .359 OBP. In the Minors, Narvaez played 459 games, recording a .277-7-170 line (lots of lucky sevens in there, right?) with 176 walks to 168 strikeouts with a .353 OBP. Again, those numbers might seem anemic, but in a deep league, the worst about a guy like Narvaez is he won't hurt you and should you be in an OBP league, he can be golden. More important, catchers work on defense and working with the pitching staff first, then focus on hitting, meaning those numbers should translate really well with big league experience. 

The Angels promoted third sacker Kaleb Cowart, a first-round high school pick in 2010 who has a .265-65-429 line with 114 steals over 782 games. Cowart walked 306 times to 703 whiffs, posting a .335 minor league OBP, but he was hitting .311-12-57 with a dozen swipes and an .865 OPS this year at Salt Lake City. Furthermore, Cowart, now 25, is hot out of the blocks, hitting .476 over his first seven games, likely displacing Yunel Escobar for ownership of the hot corner, at least through the rest of this year.

Finally, the Jays' Steve Pearce deserves recognition for having belted a pair of walk-off grand slams in one week. Pearce, who qualifies only in the outfield thus far this year, has a .267-10-32 line and is interesting for a deep league. But since he has been hitting .278-6-25 against right-handers, he's also a potentially cheap reverse righty DFS option.

Don't forget to tune into The Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY Sports Network every Thursday from 9-11 PM, Eastern (6-8 Pacific) as me and my mate Justin Mason from Friends With Fantasy Benefits explore the fantasy world with a filter, looking at tactics and strategy. Join us and our special guests, along with Lord Zola for the Z Zone, where Todd explains the universe to us.

You can follow me @lawrmichaels.

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