The Atlanta Braves have acquired infielder Emilio Bonifacio and reliever James Russell from the Chicago Cubs for minor league catcher Victor Caratini. The Cubs think so much of Caratini that they are sending the Braves enough money to cover the contracts of Russell and Bonifacio for the rest of the season.
The Braves were not thought to be major players because of the enormous contract that they offered to Ervin Santana this spring ($14.1 million for one year). They really couldn’t take on any more payroll.
Luckily for them, the Cubs bailed them out.
Bonifacio’s fantasy value obviously takes a huge hit here. He was starting for the Cubs. With the Braves, it seems very unlikely that he will unseat either Chris Johnson at third base or Tommy LaStella at second. He will likely be the backup at second, third, short, and the corner outfield slots, and provide speed as a pinch runner.
I would recommend dropping Bonifacio in standard leagues now, and even some moderately sized ones as well. Deep leaguers may be able to hang on to him for a bit longer to see how much the Braves will play him, but if likely will not be much. They raved about his ability to be a backup to so many positions, but that does not translate to enough at bats to help your fantasy team.
For those of you that play in leagues that count holds, Russell could see an increase in value if for no other reason than he will see more hold opportunities with his new team. Otherwise, he likely will not see enough late inning action to vulture any saves.
The 20 year old Caratini was a second round pick by the Braves in last year’s draft, and is already regarded as the 13th best prospect in the loaded Cubs system.
Of course, the intriguing part of this and the liquidation of Darwin Barney by the Cubs is the openings in the middle infield. Arismendy Alcantara is now the undisputed starter at second base, and rumors are abound that Javier Baez will be up soon. The Cubs have been playing him at second base for AAA Iowa for the last week now.
Then the question becomes who will take over third base? Luis Valbuena is doing a good job as the incumbent, but he has no upside. The logical move would be to put Baez at third if they are not willing to call up Kris Bryant, which still looks to be the Cubs’ stance. Chicago’s situation is certainly one to watch in the coming weeks.
As for Alcantara, I would recommend that he be picked up in all deep and moderate sized leagues. Standard leaguers can wait. If you are in a standard league and having trouble in the middle infield, it may be more prudent to go with a more proven commodity first.
Stay tuned to FantasyCPR today, as I will finish my analysis of all of the deadline deals from a fantasy perspective!