The Fantasy Impact of the Luis Arraez Trade

The fantasy implications of the Luis Arraez blockbuster.

Usually, this early in the season, you’re more likely to find blockbuster fantasy trades than actual real-life trades.

And yet, while blockbuster fantasy deals are surely happening across leagues everywhere, Major League Baseball had one such blockbuster deal pop up in its transaction log last week.

The San Diego Padres acquired infielder Luis Arraez from the Miami Marlins.

The trade, in full, saw the Padres send relief pitcher Woo-Suk Go and position player prospects Nathan Martorella (first base), Dillon Head (outfield), and Jakob Marsee to the Marlins for Arraez and cash considerations.

It’s yet another in a long line of deals pulled off by San Diego President of Baseball Operations and General Manager A.J. Prellar that are headlined by a marquee name. Blake Snell. Yu Darvish. Juan Soto. Josh Hader. Dylan Cease.

It’s old hat at this point for many, the news that the Padres completed yet another notable trade.

And while there have been plenty of significant fantasy implications with all of Prellar’s other marquee acquisitions, Arraez joining the Padres comes with its own set of fantasy ramifications, ones that reverberate all the way back to the infielder’s previous team.

Let’s dig into the fantasy implications of it all.


Luis Arraez in San Diego


Where hitting for average is concerned, Luis Arraez is arguably the best player in the league. Or at least he has been for the past half-decade. Since the start of 2019, when he made his Major League debut, Arraez is batting .324 in 2351 plate appearances, tops among all qualified hitters. Freddie Freeman, Michael Brantley, and Trea Turner are the only other batters to hit above .300 during that span, and Freeman is next closest to Arraez at .314.

He’s hit for average everywhere he’s gone. Target Field? Check.

loanDepot Park? There as well.

A fixture atop lineups, Arraez clocked a career-high 10 home runs in 2023, registering his highest barrel total (19) in the process too. That power helped raise the infielder’s fantasy ceiling in a notable way, giving him quality production in yet another fantasy category to go along with the elite batting average metrics and quality runs-scored tallies.

Luis Arraez’s Career Numbers

This year, however, Arraez has yet to hit a home run through his first 165 plate appearances as of the beginning of play on Wednesday. That’s certainly not the end of the world considering his past production. But it is significant when considering the infielder will now be playing his home games at a ballpark that has the second-lowest overall park factor in the league during the last three seasons, per Statcast. Looking at just the park factor for home runs, Petco Park is a bit better, outpacing 12 Major League stadiums in the last three seasons, also per Statcast.

However, that might not help Arraez too much. With 24 career Major League home runs, his expected home run tally for Petco Park sits at 22.

With all that in mind, though, for the veteran to be an above-average fantasy contributor and not just a player who contributes impact production at one position, he’ll need to either be put in a position to see a bunch of run-scoring or RBI chances with his new team.

That shouldn’t be too difficult at face value. San Diego entered play Wednesday trailing only the rival Dodgers for the most runs scored in the sport.

And early on, it looks like Arraez should see plenty of run-scoring opportunities.

He’s hit leadoff in each of the three games he’s started for his new team, and while batting leadoff for an elite offense is always a significant plus where fantasy ceilings are concerned, Arraez should benefit immensely from hitting in front of the heart of San Diego’s order, even sans Juan Soto.

Padres’ Top Four Hitters, Prior To The Arraez Trade, This Season

So while the early lack of power has been somewhat unideal, the early-season trade should only benefit Arraez in standard-scoring leagues, giving him a real shot to finish in the top 150 players overall now that he’s batting in such a potent lineup. And if the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that he’ll continue to hit and get on base.


Who Steps In For Miami?


This is easier said than done to answer for the Marlins, both from a real-life baseball standpoint and a fantasy standpoint.

It’s probably going to be challenging to find someone who can hit .299 with a .347 on-base percentage while consistently hitting leadoff as Arraez did this season with the National League East club.

Vidal Bruján has started the bulk of the games at the keystone for the Marlins since the deal, and he’s actually done a fairly reasonable job at providing Arraez-like production, with a somewhat high batting average, a quality on-base percentage, and a minuscule strikeout rate, one that’s actually identical to Arraez’s in Miami prior to the trade.

Numbers With The Marlins This Season

So perhaps it might not be too challenging to find a replacement for Arraez on the Marlins roster from a reasonably similar, like-for-like standpoint production-wise. However, for fantasy managers, there are a few things to keep in mind here.

One is that while Brujan has routinely logged lower strikeout rates in the minors (his minor league strikeout rate never finished above 18.0% in a full season) he hasn’t found as much success, comparatively, in the Majors.

From 2022 to 2023 in 246 combined plate appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays, Brujan struck out 23.6% of the time, which included a 25% strikeout rate in 84 plate appearances last year. Neither of those numbers stands out as particularly bad per se, they’re just a far cry from the 7.4% strikeout rate the infielder has logged so far this season.

Which is not all to say that Brujan is suddenly going to have an exorbitant strikeout rate the rest of the way. He is logging just a 21.4% whiff rate. But his chase rate does sit at a more middle-of-the-pack 28.0%.

Maybe this is Brujan’s breakout year and he can maintain such a low strikeout rate, but it seems like there’s some regression coming where the punchouts are concerned. Arraez was the only qualified hitter with a single-digit strikeout rate last year. Among the same group, only 15 hitters (Arraez included) posted a strikeout rate south of even the 15.0% mark.

In other words, expect some regression where strikeouts are concerned as the season goes on.

Considering Brujan hasn’t contributed much in the way of power, with no home runs and one barrel this season, even a slight uptick in strikeouts could notably impact his fantasy production and ceiling, especially considering he’s only stolen a pair of bases and his average isn’t too high, all things considered. As of now, he’s likely only more of a deeper league fantasy option.


Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter).

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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