- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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Carlos Delgado being traded to the Mets for a pitching prospect and platoon catcher/first baseman is like a fantasy trade, so let's break it down from that angle. From a fantasy baseball aspect, this doesn't change Delgado's value very much. In his one season as a Marlin, Delgado ended up with similar numbers to his Blue Jay days. He homered 33 times and knocked in 115 runs. He proved he could hit in a tough pitcher's park in Florida, with 16 of his home runs there. So the ballpark he swings in isn't much of an issue, which is good because Shea Stadium won't be any friendlier. Delgado will have a nice lineup around him again.
Delgado finished the 2005 season ranked 49th on ESPN's Player Rater, and eighth among first basemen. Even though Delgado was a top 50 player, he's unlikely to be drafted in the top 50 in 2006 drafts. First base and outfield are the deepest fantasy offensive positions, and many owners will opt for middle infielders and catchers with lesser numbers, because of position scarcity, like Marcus Giles, Felipe Lopez and Joe Mauer. And nobody can argue the strategy. First basemen like Delgado, especially older types (Delgado is 33), are often bypassed so owners can bulk up elsewhere and settle for a Lyle Overbay type five rounds later. Regardless, Delgado should be a safe 30-100 option again in 2006, so draft him with confidence.
As for the Marlins, it's getting difficult to envision what their 2006 opening day lineup might look like. In fact, at this point, I'm penciling in Miguel Cabrera at third base and not much else. Who's next to be traded?
Mike Jacobs, incidentally, could be a nice fantasy sleeper in 2006, if the Marlins give him significant playing time. Currently, with few players under contract, it would seem they would have to. Jacobs was the Mets organization player of the year in 2003 and again in 2005. Back in '03, he was a power hitting catcher who batted .329 in Double A Binghamton. With Mike Piazza still around in 2005 and Doug Mientkiewicz a sub-par hitting option at first, Jacobs was given a first baseman's mitt in August and told to hit and do the best he can in the field.
All in all, Jacobs was a nice surprise. He hit 11 home runs in only 100 at-bats. It's still a rather small sample size, but this guy had power in the minors, too. The Marlins could use Jacobs' lefty bat at first or at catcher, assuming Paul Lo Duca finds a new home, which could be any minute. With 500 at-bats, it would be reasonable to expect Jacobs to hit 20-25 home runs. The only problem in fantasy: He didn't play a game at catcher last season as a Met, so he won't be eligible behind the plate in most leagues. As a first baseman, he won't be a top 20 option in drafts. If the Marlins do intend to play him at catcher, you should draft him late and move him there when he qualifies. Few catchers have this much power potential.
The prospect the Marlins received isn't likely to make a fantasy impact until 2007. Yusmeiro Petit has been a dominant strikeout pitcher in the Mets organization for two years, mainly at the Double A level and below. A right-handed power pitcher who is only 21, he was given three starts at Triple A Norfolk in 2005, and didn't fare well. With Florida clearly not worried about wins and losses in 2006, expect Petit and the prospects acquired in the Red Sox deal to be given plenty of time to develop. Don't worry about Petit in fantasy for another year.
5dDavid M. Hale