Commentary

Fantasy spin: Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel trades

Updated: July 31, 2007, 5:50 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Here's the reason why we say, "never pay for saves."

Because saves always come into the league. And with the dealing of Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel at the trade deadline, there are two new closers in the American League.

With Akinori Otsuka on the DL, the best bet for saves in the Rangers' bullpen is Joaquin Benoit. Benoit has very quietly put together a solid season in middle relief, going 4-3 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He's been even better recently, with a 2.08 ERA and two wins in July. He's an immediate add in all AL-only leagues and in any mixed leagues where you are looking for saves. I like him better than Dan Wheeler or the other "new" closer, Joakim Soria.

With Dotel going to the Braves, Soria should reclaim the closer job he had at the start of the season. Soria has 10 saves with a 2.44 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings. After going 10 games without giving up an earned run in June, Soria has a 2.53 ERA in July. He's the next-best pickup for players looking for saves, because he has talent but won't get nearly the number of opportunities Benoit will.

As for the players traded, Gagne (2-0, 2.16 ERA) becomes the setup man to Jonathan Papelbon in Boston and you should hang onto him if, well, you're in a deep league in which middle guys who get good numbers for ERA and WHIP are valuable. Otherwise, he's Papelbon insurance and not much else.

Kason Gabbard sees a big drop in his value. Not only does he lose the run support of the Red Sox, he moves to Texas, where Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is not friendly to pitchers. He's 4-0 with a 3.73 ERA, but only has 29 strikeouts in 41 innings. He also has 18 walks, which tells me he's not anyone you want except in a deep AL-only league.

As for Dotel, he joins Rafael Soriano as a setup guy for closer Bob Wickman, and the same rules that applied to Gagne apply here as well. If your league is deep enough where middle guys help, he can be useful. If not, then it's time to thank him for his services and cut him loose.

Speaking of cutting loose, chances are if you owned Kyle Davies, you already have cut him loose. And now the Braves have as well, as he heads to Kansas City. Davies has been a big disappointment this season, going 4-8 with a 5.76 ERA in 17 starts for the Braves. Going to the Royals doesn't help him at all and there is a very good chance he stays in the minors (Davies was optioned to Triple-A earlier this month).

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"

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