Commentary

Fantasy Spin: Jon Rauch traded to Arizona

Updated: July 22, 2008, 8:17 PM ET
By Jason Grey | ESPN.com

Jon Rauch's fantasy value just took a big hit.

Despite a rough weekend for Brandon Lyon against the Dodgers, he remains entrenched as the closer for the Diamondbacks, meaning that Rauch will be relegated to a set-up role with his new club after he was traded to Arizona for second base prospect Emilio Bonifacio.

Manager Bob Melvin is not going to pull Lyon from the role after a couple of poor outings, only one of which resulted in a blown save, especially after Lyon had a stretch of 25 scoreless innings earlier in the season. If there is a save situation on Tuesday night, Rauch will likely get the call, but only because Lyon is getting another day of rest from his weekend work. The plan is still for him to be the closer going forward.

Lyon has gone 20-of-25 in save chances this year, but two of those blown saves came in the first week. He gave up five runs Sunday in a blown save, but there were some that questioned whether he should have been in the game given that it was his third straight day of work and that he had thrown a lot of pitches in the previous two outings. So there were some mitigating factors.

The D-backs needed a fresh arm to bolster their bullpen, and Rauch will fill a key set-up role for the club, with an outside chance of saves down the road if Lyon can't find his rhythm again. Lyon likely still has a good bit of leeway in keeping his job.

Joel Hanrahan and his 97-mph fastball might be the favorite to replace Rauch for saves in the nation's capital, though as of this writing, manager Manny Acta had not committed to anything. Saul Rivera and Luis Ayala may also be in the mix. Hanrahan's usage has been more in the middle innings and in two-inning stints as of late, but he has prototypical closer stuff when he's throwing strikes.

The Nationals immediately optioned Bonifacio to Triple-A, and though Ronnie Belliard and Felipe Lopez are currently ahead of him on the depth chart, both players are reportedly available in the trade market. Bonifacio has stolen 120 bases over the past three seasons, and though he doesn't bring much else to the table, his speed should place him on the radar of fantasy players. There's a chance he competes for a starting job at second base next season, especially if Belliard -- who is signed through 2009 -- is dealt.

In the other trade announced today, Randy Wolf went from the Padres to the Astros. Wolf had been a useful pitcher in weeks where he had nothing but home starts, but his numbers have been going backward as the season has progressed. The move from Petco Park to Minute Maid Park is only going to exacerbate his decline. He had posted a 3.17 ERA in pitcher-friendly Petco, but a 6.63 ERA on the road. He's not recommended in any format going forward.

The Padres received right-hander Chad Reineke, a Triple-A starter that might eventually have a role as a long reliever in a big league bullpen.

Jason Grey is a graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau's Scout Development Program and has won two Tout Wars titles, one LABR title and numerous other national "experts" competitions.