Boston Gets Gagne, but Who Should Fantasy Owners Get?

by Andrew Stewart on July 31, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT


The Boston Red Sox have acquired relief pitcher Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers in exchange for starting pitcher Kason Gabbard and outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltre. Gagne waived his no-trade clause, and the trade was made official Tuesday, July 31. The Red Sox will pay Gagne the $2.1 million in performance bonuses he is owed while the Rangers will pay $400,000.

Gagne, despite his injury history, is one of the more dominant relievers in baseball today. He is most famous for the record 84 consecutive saves that he earned from 2002 to 2004. He remained a formidable closer until June 2005, when he had surgery on his right elbow. The surgery, along with back injuries and nerve irritation, kept Gagne out for the rest of the 2005 season and nearly all of 2006. Though he has made two trips to the disabled list with the Texas Rangers, he has been a reliable fantasy closer for most of the season. In 2007, Gagne is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. He has 16 saves in 17 chances.

Gagne's move to Boston should put a large damper his fantasy value. While he received nearly all of the save opportunities in Texas, Gagne will be behind All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon in Boston. Gagne will still likely see a few save opportunities from here on out because the Red Sox don't want to overwork Papelbon. Gagne will also likely keep posting exceptional stats in the fantasy categories of ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, so he may still be worth a roster spot - especially in leagues that reward holds. However, Gagne may have more value as trade bait to Papelbon owners; Gagne would be the first option to close games in Boston in the event that Papelbon is injured.

In Texas, relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit should be the immediate replacement for Gagne. If healthy, reliever Akinori Otsuka (elbow) might have been given an opportunity to take over as closer. Otsuka had 32 saves in 36 opportunities last season after taking over for then closer Francisco Cordero. Otsuka has a 2.51 ERA and 1.08 WHIP so far this season. However, with Otsuka recovering from an elbow injury and out until sometime August, Benoit is the most likely candidate to serve as the team's closer. Relievers Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson have mentioned as well, but Benoit is likely first in line. He has been impressive on the year, with a 3.11 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a save. He is available in roughly 99 percent of leagues polled, and he should be picked up as soon as possible.

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About Andrew Stewart

Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.

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