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Trade Analysis: C.C. Sabathia for Ben Zobrist

One of my trusted followers on Twitter threw me what I considered to be the fantasy baseball advice equivalent of a hanging curve this morning.

My follower has C.C. Sabathia in stacked pitching rotation that includes Tim Lincecum, King Felix, Dan Haren and Justin Verlander. Like the guy in the ESPN Fantasy Baseball commercial, he must’ve drafted 5 pitchers in a row. To his credit, at least one of them wasn’t Vicente Padilla. Moving on…

He would be receiving Ben Zobrist in a 1-for-1 deal. In Yahoo! fantasy baseball, Zobrist is eligible at 2B, SS, and OF. The follower’s middle infield includes Howie Kendrick and Miguel Tejada with no support. His outfield options are much better with the likes of Manny Ramirez, Carlos Quentin, Johnny Damon, Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran coming off the DL.

So… should he make the deal?

Before doing research on the details of the trade, my gut instinct told me “no.” Sabathia is an A-line pitcher in fantasy baseball. Typically, when you have pitchers of that caliber on your roster, you don’t trade them. However, in the case of this team, Sabathia may be expendable because this guy has a fantasy baseball “Dream Team rotation.”

On paper, however, Zobrist – while certainly a nice player with attractive multi-position eligibility – just doesn’t add up to Sabathia. The biggest reason the follower should trade for Zobrist is to pick up some much needed help in that otherwise weak middle infield. Kendrick was a nice sleeper draft pick, but Tejada isn’t very likable as the only option at shortstop.

According to Yahoo! preseason ranks, this trade isn’t that bad – Sabathia is no. 41 overall compared to Zobrist at no. 39. Average Draft Position at Mock Draft Central tells a much different story, however. While Sabathia was being selected in mixed 5×5 leagues around pick 27, Zobrist was going as “low” as pick 53.

So, should offensive upgrades in the middle infield allow the follower to trade one of fantasy baseball’s top pitchers?

In our eyes – yes. Assuming the rest of that pitching rotation stays healthy, Sabathia’s numbers will merely add buffer to the expected victories that will already be coming this team’s way in strikeouts, ERA, and wins. So while Sabathia is almost NEVER expendable – this seems to be a situation where he would be.

Plus, Zobrist’s 2o1o CBS Sports projections of a .261 average with 28 home runs, 95 RBI, 94 runs and 16 steals lead us to believe he is a HUGE upgrade over Kendrick and Tejada’s at their positions.

So, @thebrewz23, we say take the deal.

Readers – what do you say? Leave a comment below.

PSthe team at Fantasy Baseball Dugout is available to offer fantasy baseball trade advice all season long. Post a question to BeeZee on Twitter by following him (@jonathanbentz) and asking away. Or, if you prefer to email your trade opportunity to us for analysis, send it to webmaster [at] fantasybaseballdugout [dot] com. We may publish several of these trade questions as the season goes on.

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