While the MLB trade deadline is more than four weeks away, the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers swapped catcher Bengie Molina for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later on Thursday.

Although this deal may appear insignificant on the surface, it’s important to understand how this trade affects not only the fantasy values of the players involved, but others as well.

Molina’s move from San Francisco to Texas obviously boosts his value—not only because he’s now batting in a much more potent lineup, but because of the home ballpark factor as well.

While the eldest Molina brother has struggled this season (.257 batting average, three HRs, 17 RBI in 202 at-bats), his three-year averages (.278 batting average, 18 HRs, 85 RBI) suggest there may be something left in the soon-to-be 36-year-old’s tank.

Despite his .257 batting average, Molina boasts a ridiculous 89.1 percent contact rate (MLB average is 81.0 percent).

In Texas, Molina figures to play five days a week and bat eighth between Justin Smoak and Julio Borbon.

If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic, consider this: In 2,579 career at-bats before the All-Star Break, Molina has hit a HR every 37.3 at-bats. Following the Midsummer Classic, however, he goes yard once every 28.2 at-bats.

He’s a decent deep league option, and is worth an add if you’re struggling to find a viable replacement for Victor Martinez.

With Molina out of the lineup in San Francisco, Buster Posey figures to settle in as the Giants everyday catcher. In 27 games this year, the 23-year-old former first-round pick has started just two games at catcher this season.

Although he hit well in his first two weeks as a major leaguer (.429 batting average), Posey has struggled since, posting a .146 average in his last 14 games. Still, he’s batting .289 with one HR and 10 RBI through 97 at-bats overall.

Posey projects as a Joe Mauer-type player with great strike zone awareness and the ability to hit for a high average. His power upside, however, is likely no more than 15-20 bombs a year.

With Posey moving from first base to catcher, Pablo Sandoval figures to move across the diamond and play first base. This likely opens up a spot at third base for the hot-hitting Juan Uribe , while Edgar Renteria and Freddy Sanchez will play every day at shortstop and second base, respectively.

In exchange for Molina, the Rangers will send reliever Chris Ray to San Francisco. Once thought to be Baltimore’s closer of the future, Ray underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and hasn’t been the same since.

After saving 33 games in 2006 and posting a 9.28 K/9 before his surgery in 2007, the now 28-year-old owns matching strikeout and walk rates of 4.55 in 31 2/3 innings this season.

Ray’s average fastball velocity is back up into the mid-90s, but his heater/slider combo hasn’t been as effective as it once was. His 3.41 ERA has been aided by a .214 BABIP, and his 5.88 xFIP suggests cloudy skies ahead.

While AT&T Park  may help Ray’s cause, he’s going to have a hard time finding meaningful innings in a Giants bullpen which has been pretty good this year. Ray should only be owned in deep keeper/dynasty leagues that count holds.


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