In the next several weeks, key players will likely change teams, affecting -- directly or indirectly -- many players' fantasy value. And once trades are made, there will be no shortage of information about which players to add or drop. With that said, smart fantasy owners will get ahead of the competition by anticipating player movement and making the wise moves before their competitors see them coming.
Included below are some of the hitters who could see their fantasy value change dramatically by the beginning of August.
Carlos Quentin, Padres: As many observers predicted, the move to the National League and Petco Park has not been kind to Quentin. The right-handed slugger is 31 years old, and he could still be a productive, powerful designated hitter if he were traded to an American League club. San Diego is 12 games behind the pace in the NL West, so trading some veterans could be an option. There are several AL contenders who could consider adding the veteran slugger, whose fantasy value could soar in a hitter-friendly AL park.
Marlon Byrd, Phillies: Byrd has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, with 18 homers and 54 RBIs in 94 games. His numbers are slightly better at home, which is not surprising because Citizens Bank Park often favors hitters. Popular rumors have Byrd being targeted to the Mariners, and a move to a pitcher-friendly home venue such as Safeco Field could cost him a few homers and RBIs in the second half. Fantasy owners who can spare Byrd's power could choose to play it safe and trade him for a well-rounded hitter right now.
Chase Headley, Padres: Of all the hitters mentioned here, Headley may have the best chance of seeing his fantasy value spike in the coming weeks. The 30-year-old Headley has never been able to recapture his elite 2012 production, and his spacious home park is not doing him any favors. Headley has posted a .804 career OPS on the road, which is over 100 points higher than his mark at Petco Park. If a team with a hitter-friendly home venue were to add Headley to man the hot corner, his skills could flourish in the second half.
Leury Garcia, White Sox: Fantasy owners are always looking for cheap speed on waivers, and Garcia could be the next target. The 23-year-old has picked up 17 steals in 199 career at-bats, so he could be one of the better basestealers in the AL if he were to own a full-time gig. Garcia's .196 career batting average shows that there is some risk here, but he may be able to get into a better groove if he were starting on a regular basis. Both of the starting middle infielders on the White Sox -- Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez -- have seen their names pop up in trade rumors, as have some of the team's outfielders. Garcia could be a super-utility man or more by August.
Aaron Hill, D-backs: Hill is ice cold, as he has slugged just two homers since the start of June, and his on-base percentage has been below .225 over that stretch. The California native had been experiencing similar struggles with the Blue Jays in 2011, when the club gave him a fresh chance by shipping him to Arizona. Following that trade, he hit .315 with 23 runs scored in 124 at-bats during the final months of the season. Hill is known for being a streaky slugger, and fantasy owners shouldn't give up on him, as he could turn his season around after finding a new home at the Trade Deadline.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox: Betts was a heralded callup a couple of weeks ago, but Boston has limited him to part-time duty, which has curbed most of the enthusiasm. The 21-year-old has shown glimpses of his explosive skill set, but it is hard for owners to get excited about a rookie who is starting roughly half of the time. The Red Sox went into the All-Star break ranked 13th in the AL in wins, and with a World Series championship hanging in their rearview mirror, they may decide to become sellers at the Trade Deadline and retool for next season. Deals to clear out veterans could open the way for Betts to find regular playing time down the stretch, which could help fantasy owners in the steals category. No matter what Bosotn chooses to do, Betts' fantasy value will likely rise as soon as the team starts playing for next season, giving its prospect some necessary at-bats to prepare for a regular role in 2015.
Joey Gallo, Rangers: Texas came into the season as a postseason contender, but the Rangers would have the first pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft if the season were to end today. The club has dealt with more injuries than any other team this season, and it will likely be willing to listen about trading away healthy assets in order to rebuild for 2015. If the team strips some of its roster prior to Aug. 1, it could come calling for Gallo in an effort to spur fan enthusiasm and give the 20-year-old a two-month trial with the big league club. Gallo has slugged 31 homers in 290 at-bats in the Minors this year, and he could skip Triple-A and go straight from Double-A to Texas. Fantasy owners who need power could stash Gallo now and then reevaluate his position with the organization at the beginning of August.