Weekly Assembly: 2014 Free Agent Class

Ask Assembly 5Each week we will feature one reader question here. Each member of the Assembly will attempt to offer the best answer for you. Together you’ll have more than 100 years of experience responding to your issue.

David sends in a question an interesting question regarding next year’s Free Agent Class. Thanks for sending this in. We’re happy to help!! Check back in the upcoming days for our answers. Good luck and thanks for visiting us at The Fantasy Assembly!


I’m in a 10 team, head to head, keeper league, where we keep 8 players and field a roster of 25 players. I think this question is applicable to any league however as it concerns general draft strategy. So, Jacoby Ellsbury just landed a long term contract with the NYY and Shin-Soo Choo with the Rangers – both players had very solid seasons in 2013. Given this, what FA do you think should be targeted in fantasy drafts who are “due” for big years to land a longterm multiyear contract next year.

Have at it gentlemen!

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7 comments on “Weekly Assembly: 2014 Free Agent Class

  1. If you’re looking for the top free agents at the end of the 2014 season, I think you’re going to be rather disappointed as the number of keeper worthy players to target are few and far between.

    Hanley Ramirez would be the top hitting free agent. Billy Butler & Alex Rios are the next two biggest names, but both have club options for 2015 I expect to get picked up.
    Players like Ben Zobrist, Corey Hart, Chase Headley, Pablo Sandoval, Brett Gardner and David Ortiz might be nice players to own, but I’m not sure any of them are players to target for a keeper league.

    As for pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Homer Bailey, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson & James Shields are the top names, but only Kershaw & Bailey will be on the right side of 30. Brett Anderson, Johnny Cueto, Yovani Gallardo and Hisashi Iwakuma all have reasonable club options compared to current market values so don’t expect to see any of them.

    Overall I see next year as being the year of the trade. We saw a few big trades go down this off-season, but those will pale in comparison to next years off-season considering the disappointing free agent class.

    If you’re looking to target players this year, just focus on the best players and don’t worry about who’s free to sign where next season.

  2. I am not a huge believer in the “free agent payday” leading to a breakout season. It happens sometimes, but the vast majority of MLB players give a focused effort year in and year out. While it is true that most players would love to hit the free agency jackpot, there are not all that many players who have another gear to take their games to.

    The types of players that may may benefit from this scenario are guys who have something to prove. You are looking for players like Hanley Ramirez who has elite talent, but has had his effort and his durability questioned in the past. You can bet that Hanley will be locked in this year. The only thing that can slow him down is injury as he looks for his mega-contract.

    Other FAs who intrigue me are players like Pablo Sandoval and Corey Hart. I think Sandoval’s skills have regressed somewhat, but I expect him to come into camp in peak physical form as he looks to get a decent contract. If he is in shape, he will outproduce his ADP although I don’t expect anything close to the numbers he posted in his best seasons.

    Corey Hart would have a big deal right now had he been healthy last season. This year is all about proving that he can put a full season together. While I am not convinced that he can, the price to acquire his services will likely be low enough to make it a good investment.

    The last thing I want to add relates to closers. While I won’t totally avoid a FA to be closer on a mediocre team, keep in mind that these players are always likely to be dealt at the deadline. When these guys move to contenders, it usually means that they are no longer closers. When deciding between a player like Casey Janssen who is in his walk year and another comparable closer under team control, I will take the later.

  3. Thanks for the question David.
    I’m not a believer in the increased walk-year performance. Here’s a piece from Joe Sheehan on the topic: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/joe_sheehan/06/21/walk.years/

    I think if I had to pick a handful of guys that MIGHT increase their value, it’ll end up being guys that NEED to increase their value:

    Corey Hart
    Chase Headley
    Asrubal Cabrera
    (these last two could potentially be traded mid-season which could help them)
    Hanley is the real big one

    For arms
    Luke Hochevar might be given a chance to start
    And important years for
    Justin Masterson
    Edison Volquez
    Josh Johnson

    Of those 8 listed I suspect half will perform better than projections while the other half won’t :)

    Not sure that’s much help, but I wouldn’t buy into the walk year theory too much. There will always be examples of it, but as many examples of it not happening. The guys in the list above that intrigue me for 2014: Headley and Hochevar for example, intrigued me without their impending FA considered.

    Thanks again and best of luck in 2014.

  4. I think you cannot discount players w club options. Take Adam Lind as an example. He has a $7.5MM option w a $1MM buy-out. Lind put together a nice 2013 season and is still in his prime. Sticking in Toronto, Colby Rasmus could also be motivated to perform as he enters a FA year. I agree on Corey Hart and also think Michael Morse, who inked a 1-year deal w SF could be a solid late round target.
    Certainly players who could be traded into better situations are worth thinking about as well. I would focus on RP who are in setup roles but could be traded to be closers. While I don’t always trust these guys, players like Chris Perez, Jason Motte, Jose Veras, Heath Bell could all be in line for saves if they are dealt.

  5. As a saber manager, I don’t buy into walk-year factor. A hitter goes to the plate each time looking to hit (or in Votto’s case, just get on base). He isn’t going to acquire more hits simply because he’s more determined. The same goes for HR — you may swing harder, but that can negatively affect other aspects of your swing, such as contract rate and chasing pitches outside of the zone. Speed may be the easiest thing to try to pad, showing you can take extra bases or steal more, but even that may be curtailed by the manager not giving the green light for SB, or the player gets thrown out by going for an extra base. And let’s not forget the luck factor in BABIP for hitters and pitchers.

    All a player can do is take care of himself, maybe avoid risky plays to stay healthy and on the field, and perhaps play through minor injuries to ensure you acquire enough AB/IP to put together a good season.

  6. After reading all the responses it appears I interpreted the question wrong (I hate when I do that). As for players I would target in drafts this year that are free agents next season (other than the names I mentioned above):

    Norichika Aoki has more power and speed than he has shown and I’m sure he’d like more than the 2 million he’s been getting.

    Jake Peavy will be 33 in May and this is his last chance at a big multi-year deal.

    Brett Anderson is an interesting name. He has a 12 million dollar option for 2014 so he’s gonna need to step things up (and stay healthy) if he wants that money.

    Wei-Yin Chen had some setbacks last year along with an injury. He could be a better than average option to round out your staff with.

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