Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening – whichever is applicable to you. The last installment of this feature covered four notable topics and a mention of a potential work stoppage. A little over a week later; we’ve established labor peace and teams have really began shaping their respective clubs for the 2017 season. Sunday marked the beginning of the Winter Meetings, which in many ways, marks the unofficial start to the 2017 Fantasy Baseball season.
Deadline to Designate Players for Assignment (12/3): A couple of notable players were added to the current Free Agent mix.
- Chris Carter and his 41 HR
- Wellington Castillo strengthens a pretty solid C class
- Ben Revere had established a solid AVG and SB skill set but had a miserable 2016
- Tyson Ross who, despite the uncertainty surrounding his return from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, could very well be the best SP on the market
Other notable players who may interest only me are Cody Ashe who I have always targeted as a potential power breakout, Vance Worley who has established himself as a solid RP the last couple of seasons, and Rubby De La Rosa who is a potential candidate for TJ surgery, but has shown flashes in the past.
Seattle Mariners send Minor League OF Alex Jackson and a player to be named to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Robert Whalen and Max Povse. Jackson has been a disappointment with the Mariners since being selected with the 6th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft. Perhaps a change of scenery will begin to extract some of that talent. The Mariners get two arms; Whalen offers a potential rotation piece as soon as this season while Povse has had less success and appears to be more organizational depth or perhaps bullpen arm.
Miami Marlins sign Edinson Volquez to a 2 year, 22 Million dollar deal. Declining K totals will rebound with move to NL, but the control issues remain and the 3.04 ERA in 2014 with Pittsburgh should not be used as a reference point. He’ll remain the 180 IP “workhorse” he’s established himself to be the last 5 seasons, but that will be accompanied by a 4.25 ERA with a WHIP north of 1.28.
Milwaukee Brewers sign 1B/OF Eric Thames. The former failed prospect spent several seasons in the KBO, became a superstar, and returns to MLB with a somewhat guaranteed spot come Opening Day 2017. The days of OF are over, but Thames will take the place of the departed Chris Carter. I’ll be watching early Spring Training results to form a better idea of value, but at this point he would fall into the Lucas Duda, Tommy Joseph, Justin Bour tier, and I believe I’d roll the dice on the upside of Thames.
New York Mets sign Yoenis Cespedes to a 4 yr, 110 Million dollar deal. I don’t view Cespedes as a 20 Million dollar player, but for the Mets and that lineup he’s likely worth every penny. His value should remain unchanged; he’ll once again be valued as a top-50 player and will produce among the top-75. At the time of this posting Michael Conforto would appear to be the loser in the deal, as playing time would appear to be problematic with Bruce and Granderson still in the fold. Look for this to be remedied at some point this offseason.
Chicago Cubs sign Jon Jay to a 1 yr, 8 Million dollar deal. His name won’t appear on many draft boards, but his signing could mean something to several players who will. The signing of Jay clearly makes CF more often than not a Almora/Jay platoon. This results in either Baez, Schwarber, Zobrist. or Heyward’s name being omitted from the lineup card. All will play and should be productive, but at the end of the day, perhaps only Heyward is a 6 start per week player.
Oakland A’s sign Matt Joyce to a 2 yr, 11 Million dollar deal. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wrote a nice piece in support of a Joyce breakout for 2017. The A’s offer playing time opportunity and clearly value platoon advantages. Joyce has always managed good plate discipline, but last season’s 20.1% BB rate is elite. Should this become a new baseline of sorts then perhaps more is in the offering. I personally still view him as a daily pickup whose true value can be found in League Only formats or the deepest of Mixed Leagues.
Atlanta Braves acquire Jaime Garcia from the St Louis Cardinals for RHP Chris Ellis, RHP John Gant, and IF Luke Dykstra. Ellis has some tools, but control has been his undoing. Dykstra seems destined for a bench role, but the Cardinals have a knack for getting the most out of these types. Gant is interesting as he had a nice run last season in relief. Can his unorthodox delivery continue to fool major league hitters moving forward? If so you could be looking at a nice Hold option in those formats. Garcia will have a level of job security in Atlanta that wasn’t there in St. Louis given the other options within the organization. Garcia’s arrival will eliminate the need for some intriguing back-end rotation options such as Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler, and Mike Foltynewicz.
Washington Nationals acquire catcher Derek Norris from San Diego Padres for RHP Pedro Avila. Avila is a low-level RHP who has shown nice K potential to begin his career. Meanwhile the Nationals go from one of the best hitting catchers in 2016, Wilson Ramos, to among the worst hitting Catcher’s in 2016. Personally I like Norris for a rebound this season. Huge jump in K% (30.3% in 2016, 24.7% career) is a big concern. That will need to come down in order to hit above .250 as he did in both 2015 and 2014. Even a slight improvement in K% accompanied by an improvement on his .238 BABIP from 2016 should get him in the .240’s. Those 14 HR become much more tolerable when the AVG is above the Mendoza line.
Houston Astros sign Carlos Beltran to a 1 yr, 16 Million dollar deal. Perhaps a return to postseason glory in Houston? Beltran’s value should not change. The guy can still rake, and the Astros lineup should be among the best in baseball. Beltran will provide a veteran presence near the middle of the order so the counting stats could see a spike. The addition of Beltran made an already muddled lineup projection even more problematic. Beltran can play some occasional OF, but he should be the primary DH making Gattis expendable. Should Gattis not be moved then a numbers crunch at 1B could very well end any 2017 value for AJ Reed, as McCann could see more time at 1B.
Rich Hill signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3 yr, 48 Million dollars. Hill was an elite fantasy SP when he stepped on the mound. The biggest question is, just how many times can he do it? When healthy Hill will take the turn of another talented but oft-injured Dodgers SP in Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The addition to Hill will also delay the timeline for highly touted prospect Jose De Leon and could also lead to holding back Julio Urias in some capacity. Look for this situation to gain more clarity as the offseason plays out.
New York Yankees sign Matt Holliday to a 1 yr, 13 Million dollar deal. At 37 to begin the 2017 season, Holliday will welcome the DH with open arms and will thrive in the role. Having played in only 183 games the last two season, the avoidance of manning the OF should help in seeing Holliday return to the 550 PA player he was prior to the last two seasons. .270/20/85/85 is entirely in play and will make Holliday a late round steal for many.
Philadelphia Phillies sign Joaquin Benoit to a 1 yr, 7.5 Million dollar deal. With Jeanmar Gomez faltering down the stretch, the Closer job would appear to be up for grabs to begin 2017. Hector Neris pitched well down the stretch and has the closer profile, but with arbitration years ahead why would the Phillies hinder themselves for the future? Look for Benoit and that 7.5 Million contract to be inserted into the closers role to begin 2017.
Toronto Blue Jays sign Steve Pearce to a 2 yr, 12.5 Million dollar deal. A very solid signing for a team in need of both 1B help and Corner OF depth. Pearce has never exceeded 383 PA for a season, as perceived struggles vs. RHP and injuries have limited his playing time. Could this be the season in which 500 PA are in play? Pearce clearly is the RH side of a platoon at 1B or DH with Justin Smoak. Factor in the lack of faith surrounding Melvin Upton and Ezequiel Carrera and the equation for that type of workload is present. While Pearce has a career .728 OPS vs. RHP, his totals the last three seasons have been .792/.765/.856 respectively. With that type of success is the need for a platoon necessary? Look for Pearce to secure the playing time aspect of his past limitations leaving only health to prevent him from 500 PA and a real shot at 20+ HR with a respectable AVG.
San Francisco Giants sign Mark Melancon to a 4 yr, 62 Million dollar deal. I suppose sometimes it pays to be the third wheel. Melancon was clearly a notch below Jansen and Chapman in the free agent closer market, but his success has been unquestioned. I know I’m guilty of retaining the 2012 struggles when thinking of Melancon, but since then Melancon has posted one season with an ERA above 2.00 and has averaged 38 save per season. Given the Giants style of play another 50 save season could be in the works for Melancon who could rank among the top-5 closers despite not having elite K potential.
For those owners who’ve held onto Hunter Strickland in Dynasty formats, the confirmation of time wasted has finally arrived.
Jeurys Familia and Jung Ho Kang could face potential discipline heading into 2017. Familia could very well face a Chapman like suspension due to a domestic violence incident this offseason. Meanwhile, Kang was arrested on his 3rd DUI charge since 2009. There is less precedent for penalty in the case for Kang in terms of suspension, but perhaps the Pirates could look to discipline internally or look to void his contract.
Albert Pujols undergoes Plantar Fascia surgery. The projected 4 month recovery time could hinder Pujols to begin the season. Generally speaking, Pujols isn’t a highly valued fantasy player anymore. Perhaps it’s because he’s nowhere near the player he once was. With that said, Pujols was the 14th rated 1B eligible player using Yahoo standard scoring last season and 77th overall. He still should be on draft list, however, this injury will lower that ranking to some degree.
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