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A Fantasy Spin on the Hot Stove

The Holidays can be a demanding time. Events and family outings pushing you this way and that, making those list and checking them twice, the endless search for that perfect holiday gift. For some it can be the most wonderful time of the year. For others, the commercialized vision of grandeur can serve as a reminder of just how crap-filled life can be. Either way, I can say with confidence that your mind can be a bit preoccupied.

MLB front office types likely face many of the same holiday distractions as the rest of us. Perhaps that could be the very reason as to why the upcoming weeks tend to be the slowest in the major league offseason.  Are we really living in a world where a dozen or so late inning relievers have more clarity than MVP caliber bats such as Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo, when Santa squeezes his keister down the chimney? If past history is any indication, then we could certainly be living in that world.

Milwaukee Brewers send Martin Maldonado and RHP Drew Gagnon to the Angels for C Jeff Bandy. Sure we’re bottom feeding here on the transaction wire, but playing time = value. Maldonado and Gagnon offer nothing of note, but as we stand here today Jeff Bandy or Andrew Susac should be the starting catcher in Milwaukee. Bandy is noted for being a good receiver, but Susac has the slightly better offensive track record in the minors. Should Susac win the job then you could be looking at a decent OBP option at catcher with double-digit HR pop. Certainly not a single league catcher target, but there is some possible value as a late second catcher or a $1 option.

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Baltimore Orioles sign Welington Castillo for 1 year, 6 million. Take away last seasons .264 AVG and Castillo’s last three seasons have been very similar. A .337 BABIP and high K totals suggest the .237 mark from both 2015 and 2014 is closer to what Castillo is. Castillo rated well defensively last season, but  pitch framing values have not graded out as well. Due to these struggles, projecting more than 120 starts would seem to be premature. Trading Chase field as your home ballpark rarely turns out well, but Camden Yard is not a huge downgrade. Castillo will be miscast by some as a low-tier catcher-one, and with his 20 HR potential I can understand the thought process. Personally I prefer Castillo as my second catcher option.

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Chicago White Sox sign Derek Holland for 1 year, 6 million. Holland showed a flash of promise in 2013 – 3 years and 213 IP later Holland is hoping Don Cooper can work his magic, for a team willing to give him an opportunity. If nothing else, Holland has put himself in a situation to be fantasy relevant; rebuilding team, good pitching coach, etc.. Like most, I just don’t see it happening.

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The Seattle Mariners spent the week dumping excess parts, and teams all around rejoice, racing to claim unwanted merchandise. Zach Lee was claimed by the Padres while Richie Shaffer was claimed by the Phillies. Lee was once considered a top Dodgers prospect after a strong 2012 season over two Minor League levels. That progress stalled at AAA in 2014 and has yet to return. Despite solid control, Lee’s lackluster K rates have led to too much contact and being BABIPed to death.  The Padres offer Lee a clean slate along with an opportunity that should include some room for failure. Lee certainly isn’t a target at this point, but perhaps a solid spring could at least put him back on the radar.

I wrote about Shaffer earlier this offseason when he was picked up by the Mariners. Shaffer features no track record of success at the Major League level, but 30 HR across 3 levels in 2015 suggest there is some power potential. With unproven Tommy Joseph and lackluster OF options, Shaffer could play his way into playing time. That’s a big if with no contract guarantee, but a strong spring could put him on the radar.




Milwaukee Brewers sign LHP Tommy Milone for 1 year, 1.25 million. Rather risk free deal for a potential back of the rotation arm. Milone posted two solid seasons in Oakland from 2012 and 2013, making 57 starts with good control and an ERA below 4.oo. His time with the Twins was not  as pleasurable; he made just 12 starts last season and 23 in 2015. Milone’s less than stellar K totals have become even more lackluster, and that very good control has betrayed him. Milone did manage an ERA below 4.00 in 2015 but that number ballooned to 5.71 in 2016. He’s not one mixed leaguers should target nor should he be on the radar in League only formats. With that being said, Milone is still a guy who shouldn’t be dismissed as a potential FA streamer add at some point.

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Miami Marlins revamp the bullpen by adding RHP’s Junichi Tazawa  (2yr, 12 Mil) and RHP Brad Ziegler (2yr,16Mil). I don’t expect either to replace AJ Ramos at this point. Ramos has posted 72 saves over the last two seasons with excellent K totals and an ERA below 2.60. Despite the success there is some reason for concern. Over the last 4 seasons Ramos has posted only one season with a BB/9 below 4.00. His WHIP during that same span has been below 1.20 just once (2015). Last season that mark was 1.36 which was also accompanied by a 4.28 xFIP. HR prevention has been

Ramos’s savior in two out of the last three years, having posted a 0.14 mark in two of the last three years. Simply put, Ramos has a Fernando Rodney type feel to him. Given his recent success Ramos should have somewhat of a loose leash, but we’re also not talking Zach Britton here. Should Ramos struggle then look for Ziegler and his 63% GB rate to get the first crack.

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San Diego Padres sign Jhoulys Chacin for 1 year, 1.75 million. While his 4.81 ERA wouldn’t suggest it, Chacin performed well last season. Pitching in 34 games and making 22 starts Chacin managed a 4.21 xFIP while posting his highest K/9 since his rookie season in 2010. Walks continue to be an issue as Chacin posted a BB/9 over 3.00 for the 3rd consecutive season. He managed positive values on both his slider and curveball last season, but ultimately it was his fastball results that did him in. After three consecutive seasons of FB velocity below 90 MPH, one has to wonder if those results can ever be expected to improve?

Like others mentioned in this post, Chacin fell into the perfect opportunity. As of this moment, rosterresource.com has Chacin pencilled in as the Opening Day starter. Chacin is certainly worth monitoring in league only formats, and should he gain any momentum with his fastball effectiveness the curveball and Slider quality could leave you with something of value.

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Jeurys Familia has Domestic Assault charges dropped. New York Daily News Kristie Ackert cited industry sources as stating Familia should still expect at least a 30 game minimum. Aroldis Chapman’s suspension set the precedent last season. Addison Reed will fill in for Familia during his absence. Like Chapman in 2016, Familia will come with a draft day discount.

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Jurickson Profar and Ryan Rua to platoon at 1B for the Rangers. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted the Rangers were comfortable going with this platoon to begin the season. Somewhat skeptical at this point as I expect Edwin Encarnacion’s name to be connected to Texas given his limited market to sign. Should this come to fruition then Rua would offer minimal value being the short-handed side of the platoon.

Obviously Profar is the potential big winner. With multiple position eligibility and former top prospect accolades, Profar’s  will be a prominent one late in drafts. Good contact rates suggest AVG could be respectable, but aside from that Profar has really provided nothing encouraging since 2012 when he first rose to prominence. Perhaps the most telling story is how little faith the Rangers seem to have in Joey Gallo. It’s becoming quite clear that should Gallo ever reach his potential then it won’t come in a Rangers uniform.

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Philadelphia Phillies sign extension with Odubel Herrera  (5 yr, 30  Mil). Counting numbers really improved as HR nearly doubled to 15 and SB, Runs, and RBI benefited with the additional  games and nearly 120 PA. Herrera showed real growth last season in walk rate, improving his mark by over 4% for the season. A closer examination, however, would establish that Herrera’s total was built on by a huge Mar-May. After which point his BB% was closer to 7%. While Herrera is only 24, as a former Rule 5 pick, I wonder how much more he really has to offer? Herrera feels to me like a 12/20 hitter who will post a solid AVG south of .300. For a late round pick, as he was last season, there is value to be had. Given last season’s success I’m not quite sure that draft day value will be there. Solid production is to be had, but I’m not sold on how much value to your roster it will return.

 

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Josh Coleman
Father of four SP1 children. Replacement level husband to a top tier wife. I love my family, value my friendships, and spend as much time as possible (too much according to the aforementioned Mrs. Coleman) dedicated to the pursuit, of another Fantasy Championship. I'm the oddball at the bar who prefers Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy Football.
Josh Coleman

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