A Fantasy Spin on the Hot Stove

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening – whichever is applicable to you. The Las Vegas Strip: grand hotels, neon lights, the bells and whistles of life changing winnings, the pain filled faces of a 24 HR dry spell, and of course the fanning of Adult Entertainment Vouchers every 25 feet. At the frequency of these “Entertainment” vouchers, MLB organizations once extended multi-year offers to limited MLB talent.

The offseason calendar has turned to 2017, and prominent hitters including Mark Trumbo, Chris Carter, and Jose Bautista seem to be unwanted. Trumbo was in the AL MVP mix last season, Carter lead the NL in HR, and Jose Bautista laughed at the idea of a hometown discount last off-season. In an offseason when the team friendly contract of Adam Eaton nets you three top-10 organizational prospects and slugging CI types can’t find a job, you know that more and more organizations have finally came around to reading Moneyball.

Personally I felt that the Edwin Encarnacion signing would begin the domino process, but here we are nearly two weeks later and crickets. I’m confident all will sign (eventuallly), and I’m certain none of them will be getting the contract they envisioned.

Cincinnatii Reds sign Drew Storen for 1 year/3Million. Storen struggled last season in his first stint of AL action. His 5.23 ERA came over 51.1 innings of work for Toronto and Seattle. On the plus side his K and BB rates were right around his career norms, so from a skills standpoint there’s still something to hold on to. A 69% strand rate and 14% HR/FB helps explain the difference between ERA (5.23) and xFIP (4.06). Clearly the Reds are in some sort of rebuilding mode, and from an organizational standpoint naming Storen the Closer would make sense.

Given the low salary Storen should be easy to trade when the time comes, and right or wrong, relievers generally have more value as closers on the trade market. Storen as closer would also free Iglesias to have a more multi-inning role or potentially open up a return to the rotation at some point. Cingrani, who is also in the Closers mix, would likely be better served as a LH option out of the pen. The Reds would also save themselves Arbitration money in the long run should they favor Storen over Igleasias and Cingrani.




Baltimore Orioles sign Jesus Montero to Minor League deal. Another obligatory mention of a once premium prospect that has failed. At this stage of the game Montero is a Quad-A player with a 50-game PED suspension under his belt – that’s it. If you’re a glass half-full type, the Orioles clearly have a need for offensive depth; they currently feature nothing of note at DH, and they have a track record of infusing fantasy value into waiver wire afterthoughts. If your glass is half-empty, “His name is Jesus Montero, he killed it at AAA, but he has done nothing of relevance at the major league level.

*****

Arizona Diamondbacks sign Rubby De La Rosa to Minor League deal. Elbow concerns really limited his market as TJ whisperings have surrounded him after missing the bulk of 2016. The DBacks are said to be moving him to the bullpen. Fernando Rodney will close, but a healthy De La Rosa could make for an intriguing bullpen arm. Nice velocity and limited work will minimize issues with LH hitters. If things got weird in the 9th, I could see a scenario where De La Rosa comes into the game with queued up music.

*****

Kansas City Royals acquire Peter O’Brien from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Minor League RHP Sam Lewis. Lewis has produced some nice numbers in Class-A, but his age would suggest he’s not a top-level prospect. As for O’Brien, this could finally be the opportunity he needs to establish himself. Huge power potential whose K concerns are likely to produce a less than desirable AVG. Best case scenario you’re looking at a Mike Napoli type. Worst case scenario the Royals could have just signed Jesus Montero and saved the asset. A productive O’Brien puts either he or Soler in the Royals OF and once again leave Dyson the odd man out. Just what us fantasy owners need, more power and less speed in the player pool.

*****

Oakland Athletics sign OF Rajai Davis to a 1 year/6 Million dollar deal. A really good deal from a Fantasy perspective as Davis could be a 600 PA player given the depth of the A’s OF. While added playing time helps increase his value, the decreased skill set should not go unnoticed. His K rate has increased for two consecutive seasons and contact rate was at a four year low. An improved walk rate helped neutralize the contact loss, but overall he’s not an elite OBP option. Struggles vs LHP came from out of nowhere – for the time being we’ll consider it a statistical oddity. Three year spike in FB% could lead to further AVG loss, but could make a double-digit HR season repeatable. He’s 36, so let’s not go overboard chasing the SB in the draft room, but it’s nice to know another full-time option is available.

 

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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.