It’s getting to be that time of year again, Thanksgiving has come and pass, families are already starting to put up Christmas decorations, and the MLB Winter Meetings are right around the corner.
It’s Hot Stove season!!! The official hot stove season began with the GM meetings in Orlando on November 13th. So far, the stove is about as hot as it gets with just the pilot light left on. There has been one somewhat notable move made already, but we’ll touch on that in a little bit.
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll touch on any big trades, free agent signings, and the fantasy value boost or drop the players involved will receive. I don’t expect there to be relevant movement every week to highlight, and in that case the spotlight will shine on selected free agents, the rumors surrounding them, and the best or worst case fit for them in your fantasy leagues.
The GM meetings started off hot with the Mariners acquiring Ryon Healy from the Athletics for two players. Neither player involved going to the A’s (Emilio Pagan & Alexander Campos) are worthy of holding on to, let alone rostering except in the deepest dynasty leagues.
Ryon Healy is an interesting player; 2018 will mark his third year in the big leagues. His previous two seasons haven’t been anything to scoff at. In his rookie season of 2016 he compiled 13 homers, 37 RBI, and a .305 average in 72 games. This past year was his first full season at the top level and it was very respectable. Healy hit 25 homers, knocked in 78, and hit .271 for the season.
The only thing that is a bit concerning, if that’s the right word, is his lack of walks. In his brief two-year career Healy is drawing a walk only 4% of the time! On the plus side of that he’s only striking out 23% of the time, so he’s a guy that’s going to put the ball in play.
- Final decision: Any time a player gets out of Oakland it’s safe to say his value jumps. Healy was owned in 46.7% of ESPN leagues after the 2017 season. He will enter 2018 with dual eligibility at 1B and 3B. He isn’t someone who you’d use a keeper tag on, but he should be one of the higher draft picks in keeper leagues next season. Being in a lineup with Cano, Cruz and Seager will only help his bat – that is until those three start to show signs of aging.
FREE AGENT RUMORS
When it comes to Eric Hosmer, he’s a fringe-worthy keeper option. If you’re in a league that holds more roster spots he has a higher value as a keeper. If you’re in a smaller league that only allows five keepers or less, he’s a safe cut back to the draft pool. Depending on where Hosmer ends up this offseason could bump him up for more consideration to be kept, but regardless, I’m not sure he’d still fit the bill in shallower leagues.
Eric Hosmer had a great 2017 season, easily the best of his career. His average was heavily impacted by his ridiculous .351 BABIP, but let’s not forget Hosmer is a career .284 hitter (still good, but not elite). Over the last two seasons he’s shown that he can be a 25+ home runs per season kind of player.
As of right now, there haven’t been many rumors involving Hosmer. What we do know is that the Royals are making Hosmer a priority to bring back and the Red Sox have him as their #2 option to bring – with the focus being on JD Martinez. Of these two options, Hosmer’s value will raise distinctively if he signs with Boston.
Through 24 career games played at Fenway he’s hitting .354. The odd shape to the left field wall will help boost the power numbers for Hosmer also. If he happens to stay in Kansas City, that’s all fine and dandy too – just be aware his counting numbers might take a hit with a lesser lineup surrounding him.
Jay Bruce is a player who holds plenty of high regard, which could be based more on his prior than his recent success, though he did put together a terrific 2017 campaign with the Mets and Indians. When a guy hits 36 home runs and knocks in 101 RBI you’ve got to love that on your team.
As for whether Bruce is keeper material, that again depends on the type of league you’re in. If your league breaks down the outfield positions to right, center, and left then I think you must keep him. If you’re in a standard league that simply has three or four OF slots, go ahead and toss Bruce back to the fish.
We’ve got a little more news swirling around Jay Bruce. There are talks that four teams are interested in his services: Blue Jays, Giants, Mariners & Cardinals. It’s also been noted that Bruce himself has made it known that he’d like to play with either the Astros or Rangers as he’s from Texas.
Of these six teams, as a Bruce owner, I’d be most excited if he joined the Astros or Rangers. Bruce would see an increase in value based on the lineup surrounding him in Houston and his value with the Rangers would be increased because of the ballpark he’d get to play 81 of his games in.
The one place I wouldn’t want to see him go would be San Francisco. Heading out west could result in a lot of the same scenario we saw at the end of the 2016 season with the Mets. AT&T Park is a bit too spacious for any kind of power numbers to thrive, unless your name is Barry Bonds.
Jake Arrieta is a keeper selection regardless of where he ends up this offseason. Arrieta has been a strong pitcher basically since his arrival in Chicago back in 2013. In four full seasons with the Cubs his worst season was 2017, with an ERA of 3.53 and a K/9 of 8.7. Those numbers aren’t bad by any means. I’m not sold that he’ll be any better than those numbers going forward, but you can’t take a chance getting a player like that come draft day when you’ve got one right in front of you now.
As for the rumors on where Arrieta will end up next season, there are little to none of them. The only tie to a team has been the Brewers showing interest in a high-end starter; Arrieta fits that bill. If I’m an Arrieta owner I’m pleading that he stays in the NL. It’s clear by looking at his numbers from Baltimore to Chicago that he’s a NL pitcher. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to “give up” on him if he lands on an AL ball club, but I’d certainly look to trade him without seeing future production.
The winter meetings are set for December 10-14th. As they approach the stove will be working in high gear! Check back weekly to see the latest news and how it will affect the values of your players moving forward!
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