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Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Volume 3 – 12/07

Over the last week the stove has began to heat up slightly. More rumored trades have leaked out, a couple free agents have found homes for the short-term future, and of course the Shohei Ohtani news has continued to flood the headlines. For those of you wondering when I’m going to talk more in-depth about him, that time will come when he finally decides on where he’s going.

I will tell you the seven teams he’s narrowed his list to in the order on how I feel he’d be most valuable:
Rangers, Angels, Cubs, Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres.
Don’t get me wrong though, he’ll have value wherever he ends up.

There were not a ton of moves this week, but there was more movement than last week. Most of the trades/signings involved relief pitchers. I won’t dive into depth with any reliever info because relievers are a dime a dozen in pretty much any format. If one blows up, drop him and grab another. I will, however, mention those that could have potential closer value.

Trade Rumors and Signings

Andrew McCutchen to the Giants?

Let’s call this what it really is, a fall back move by the Giants. The only way McCutchen would possibly land in San Francisco is if Stanton gives them the slip and goes elsewhere or stays in Miami. McCutchen finished last year with a line of .278/28/88 with 94 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. Going from Pittsburgh to San Fran, I’m not sure we’d see much of a change in those numbers from Cutch. His 28 home runs last year was his highest total since 2012, when he hit 31.

Entering into his age 31 season, I’m not sold that we can expect north of 25 home runs again, regardless of the ball park he plays in. In standard formats McCutchen finished as the 11th ranked outfielder and 25th overall batter. Prior to last season it was questionable to hang on to McCutchen heading into the 2017 season – now he’s back to being a solid keeper selection in most any format.

  • Final Decision: Regardless of where McCutchen starts the 2018 season he’s worthy of a flier heading into 2018. If you’re a McCutchen owner and you don’t keep him, don’t expect him to be around when the draft rotation gets to you.

Aledmys Diaz flipped to the Blue Jays

Aledmys Diaz is an interesting player heading into the 2018 season. Let’s be clear right away; he’s not a guy you’re going to keep heading into next season. I’m aware a lot of you may work with contracts in your own keeper leagues. If Diaz is a guy you signed long-term after his great rookie season, I wouldn’t be quick to cut him just yet.

Looking back at his stats from last year there weren’t a lot of glaring differences compared to his rookie season. Yes, you can argue the 41-point difference in batting average is major, but sometimes that can be a bit misleading. One reason he got pushed out in St. Louis last year is because of the emergence of DeJong, much like Diaz in 2016.

Diaz had 11 less doubles and 10 less home runs in 2017 in 159 fewer at-bats. His strikeout rate remained the same. The one thing that catches my eye the most is the drop in his walk rate, 8.9% to 4.3%. Landing in Toronto might do Diaz a favor.

  • Final Decision: Keep tabs on Diaz. Don’t reach or make him a keeper – he’ll be an interesting play as a part of a middle infield in Toronto that can’t stay healthy. Jot him down as a late-round sleeper, but at the least have him on your watch list throughout the 2018 season if he goes undrafted..

Free Agent Signings

Welington Castillo signs with White Sox

As a White Sox fan myself, I’m a bit excited about bringing Welington Castillo on board. He’s a good catcher behind the dish and a stable bat in the lineup. Last season Castillo finished as the 15th ranked catcher in standard leagues with a line of .282/20/53. Spending half his games in 2018 and 2019 in a hitter-friendly ballpark should allow us to see a rise in home runs over the next two seasons. Being a part of a young, high-ceiling line up should also allow us to see an uptick in RBI totals over the next two seasons.

Castillo should be the main signal caller for the White Sox the next two seasons, so I expect we see him make about 110 starts next season. Add an additional 14 starts on to what he finished last year with and Castillo arguably becomes a top 10 player at the position.

  • Final Decision: Catcher has always been a weak point in fantasy lineups if you don’t have one of the top 5 or 6 guys. Heading into 2018 Castillo should give you some stability at the position. In deeper leagues it’d be worth entertaining keeping Castillo around to begin the season. No, he’s not the top of the heap at the position, but you can certainly do far worse on draft day. No reason to have a platoon if you don’t need one!

Rangers Ink Mike Minor

Seeing Mike Minor sign with the Rangers wasn’t real exciting until it came out they’re considering moving him back to the rotation. If you’re in a league that designates a starting spot for just P, Minor should hold more value to you as I’m sure he’ll see time coming out of the pen as well as starting ball games in Texas.

Strictly as a reliever last year Minor totaled 290 points with an ERA of 2.55 and a K/9 of 10.20. Minor won’t be new to the starting gig, as he saw some success with Atlanta before succumbing to the injury bug that caused him to miss two full seasons. Don’t get overly excited about Minor moving back to the rotation quite yet. Pitching in Arlington, his ERA will likely rise at least a full point, and that K/9 rate will come down slightly, more around the 7.5-8.5 range. Plus, take into consideration he’ll likely be on an innings count. It’s drastically different throwing 73 innings a season compared to 173 innings.

  • Final Decision: There’s no reason to keep Minor. He is a guy that will hover around the 60% owned mark, as he holds much more value in leagues allowing just P spots, as mentioned above. Look for him to have similar numbers to what Charlie Morton had in 2017.

Minor Moves

  • Brad Boxberger now a D-Back
  • Jim Johnson traded to Angels
  • Yusmeiro Petit joins A’s
  • Leonys Martin signs with Tigers
  • Wily Peralta to join the Royals

*****

The fire is slowly starting to grow. This time next week the Winter Meetings will just be wrapping up, which should bring us plenty of news to talk about! We may also have news on the destinations of Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. Don’t hesitate to shoot your fantasy questions my direction in the comment section below or on Twitter, @KennyGarvey.

 

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Kenny Garvey
I'm from eastern Iowa, yes there are more things than just corn here. I'm a baseball nerd. If there's a game televised you can bet I've got it on! Family and baseball keep me sane. Fantasy baseball far outweighs fantasy football, no doubt about it!

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