Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Volume 4 – 12/14

We have reacxhed a boiling point! This past week the hot stove train has gone off the rails! The Winter Meetings have proven to be just what the doctor ordered, as usual, to get everything rolling. There won’t be any speculation on rumors discussed today, we’ll save more of that for next week. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a big name free agent sign yet, but I’m sure some of those domino’s will have fallen by this time next week.

Alright, enough of rambling on. Let’s get down to business on the latest news from Orlando!

TRADES

Giancarlo Stanton saga leads him to Yankees

Now that the Stanton drama is over I can finally discuss him. Could he have landed in a better place? The answer to that is no. Yankee Stadium has been given the nickname of Coor’s East by some, and rightfully so; the ball flies out of that park! The addition of Stanton to a lineup already packed with Judge and Sanchez could take the Yankees offense to a whole new level.

We’re all aware of Stanton’s power, though prior to the 2017 season he had never hit 40 home runs in a season. Now that he’s in a very hitter-friendly ball park it will likely be the opposite. It could be years before we see Stanton hitting less than 40 home runs, barring injury of course. 2017 was also only the second time Stanton surpassed the 100 RBI plateau, which may surprise some of you, but remember there were some bad teams in south Florida. Reaching the 100 RBI mark with the Yankees might not come as easily as you might think, hitting around Judge and Sanchez, but it is reachable. The RBI numbers that might take a hit would be those of Judge and Sanchez. I fully expect to see Giancarlo drive in 100+ again in pin stripes.

  • Final decision: There isn’t much room for Stanton’s value to rise, but the move to New York allows for whatever room there is for that to happen. Stanton was a top-level fantasy hitter with a rough surrounding in Miami. Now as a Yankee I expect him to be the highest-ranking hitter at the conclusion of 2018 and beyond. Spend your money, use your first pick, and make him a member of your team!.

Stanton Trade Fallout

The arrival of Stanton affects several players. With Stanton and Judge locked in this leaves one outfield spot for Ellsbury and Gardner. That means Aaron Hicks has zero chance at semi-regular playing time, and prospect Clint Frazier will be stuck in the minors until the Yankees deal him off. Gardner has one year left on his contract (team option for 2019) while Ellsbury is inked for another four.

The Yankees have already expressed interest in trading Ellsbury, but will there by any takers given his age (34) and 21-Million dollar annual price tag. Both have fantasy value if the at bats are there, but as of now there is no guarantee either reaches 500. If Ellsbury (or Gardner) is traded the other receives a boost and could make a worthy fourth outfielder in fantasy.

As for Frazier: he still has long-term value, but he will need another change of address before receiving a shot in the bigs. Sadly he may have  lost his prospect status in most leagues so keeping him is not an option for shallower keeper leagues.

Starlin Castro dealt to the Marlins

Castro is the forgotten man in Giancarlo Stanton bonanza. With Dee Gordon moving to Seattle (covered below) Castro steps in as the new second baseman for the Marlins. Last year we saw the batting average bounce back to .300, something he did early on with the Cubs. That made the minimal power output palatable and made his numbers worthy of a middle infield spot.

The power may see some regression in Miami – 10 of his 16 homers in 2017 were in Yankees stadium. He was also less potent away from the Bronx, batting .279 compared to  .323. A .300 average with 16 home runs is playable, but .280 with 12 home runs is not. The one positive is that Castro could see more time near the top of the order so 80 or so runs seems like a safe estimate.

  1. Final Decision: Castro is not a person of interest in keeper league. While his numbers should not fall off that much, they are enough to lower his value putting him on par with a number of late round/waiver options. He still might make an interesting flyer for 2018 in the later round as a middle infielder. The Marlins have even hinted he could be trade bait so maybe his time in Miami is short-lived – that could be good or bad. For now, pencil him in near the end portion of your draft.

Dee Gordon sent to Mariners

The Marlins started their tear down by sending Dee Gordon to the Mariners. The move puzzled me a bit as the Mariners have Robinson Cano and Jean Segura manning the middle of the infield, but the intentions the Mariners have are to use Gordon in center field. If you’re a Dee Gordon owner (that’s me), this should be some welcoming info. There’s never a problem with a player adding a position of eligibility. 20 games in (in most leagues) and you’ll have yourself a player with 2B/CF eligibility!

The numbers Gordon put up in 2017 had him ranked as the 9th best 2B option. Using those numbers to slot in the OF and he’d rank 21st. Going even farther, if you’re in a league that breaks down outfield into each separate position (LF/CF/RF) Gordon would’ve ranked as the 10th-best CF option.

  • Final decision: Dee Gordon is a perennial 50-steal guy each season. Leading off for a potent Mariner lineup should allow us to see upwards of 60 steals for the third time in his career. If you had any doubt on whether or not to select Gordon as a keeper, this move should help to solidify that.

Chase Headley dealt back to Padres

The Yankees shipped Headley back to San Diego, where his career began. The Padres will likely slot Headley in as their everyday 3B option. This can do nothing but help the value of Headley. The move gets him out of the limelight a bit where he can relax and not feel as much pressure as being the man at the hot corner for the Yankees. The move does surpress his power potential which will have a negative impact on his overall value.

  • Final decision: Don’t expect any magic from Headley now that he’s back with the Padres. His value will increase, but only to the level of a platoon option. He’s not a player you want to have in your lineup’s day in and day out. He may be worthy of a bench spot in some deeper leagues.

Marcell Ozuna heads to St Louis

The Marlins fire sale continued on Wednesday when they sent Ozuna packing for a package of mediocre talent. One has to wonder how much longer Justin Bour, Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto have let. Anyway, back to Ozuna. He took a big step forward in 2017, hitting 37 homers with a batting average north of .300 for the first time in his career. Ozuna also surpassed the 100 RBI plateau for the first time, and came within seven runs of breaking 100 here as well.

The power was there both home and away so there should be no fear of a division switch. The bigger issues are the surrounding cast and underlying metrics. While the Marlins were not great in 2017, Stanton, Yelich, Bour and Gordon were better than most in the St Louis lineup. We could see some decrease in runs and RBIs as a result.

As for the metrics: Ozuna saw an increase in hard hit rate, yet the fly ball rate did not change from what we’ve seen. Neither support the huge increase in HR/FB% so a decline in power seems likely. Also, the contact rate took a step back despite an increase in swings, but we saw a dramatic increase in batting average – above .269 for the first time in his major league career. Factor in the BABIP and you’re looking at a .280-ish average on a good year.

  • Final decision: Ozuna is a solid/strong second outfielder in fantasy, but I’m not sure he can live up to the OF1 tag that he earned in 2017. The change in destination coupled with a breakout season could inflate his draft value. That inflation plays great for those in keeper leagues who should be shopping Ozuna now as his value will never be higher. For 2018, I would target him as an OF2 as stated above, but do not pay for his 2017 season as there are a number of factors playing against him repeating it.

FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

Shohei Ohtani decides on Angels

I’ve been waiting for weeks to discuss Shohei Ohtani. If you remember back to last week the Angels were second on my list on teams that present the most value to Ohtani. Since the signing the Angels have mentioned that they don’t plan to deploy Ohtani in the outfield at any point during the 2018 season as he’ll strictly split time at DH with Albert Pujols. This move does effect his hitter value quite a bit because the Angels won’t simply sit Pujols for the sole purpose of getting Ohtani some at-bats.

That being the case I think we’re looking at a rough estimate of 130 at-bats for Ohtani during the 2018 season. It’s hard to argue that kind of player would be worthy of a roster spot. Then again, that number could increase at the expense of C.J. Cron who could rid the bench at times, giving way to Pujols at first to get Ohtani in the lineup more. Those 200 at bats may be helpful in real life, but they don’t move the fantasy needle much.

Shohei Ohtani on the mound is a different story. That’s a player, even with the news of UCL damage surfacing, that I’m willing to take a high flier on. Through 66 starts between 2014-2016 Ohtani put up a 2.25 ERA and had a K/9 rate of 11. Yes, pitching in Japan is a whole different ball game, but you can’t ignore numbers like that anywhere. Ohtani should step right into the Angels rotation as their #2 or #3 and make a nice name for himself. You don’t want to be the owner who passed on him and has to deal with him challenging for a Cy Young award at seasons end.

  • Final decision: Shohei Ohtani could very well be a top 5 pitcher upon the completion of the 2018 season. In re-draft leagues take some caution. Go with an arm that you know what you’re going to get before grabbing Ohtani. In keeper/dynasty leagues, take a flier on Ohtani as a pitcher early. You should already have a base built, and adding Ohtani potentially solidify that.

Tyler Chatwood signs with Cubs

Tyler Chatwood to the Cubs is a great move for Chatwood’s value. Anybody getting out of Coor’s, as a pitcher, is a great move for value. His career home/road split’s for ERA is wild. His home ERA is 5.25 and his road ERA is 3.31. Chatwood is a ground ball pitcher, and with the infield defense the Cubs sport across the diamond he should have it made on the north side. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s no longer the leader of a rotation. The loss of that kind of pressure should sure help Chatwood settle into his new home nicely.

  • Final decision: Chatwood will likely be the #4 guy for the Cubs. There’s great value to be had there. I’m not saying go out and make Chatwood the top pitcher on your rosters, but definitely peg him on the draft board. Chatwood was only owned in 27% of ESPN leagues last year – look for that to move up to around the 75% mark through 2018.

Chris Iannetta inks with Rockies

As I mentioned with Chatwood, leaving the Rockies as a pitcher is much welcomed. That would be just the opposite as a hitter. Iannetta seems to be the option the Rockies will roll with behind the dish for the majority of 2018. Iannetta is familiar with the Rockies as he was drafted by them and played his first six seasons as a member of their team.

Iannetta has never been one to hit for much average, topping out at .264 way back in 2008, but he does have a bit of pop in his bat. If playing a full season, Iannetta’s numbers project him to be a 20-homer guy. Put that in Coor’s for a whole season and it should play out well.

  • Final decision: The pool of players at catcher is somewhat nauseating with how shallow it is. Anyone outside the top 8 or so can be used as a plug-and-play resource. Iannetta fits the bill here. Leave him on the waiver wire unless you need a platoon at catcher to get your lineups filled. Gambling on a guy at Coor’s is a gamble I’m willing to make, but maybe not one I will pay for.

Cubs welcome Drew Smyly
Twins agree with Michael Pineda

I wanted to lump these two signings together because they essentially are the same deal. The Cubs signed Drew Smyly to a 2-year deal as a safe gamble. Smyly will likely miss the entirety of the 2018 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the return in 2019 could be great for the Cubs. He’s rejoining a situation in which he’s familiar with both the manager and pitching coach (both of which he worked under in Tampa Bay). As everything sits currently there may not be a rotation spot for Smyly immediately in 2019, but that’s not something that should worry you. Keep him on your radar throughout this season. He could be a nice target next offseason.

Michael Pineda also underwent Tommy John surgery during the middle of the 2017 season. Like Smyly, it’s highly likely Pineda misses the complete 2018 season recovering. I don’t like this deal quite as much as Smyly to Chicago, but it does offer some value with a higher ceiling. Upon recovery, pitching in Target Field should help Pineda keep his numbers down. We’ve already seen the electric stuff he can provide. Couple that with a more pitcher-friendly park than the Bronx and Pineda could be a solid play when he returns in 2019. Keep tabs on Pineda throughout 2018 as well.

  • Final decision: Both signings present a nice amount of upside. Pick and choose which one you’d rather have. Keep an eye on both players as they progress through their recovery. No sense on taking a gamble on both guys heading into 2019, but having one certainly wouldn’t be a terrible idea.

MINOR MOVES

  • Ryan Schimpf heads east to Rays
  • Mike Fiers signs with Tigers
  • Brandon Morrow joins Cubs ‘pen
  • Cardinals land Luke Gregerson
  • Pat Neshek returns to Phillies
  • Tommy Hunter lands with Phillies
  • Bryan Shaw signs with Rockies
  • Jake McGee stays with Rockies
  • Mets bring in Anthony Swarzak

 *****

The fire grew to a be blazing hot this week. The Winter Meetings are nearing conclusion. Once everyone leaves Orlando I suspect things will slow back down to a simmer, but no worries, I’ll give you all the information you need! 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

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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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