Does baseball season ever really end? Not here at Fantrax it doesn’t. In addition to our 2019 leagues already open for business and early-2019 rankings underway, we’re staying on top of all the fantasy relevant MLB Hot Stove moves to get you ready for 2019. Check back here throughout the off-season as we break down fantasy relevant trades and signings all winter.
Last Updated: 12/6/18
MLB Hot Stove Tracker
12/6/18 – Nathan Eovaldi Re-signs with Boston Red Sox
One of Boston’s playoff heroes is staying in Beantown for a while after agreeing to a four-year, $67.5 million deal. After missing the entire 2017 season, Eovaldi combined for 111 innings between Tampa Bay and Boston, finishing with a 6-7 record, 3.81 ERA, and 1.13 WHIP. Eovaldi only has one double-digit win season under his belt, but has been a steady mid-rotation arm for basically his entire career with an ERA range of 3.39 to 4.76. He’s even beed striking out more batters over the last few seasons, mostly thanks to his nasty low to mid-90’s cutter and four-seam fastball that he can pump in at 100-plus mph when he wants to.
2019 Fantasy Spin: This is a good move for all parties involved. The Red Sox needed another righty to pair with Rick Porcello and Eovaldi remains on a team that won 108 games and a World Series Championship. His cutter has neutralized right-handed power so I don’t expect the longball to be an issue for Eovaldi at Fenway. With solid control, a rising strikeout rate, and one of the best offenses and defenses in the league backing him up, Eovaldi should provide sneaky-good fantasy value in the later rounds. If he can remain healthy and make 30-plus starts, I’m expecting an ERA in the low to mid-3’s with a K/9 around 8.0 to 8.5. – Eric Cross
12/5/18 – Cardinals trade 2B Andrew Young, RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, and a 2019 Competitive Balance Round B draft pick from to the Diamondbacks for 1B Paul Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt is obvious the big get in this deal. In early 2018 it looked like maybe he had entered a steep decline phase. By the end of the season, his numbers fit right in on the back of his baseball card, though his counting stats were still down a bit. He also stole just seven bases after stealing at least 18 in the three previous seasons. Though he joins what is likely a better lineup, the change in ballpark may impact his numbers quite a bit. Chase Field was the second-most friendly park for right-handed batters in 2018 for runs and sixth for home runs. Busch Stadium was 22nd and 26th in those same categories.
A repeat of last season’s numbers is a reasonable expectation if Goldschmidt can avoid a prolonged slump. A return to his best days may be asking too much. Fantasy owners might dock him a few slots in their overall rankings, but first base is not as deep as most people think and he’s still one of the top two at the position.
Weaver showed flashes of being a fantasy contributor in 2017 and came into 2018 with a lot of sleeper hype. After a few decent starts, he hit the skids and looked a lot like the dud he was in his debut season. Weaver could still develop into a No. 3 fantasy starter, but the new ballpark and a team on the rebuild really limit his upside. Weaver enters 2018 as nothing more than a late-round flier in mixed leagues and an innings eater with plenty of risk in deeper formats.
Carson Kelly got plenty of hype as the expected successor to Yadier Molina. The prospect label may have worked in the world of MLB, but in fantasy, there was never really any reason to expect anything special. He does have some pop and Chase Field will help him maximize that. For this season he’ll likely split time with Alex Avila, but he’s likely the catcher of the near future for Arizona. His fantasy upside is likely somewhere between Robinson Chirinos and Mike Zunino… You decide what that means. In 2018 we might get double-digit homers, but it’s going to come with a severe batting average penalty to offset it.
Young has never been a darling of scouts, but he did hit .289 with 21 homers in 119 games split between High-A and Double-A. He also hit .301 with a .416 OBP in the Arizona Fall League. Ketel Marte currently mans second base in Arizona, but there’s been talk of him possibly moving to center field. If that happens the 24-year-old Young could find his way to significant PT at second base. – Doug Anderson
12/4-18 – SP Patrick Corbin signs with Washington Nationals for 6 years/$140 Million
Well, they say pitching wins championships. At least the Nationals must think so. Their new big three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin will make in the vicinity of $100 million next season depending on how much of Corbin’s deal is deferred. The 2018 season was by far Corbin’s best, finishing with a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 246 strikeouts in an even 200 innings.
2019 Fantasy Spin: Overall, I don’t see this move having a big impact on Corbin’s 2019 value. If anything, maybe a slight decline as Nationals Park was more hitter-friendly in 2018 than Chase Field was. Nothing about Corbin’s 2018 season screams regression to me. In fact, both his FIP and xFIP were over half a run lower than his ERA was. I’m still penciling in Corbin as a top-25 SP and a solid SP2 for your fantasy squad. – Eric Cross
12/3/18 – Philadelphia Phillies trade SS JP Crawford and 1B Carlos Santana to the Seattle Mariners for SS Jean Segura, RP Juan Nicasio, and RP James Pazos
J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana
Calm down Seattle. Even though he slots in as the projected starting shortstop, Crawford has zero value in standard mixed leagues. The contact skills are not there and he provides little in the power and speed departments. He doesn’t strikeout a ton which is a plus and manages a respectably OBP due to his career 12.9% walk rate, but Crawford should only be looked at in AL-Only formats.
Speaking of strong walk rates, Carlos Santana has registered a robust 15.3% walk rate for his career and has more walks than strikeouts over the last three seasons combined. You know what you’re getting here and that doesn’t change with this trade. Maybe take off a few homers due to the more pitcher-friendly home park, but you can pencil in 20-25 homers, 80-90 RBI, 80-90 runs, and a strong OBP as the Mariners starting DH.
Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, James Pazos
First off, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos can be ignored in 2019 re-draft leagues. The Phillies bullpen is incredibly deep and at best both men are 4th or 5th in the pecking order for saves. Segura’s fantasy value doesn’t change with the move to Philly. Both the Mariners and Phillies scored the exact same number of runs last season. As power isn’t a big part of Segura’s game, the more hitter-friendly confines shouldn’t have a big effect on him. He remains a borderline starting SS option for 2019. – Eric Cross
12/3/18 – Seattle Mariners trade 2B Robinson Cano, RP Edwin Diaz, and cash to the New York Mets for OF/1B Jay Bruce, RP Anthony Swarzak, OF Jarred Kelenic, SP Justin Dunn, and RP Gerson Bautista
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz
After spending the last five seasons in Seattle, Robinson Cano finds himself back in the Big Apple. It was a tumultuous tenure, to say the least. After five straight seasons of at least 25 home runs and 85 RBI to end his Yankees tenure, Cano only surpassed those plateau’s once and twice respectively in Seattle. There’s not much of a difference in the ballpark factors here or the lineup, so expecting what Cano has given us the last few seasons is a fair expectation for 2019. He should be a borderline top-10 second baseman again in 2019 with a strong average and around 20-25 home runs. Cano’s arrival likely moves 2018 fantasy darling, Jeff McNeil, back into a backup role until an opportunity opens up at second or third.
Since coming into the league, Edwin Diaz has been one of the American League’s best relievers. His 57 saves last season were tied for the second most all-time in a single season, trailing only Francisco Rodriguez’s 62 back in 2008. He also set career-highs in ERA (1.96) and WHIP (0.79) while cutting his home run and walk rates by more than half. There’s no reason to expect anything less than another stellar season from Diaz. If he’s not the first closer taken on draft day, he shouldn’t fall out of the top three or four.
Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, and Gerson Bautista
There’s not much fantasy value in this part of the deal. Jay Bruce was a fantasy afterthought due to various ailments and overall poor performance, but still should be fantasy relevant as a late-round target that can get you around 25 homers and a .250 average or so. Anthony Swarzak gets a nice little boost in value from this trade, strictly due to the fact that he’s going to be in the mix for saves next season with Seattle. Though, he’ll need a strong Spring Training to get in the mix out of the gate after recording a 6.15 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 2018. He shouldn’t be drafted in standard leagues, but keep an eye on him in the spring. Gerson Bautista doesn’t have any fantasy value out of deep NL-Only leagues.
Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn
If you follow my prospect work, you probably already know that I’m a big fan of Jarred Kelenic. He ranked 3rd in my Mets top-25 and is in consideration for a top-25 overall spot in my new top-250 prospect rankings. He’s that good. Beautiful swing with exceptional contact skills and budding power leads me to put a 60-grade on his hit tool and 50-grade on his power. Add in plus speed and you have a dynamic offensive outfielder in the making. Great get for Seattle.
While I consider Dunn the secondary prospect piece here, he’s a major get for the Mets as well. Dunn slotted 5th in my Mets top-25 and now will likely vault into the top-3 in Seattle’s system. He features a mid-90’s fastball, plus slider with two-plane tilt, and a developing changeup. The upside here is of a #2 starter and we could realistically see Dunn in Seattle later this summer. – Eric Cross
11/30/18 – Chicago White Sox Trade C Omar Narvaez to the Seattle Mariners for RP Alex Colome
Narvaez had a bit of a breakout in 2018, hitting .275 with nine homers in just 280 at-bats. He’ll slide right into the starting catcher slot left vacant with the trade of Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay. Narvaez had never shown that type of power before, so he’s likely an injury replacement in mixed leagues, but makes for a decent second catcher in AL-only formats. – Doug Anderson
Colome had 47 saves as recently as 2017 but has not looked like the same pitcher since. He looked like the Mariners’ closer in waiting with the rumored trade of Edwin Diaz, but now he’ll likely have to compete for saves with Nate Jones in Chicago. He makes for a decent end game pick because of the chance at saves, but he lacks the ratios to help if he’s not getting the ball in the ninth inning. – Doug Anderson
11/30/18 – Cleveland Indians Trade C Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals for SP Jefry Rodriguez, OF Daniel Johnson, and a PTBNL
Gomes joins Kurt Suzuki in Washington to form a solid platoon. Both Gomes and Suzuki bat right-handed, but Gomes has much more extreme splits, suggesting that he may get more of the at-bats against left-handed pitching. This may be a trade that helps the Nationals, but really limits the fantasy values of both of their newly acquired backstops. – Doug Anderson
Rodriguez is 25 years old and struggled to the tune of a 5.71 ERA in his first shot in the Majors. He throws hard, but doesn’t have the strikeouts to show for it. His minor league record points a future as an innings eater or swing man at best. He carries no fantasy value in even the deepest of formats. – Doug Anderson
Had this trade happened 2-3 weeks from now, Johnson would’ve been #7 on my Washington Nationals top-25 prospects list. Now, he enters into a better path to Major League playing time with Cleveland and should make his debut during the summer. Johnson is athletic with plus speed, both on the bases and in the outfield, but I question his overall hit tool and raw power due to the armsy swing and minimal use of his lower half. He also doesn’t walk a ton. He’ll likely start 2019 in Triple-A and could carve out some fantasy value later in the season in AL-Only leagues due to his speed. – Eric Cross
11/26/18 – Pittsburgh Pirates Sign OF Lonnie Chisenhall
With Gregory Polanco potentially out until June following shoulder surgery, the Pirates needed right field insurance. Chisenhall hasn’t been quite the offensive force we thought he might be when he came up, but he has managed to hit over .285 in each of the last three seasons. He’s also missed significant time in each of the past two seasons and carries injury risk of his own. Look for Chisenhall to handle right field until Polanco returns, and then get semi-regular playing time split between the outfield and possibly infield corners.
2019 Fantasy Spin: Chisenhall is not a difference maker in fantasy, but he does offer safety in NL-only leagues and could be a passable injury replacement in mixed leagues until Polanco returns. – Eric Cross
11/26/18 – Atlanta Braves Sign 3B Josh Donaldson
In the biggest MLB Hot Stove signing to date, the Braves locked up former AL MVP Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract. After a five-year stretch where he averaged 32.8 homers, 98.2 RBI, and 98.2 runs, Donaldson struggled to stay on the field in 2018 and produce when he was on the field, finishing with a .246 average and eight dingers in 52 games. Calf and shoulder injuries limited the 2015 MVP all season and has certainly driven down his ADP so far for 2019, currently being taken as the 14th third baseman off the board at pick #105 overall on average.
2019 Fantasy Spin: This signing doesn’t do much for Donaldson’s value, as most of his 2019 value is tied to health, but it does put a damper on the 2019 outlooks of Johan Camargo, Dansby Swanson, and top prospect, Austin Riley. Camargo was the projected starter just 24 hours ago after hitting .272 with 19 homers, 76 RBI, and a solid .806 OPS last season. Now he’ll slide into a super utility role and will likely cut into Swanson’s playing time at shortstop. In addition, Riley will likely spend most of his 2019 season getting some additional minor league seasoning with Triple-A Gwinnett, which is needed after the contact woes he had late last season. – Eric Cross
11/26/18 – Atlanta Braves Sign C Brian McCann
On Monday, the Braves brought back an old, familiar face, signing Brian McCann to a one-year contract worth $2 million. McCann spent the first nine years of his career in Atlanta before signing a big contract with the Yankees before the 2014 season. He spent three seasons in the Bronx until an off-season trade sent him to the Houston Astros where he played the last two seasons. The 2018 season saw a bunch of career-worsts for McCann, finishing with seven homers, 23 RBI, and 22 runs to go along with a paltry .212/.301/.339/.640 slash line.
2019 Fantasy Spin: There’s not much to spin here. McCann hasn’t hit above .250 since leaving Atlanta and has seen his counting stats trend downward over the last couple seasons. At best he’s looking at a timeshare with Tyler Flowers, giving McCann little to no value outside of two-catcher NL-Only formats. – Eric Cross
11/26/18 – Minnesota Twins Claim 1B C.J. Cron Off Waivers
After hitting .253 with 30 dingers and a .816 OPS in 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays designated 1B/DH C.J. Cron for assignment last week in a move that came as a surprise. A 30-homer bat that was only making $2.3 million usually doesn’t get DFA’d, but this is the Twins we’re talking about here. The offensively-starved Twins were more than happy to grab Cron and plug him in at first base for the 2019 season.
2019 Fantasy Spin: This is very much a lateral move for Cron’s 2019 value. He should receive roughly the same amount of playing time and put up another stat line close to the .253/30 he had in 2018. A decent late-round power target and nothing more. The biggest fantasy relevance from this move is the playing time this opens up for the likes of Jake Bauers and Nate Lowe in Tampa Bay. The first base job is Bauers’ to lose at this point and Lowe should be up at some point during the first half of the season, likely slotting in at DH or at first base if Bauers needs to shift to the outfield to fill in for one of the fragile trio patrolling the Tampa Bay outfield. – Eric Cross
11/20/18 – Washington Nationals Sign C Kurt Suzuki
With Matt Wieters no longer proving he can be the team’s starting catcher, the Nationals went out and signed veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki to a 2-year, $10 million contract. During his two seasons in Atlanta, Suzuki provided sneaky good fantasy value, hitting .283 with 19 homers in 2017 and .271 with 12 homers last season. He immediately slots in as the Nats starting catcher for 2019, pushing Wieters to a backup role and firmly out of fantasy relevance. Not that he has much left anyway.
2019 Fantasy Spin: This trade doesn’t change the outlook on Suzuki much. His playing time will likely stay consistent, putting him in the 300-350 at-bat range. Suzuki is a solid starting option in NL-Only formats and a borderline mixed-league option, For reference, he was ranked 12th (Doug Anderson), 9th (Nathan Dokken), and 20th (Eric Cross) in our early-2019 catcher rankings. – Eric Cross
11/19/18 – Seattle Mariners Trade LHP James Paxton to New York Yankees for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson, & OF Dom Thompson-Williams
Check out Eric Cross’ full write-up of this trade.
11/8/18 – Seattle Mariners Trade C Mike Zunino, OF Guillermo Heredia, and Minor League LHP Michael Plassmeyer to Tampa Bay for OF Mallex Smith and Minor League OF Jake Fraley.
Check out Anthony Franco’s write-up of this deal.
Stay tuned for more MLB hot stove updates as they happen here on Fantrax HQ throughout the MLB offseason.
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