After nearly 100 days of no MLB action to discuss, the lockout is finally over and the MLB Hot Stove is officially heating up once again. With spring training beginning, we’re going to see a flurry of moves over the next week or so, creating absolute pandemonium in our fantasy baseball realm. I’ll be breaking down all the notable moves here with fantasy impact and fallout.
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MLB Hot Stove: Fantasy Baseball Impact
Carlos Correa Signs With Minnesota (3yr/$105.3M)
There were rumblings that Minnesota wouldn’t take long to spend the money freed up by trading Donaldson, and those rumors proved to be spot on with the Twins signing all-star shortstop Carlos Correa. The three-year deal now makes Correa the highest-paid infielder in the game by 100K a year over Anthony Rendon. Correa’s 2022 ADP has held in the 100 range for most of draft season, but was expected to rise considerably if he signed in a favorable situation and park. Him landing in Minnesota isn’t a major downgrade, but I would say it’s a slightly worse lineup and definitely a worse park for him. This doesn’t mean his ADP should drop, but he’ll likely stay in the range he’s currently in.
With Correa in town, this will shift Gio Urshela back to the hot corner and leave Jose Miranda without a starting spot. Maybe he’ll DH some, but Luis Arraez is also in the picture. For now, Miranda is merely a deep-league upside flier, but he should be the first one to step in if Minnesota has an injury at any infield position besides shortstop.
Nick Castellanos Lands in Philly (5yr/$100M)
Apparently, the Phillies don’t value defense a ton, but this is going to be an exciting lineup that can mash the long ball. Castellanos is coming off his best season in the Majors with 34 homers, 100 RBI, and a .309/.362/.576 slash line last season in Cincinnati and should hit high in a great Phillies lineup, likely either directly before or after Bryce Harper. This is a great landing spot for Castellanos who could realistically post another 30/100 season in 2022 with a solid AVG as well.
Freddie Freeman Signs With The Dodgers (6yr/$168M)
Is anyone really shocked by this? The rich get richer with the Dodgers adding Freeman to an already loaded lineup that now has eight players in the top-200 ADP. Not too shabby.
After signing Freeman, the ripple effect went through the Dodgers lineup. With Freeman at first base full time, Cody Bellinger is now a full-time outfielder with Chris Taylor playing predominantly at second base next to Trea Turner at shortstop. And with Muncy at DH, a notable player is now relegated back to a bench/utility role once again. Yup, it’s Gavin Lux. As of now, Lux is difficult to draft in 12-team leagues without deep benches, but he could still play enough at multiple positions to be worth a look in deeper leagues.
As for Freeman and the rest of the Dodgers, everyone should see a slight value boost due to Freeman’s presence.
Kenley Jansen to Close in Atlanta (1yr/$16M)
The Atlanta Braves already had one of the best bullpens in the league and they add to it with Kenley Jansen and his 350 career saves. Jansen will be 35 later in the season but has recorded 30+ saves in each of his last several full seasons and will be the primary 9th inning guy in Atlanta. I’m sure Smith will still sneak in a handful of saves, especially if there are a few lefties due up for the opposing team, but Jansen should still be considered a back-end top-10 RP for 2022. This really decreases the value of Smith, however, who was a top-10 RP in ADP but will now be someone not worth rostering in 12-team mixed leagues unless you have holds as a category.
Detroit Not Going To Hold Back Spencer Torkelson or Riley Greene
Good! Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean the dynamic prospect duo will be up on opening day, but both should debut early in the 2022 season and carry intriguing redraft appeal. Both Greene and Torkelson have been on a similar developmental path and both spent time in Double-A and Triple-A last season, posting impressive lines overall.
Torkelson got more work in out in the Arizona Fall League as well, hitting .450 in seven games.
Spencer Torkelson AFL mix.
No HR in my three live looks, but had six hits (all below) with a few hard-hit balls. Used the entire field well
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 17, 2021
I’ve personally been shying away from prospects in redraft leagues this year, especially early, but these are two solid targets after pick 250 or so due to their offensive potential. However, Greene’s rising strikeout rate last season is a tad concerning as we enter 2022. Longterm, Torkelson profiles as a .270/35 type and Greene around .275/25/15.
Matt Chapman Traded to Toronto For Four Prospects
*Base guitar plays in the distance*
“Another one bites the dust”
Yup, Oakland is trading anyone with a pulse and trade value this offseason and Matt Champan is the latest to be shipped out of town. Oakland dealt the gold glove third baseman to Toronto for four prospects, headlined by Gunnar Hoglund and Kevin Smith. Chapman has been a solid source of power in his career but he’s seen his average drop in three straight seasons, dropping to a career-worst .210 in 2021.
This was the second straight season that Chapman had a strikeout rate above 32% as well. Add in his below-average contact metrics and bloated whiff rate, and I’m not expecting any major AVG gains in 2022. Sure, he’ll get a boost moving out of Oakland’s spacious park and will have a much better lineup around him, but .240 feels like his ceiling. Still, this is definitely a value boost overall for Chapman. His elite defense also gives a minimal boost to all of Toronto’s pitchers.
Out of the prospects heading back to Oakland, Gunnar Hoglund is by far the most intriguing for fantasy purposes. If it wasn’t for Hoglund needing Tommy John surgery, he might have been a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft. The Ole Miss ace dominated in his final two seasons on campus and features an above-average to plus fastball, plus slider, and a solid changeup as well. On top of that, Hoglund has demonstrated above-average of better command and control, and can miss bats at an exceptionally high clip. He’s a great target in dynasty leagues right now before his value inevitably rises once he gets back on the mound.
Chicago Cubs Land Seiya Suzuki (5yr/$70M)
This is a great addition for the Cubs in my eyes. Seiya Suzuki has been one of the top hitters in Japan for the last half-decade and brings an exciting offensive profile into a good hitter’s park and sneaky-good lineup on paper. In each of the last six seasons, Suzuki has hit above .300 with an OBP of .389 or higher and a SLG of .544 or higher with 25+ homers and nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Hitters coming over from Japan and Korea have had mixed results over the last decade, but Suzuki’s blend of contact, power, and approach give him a chance to be an immediate impact player for fantasy purposes. Just don’t expect more than 5-8 steals, but that could come with a decent AVG, good OBP, and around 25 homers.
Jack Flaherty Getting 2nd Opinion On Shoulder
Unfortunately, second opinions are usually not encouraging. We’re still not sure exactly what the issue is with Flaherty’s shoulder outside of “discomfort” but we should receive some clarity soon. There’s no doubting that Flaherty is talented and a potential top-20 SP when healthy, but he’s had issues staying on the field consistently over the last two seasons. He’s someone I’m avoiding in drafts right now.
UPDATE: Flaherty will miss the first month of the season or so after receiving an injection following the finding of a small tear in his shoulder. He’s someone to avoid in drafts right now.
Cubs Sign Mychal Givens & Jonathan Villar
Both of these can be labeled as minor moves, but each carries some fantasy implications. Villar won’t be a full-time starter, but he should be able to work his way into the Cubs lineup 4+ times a week due to his ability to play multiple positions around the diamond. He’s far from the huge power/speed threat we saw a few years ago, but Villar did go 18/14 last year. Double-digit homers and steals with dual eligibility at 3B/SS is pretty valuable after pick 250. As for Givens, he could get some run as the Cubs closer this season as Codi Heuer is out for the season. Givens has his flaws, but his experience in the role is valuable to the Cubs so don’t be surprised if he receives first crack.
Kyle Schwarber Signs With Philadelphia
As someone with several Aaron Nola shares, Philadelphia’s constant disregard for defense is discouraging. However, for Schwarber, this is a great move. In 303 PA last season, Schwarber cranked a whopping 25 homers with a stellar 17.5% barrel rate, .566 xSLG, .392 wOBA, and 52.2% hard-hit rate. He now will play half of his games in a ballpark that has been top-5 for left-handed hitters over the last few seasons and should hit high in the order, likely 2nd between Jean Segura and 2021 National League MVP Bryce Harper.
Kyle Schwarber takes Cole deep 🔥
Boston's 2nd homer already 👀 pic.twitter.com/548yDmD5ho
— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2021
Staying on the field consistently has been an issue for Schwarber who has only eclipsed 600 PA once in his career, but if he can reach that level again, 30+ homers feel like a lock with a high OBP and plenty of runs and RBI. He’s currently going around pick 130 in drafts, which is good value for what he’s capable of doing.
Anthony Rizzo Returns to Yankees
I’m honestly not sure what the Yankees are trying to accomplish. Ignoring catcher, they now have DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, and Anthony Rizzo vying for four spots. And in case you weren’t counting, I just listed five players. All five are worthy of starting, but that’s just not possible, especially with Giancarlo Stanton mostly occupying the DH spot. Assuming Rizzo is starting regularly or close to it, he’s a fine CI options but not someone I’d even begin to think about as my starting first baseman.
Luke Voit Traded to San Diego
Less than 24 hours after resigning Rizzo, the Yankees traded Luke Voit to San Diego in exchange for RHP prospect, Justin Lange. The trade alleviates some of the infield logjam in the Bronx and gives Voit a much clearer path to playing time in San Diego. Between first base and DH, Voit should play nearly every day and has the power to vastly outperform his ADP that currently sits outside of the top-250 overall.
It feels like forever ago, but we’re only around 18 months removed from Voit leading the Majors in home runs. Yes, it was during the shortened 2020 season and Voit’s track record isn’t exactly long. However, the Quality of Contact metrics have remained exceptional, especially in 2021 with a 15.8% barrel rate and 52.2% hard-hit rate. Voit receiving 500+ plate appearances should lead to 30+ homers and he could flirt with 90 RBI in San Diego’s lineup as well.
Padres Sign Nick Martinez (4yr/$25.5M)
Nick Martinez hasn’t pitched in the Major leagues since 2017, and even then he wasn’t that good. But after a successful stint overseas, Martinez was given a four-year contract by the San Diego Padres and a chance to win the last rotation spot out of camp. He’s not an option outside of deep leagues at this point, but keep an eye on him as Spring Training progresses.
Zack Greinke Signs with Kansas City (1yr/$13M)
The 38-year-old right-hander returns to where it all started 18 years ago. Yes, Zack Greinke debuted way back in 2004. Does that make anyone else feel old? At this point, Greinke is barely clinging to fantasy relevance. His ERA has been 4.03 and 4.16 respectively in the last two seasons and his middle-of-the-road strikeout rate dropped from 24.5% in 2020 to 17.2% in 2021. Greinke’s whiff rate also dropped 5.9% down to a below-average 21.8% mark. This looks like it could be Greinke’s farewell season and he’s only a late-round flier in 12-teamers at this point as he can’t miss enough bats anymore.
Eddie Rosario Signs With Atlanta
After his postseason heroics, Eddie Rosario will remain with the Atlanta Braves in 2022. Rosario racked up 14 homers and 11 steals in 412 PA last season and has averaged 27 homers and 10 steals per 162 games for his career. He should slot in 5th or 6th in the lineup initially and bump down a spot when Ronald Acuña returns. He’s currently going around pick 175 which is fair for his 20/20 potential with a decent average and counting stats in a good Atlanta lineup.
Ronald Acuña Jr & Fernando Tatís Jr Injury Updates
Unfortunately, we’re going to be without two of the five best players in the game when the MLB season kicks off on April 7th. It was reported on Monday that Tatís had suffered a fractured wrist and would miss around three months. That puts his return closer to the All-Star Break. Obviously, that’s not ideal for someone who was universally selected as a top-5 pick in 2022 drafts. For dynasty purposes, Tatís is going to drop from #1 to #3 for me until he proves that he can stay on the field for 150+ games consistently. For redraft leagues, it’s all about how safe your team is and how risk-adverse you are as a manager. Do you want to use a bench spot on someone that could provide half a season of elite production?
With Acuña, he said that if it were up to him, he’d be in the opening day lineup and that he’s around 95% right now with strength and agility. Unfortunately, it’s up to the Braves and not Acuña, meaning we might not see him until closer to May. But still, five months of Acuña is worthy of a selection in the back-end of the first round given his immense five-category contributions.
Even with missing the first few weeks of the season, all of the major projection systems still have Acuña around 35 homers, 20+ steals, 100+ runs, 85 RBI, and a .280 AVG. Even if you’re worried about how much he will run and take away 10-20% of those SB projections, that’s still a profile worth of a top-15 selection on draft day.
Matt Olson Traded to Atlanta. Oakland Receives Four Prospects
With the writing on the wall regarding Freddie Freeman’s eventual departure, Atlanta countered that by acquiring slugging left-handed first baseman, Matt Olson.
The 2021 season was a career-year for Olson who slashed .271/.371/.540 with 39 hom ers, 111 RBI, and 101 runs scored in 673 plate appearances. His quality of contact metrics were at their usual impressive levels as well. Olson posted a 12.7% barrel rate, 91.6 mph AVG EV, .507 xSLG, and a 48.8% hard contact rate while improving his strikeout rate, whiff rate, and contact rates dramatically. Olson now joins a Braves team and new home ball park where his left-handed power should play extremely favorably.
— DataBase Hit (@DatabaseHit) March 14, 2022
With an improved home park and a much better lineup around him, we could see Olson meet or exceed his 2021 performance. He’s locked in as my #3 first baseman for 2022 behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Freeman.
The four prospects that went back to Oakland were catcher Shea Langeliers, outfielder Cristian Pache, and right-handed pitchers Joey Estes and Ryan Cusick. Here are my thoughts on each:
Shea Langeliers: This is a gold-glove caliber catcher that has slowly improved his offensive profile as well. In 2021 while playing his home games in Mississippi’s pitcher-friendly park (and a brief Triple-A stint), Langeliers slashed .256/.339/.494 with 22 home runs and a .238 ISO in 384 PA. The offensive upside isn’t high here, but .250/15+ annually is possible and his stellar defense will keep him in the lineup for a long time.
Cristian Pache: It’s no secret that Pache has been incredibly inconsistent throughout his minor league career, but as with Langeliers, his elite defense will carry him to a starting Major League gig. At least initially. That could happen early in 2021 as well with Oakland selling off any and every tradable piece they have. I’m not sure Pache is more than a .250/15/15 type though as the game-power has never fully materialized and he’s been extremely inefficient on the bases despite his above-average speed.
Joey Estes: While the first two names above were solid pieces for Oakland, Estes is the one people should be most excited about. As a 19-year-old in Lo-A, Estes excelled with a 2.91 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 7.3% walk rate, and a 32.1% strikeout rate. The 6’2 right-hander works with a four-seamer/slider/changeup mix with all three potentially developing into above-average or better offerings in time. He’s also shown solid command and control for his age which bodes well for his future development. Estes could wind up as a very good #3 starter in the Majors that will have the benefit of pitching around half of his starts in Oakland’s spacious ballpark.
Ryan Cusick: Selected 24th overall this past July out of Wake Forest, Cusick is an eletric arm with a plus fastball/curveball mix that can miss bats at an exceptional clip. That mix allowed him to strike out 34 of the 67 batters he faced in Lo-A after the draft. However, he’s yet to establish either his changeup or slider as a consistent third offering and has shown inconsistent command as well. He’ll need to improve those areas to stick as a starter longterm. If not, he could develop into a high-leverage reliever.
Cincinnati Trades Jesse Winker & Eugenio Suarez to Seattle for Brandon Williamson, Justin Dunn, and Jake Fraley
The Cincinnati firesale continues. This trade has plenty of fantasy ramifications. In Seattle, this likely bumps Abraham Toro to the bench with Suarez taking over at third, Ty France at first, Adam Frazier at second, and JP Crawford at short. Toro could still move around and play enough to have relevance in deeper leagues, but that’s about it at this point.
Both Suarez (terrible AVG) and Winker (can’t hit lefties) have their flaws, but they both remain solid mid-round targets for fantasy. The move from Cincinnati to Seattle is a slight downgrade powerwise, but I don’t expect either to take a noticeable hit. Suarez has hit around the Mendoza Line over the last two seasons, but has also crushed 46 homers in those 202 games since the start of the 2020 season. He’ll have dual eligibility and can provide plenty of power after pick 200. Let’s just hope that September surge can at least somewhat carry over into 2022 and Suarez can get that AVG back into the .230-.240 range. Fingers crossed.
As for the three going to Seattle, Justin Dunn is nothing more than a deep league option or a streamer in good matchups. Fraley might be more of a 4th outfielder in the long run, but he once showed .270/10+/20 upside, so he’s worth keeping an eye on if he can get consistent playing time. Brandon Williamson is the most exciting piece going back to Cincinnati. He features a dynamic four-pitch mix, headlined by a plus or better fastball and three bat-missing secondaries. In 2021, between Hi-A and Double-A, Williamson posted a 3.39 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a stellar 37.4% strikeout rate. He profiles as a high-K #3 starter with the upside for more.
Andrew McCutchen Signs with Milwaukee
Don’t write off this former National League MVP just yet. McCutchen is far removed from his prime levels, but he’s working on nine-straight seasons with 20+ homers when he plays 130+ games. In 2021, Cutch cranked 27 to go with 80 RBI, 78 runs, six steals, and a .222/.334/.444 slash line. That AVG is an eye sore, but Cutch was around .250-.260 in the last few years before 2021 and could easily return to that level again. He’s a solid outfield option after pick 250 or so to round out your outfield with.
With McCutchen in town, this definitely is a big hit to the 2022 value of Tyrone Taylor.
Aaron Ashby Being Stretched Out As A Starter
Staying in Milwaukee, it was reported recently that Aaron Ashy will be stretched out as a starter in camp. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Ashby will receive a rotation spot to open the 2022 campaign, but it’s certainly a situation to monitor closely over the next few weeks.
The talent with Ashby is undeniable. In 31.2 innings last season, Ashby recorded a 29.3% strikeout rate, 4.8% barrel rate, 63% groundball rate, a 34.4% chase rate, and a 29.6% whiff rate. Two bad outings ballooned his ERA and WHIP though, so ignore those. Ashby’s sinker/slider/changeup miss can limit hard contact, induce groundballs at a high clip, and miss plenty of bats as well.
Aaron Ashby, Filthy Sliders. 😷 pic.twitter.com/D2L6lognIB
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 30, 2021
If he can get into the 130-150 inning range, Ashby could be the next Milwaukee success story to finish as a top-25 starter at season’s end. However, Milwaukee already has Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta cemented in the rotation with Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser in the mix as well. Perhaps Ashby can bump Houser from that 5th spot with a strong showing in spring training. Definitely keep an eye on this situation.
Nelson Cruz signs with Washington (1 year, $15M)
This is a move I absolutely love for a variety of reasons. Well, really three reasons. First off, this is a good landing spot for Nelson Cruz. Nationals Park has played favorably to right-handed hitters over the last few years and Cruz will likely hit cleanup, directly between Juan Soto and Josh Bell. Durability is always a question for someone Cruz’s age, but he could easily return top-100 value if he plays in 130+ games this season. In turn, this also adds some much-needed protection for Juan Soto. After Bell behind him, the lineup was a giant question mark outside of Keibert Ruiz, who is talented but still a rookie catcher. Give Lane Thomas a slight bump as well who will be hitting leadoff in front of this trio. A .350+ OBP, 100-run, 20-homer, 15-steal season is well within reach.
Sonny Gray Traded to Minnesota for RHP Prospect Chase Petty
Basically since the offseason began, the Cincinnati Reds have been rumored to be looking to trade away at least one of their starters. Tyler Mahle has been the most discussed name that I’ve seen in those rumors, but the first arm to be shipped out of town was Sonny Gray to Minnesota for Chase Petty. In 2021, Gray posted a 4.89 ERA at home compared to 3.44 on the road and will now be going from a notorious hitters park to one that has played more neutral or slightly pitcher-friendly in Target Field. I’m not going to give Gray a massive boost following the trade, but he does move up from SP52 to Sp44 in my rankings for 2022.
Chase Petty is an intriguing arm heading back to Cincinnati in this deal. The 2021 first-rounder has an electric fastball that can touch triple-digits and a potential plus slider to go along with it. He’s also shown an improved changeup this winder, but we’ll wait to see how that looks in games this season. Still, this is an exciting arm with big breakout potential in 2022.
Minnesota Trades Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, and Ben Rortvedt to the Yankees for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela
Man, it was a weekend for the Minnesota Twins. After trading for Sonny Gray and swapping Garver for Kiner-Falefa, they promptly flipped IKF along with Josh Donaldson to the Yankees for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. There’s a plethora of fantasy implications in this deal, and plenty more likely to come. The Twins freed up $50 million by dealing Donaldson and are rumored to still be looking to add another big bat, likely in the infield. Will that be someone like Trevor Story? Only time will tell, but Minnesota likely isn’t done.
But for now, their most likely infield combination is Miguel Sano at first, Jorge Polanco at second, Gio Urshela at shortstop, and possibly top prospect Jose Miranda at third base. Miranda is very intriguing for fantasy purposes as an above-average to plus hitter with 25+ homer potential. However, if they bring in someone like Story, that could push Urshela to the hot corner and leave Miranda in Triple-A. If Miranda does wind up as the starter at third base, he’s worth a look as a late-round flier. Stay tuned for more.
With Sanchez and Urshela, I’m not seeing any real value change here. Maybe a change of scenery will help Sanchez, but that’s all I can come up with at the moment. There are so many red flags in his profile and those aren’t just magically going to pull a 180 now that he’s in Minnesota. He’s still merely a mid to high-end C2 for two-catcher formats. This also drops Jeffers value back down to where it was 48 hours ago. For Urshela, he’s only played in around 75% of games over the last three seasons and has been rather uninspiring for the last two, especially in 2021. He’s still fantasy-relevant, but as more of a late-round bat, and I like many more bats in his ADP range.
On the Yankees side of things, I’m digging this trade for Donaldson and IKF, who is now on his third team in barely over 24 hours. Both should benefit from a better hitter’s park and a slightly better lineup around them. Kiner-Falefa is a solid late-round target due to his speed, and Donaldson just needs to stay healthy. He put together a stellar season under the hood with a 17.4% barrel rate, 94.1 mph avg EV, .542 xSLG, and 52.7% hard-hit rate. Injuries have popped up often for Donaldson recently, so he’s still a risky top-200 selection, but 130+ games could have him pushing top-10 value at the third base position this season.
As for the New York infield as a whole, there are some questions that remain following this trade. Who will start at catcher? Does this leave Voit without a starting gig? Are the Yankees done? The Yankees are likely NOT done, but if they are, they have DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa, and Voit vying for four spots. Voit could really use a trade out of New York. If that happens, he’s firmly back on the map as a solid corner infield option that you can take after pick 250.
Chris Bassitt Traded to the Mets for Two Pitching Prospects
The Athletic New York Mets of Oakland. Okay, the name is a work in progress, but the Mets just continue to scoop up players from Oakland. After signing former Athletics Starling Marte and Mark Canha before the lockout, the Met snag another in Chris Bassitt, this time via trade for pitching prospects JT Ginn and Adam Oller. Despite missing a month late in the season following a scary situation when he took a line drive off the head, Bassitt put together a phenomenal season.
In 27 starts spanning 157.1 innings, Bassitt posted a 3.15 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 6.1% walk rate, and a 25% strikeout rate. He’s consistently been an underrated arm in fantasy as he never was a big strikeout arm before 2021 and even 25% is only slightly above average. But still, the volume should be there with good ratios and a solid enough strikeout rate. He’s a safe SP3 in 2022 drafts.
As for the prospects heading to Oakland, Oller doesn’t possess much fantasy intrigue but Ginn sure does. Ginn was actually a top draft pick twice, being selected in the first round out of high school by the Dodgers back in 2018 (didn’t sign) and then in the second round by the Mets in 2020. Armed with a plus fastball/slider combo and a serviceable changeup, Ginn possesses mid-rotation upside, but didn’t miss many bats last season. The ratios were nice at 3.03 and 1.05 in 18 starts, but Ginn could only muster a 21.9% strikeout rate. I’m expecting that mark to rise though moving forward, especially if his inconsistent changeup takes a step forward.
Alex Colome Signs One-Year Deal with Colorado
A pitcher signing with Colorado? I’m sure the general reaction will be to gag a little and turn the other way, but when you get later in your drafts, you got to take the saves where you can. Colome isn’t going to be a league-winner by any stretch of the imagination, but he should receive plenty of save opportunities in Colorado and might not be terrible in the meantime. Colome’s cutter/four-seamer mix induces plenty of groundballs, eclipsing 50% in each of the last two seasons. If you’re looking for strikeouts from him, keep looking, but his experience should allow him to flirt with 20+ saves this season.
Josh Harrison Signs with the White Sox (1 year/$5.5M)
This is a minor signing for sure, but one that doesn’t have a sliver of fantasy relevance. Before signing Harrison, it looked like Leury Garcia was going to be Chicago’s starter at second base. Now, at the very least we’re likely going to have a competition for the spot in spring training, and my money would be on Harrison winning that job. Harrison can also play multiple positions around the field so he could still find his way into the lineup 4-5 times a week, giving him some deep-league appeal.
Niko Goodrum Signs with the Astros (1 year/$2.1M)
We all know what Niko Goodrum is at this point. He’s proven to be a solid utility/backup infielder that can hold down a position when the regular starter is hurt. He’s not really fantasy relevant outside of deeper leagues or DCs/Bestballs. However, this could impact shortstop prospect Jeremy Pena’s arrival in Houston.
Yusei Kikuchi Signs With Toronto (3 years/$36M)
In general, Yusei Kikuchi is a fine #5 starter and this contract certainly isn’t egregious. But for fantasy purposes, Kikuchi is boring and undesirable. Through three Major League seasons, he sports a 4.97 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and 12.3% K-BB, all of which lack inspiration. Even last year’s 4.41 ERA and 24.5% strikeout rate are barely worth rostering in 12-team mixed leagues and I’m not sure you can expect much more than that. Is he a fine late-round selection? Sure. Is he all of a sudden going to be a top-40 starter? Absolutely not.
The biggest fantasy impact here actually surrounds Nate Pearson. The talented former top prospect will now likely either start the season in the bullpen or down in Triple-A. I’m still very much a believer in Pearson being an impact arm longterm, just not sure which role that will be in. He’s still a solid buy-low in dynasty leagues but I wouldn’t draft him before pick 500 or so in 2022 drafts following the Kikuchi signing.
Carlos Rodon Signs with San Francisco (2 years/$44M)
This was the first big domino to fall. Carlos Rodon is coming off a career year with the White Sox last year where he finished with a 2.37 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and a whopping 34.6% strikeout rate across 24 starts. The 29-year-old southpaw carries an elevated level of risk this season due to his shoulder issues, but the Giants seemed confident enough with his medical reports and physical to fork out 44 million over the next two seasons to secure his services.
Carlos Rodón getting a ⚔️ on an 88mph Slider that ends up behind Grichuk. 😀 pic.twitter.com/BgMibqHpCv
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 26, 2021
Rodon made astronomical improvements last season, recording a career-best strikeout, walk, whiff, and chase rate along with a solid 75.5% zone contact rate. His slider was one of the best in baseball (.107 BAA, .126 SLG, 40.6% whiff) last season and Rodon also showed an impressive four-seamer as well with a .199 BAA on the offering. He’ll need to improve his changeup which was atrocious last season, but San Francisco has a great track record with pitchers recently and helping them make the necessary adjustments. If Rodon can stay healthy this season, he should be able to produce at an SP3 level or higher for fantasy purposes with elite strikeout numbers.
Unfortunately, this signing bumps Tyler Beede from the rotation, all but killing his deep-league intrigue. He’s still a viable option in DCs and Best Balls though as he should be the next man up if San Francisco needs a starter.
Clayton Kershaw Resigns with the Dodgers
There was plenty of speculation this offseason about whether or not Clayton Kershaw was going to hang up his cleats after a 14-year hall of fame career. Well, he’ll return to the mound for at least one more season after resigning with the only team he’s ever thrown an MLB pitch for. There’s plenty of risk associated with drafting Kershaw as he hasn’t reached 30 starts or 180 innings since 2015. However, when he’s on the mound, he’s still producing like an elite talent.
Since the start of the 2016 season, Kershaw has a stellar 2.60 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 BAA, 4.3% walk rate, and a 28.6% strikeout rate. The only qualified starter with an ERA lower than that is some guy named Jacob deGrom. And it’s not like Kershaw has missed massive chunks of time. In fact, last season was the lowest IP total of his career since his rookie season at 122.1 innings. Expecting 140+ innings from Kershaw isn’t out of the question and 140+ innings likely means he’s producing SP3 value or better. If you have a safe rotation already established, I’d be okay taking Kershaw near his 175 ADP.
As for the rest of the Dodgers rotation, I’d bet on Tony Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney being the 4/5 behind Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Kershaw with David Price moving back to a long-relied/spot starter role.
Max Muncy Ready For Opening Day
Another Dodger with a murky outlook for 2022 this offseason was Max Muncy. A torn UCL suffered on the last day of the regular season forced Muncy to miss the entire 2021 postseason and put his availability for the beginning of the 2022 season in doubt. But recently, Dave Roberts indicated that Muncy will be ready for opening day. The added National League DH and a delayed start to the season definitely helped.
Max Muncy (elbow) will be ready for Opening Day, Dave Roberts said.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) March 11, 2022
While this is certainly encouraging to hear, the risk surrounding Muncy doesn’t magically disappear. He didn’t have surgery to fix the torn UCL, instead opting for rest and rehab, so we truly don’t know how well that tendon will hold up over a full 162-game season. As it stands now, Muncy is a solid value after pick-150 with multipositional eligibility at 1B and 2B. He’s been remarkably consistent recently with three straight full-seasons of 35 or 36 home runs while averaging 98 runs scored and 96 RBI over the last two full seasons.
Mitch Garver Traded to Texas for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and RHP Prospect Ronny Henriquez
The first notable post-lockout trade happened between the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers with Isiah Kiner-Falefa heading to Minnesota in exchange for Mitch Garver. As I outlined here, Garver was already a top catching target of mine in 2022 drafts and his value increases with this trade as he’ll likely receive more playing time in Texas. The 31-year-old backstop recorded a 17.4% barrel rate, .546 xSLG, and 53.6% hard-hit rate last season when he cranked 13 homers in just 243 PA. If he’s able to receive 400+ PA in 2022, Garver could flirt with top-5 value at the catcher position. He’s now a locked-in top-10 catcher in drafts.
On the Minnesota side, there are a few players impacted by this. First and foremost, I don’t believe this alters Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s value much for 2022. He was likely going to start at third in Texas and should start at shortstop in Minnesota with Jorge Polanco moving back over to second where he spent the most time in 2022. But what happens to Luis Arraez? He’s not highly impactful for fantasy purposes, but he was being drafted around pick 300 on average due to his 2B/3B/OF eligibility and high batting average. I’m not sure he’s worth drafting anymore and likely won’t have much of a fantasy impact until someone (Likely Donaldson or Buxton) gets hurt. Lastly, with Garver out of the picture, Ryan Jeffers should see an increase in playing time and has some intrigue as a C2 in those formats for his power potential.
Two other minor beneficiaries from this trade are Ryan Jeffers and Nick Solak. Jeffer should now see increased playing time with Garver gone and has the power to make an impact as a C2 in those formats. As for Solak, he hasn’t faired well in the Majors thus far, but hit well at every level in the minors and should be the starting third baseman now unless Texas signs a big bat to take that spot. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues and will have multi-positional eligibility as well.
On the prospect side of things, this definitely clouds the ETA of top hitting prospect, Jose Miranda. After a breakout season in Double-A and Triple-A where he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 home runs in 591 PA, Miranda appeared to be ready to make his MLB debut early in 2022. That might have to wait a bit longer now, but his ability to play both second and third, coupled with Josh Donaldson’s durability issues, could still allow Miranda to crack the starting lineup at some point this summer.
NOTE: Isiah Kiner-Falefa was traded to the Yankees following this trade. Ignore what I said about Ryan Jeffers as Gary Sanchez is now a Twin and check above for further thoughts on IKF as a Yankee.
Andrelton Simmons Signs with the Cubs
This is definitely more of a minor deal, but there is a smidgeon of fantasy impact here. Simmons isn’t worth drafting outside of deeper leagues like DCs and Best Balls, but his signing likely pushes Nico Horner to the bench in more of a super-utility role. He was someone I was intrigued by in deeper leagues for his potential to hit for a solid AVG and double-digit steals, but his value now takes a solid hit.
Media Credit: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire, Fabian Ardaya, Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja)
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