Today, I am going give my thoughts on some of the big offseason transactions that happened over the last few weeks, including what the fantasy impact is for you, the fantasy owner. This has been a very active offseason with many hitters moving from the American League to the National League, so you "only" league players should take note. On the flip side, some solid starting pitchers have moved from the NL to the AL, so the value of pitching in NL only leagues has bumped up just a bit this offseason.
Let's take a look at some of the offseason moves along with their fantasy impact:
R.A. Dickey Traded to Toronto
The Mets did what I thought they would do after signing David Wright to a long term deal, and that is trade NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. After talking with several teams, the Mets trade Dickey, along with catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, to the Toronto Blue Jays for top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, catcher John Buck and outfield prospect Wullmer Becerra.
Dickey's fantasy impact takes a bit of a hit moving from the National League to the American League, but also leaving Citi Field, which depressed run scoring by about 13% in 2012, to the Rogers Centre, which played very neutral in 2012. The Rogers Centre increased home run production by about 3% in 2012, but maybe 2012 was an aberration, as the ball park increased home run production by 36% and 19% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. How Dickey's knuckleball behaves in the dome at Rogers Centre remains to be seen, but I think fantasy owners should expect his overall stats to take a hit in 2013 with the move out of the NL and Citi Field.
The Mets received the top catching prospect in baseball in Travis d'Arnaud. d'Arnaud injured his knee last season, but before the injury, he laid waste on Pacific Coast League pitching to the tune of .333-.380-.595 with 16 HRs, 45 runs and 52 RBI in just 67 games. In 2011, playing in the AA Eastern League, d'Arnaud raised his prospect stock by hitting .311-.371-.542 with 21 HRs, 72 runs and 78 RBI in 114 games. He has a decent eye at the plate, as he walks around 7% of his plate appearances, while striking out in 20% of his plate appearances. His .231 ISO in 2011 ranked third in the Eastern League behind only Derek Norris and Tyler Moore.
Syndergaard is a power pitcher who made 19 starts in Low A last season, going 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA and 2.21 FIP, striking out 10.59 batters per nine innings, while walking 2.69 batters per nine. Here is what Minor League Ball's John Sickels wrote about him in his Mets Top 20 Prospects for 2013:
3) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Acquired in Dickey trade. He's ahead of where Wheeler was at age 20. Strong sinking fastball, good changeup, breaking stuff coming around, solid command, good body, good makeup, strong sabermetric profile. Just needs to stay healthy. I like him more than many people do, but I really like him.
Ahead of Zack Wheeler at the same age? Yes, please. I imagine the Mets will start him in High A in 2013, with a chance to move to AA Binghamton if all goes well for him. A rotation of Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard has the looks of a dominating rotation in a few years.
Cody Ross Signs with Arizona
Now this signing has to be the headscratcher of the offseason. The Diamondbacks signed Ross to a 3 year deal worth $26 million, and he will join an already crowded outfield including Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton and A.J Pollock. I think one of Kubel or Upton will be traded as a result of this signing, unless MLB added a 4th outfielder to depress run scoring even more. With Upton being the subject of so many trade rumors the last two years, i think he eventually is dealt to the Rangers, as Texas has to be desperate to respond to the Angels signing Josh Hamilton this offseason.
Ross moves from Fenway Park which increased home run production by almost 9% and run scoring by 21% in 2012 to Chase Field which increased home run production by 19% and run scoring by 17%. I see Ross playing right field in a platoon with Parra, and see him hitting between 20-25 home runs in 2013. He is a cheap late round pick in mixed leagues and a mid-round pick in NL only leagues.
Nick Swisher Signs with Cleveland
Former Yankee Nick Swisher signed with the Indians in a move that also had me scratching my head. The Indians lost 94 games last season with Shin-Soo Choo and now added $52 million to their payroll in an attempt to not lose 90+ games again in 2013. I am not sure I see them improving in 2013, and actually think we could see the team dealing Swisher in the next few seasons. Swisher moves from Yankee Stadium, which was a neutral park for run scoring, but increased home run production by 14%. But, Yankee Stadium is more hitter friendly to left handed hitters, increasing home run production for left handed hitters by a whopping 46% in 2012.
Swisher now moves to Progressive Field in Cleveland which kills left handed power hitters, as the park suppressed home run production by 26% in 2012. I see Swisher disappointing fantasy owners in 2013 as a result.