Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are the prize pieces this year, but I won’t add to the rampant speculation about where either may land. Instead, I’ll focus on what has happened already, and offer a brief fantasy baseball reaction. For giggles, I’ll be including recent Pitcher List mock draft ADP, which yours truly helped to create by drafting in the second PL Mock Draft. And moving forward, I plan to update the Hot Stove more often, as this effort got away from me. This offseason has been great so far!
Tommy Pham to San Diego, Hunter Renfroe to Tampa Bay
Despite the misgivings of Blake Snell, this doesn’t read like a terrible deal for the Rays. Pham turns 32 this year, while Renfroe turns 28 in January. Renfroe lacks Pham’s on-base skills, but he does bring power and good outfield defense to Tampa. The Rays also get Xavier Edwards...
Quick analysis of the Padres-Rays deal, which @Ken_Rosenthal said was close:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2019
- Tommy Pham turns 32 in March and has less control but is high-OBP guy, which SD needs
- Hunter Renfroe has power, excellent OF D but a low OBP
- Evaluators adore Xavier Edwards, a dynamic 2B prospect
So maybe it isn’t quite as bleak as Snell believes. For fantasy, Pham will be an everyday fixture in San Diego, meaning some of those part-timers are going to take a shot to their playing time. Pham should still be considered a Top 30 outfielder in the fake game, and he was the OF22 selected in the PL Mocks. After Pham, it will be some combination of Trent Grisham (OF61), Wil Myers (OF65), Manuel Margot, and Franchy Cordero manning the remaining outfield spots. That just looks like a mess, in my opinion. Maybe we’ll see another move or two by San Diego that will give us more clarity. It doesn’t feel like they are done just yet.
For now, if I had to pick one it would be Margot...he swiped 20 bags in limited time last year, is still only 25 years old, and has a studly sprint speed of 29.0 ft/sec. Given that Myers and Cordero have trouble staying on the field, to me that’s the play. For what it’s worth, Margot trimmed his chase rate by four percent last year (29.0% to 25.0%) and beefed up his walk rate to 8.6%. His 20.0% strikeout rate isn’t indicative of a leadoff hitter type, but he’s capable of being a quality depth outfielder for your fake team. Trent Grisham had a 32/13 season in 2019, including his minor league numbers. In the Majors he slashed .231/.328/.410 with six homers and one theft—but with a sprint speed of 29.1 ft/sec, he has the tools and the history to suggest that he could run more. This could be a situation where we fall into some value if people are concerned about the logjam, a la Dodgers pitching in recent years. This is definitely an outfield mix to watch.
In Tampa, perhaps Hunter Renfroe (OF79) sets a career mark in at-bats and we get to enjoy his considerable power in our non-OBP leagues. The outfield in Tampa now looks like Austin Meadows, Kevin Kiermaier, and Renfroe. Renfroe is a cheap source of power. He slashed .216/.289/.489 last year, but he did post the lowest BABIP of his career, at only .239. Without digging in too much to see what went awry, assuming that number trends towards his career mark of .265 we can expect a batting average rebound in the .230 to .240 range. That would be tolerable if you got a 35-homer bat, so long as you knew you’d be managing the batting average. His ADP as the 79th outfielder was set prior to this trade, when there was a more of a glut of outfielders in San Diego. I’d expect him to creep up a little bit now if this pathway to playing time holds up.
RHP Zack Wheeler signed with the Phillies on a five-year, $118 million dollar deal
The Phillies are taking a risk based on Wheeler’s lack of durability. But a rotation headlined by Aaron Nola and Wheeler is promising. Wheeler is 29 years old, and has some serious heat and four pitches in his arsenal. This is an obvious park downgrade, but Wheeler still rates as a Top 30 to Top 40 starter, making him a solid SP3 option. Of course, if you’re banking on some of the epic stretches he’s shown (second half of 2018, for instance) you may pay a more expectant price. I probably won’t, given the home park.
RHP Michael Pineda re-signs with the Twins on a two-year, $20 million deal
He turns 31 in January and has a career 4.04 ERA. He posted a 4.01 ERA last year. I’d like to say we should all stop waiting for him to break through as the next top tier ace, but check out this stretch:
Michael Pineda 2/$20 mil is a steal for the #Twins.— Nathan Dokken (@NathanDokken) December 6, 2019
His final 82 IP before suspension:
2.96 ERA/3.21 FIP
Minnesota still has a ton of salary cap left to play with but holes to fill in the rotation.
Also, a 60-game PED suspension will delay his start in 2020, as Pineda still has 39 games to serve. He should be back pitching for our fake teams around mid-May, about five weeks into the season. Right now he reads like a cheap pitcher I’ll be targeting to round out my pitching staffs, especially if the suspension is a smokescreen that drives people away from him. That said, typically my leaves have large benches that allow for such plays, so know yours. If your bench is short and you’re in a 12-teamer, Pineda is likely on waivers to start the year.
OF Jake Marisnick to the Mets
This right-handed, defensive replacement type of guy is 28 years old, and should play behind the lefty hitting Brandon Nimmo in center field. This isn’t noteworthy for any reason other than Brandon Nimmo can now be used in center or left field. Michael Conforto will be a fixture in right field, while J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil can handle third base and the final outfield spot, respectively. Marisnick is the fourth outfielder here, in my opinion—the replacement for Juan Lagares. Your J.D. Davis sleeper shares are safe, people.
C Omar Narvaez to the Milwaukee Brewers
Narvaez is a lefty hitting catcher, so the move to Milwaukee is huge for his value. Narvaez is 27 years old, but he is not a good defender. He’s clearly being sought after for his offense, and he pairs up with another Venezuelan catcher in Milwaukee in the form of Manny Pina (who is the defensive backstop in this duo). This move is a positive for Narvaez, who I already had ranked as the 9th catcher overall. That ranking was aggressive, but I could easily see Narvaez finishing as one of the five best catchers in the fake game in given his home environment and surrounding lineup.
C Tom Murphy wasn’t traded, but he is the last man standing in Seattle
He bashed lefties last year (.347/.408/.695) but struggled against righties (.211/.252/.401, 33% K-rate). The Mariners valued his defense, which was far better than Narvaez’s. This move means the Mariners are set with Murphy and Austin Nola as their catching tandem. Nola is a former shortstop prospect who converted to catcher. I honestly haven’t dug into him much yet, but I know he is an older prospect. For now, I’m interested in Murphy as a cheap catcher, given that he slugged 18 homers as a part-timer last year and that playing time just opened up for him.
The Atlanta Braves sign everybody and their mother, feels like...
- Cole Hamels - He’s essentially a lesser Dallas Keuchel. He turns 36 in December. I’m not expecting anything spectacular for fantasy baseball, but I’ll take a quality real-life starter for my Bravos.
- LHP Will Smith - Three years, $40 million sounds steep for a setup man. The Braves have said that Mark Melancon is still their closer. We shall see, Atlanta. We shall see. Smith was the 9th closer drafted on average in the PL mocks, but if that price falls due to any Mark Melancon uncertainty, I’ll pounce!
- C Travis d’Arnaud - I’m really excited for this. I had him 11th in my initial rankings, but I’ll move him ahead of Carson Kelly and say he’s currently inside my Top 10 backstops. I could easily see him vaulting over veterans like Salvador Perez and Wilson Ramos, too.
- Chris Martin signs too. Two years, $14 million. I don’t see him closing, so I don’t see the value.
- Kept Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers around- Both profile as defensive backup type players at this point. Markakis’ value will be tied to whether or not the Braves bring in a power outfield bat or whether one of the youngsters decides to pop off. Either way, his days of usefulness appear to be numbered.
Mike Moustakas signs with the Reds
With Eugenio Suarez manning the hot corner, Moose will retreat to man the keystone. He’s an annual draft day value (similar to real life, apparently). He was the 2B13 in PL Mocks, and the ADP of 115 seems about right. “Moose” has totaled home run counts of 38, 28, and 35 over the last three seasons. If you’re looking for power at second base, he’s your dude. The career .252 batting average isn’t the worst, either. Think of him as Max Muncy sans the OBP skills.
Jesus Aguilar and Jonathan Villar to the Marlins
Villar posted a 24/40 season last year. The Orioles are moronic for not keeping him around. Sounds like you can bank on some eligibility, too:
Newly acquired Jonathan Villar will play a combination of 3B and OF for the Miami Marlins. The club is a big believer in Isan Díaz, but should he struggle, Villar also provides insurance at 2B as well.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 3, 2019
Dylan Bundy to Angels
Anywhere but his home park (and Colorado) would’ve been a welcomed sight. I’ll take this move, and some darts on Bundy as a cheap guy with upside in 2020. He’s a lock to finish inside the upper echelon of strikeouts, so if he can find a way to cut down on home runs, he’ll be useful. He’s still only 27 years old.
Jurickson Profar to San Diego
Profar fills the void vacated by the previous trade of Luis Urias. Profar is a sneaky 20/10 candidate in your MI spot in 2020.
Drew Pomeranz to the Padres
He increased his velocity and crushed it in the bullpen last year, and now he’s getting paid. Four years, $34 million is a stunning amount. He and Kirby Yates could be a filthy tandem. He’ll steal a few saves for sure...think the Andrew Miller of old and you’ll be on the right track.
Luis Urias and Eric Lauer to Brewers, OF Trent Grisham and P Zach Davies to Padres
Urias has multiple ways to crack the starting lineup, either by supplanting Orlando Arcia at shortstop or plugging into the hole at third base (with Moustakas gone). So maybe that’s a sneaky MI play, but I’ve not decided on Urias yet. I am surprised the Padres gave up on him so quickly, though. Grisham was already discussed previously, and I am uninterested in either starter for fantasy purposes—both are more valuable in real life at the back of those respective rotations.
C Yan Gomes re-signs with Nationals, cementing Kurt Suzuki as a cheap C2 option
Two years and $10 million to be the backup to Kurt Suzuki sounds like a pretty sweet gig. Not joking. Gomes is valuable to Washington as a catcher who is familiar with Nationals pitchers. But Suzuki is going to the best catcher on this team for fake purposes in 2020.
RHP Kyle Gibson signs with Rangers
He’s an innings eating machine, his strikeout rate has improved each of the last four years, and he generates plenty of ground balls (50% at least). We’ll have to wait and see how the new park will play, but this could be a back-end starter on your fake teams, for sure.
1B Jose Abreu stays with the White Sox
Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Abreu...and now Grandal, too? White Sox are going to MASH in 2020. Abreu is a draft day bargain and was the 10th first baseman off the boards in the PL Mocks. I’m sure to like him more than most in 2020.
C Yasmani Grandal to White Sox
I think I’m coming around to Grandal as my No. 2 catcher behind Realmuto. I just don’t see why I need to risk matters with Gary Sanchez’s injury and batting average. In a large format like TGFBI, sure, I’ll take a shot on Sanchez’s upside. In most formats, though, I think I prefer Grandal’s OBP skills and added durability.
Adam Wainwright re-signs with Cardinals
One-year, $5 million. Average, innings eater...boring.
Chase Anderson to the Blue Jays
Not a bad pitcher.
Aroldis Chapman extended by Yankees
Still closing. Velo has dropped to 98 mph. Big whoop. Still an elite closer.
That’s about it for me on this fine Saturday! It’s time to head out for a quick jog, and dream of Gerrit Cole landing with the Halos, to further add to the chances that we might see Mike Trout playing postseason baseball. What are you guys hoping for in 2020?