It’s always a nice thing to shift towards MLB coverage during the early portion of the week (when fantasy football is all but done). You can safely expect Hot Stove updates from here onward, so you’re invited to begin your week in this way.
I won’t keep a running “tracker” here at Fake Teams. There are enough of those floating around on the internets. I will, however, offer periodic Hot Stove updates during the offseason, per our usual. Let’s dig in!
Nov. 15: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez signs a five-year deal with Detroit Tigers
E-Rod joins what could be a formidable rotation, alongside Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning. E-Rod is a sabermetric dream—last season’s 4.74 ERA did not match his underlying stats (3.32 FIP, 3.43 xFIP). Last year’s career-high 10.56 K/9 and the shift to a more pitcher-friendly ball park are further reasons to consider buying in for 2022. His average ADP (per NFBC) isn’t prohibitive, as the 66th pitcher off the board (starters and relievers). He’s being drafted seven picks after converted reliever Ranger Suarez...I’ll take that for E-Rod. He’s a nice mix of floor and upside, in my opinion.
Nov. 17: RHP Noah Syndergaard signs with the Angels on a one-year deal
It’s a “show-me” sort of deal, one year for $21 million. “Thor” turned down the $18.4 million qualifying offer from the New York Mets, calling it a “no-brainer” to sign with the Halos. Syndergaard also referred to this year as “make or break” time. That may not be entirely true for an arm of his caliber, but a healthy year after two missed ones due to Tommy John surgery would certainly go a long way towards rebuilding the big right-hander’s value. He joins Shohei Ohtani to make a formidable 1-2 punch for the Angels. I can’t see him surpassing more than 150 or so innings, though...can you? He’s being drafted one pick ahead of E-Rod, for reference. I’m not quite sure how Luis Severino (ADP 152) is being drafted ahead of both of these guys. At any rate, if you’re drafting guys like Thor or Severino this late, you had better have some starting pitcher floor on your team in the early rounds.
Nov. 17: RHP Justin Verlander rejoins the Houston Astros for one year, $25 million
Verlander is 38 years old, and this is a one-year deal with a player option for a second season. The Astros take a chance on the Hall-of-Fame righty. His ADP is 138, so it’s a risk in your fantasy baseball drafts. If you draft him, you’d better have some safety built in early on in your starting pitcher ranks.
Nov. 24: LHP Steven Matz signs a four-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals
Matz had a rough 2020 (14 homers, 9.68 ERA) but bounced back in a big way last year. He hurled 150 2⁄3 innings for Toronto, amassing a 3.82 ERA and 144 strikeouts. He relied more on his sinker, something that pairs well with the defense of St. Louis. Maybe this isn’t a league-winning pick come springtime, but you’ll most likely be holding serve. His ADP is in the 280s, and that’s superb given his positive park shift, especially if you’re in need of some innings floor.
Nov. 27: Mets sign Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha for a combined $124.5 million
New York has a logjam of hitters at the moment—we should see more moves in the coming days/weeks. Marte gets a four-year deal despite being 33 years old, and his primary asset being his speed. Interesting, but not my problem (that’s for the Mets in real life to sort out). For fantasy baseball, Marte should be his customary self—he’ll command at-bats atop the Mets order and be a threat to hit 15 homers and swipe 30+ bags. Escobar profiles as a guy that will move around the diamond and bat mostly against lefties...I think we really need to see how these other hitting situations shake out with New York before we buy in on a large scale. Escobar batted only .238 against RHP in 2021 (.210 ISO, 98 wRC+) compared to .295 against lefties (.242 ISO, 129 wRC+). As for Canha, he’s a former lefty-basher who has improved versus righties...I don’t know what he is exactly, now. If he’s an everyday stick for the Mets, then guys like JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith are all on the bench. Unless the Mets are going to be the NL version of the Rays, and platoon everyone. Like I said, stay tuned to the Mets this offseason.
Nov. 28: RHP Corey Kluber signs a one-year deal with the Rays for $8 million
We’ve seen the Rays be a great destination for older pitchers before—or heck, any age of pitcher. But I was thinking of Charlie Morton, full disclosure. Anyway, the Klubot’s ADP of 435 is nearly nonexistent. His 2021 3.83 ERA was backed by a 3.85 FIP, and his 24.0% walk rate was tolerable, along with his 9.7% walk rate. Kluber has incentives built into his deal that could raise it from $8 million to $13 million, but a shoulder injury in the middle of last season is of some concern. Kluber’s fastball velocity also diminished a bit after his shoulder injury last year. But if he’s back up around 91-92 this spring instead of down around 90, I’ll be encouraged about the velo and about his health. That’s a shot I’m willing to take in the 400s, especially with a savvy team like the Rays calling the shots. If he improves a bit on his control (logical, for a pitcher of his caliber) then this could be a great get for the back-end of your fantasy baseball roster.
Nov. 28: 2B/SS Marcus Semien signs a seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers
He’s fresh off a 45-homer campaign, and with 15 steals to boot. You have to think the power dips in Texas, and obviously the lineup is awful compared to Toronto. He’s a top 24 pick right now, and I can’t say I’m overly enthused about that given his new home park. Manny Machado (ADP 26) seems like more guaranteed power, and Starling Marte (ADP 27) more guaranteed speed. And I think I prefer Tim Anderson’s Round 3 ADP to Semien’s in Round 2. That’s just at first glance, don’t crucify me.
Nov. 28: RHP Kevin Gausman signs a five-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays
Gausman could add a full run onto last year’s 2.81 ERA, and still be useful in fake leagues while winning a ton of games for the Blue Jays. Honestly, I’m just glad he didn’t go to the dysfunction that is the New York Mets.
Nov. 28: Byron Buxton signs $100 million deal with the Minnesota Twins
Buxton is as controversial as they come, and that won’t change with an early ADP in the low 70s. He only managed 61 games played last year, and his .306 BA was buoyed by a career-high .344 BABIP. That said, Buxton also set career marks in any batted ball quality metric you can find last year, so there’s at least some growth happening here. The bigger question (to me) is his health. If I’m drafting him in the 70s, I’ve GOT to feel good about my floor early on. That, or I’m swinging for the proverbial fences in a large overall competition.
Nov. 28: RHP Jon Gray signs with Texas Rangers, four-year deal.
Gray, strangely, has a higher ERA on the road than at home in Colorado. Texas would seem to be a positive landing spot, but I don’t love his early ADP of 276. I like the team context for the aforementioned Steven Matz a bit better, and his ADP is 281. I’d say Gray easily belong past pick 300 with guys like Yusei Kikuchi, Taijuan Walker, and others.
Nov. 29: Max Scherzer signs with the New York Mets
Scherzer’s particulars are below:
While there are details to be worked out and the numbers could change, star right-hander Max Scherzer and the New York Mets are finalizing a deal expected to be in the three-year, $130 million deal range, sources familiar with the situation tell ESPN. @JonHeyman was on the news.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2021
That’s a ton of money for a 37-year-old, upwards of $40 million a year. This year sounds like the year of overpay for starting pitching in free agency, am I right? Final contact is in—three years, $130 million, with an opt-out after the second season. And sure, I’ll draft Scherzer in 2022...but the average ADP of 17.75 per the NFBC is pretty steep at first glance. Jacob deGrom (22.63) and Shane Bieber (32.88) have friendlier ADPs if you’re into elite starting pitcher risk.
Please let me know if I missed someone! And I’ll aim to do better about staying on top of things moving forward, given that the hot stove is officially piping hot!