The Fantasy Football season is now over. While we do have plenty of entertaining playoff games to watch, Fantasy-heads now have their eyes on the upcoming baseball season. Although it has been a very uneventful off-season so far, there are plenty of moves to discuss and Fantasy implications to follow.
Usually, the time where the most moves take place is during the Winter Meetings. Again, even though it may not have been as entertaining as years past, there still are plenty of moves to discuss.
Not all of the moves are made during the Winter Meetings, however. First, let’s look at the moves that happened leading up to the December 11-14 Winter Meetings.
2018 Fantasy Baseball Winter Meetings
Pre Winter Meetings Moves
December 1 – Aledmys Diaz traded to the Toronto Blue Jays
Diaz was a player I liked quite a bit coming into last season after his breakout 2016 season. However, injuries and the breakout of new shortstop Paul DeJong contributed to Diaz not having a spot with the Cardinals anymore.
The Blue Jays are an interesting landing spot considering that they still have Troy Tulowitzki, but Diaz is a sleeper to watch as I think that he could find great success in Toronto if he can find a spot into their lineup.
December 7 – Dee Gordon traded to the Seattle Mariners
This move to me has more interest in real life than in Fantasy. I don’t think Gordon’s stats will look very different after this move as he will still be one of the top second basemen in all of Fantasy, providing high batting average with plenty of runs and of course his trademark stolen bases.
I think it will be more interesting to see how he adapts to centerfield and if his addition can allow the Mariners to take the next step in becoming a World Series contender.
December 10 – Shoehei Otani signs with the Los Angeles Angels
Right before the Winter Meetings began, and after weeks (actually pretty much years) of speculation, we finally saw Shohei Otani finally choose a home in the MLB. The Angels are an interesting fit but it remains to be seen how they will utilize his two-way talents.
I think he is immediately a Top-50 starting pitcher, but we definitely will have to watch and see whether he DHs/plays outfield on his off days and how that will impact the game of Fantasy Baseball, or if it just becomes simply too much and the Angels force him to become a PO. Time will tell.
Winter Meetings Moves
Giancarlo Stanton traded to the New York Yankees for Starlin Castro
This obviously has been the biggest move of the off-season so far and will likely end up being the biggest when it is all said and done. The Castro situation is best marked as incomplete for now as there is a very slim chance that he is with the Marlins come opening day, but we obviously need to talk about what Stanton to the Yankees means for Fantasy.
Stanton was obviously a Fantasy stud last year. It is hard to improve your stock if you are an MVP candidate, but this move may have done just that. I mean obviously he still was in a lineup full of studs last year with Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna, but a move to a contending Yankees team that pairs him up with Gary Sanchez and of course Aaron Judge may even be a better situation.
Although I fear that the hype might be a little too high, there isn’t much reason to not believe in it. The only thing I want you to remember is that it’s not like he is going to get much better than last years stats, and regression is possible just because how amazing he was last season, but you still have a situation with a player who is a stud and is on an absolutely stacked lineup. He should be one of the first players off the boards in Fantasy drafts this year.
Ian Kinsler traded to the Los Angeles Angels
While there were a few moves made on the second day of the Winter Meetings, none of them were really worthy of discussion until the Angels continued their push for contention by trading for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler obviously had a down year last season but was also one of the top second basemen in Fantasy the year before.
Back on a contending team, I expect Kinsler to reside somewhere in the middle and would be shocked if he doesn’t finish as a Top-15 player at his position. Draft him as such, knowing that there is also plenty of upside there.
Stephen Piscotty traded to Oakland A’s
On Thursday we got another move that I like in real life a lot more than in Fantasy. Piscotty had a down year last season, and maybe a change of scenery plus a homecoming is what he needs to get things turned around. However, he is in a worse situation with the A’s than with the Cardinals, even if he does have a starting spot locked up now. I would draft him as a fourth/fifth outfielder with upside.
St. Louis Cardinals Acquired Marcell Ozuna
In order to replace Piscotty, the Cardinals went out and grabbed Marcell Ozuna, fresh off of a breakout 2017 season. His Fantasy implications following the move are ironically similar to the ones of his former teammate Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t think there is any reason to expect a giant increase or decrease in production, but if I would bet on anything, it would be a slight decrease just because of how well he played last year. He is still easily a Top-20 outfielder for the 2018 season.
Post-Winter Meetings Moves
December 15 – Zach Cozart signs with the Los Angeles Angels
Another move here that I really like in real life as I am really excited to see this Angels team in 2018. However, I do expect a decline in production from Cozart. It doesn’t have anything to do with the move. Actually, I think the move is great for Cozart and will help limit his regression. However, I think it is impossible for a long-time defensive specialist to turn into a Top-5 offensive shortstop in just one season.
He is a Top-15 shortstop for sure, and possibly even Top-10, but don’t expect anything close to last seasons production.
December 20 – Evan Longoria traded to the San Francisco Giants
This is a move that I love in real life for both the Giants and the Rays, but staying with the theme of the other moves, it shouldn’t affect Longoria’s Fantasy value too much. He is getting older and finally declining, and while the Giants may have a better lineup than the Rays, AT&T Park still isn’t very hitter friendly.
I surely do expect him to perform better than he did last season, but it should be somewhere in between his 2016 and 2017 self rather than a full-on return to All-Star form.
December 29 – Wade Davis signs with the Colorado Rockies
There isn’t much to say here, to be honest. As long as Greg Holland doesn’t return, which seems pretty much completely ruled out now, Wade Davis will take over as the closer of the Rockies, as they made him the highest-paid relief pitcher in MLB history just a couple of days before the new year.
Chicago was a great place for saves, but as shown last season by Holland who finished second in the majors in saves, Coors Field apparently may have more use than just inflated home runs totals. As long as the Rockies build off of last seasons success, then Davis is yet another player who shouldn’t see much change in his Fantasy stock despite the move.
January 6 – Yangervis Solarte traded to the Toronto Blue Jays
The first noteworthy move of the new year is one that is very interesting for Fantasy purposes. Solarte has been one of the most popular sleeper third basemen in the past couple of years. He has put up solid numbers on a consistent basis despite flying under the radar due to being on an awful Padres team.
The move to Toronto may have suggested the end of Josh Donaldson’s tenure with the Blue Jays, providing a huge breakout opportunity for Solarte. However, Donaldson signed the biggest arbitration contract in MLB history and will be returning to his spot at the hot corner in Toronto.
Where does that leave Solarte? I don’t think we know at this point. Hopefully, he can break into the lineup as a regular as that would allow him a great breakout opportunity as said earlier, but that seems unlikely. Unfortunately, barring injury or another trade, he will be stuck in a 300-400 at-bat role. However, this is a situation to monitor. If he does see a chance for playing time, then he could be a huge breakout player for the 2018 season.
January 13 – Gerrit Cole traded to the Houston Astros
Starting pitcher trades tend to have the most Fantasy impact, and this one is no different. In real life, the Astros have just become an unfair super team, but in Fantasy this is a dream for Gerrit Cole. He is going to be on a team that will be winning a ton and will not have to face opposing aces and maybe not even #2 starters depending on where the Astros slot him and Justin Verlander in the rotation. I expect a huge bounce-back season from Cole and possibly a Top-30 year from him in his new home.
January 15 – Andrew McCutchen traded to the San Francisco Giants
The Giants continued their busy off-season with the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen as they try to build their way back up to contention after a disappointing 2017 season. However, we obviously are only interested in the Fantasy aspects of the deal. McCutchen had sort of a down year last year, and it is yet to be seen it is was an anomaly or if age is finally starting to get to him. McCutchen is actually in a situation where I believe that real life results will play a big factor in his success.
I think that the Giants are a boom or bust team in 2018. If the moves they make are successful and they end up being a great team, I think we can see bounce-back seasons from nearly all of their players that disappointed in 2017, a list that now includes McCutchen.
However, these moves could prove to be useless if the team really is past their window of contention. In that case, McCutchen would likely be looking at a repeat of his 2017 self. To be safe, I am betting on something in the middle. Know that when drafting McCutchen as your second or third outfielder that he has some risk, but potential for a whole lot more.
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