Major League Baseball is pushing through time lapses in testing procedures in its quest to fake having a plan until it makes one, but two things have become crystal clear: 1) players will be opting out, and 2) players will be catching the virus. 

Players can opt back in at any time if the situation changes, so that could make for some interesting faab runs.

Other side of that coin: players can opt out at any time. 

Along with the danger and chaos comes opportunity, so let’s scan the NL Central for players poised to climb that ladder.

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Sometimes you have to just keep scrolling.

These will be our draft rooms, and we’ll have to adapt on the fly.

For the past few seasons, I’ve been playing extremely early NFBC Draft Champions leagues with Donkey Teeth. Have gotten into Fantrax of late, too, with B_Don and DT setting up Best Balls of multiple shapes and sizes. This allows us that Red Dead sensation of fresh powder. Open prairie. A drafter and his wits. I was shocked to learn they update the ADPs even during the first few drafts and think the drafts should maintain the starting ADPs throughout, though I suppose it only makes an impact that first month or so, and I suppose not many people are handwriting and color-coding their positional breakdowns. 

I was always a geek for a deep-sea diving book or TV special. Find the Giant Squid, kind of thing. These past few years, I’ve become a geek for the depths of these draft rooms, and just this week I’ve geeked out a little getting a look at DT’s battle of the podcasts draft just now exiting round 36. I’m seeing a lot of fun names on the board beyond the 600s, so that’s where I’ll set the arbitrary line for this article.

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I’m guessing you’ve noticed it’s time to light this place up.

!!Fireworks!!

!!Baseball!!

Rookies??

I think so, at least for a lot of the players we’ll discuss today. They’re all wearing wings in the player pool, and most are on the 40-man, which I think is more relevant in 2020 than ever before. 

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Well these have certainly been an interesting few days. Sunday, I hit the brakes on my 40-man scuba dive because I wanted to dance among the raindrops of roster decisions and come back soaked in fantasy baseball goodness. 

Making a team’s 40-man roster has always granted players an edge in getting a promotion. Every season when we’re waiting for our favorite prospects to get the call, we watch a parade of misfit toys already on the 40 get that chance first. Especially in some organizations that don’t like to toggle the 40-man. In the variation of baseball we’ll get this year, this under-contract advantage seems greater than ever. 

If you’re in a deep league, making semi-regular rounds dissecting 40-man rosters can give you a predictive edge. If you’re in any league, really, how can it hurt to know who’s likely to get called up next at a given position on a given team, no matter how anyone’s hitting or pitching?

Can’t hurt, right? 2020 will be all about maximizing short-term opportunities, so let’s hop in the pool and swim a lap around the American League West.

Note: everyone mentioned in this article is included in the 60-man player pool. 

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The further we travel into the Ronaverse, the less we understand. 

“Houston, we have gone beyond the final frontier.”

Teaser: at the end of this article, I want to share a secret about this season.

Anyway, some rules orbiting the baseball conversation seem concrete: 

1) Universal DH for 2020, woohoo!!

2) Runner on 2nd base in extra innings.

3) 30-man active roster dropping to 28 then 26 after a month.

4) MLB owners are crooks. 

5) 60-man player pool . . .

I’ve been reading a lot of confusing things lately, but this one stood out in a crowded field: Sunday is the deadline for teams to submit their 60-man rosters, but it’s not a deadline.

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As I write we don’t know everything official yet, like who’s going to opt out for health concerns, but we know the owners have taken their ball and headed home. 

If you see a headline saying the sides have come to an agreement (and I’ve seen several using that language today), that’s not a fair representation of how this shizz went down. The players have indeed signed off on the health stuff, but it’s not clear they had a choice. Regardless, Major League Baseball’s 2020 regular season will consist of 60 games with a limit of 60 players per team, including taxi squads. 

30 looks like the opening number for active rosters, which is a bit staggering when considering in-game applications, but rosters are scheduled to decline to 26 spots by the halfway point because reasons. Might need a few new folding chairs in the bullpen. 

Making a team’s 40-man roster has always granted players an edge in getting a promotion. Every season when we’re waiting for our favorite prospects to get the call, we watch a parade of misfit toys already on the 40 get that chance first. Especially in some organizations that don’t like to toggle the 40-man. 

f you’re in a deep league, making semi-regular rounds on the 40-man rosters can give you a predictive edge. If you’re in any league, really, how can it hurt to know who’s likely to get called up next at a given position on a given team, no matter how anyone’s hitting or pitching?

Can’t hurt, right? 2020 will be all about maximizing short-term opportunities, so let’s take a lap around the AL Central.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Itch recaps the 2020 MLB Draft. Spencer Torkelson leads an ambush of young Tigers. Austin Martin books a surprise gig with a band of Blue Jays. Nick Gonzales leads a promising crew of Pirates. Ed Howard hops the El train to join the Cubs.

Throw in a whole bunch of other players along some conspiratorial thoughts connected to the post-draft signing period, and you’ve got mail! Or a notification, anyway. It’s a Razzball podcast! Back after an MLB-sized hiatus to gather around the prospect fire, gaze into the dancing future flames, and see what we can see.

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Major League Baseball teams have to draft a lot of young pitchers. You do not. 

This discrepancy is a big part of what makes dynasty prospect rankings fascinating and fun for me. Simply put, at any given moment, more quality pitching prospects exist than dynasty leagues have minor league roster spots to accommodate. 

You can always pick up a relevant pitcher. 

You cannot always add a relevant speedster, and you very rarely add a legitimate bat with stolen base upside. . 

The TheoCubs tried to build a dynasty the way we would in fantasy baseball: drafting high-floor, well-developed hitters and buying pitchers via free agency and trade. This brought the Cubs a title but has proven difficult to maintain once they started stealing from the future to tread water in the present.

I attempted something similar in this space before the draft, building my Top Ten for 2021 First-Year-Player Dynasty Drafts by anticipating which international signings would crack the list on both the amateur and professional sides. 

A funny thing happened on the way to part two: MLB owners decided they didn’t want to pay up on the July 2 signing date and pushed that all way into January. Just like that, illegal handshake deals worth millions of dollars went poof. Families sacrificing toward this date for a decade were told to eff off, if they were personally told anything at all, and the dynasty draft season went up in smoke, at least in its typical form, at least for the time being. 

To that end, I’m ranking just the draftees here this time. Can’t really count on January signings or international free agency to actually happen in this climate when MLB just makes shizz up as it goes along. 

It’s not a coincidence that baseball’s head McDucks waited to see how the $20,000 per player free agent bonanza went before pushing the international deadline. Very dark timeline stuff all over in 2020, including the post-bonanza, post-postponement note from MLB for teams to be miserly with any scholarships connected to the ultra cheap sweepstakes. 

Just so ironic to bang the drum about pace of play and fan interest for years only to say screw it all in 2020, but here we are. Let’s talk baseball! 

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At the end of my last post, Baseball is Back with a Whimper: Pandemic Draft Week Recapa Razzballer named Homer’s got the runs asked if Austin Martin might spend some time in the majors this year, and I had no idea. Well, I had some ideas, but they mostly circled the spires of HellifIknow Mountcastle, the official building of Major League Baseball in 2020. 

We got another noise out of Manfart this week completely disagreeing with the sounds Manfart made last week. Now he says there might not be baseball at all after saying there would definitely 100,000 percent be baseball in 2020. Hindsight, man. Farts. 

Main reason he said anything is the players were like, okay, we’ll play, let’s get started, and ownership was all, but wait, we’re not ready, and you might sue us because we don’t know if what we’re doing is legal. The players wouldn’t sign waivers that said it didn’t matter if the owners were street legal or not, so the owners trotted out this fool who gave away leverage on national television because he momentarily forgot every syllable is a war aimed at the 2021 Competitive Balance Agreement.

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I was having a blast watching the 2020 Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft, but at some point in the 4th round, the whole pageant started to feel gross. 

All these billion dollar teams focused on doing little maneuvers to afford the high school kids they actually wanted. 

In the draft.

When you presumably add the players you want. 

It’s incongruous. 

And it’s not some pandemic 2020 thing. 

That’s just the base design of the thing made even more salient by the compressed variation MLB farted together in what passed for their attempt to rise to these unique circumstances.

Seniors’ ages are leveraged against them.

Juniors’ ages are leveraged against them.

Sophomores’ ages are leveraged against them in a slightly different, Wilcoxian way.

All this so owners can acquire laborers who’ll make less than minimum wage as cheaply as possible. It’s a salary cap for amateurs, designed to be much, much smaller budgets than a free market would generate. 

One might think the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers or just about anyone competitive would campaign for more, maybe even better, but it turns out: who doesn’t love the leverage provided by an artificial line beyond which you must not go?

Easy way to end negotiations. 

Just like writing some bullshit god-power rule into the bylaws of a short-term agreement built to get through a pandemic. I knew the players shouldn’t have signed that noise. 

Anyhow, onto the shizz, making my best Karl Ravich face. 

Let’s start with my least favorite few drafts so we can end on a high note. 

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