I’m here in sunny downtown San Diego at the Winter Meetings and just ran into Matt Kemp. How ya doing, Matt? “I’m great, Grey, excited about continuing my career.” Which career is that, Matt? “Baseball.” Okay, great! *holds finger to ear* Sorry, hearing now there’s big breaking news! Wow! It was just reported the Red Sox have a lot of suitors for Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Price. An absolute ton of offers. Currently, 32 teams are offering packages and there’s only 30 teams, including them. That is crazy! Just going to pass through this downtown San Diego lobby and, damn it, it’s Matt Kemp again. *ducks behind a bank vault with money that is being wheeled by Brain Cashman, follows him into a room with Gerrit Cole lighting cigars rolled in million dollar bills* Gerrit Cole, “Can you change your Diamond Club to the Cole Club?” Cashman, “We can change Giancarlo to Giancole-lo if you want.” “We have a deal.” Oh my God, I snuck into the biggest signing in the history of signings! Excuse me for a second while I try to piece together some of this million-dollar-ash back into a million dollar bill. So, Gerrit Cole signs with the Yankees. He seems like he might be, I don’t know, good. There’s only one person Cole disappointed last year. “His contact rate was 66.3%? That’s next-to-last in the league! So dumb! Is he as thick as this Fribble?” That’s Ray Searage explaining pitching to a Friendly’s waitress. Luis Castillo was the only pitcher with a lower Contact Rate, but Cole’s O-Swing% was 1.4% higher. Cole was also number one in the majors for Swinging Strike percentage (16.8%). In other words, Cole induced the 2nd lowest contact while making hitters chase more than the number one guy, and made hitters swing and miss more than everyone. I’d like to thank the Academy for telling me who died last year and thank Cole for being wonderful. Cole had the best fastball (36.2 Fastball wins above average). That was the 5th best fastball since 2000. No one in the top 10 had another pitch register higher than 11.4, except Cole, whose slider was a 13. Like Leggs, Cole is sheer excellence. He had arguably one of the best pitcher seasons in the last 20 years. The Pirates got Joe Musgrove, Michael Felix and Colin Moran for him, then the Pirates turned around and traded Tyler Glasnow for Chris Archer. Pirates should sell their team bus and buy a Dodge Dart to drive around the team, because they are a bunch of clowns. For 2020, I’ll give Gerrit Cole projections of 17-6/2.61/0.93/294 in 207 IP. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2020 fantasy baseball:
Stephen Strasburg – Re-signed with the Nats. Usually don’t mention deals about re-signing, those will come in the rankings, but Strasburg’s a big name, so here we are. Now, if you jumped out of a DeLorean and told me you were from the future, I’d say, “Please tell me actionable future information that will help me make money and don’t simply tell me Strasburg is going to throw another 200 IP,” then you’d throw a peace sign in the air and drive off. If you were there to tell me the 200 IP tidbit about Strasburg, I’d be annoyed but would feel more confident about Strasburg being a top five starter, and not more like a top ten starter. It was five years ago when Strasburg last threw 200 IP, after accomplishing it last year. If he’s going to throw 200 IP every five years, wake me in 2025. I’ll be sleeping in my Cybertruck down by the new beach resort town of Juneau, Alaska. For 2020, Strasburg projections are 15-5/3.03/1.03/225 in 192 IP.
Nomar Mazara – Traded to the White Sox. As I’ve said about 17 times before in the last month while prefacing it by saying, “I’m not sure I’ve said this yet,” I’m liking the White Sox a lot for the 2020 playoffs. Sure, Mazara’s been failing for five straight years, so it’s hard to recommend him even as a fantasy flyer at the ripe age of–He’s only 24?! Love to see him hit more fly balls. If he can get to a 35% fly ball rate (he’s come close before) and hits 20% HR/FB again as he’s done–Well, there’s a reason why I’ve written sleeper posts for him in 2017, 2018 and 2019. For 2020, my Mazara projections are 75/22/71/.263/3 in 518 ABs.
Tommy Pham – Traded to the Padres. Teams keep moving Pham like a game of musical chairs. Afraid that the music will stop, the fat lady will sing (without music accompaniment) and Pham will revert to the guy we thought he was a few years ago, which is not much of anything, and I sound like a broken record from previous years, so maybe some people would wish this music would stop. Pham’s launch angle and ground balls are an absolute joke. Speaking of which, I’d give you a Knock, Knock joke for Pham’s power, but it’s more like knock, forty-five ground balls, then another knock. Be well, San Diego and its multitudes of white people — I mean, have you been there? — but I don’t like Pham. I’m sorry, he is so woofy I see his falling xBA, Launch Angle, Barrel% and xSLG and I’m good, you enjoy him if you like. For 2020, I’ll give Pham projections 79/17/69/.271/23 in 579 ABs.
Jurickson Profar – Traded to the Padres for Austin Allen, who sounds like a furniture store, and we know what kind of person shops at the Jurickson store. Me. There was a reason why I drafted Profar in multiple leagues last year, but, after he burned me badly last year, how many times am I going to the well before I’m the one they use to restock the shelves at the Jurickson store? Hard to say. If I’m the Padres, I’d *pinkie to mouth* Profar Urias, but here we are. Don’t think Profar’s too old to bounce back from his dreadful 2019, where he hit .218, but dude might want to consider no longer hitting 27-foot pop-ups to 2nd base and dribblers to 1st. For 2020, I’ll give Jurickson Profar projections of 54/18/59/.231/8 in 443 ABs.
Hunter Renfroe – Went to the Rays. Cash doesn’t exactly have another decent outfielder to platoon with Renfroe, but, as Scooby Doo would say, “Renfroe!” Of course, Renfroe will be platooned. He’s always platooned. He’d get platooned in Detroit with two players you’ve never heard of before and it would make sense. For 2020, I’ll give Renfroe projections 59/28/69/.226/3 in 418 ABs.
Zack Wheeler – Signed by the Phils. Let’s do a mental health check on Wheeler. Yes, I have my reasons. Well, I have one big reason. He wanted to go to the Phils because it was near Jersey. *holds obvious Rorschach inkblot of New Jersey* Wheeler takes a moment, then, choked up and misty-eyed, “I see Valhalla.” Who knew proximity to ‘being able to obtain pork roll’ could have such sway, yet here we are. Wheeler’s had a home run allowed problem in his career and Philly would be a hell of a place for it to resurface. Also, since I’m bagging on him, let me also say he’s had one tremendous half in the last two years and a ton of iffy months around that. He also pitched well in August and September of last year, so maybe he enjoys the 2nd half. 4.69 ERA 1st half; 2.83 ERA 2nd half last year. The year before went 4.44 vs. 1.68. Can I trade for him in July? Then sign me up! Pitching being what it is, you have to take what you can get and I could see trying to get Wheeler. For 2020, I’ll give Wheeler projections of 13-8/3.67/1.22/203 in 201 IP.
Didi Gregorius – Signed with the Phils. Don’t fully understand why no one seems to like The Gregorius D.I.D. He missed half a year and still hit 16 HRs. If that were a blip, I’d write it off, but he is always a 40+% fly ball guy with 13+% HR/FB, that’s 31+ homers. He hit .238 last year, and if that was the new normal, I’d be worried, but that appears to be a blip of unluckiness. He doesn’t give a ton of steals, but 5+ steals for him is easy. Even tempering all that to 25/5/.265, what exactly has Carlos Correa done for you in the last few years? For 2020, will give Didi Gregorius projections of 66/25/81/.268/5 in 546 ABs.
Jordan Lyles – Signed with the Rangers. Mike Minor and Lance Lynn might’ve been the worst thing that ever happened to the Rangers. Now, they’re like, “Give us your tired, your weak, your wonky, and we will turn them around.” If I squint hard enough at Lyles’s stats, I’m not completely disgusted. Okay, squint and hold a hand over his walk rate. At this point in the history of terrible pitching, I’m doing a lot of squinting to try to find late gems. Jordan’s got me interested incredibly late, but unlikely drafted in 12 or 15 team mixed leagues. For 2020, I’ll give him the projections 11-10/4.31/1.31/156 in 154 IP.
Dylan Bundy – Traded to the Angels. Just got a hot tip from ESPN dot com that the Orioles have relocated their team to other teams, trading off the once-great franchise for pieces. Bundy sent to Anaheim for a matching tea set and Villar out the door for, appropriately enough, a screen door. Oh, hold on a second, hearing now they will trade you Ryan Mountcastle for a case of Old Bay seasoning. It’s important stuff to have when you’re trying to prepare crabs, so I can understand it. Any hoo! Bundy goes to the Angels just in time to breakout. He’s not a free agent until 2021 and his stuff finally seems to be coming together. Seriously, how do you trade him away now? After countless terrible years! It’s like the O’s are other teams’ minor league affiliate. Bundy still is a work-in-progress — 9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 4.73 FIP with way too many homers allowed. Angels Stadium of Los Angeles Not Los Angeles could help, and I could see a super late flyer. For 2020, I’ll give Bundy projections of 9-12/4.34/1.36/181 in 179 IP.
Zack Cozart – Traded to the Giants for cash considerations. The Angels will be receiving a thoughtful contemplation that will go like this, “Angels are asking us to consider giving them cash for Cozart. I will let them know no, but we considered it.” If the Giants have any sense in their much-smaller-collective-head-without-Bochy, they won’t play Cozart.
Kevin Gausman – Signed by the Giants. Mostly due to his new park and guaranteed role in the rotation, this is an interesting flyer. Someone has likely done this research already, but it would be fascinating to see how long it takes a starter to get stretched out again after spending an extended period of time in middle relief. Mike Minor comes to mind as a guy who needed one full year back in the rotation before he was fixed, but Gausman didn’t spend the whole year in middle relief. Well, by contemplating it we are not going to figure it out, so moving on! For 2020, I’ll give Gausman projections of 7-9/4.09/1.30/126 in 131 IP.
Omar Narvaez – Traded to the Brewers. His value just went *insert emoji of Jim Cramer hemorrhaging*. Narvaez has been a steal in draft prior to this news, and I imagine this won’t move the needle that much since he’s still a catcher. Last year, in a terrible lineup, platooning with Tom Murphy, in an awful park, Narvaez hit 22 homers and .278 with neutral luck on average and possibly low HR/FB%. In other words, Narvaez could be a top three catcher this year without much changing about him except a better team and park. For 2020, I’ll give Narvaez projections of 66/24/76/.281 in 414 ABs.
Ronny Rodriguez – Acquired by the Brewers to play the role of Hernan Perez. I would’ve went with character actor extraordinaire, Luis Guzman. For 2020, will give him projections of 38/12/40/.246/5 in 283 ABs.
Mike Moustakas – Signed with the Reds. The Reds love them some infielders. Allow me to list: VanMeter, Galvis, Votto, Eugenio, Kyle Farmer, and now Moistasskiss. That’s six, after releasing Jose Peraza, and not counting Psycho Killer, who sees the occasional start at 1st base. VanMeter could see some time in the outfield, though the Reds have six of them too. Cincy is resurrecting the Big Red Machine, only this time it is just the actual size. *chisels statue of Aristides holding globe on his shoulders* That’s Aristides, the Punisher. Sorry, my lack of knowledge about Greek mythology will always be my Achilles’ heel. Any hoo! Moistasskiss is about as locked into production as you can find. He’s basically the Reds’ Eugenio but at 2nd base. For 2020, I’ll give Moustakas projections of 77/34/90/.252/3 in 570 ABs.
Cole Hamels – Signed with the Braves. Damn, the Braves are a smart organization. I’m not suddenly head over heels for Hamels, calling myself Toe Camels, and picking wedgies out of my crotch from excitement, but, for real baseball, this is just a smart move. He’s a 3.42 ERA career pitcher across almost 3,000 IP, and remarkably consistent year in and year out. Especially smart for a one-year contract. What downside is there? I’m gonna answer for you, none. Of course, for fantasy, he did lose some velocity and wasn’t able to locate as well as usual. He is going to be 36 years old, so not expecting an ace, but I don’t hate the flyer at the right price. For 2020, I’ll give Cole Hamels the projections of 12-9/3.94/1.34/148 in 159 IP.
Jonathan Villar – Acquired by the Marlins. I was driving the Villar bus hard last year. I wrote a sleeper post about him; told everyone to draft him; started a move on dot org petition to get him to hit leadoff and have 700+ plate appearances. It all worked! You people drafting him in the top 25 overall this year have literally lost your mind. Go to the nearest library, because that’s the only place I know left with a Lost & Found and ask them if you can look into their cardboard box of lost notebooks and mittens for your brain. The Marlins are about as good a landing spot as you’re gonna find for him. He won’t be challenged for playing time. It’ll also dip his runs and RBIs a hair. Speaking of hares, Villar’s fast, right? Well…I think I’m going to have to write a Villar schmohawk post, so I won’t go too deep into the weeds here, but I’ll leave you with this. He ranked 182nd overall in sprint speed, about the same as Mike Tauchman. Um, WUT. For 2020, I’ll give him the projections 84/16/68/.257/31 in 564 ABs. On a related note, that’s sad for me, and might be for you, Jon Berti is now a Roamer-slash-Utility guy. He could still get 500+ ABs, but now needs an injury or an insane April. He’s got no room to fail, and, although I still like him, this might cut his projected ABs. Also, since we’re on the Marlins, they want to get Isan Diaz 500+ ABs. Will they? Depends what he does in April.
Jesus Aguilar – Claimed by the Marlins. They might’ve got Jesus as a backup plan because everyone says Miami will be underwater in 10 years and he can walk on it. I’ll give him 2020 projections of 38/16/46/.247 in 337 ABs.