With the signings of Jose Abreu and Jacob deGrom, the off-season feels officially underway, and I feel like I’m falling behind on some general moves and shakes around the game.

We’ll get back to the lists and cover the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. 

The Abreu signing is unique for our purposes in that it creates value for the team he leaves behind and the team he’s joining. If the team lets Eloy Jimenez DH and installs Andrew Vaughn at first base, both youngsters get a glowing arrow up. No longer condemned to wander the outfield, they can finally settle into everyday roles. The club has been batting Tim Anderson at the top for a long time, but his high-contact, low-walk approach would be better employed in an RBI spot. Trouble is that’s true for several White Sox. A healthy Yoan Moncada could lead off, but he was awful last season, posting a .273 on base percentage in 104 games. But let’s just pretend he can bounce back to something like the .367 OBP he posted in 2019 or the .375 from 2021. 

I’d probably lay it out like this: 

1. 3B Yoan Moncada 

2. OF Luis Robert 

3. DH Eloy Jimenez 

4. SS Tim Anderson

5. 1B Andrew Vaughn

6. C Yasmani Grandal 

That’s a compelling top six. Could arrange the top five in any sequence. What happens with seven through nine is anyone’s guess.

Roster resource has Oscar Colas written into right field batting eighth. That’s fun. They’ve also got Romy Gonzalez getting a reunion with the playing time he received last season, opening up at 2nd base in the nine spot. Grains of salt all around. They’ve also got Eloy playing left field. Ought to be an investigation if that’s the case. No offense to Gavin Sheets, who wound up at DH hitting sixth in the RR math (bumping Grandal to seven). Their focus should be protecting Eloy’s health the way Houston protects Yordan Alvarez. Only reason it hasn’t happened so far is the team’s glut of non defenders. Or so you’d hope. 

On paper, the team could stand to add a free agent infielder and a free agent outfielder. With Tony LaRussa out of town, Leury Garcia no longer counts as both. I suppose Jake Burger belongs in the second base picture somewhere, but the hidden-second-baseman trick could become less viable under the new shift rules. Maybe he could play third base and Moncada could move back to second? Yeah, that’s the ticket! Could actually work if both hit. Then the lineup is seven deep without a glaring hole on defense. Maybe even, dare I say it, a good defense? Depending what they do in left and right field? 

If things get tight on the 40-man, they should consider releasing Leury Garcia and his 39 wRC+ from 2022. He’s under contract for another $11 million through 2024, but the damage done by that sunk cost only gets worse across time if you’re missing opportunities to add or retain value for your 40-man roster. 

On the Houston side of the Abreu signing, they built a dominant offense despite getting glove-first-catcher outcomes at first base in 2022, when Yuli Gurriel slashed .242/.288/.360 with eight home runs in 146 games. Everyone in the lineup gets a little up arrow from Abreu joining the squad, and I’m excited to see what Jose can do in Minute Maid park. He’s generated a lot of power to center-right in his major league career, but I expect him to adjust his approach to hunt the Crawford boxes: a strategy that also works well in Texas and Oakland. Should also make a nice change for him to join a lineup filled with productive, deep-count hitters. Feels to me like they might let Verlander walk and open up a sixth-starter type chance for Razzball-fave Hunter Brown to bump Jose Urquidy or Lance McCullers to the bullpen. 

Here’s a link to Grey’s Hunter Brown, 2023 Fantasy Outlook.

In the piece, Grey says he’d be “mildly shocked if Verlander doesn’t return to the Astros,” and I tend to agree that they’re the frontrunners to sign him, but he also wrote that before Abreu signed. Houston’s got plenty of money, but I wonder if that changes the shock level at all for a Verlander departure. They’ve still got a patchwork outfield in left and center. Chas McCormick played well, but Jake Meyers did not, and Roster Resource has him starting in center today. Pedro Leon could make a charge this spring. Brandon Nimmo could be a great fit. Verlander defies time and aging and is a fate-changing player in the postseason, but I can see how they’d decide to let him go, especially after firing the nerdy numbers guy because Jeff Bagwell didn’t like him. Kidding. I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason. 

Over to the deGrom story, I absolutely love this for the Rangers.

You might recall I liked their big spend last winter, and this makes that look even better. Sure, it might not look ideal half a decade from now, but I don’t live for the future that way. Just ask my doctor. We might all be dead in five years. Most of us won’t be, I hope. The future is unknowable, is all I’m saying. Except for some things. It’s perfectly knowable that the Rangers’ ownership group will still be absurdly wealthy in five years, and this contract might make them even more wealthy. That part of reporting always seems to be missing somehow. As the Mets scramble to feed stories to hungry writers ready to parrot their talking points, reporters fail to say a wealth-generating asset has been lost to bartering. National reporters debating the value of deGrom’s contract in four years fail to cite how much money and value he can generate for the ownership group over that time frame. Wins and losses are one measurement and that’s fine, but the Rangers are building a brand. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the wealth-added piece of free agency gets ignored. The same goes for franchises gaining value year-over-year when labor is at the table. It’s all about the hard numbers at the bottom of the yearly budget math–not about how much someone paid for a team and how much someone could sell it for today.

Doesn’t change much, fantasy wise. Nobody to block in Texas, which is now a good place to pitch. Maybe he’ll stay healthier in the warmer weather, far away from the Mets’ team doctors. 

Jesse Winker got dealt to Milwaukee in exchange for a package including Kolten Wong, so it’s stock up for Winker and stock down for Wong. Doesn’t have to get much more complicated than that, but Milwaukee confuses me. Did not need an outfielder. All five of their top five prospects are outfielders. I’m concerned this could impact Sal Frelick’s 2023 playing time. I still think he’s the best outfielder they’ve got on the roster. 

Thanks for reading!