For the past four months, I’ve been digging and evaluating with just about every free second I can find. If you’re ever looking for a winter project, you might want to consider deconstructing every minor league system into its potential fantasy components as I’ve just done while creating the 2020 Minor League Preview Index. We’ve had joy and fun and seasons without sun, but now we’ve got a chance to discuss some off-season roster machinations and how they impact the young players that matter to us in 2020.

 

Up: 

Pretty obvious here. Job security and playing time are the fears that keep prospects cheap in redraft leagues. White remains a value, but if he hits at all in Spring, that’s that.

San Francisco could’ve signed a center fielder. Still might. But I think they want to see how it looks over a full season with Davis. I am giddy. 

Currently ranked first on my relief prospect list. I love the clarity of deciding his role before the season–none of the typical Spring Training tomfoolery. Just put him in the back of the bullpen and let him eat. 

This Luis Urias wrist injury is not good even if it might explain some of his troubles in 2019. Not good for Luis. For Mark Mathias? Might be ideal. He’s a walk-rate, fringey-tools guy the Brewers went out of their way to get from Cleveland on 40-man cutdown day.

Pretty obvious one here, too, following the Starling Marte trade, but Oliva will be underrated for a while yet as people wait for Pittsburgh to bring in a veteran. 

Which . . . 

I mean . . . 

Maybe? 

The big corner outfield dominoes have fallen, and none landed on St. Louis. It’s Groundhog Day, and winter is already over for the Carlson fans: Dylan’s coming up six weeks early!

Rose puns are swimming through my head. I think we will be hearing them all season as the Rays are feeling a little more Randy than the fantasy world is ready to buy into. 

Dusty, toothpicks, Straw, speed, Myles . . . I don’t know . . . just a confluence and hunch that my brother’s always been right about paying up to trade for Myles Straw

Kind of a gut feel thing here, but I’ve been watching some of the Gooch’s games, and his fastball is going to play atop the zone, his splitter is devastating, and he’s got a clear lane on a rotation spot. He’s had a weird career path that saw him in relief for many years, and his walk rates have taken a long time to stabilize. I think he’s peaking right now in his own developmental arc, having led the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization in strikeouts for the first time at age 32. If he’d landed somewhere else, he’d garner some hype. North of the border, he’s seen a little like a lamb to the AL Beast slaughter. I think he’s better than that. 

Donkey Teeth is determined that we coin “The Reckoning” as Grisham’s nickname, and this trade certainly helps our narrative. As does the Luis Urias injury. I’m still a little stunned the Brewers couldn’t wait to unload The Reckoning once he’d popped as a top prospect after toiling in their system for half a decade. San Diego can be tricky for homers, but the Brewers can’t be trusted for playing time, so I see this move as a net positive. 

Gotta see where this goes now that velo-master Kyle Boddy is working with pitch-mix guru Derek Johnson.

 

Down:

We begin with a presumptuous series of Reds whose outlook hangs in the balance with the shoulder of Eugenio Suarez. I’m going forward under the premise that he’ll be okay because of that time he broke his wrist and only came back stronger, but this is a throwing shoulder injury for a third baseman, so if he’s hurt, that opens a lane.

Speaking of seasons without sun, the Reds have blocked Jonathan India nineteen times over this winter. Maybe he’s not the kind of special talent who forces the issue, but he just had a .414 on-base percentage in his first 34 AA games and had a realistic shot at MLB playing time in 2020 before all the signings. One thing you never expect when taking a top five pick out of college atop your own supp draft is that you’ll be waiting a half decade to see him on the field. Tough spot here. Maybe a cloud will shift someday, but he’s one of the toughest holds in dynasty right now. Can’t drop him. Hard to trade him. The Reds are clearly willing to make moves, but they’ve got a lot to make, and his 2020 value disappeared before it had a chance to materialize. 

Rinse and repeat the India blurb but tack on a labrum surgery along with a bit more all-around talent. Senzel’s versatility might help him fit through more windows. Plus he has enough value that perhaps the Reds can move him to someone who’ll play him. He’d be a perfect option to fill in for Suarez if he didn’t have shoulder issues of his own. I should add that Senzel’s here not just because the Reds signed someone at every position he plays but also because he’s forced them to do that if the opportunity presented itself. His career has been a series of unfortunate events so far, but that’s kind of how health is decided. 

Not a fun time of year for the investor with the Reds-heavy portfolio. But it’s not armageddon. It’s February. If you’re into the rush of the risk, I’d check on the price of whichever Red would be the apple of your eye. Except VanMeter. Decent chance you could pick him up from free agency in April. 

The Braves resigning Nick Markakis was predictable enough, but the addition of Marcell Ozuna was not. It doesn’t totally kill the hope that we see one of these hotshot AAA outfielders in 2020, but it certainly takes the wind from their redraft sails. 

  • 1B Nate Lowe | TB

Some are standing strong, blithely penciling Lowe in at 1B for the 2020 Rays (and their fantasy lineups) and readying themselves to riot when Tampa does its thing. If you’re among this group, you’re a more optimistic sort than me. I might be happy to get Lowe in just about any format, but I’m afraid he’s a platoon player at best. Might be fine as that, but Tampa seems committed to its plan, and I have no idea why fantasy writers think they know better than Tampa how to best deploy anyone. 

Why he grabbed a balloon filled with redraft helium, I’ll never know, but after an off-season of adding outfield options, we can safely put that genie back in the box. 

Thanks for reading! 

Who’d I miss?

 
  1. Mrs Butterfarts says:
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    You did the work for me, thanks! Is this a descending list from strongest to weakest speculations for opportunity?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Mrs Butterfarts!

      And thanks for the great question! The list isn’t sequenced in any particular order . . .

      should’ve clarified that in the piece, I can see now . . .

      Thanks again!

  2. goodfold2 says:
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    what’s yr thoughts on j.lindblom MIL SP, for my 30 team league he’s up in week 1 out of 5 for FA bidding. i’ll want 6 SP at end of it before season and have sale/yarbrough/rey lopez. he’ll probably cost about nothing, the player rater has him as a .9 total and barely negative per game (so for normal sized leagues he’d be at best a streamer, for here though nice solid cheap guy). player rater expects 151 innings. there are big name SP to bid on (most of them in weeks 1 and 2) with:
    ryu, boss tanaka, maeda in week 1 and
    greinke, in week 2. but having 21 mil on sale for 2 years i’d probably not want to spend on greinke’s likely cost and ryu will probably be over bid too due to ERA. maeda i’m probably better targeting as a top end type (relatively of course, not 20 mil money). currently roster is:
    C (1)
    CI (2) mcneil (MI/OF)
    MI (2) barreto, dannys antana (CI/OF)
    OF (3) fraley, e.rosario, d.fisher (could and probably will cut, as i have money to bid on others and would get back half of his 2.35 mil)
    util (1) demeritte (OF)
    SP: sale, reylo, yarbrough
    RP (room for 6): b.martin
    also have adell coming up possibly soon so bidding on OF at all should be far behind getting one of these per position at least:

    MI: mostsuckass (he’s CI too), cesar, peraza, arraez, wong, andrus (only andrus is week 1 bidable in this list), la STELLA (CI too), edman (MI/CI/OF)
    CI: c.cron (he’s probably who i’m going after in week 1, not many good HR guys + playing time out here), canha, votto, thames, franco, hosmer, j.turner

    my remaining budget is just over 73/115 mil, and at most 15 spots to fill (if i drop d.fisher) so 4.87 per roster slot. will probably try to get at least 2 RP that might get saves or at least a ton of holds (and might overbid on those to 6-8ish as the very top guys just went for 12-15 but i’d never spend that on a RP). week 1 bids are due in just under 12 hours.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      on moss TEX, yeah still available but unless call up (where he’d be in weekly waivers, which occur start of SAT, then SUN and free for all from sunday post waivers till 1st gametime MON) not obtainable again till next year’s draft. def no hype on him or he’d have been drafted by somebody. pretty much anybody in your TEX list went in the 2nd-3rd round outside of jung (1st round), moss only one left from that.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Hi goodfold2!

        Bummer on Moss. Sorry I couldn’t get you there sooner. Was really the video and technique transformation that got me so hyped. Hopefully you can still snag him next year!

        I love Arraez.

        Like Lindblom a lot too. Might have to hang in if he struggles a little early, but I think he’s developed enough offspeed command to succeed.

        Would do what I could to get Edman and/or Moose as well.

        Lotta good options here. I’m not real into Cron but he makes sense for the build if HR seem scarce.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          also have v.reyes to bring up so he’ll slot in where d.fisher is now likely, giving me back just over another 1 mil to use elsewhere. yeah mostsuckass is a def target along with probably one of canha/cron (or thames later if i don’t get one of these). as can see above my roster is pretty dearthy on HR’s. meanwhile not as weak for steals with fraley, antana, v.reyes,

  3. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    If everything clicks for White, what would you expect a reasonable 2020 line for him to be? Seems completely forgotten in even 12 team keepers (at least mine!). Wondering if he’s a better cheap CI dart over a guy like Cron…

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hiya Duda!

      I think .260 w 25+ HR and maybe 5-10 SB is within reason, so I’m taking him over Cron.

  4. Allan Tamarkin says:
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    Thanks for one of the most interesting articles I have read this pre-season .

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks for saying so, Allan!!!

      What a great way to start my day!

      Concision is what I want in anything I’m reading or writing, and I thought I could feel it working in rhythm with pacing here, so it’s thrilling to know it worked for someone else!

      Thanks again!!!

  5. Matty says:
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    So what is the official word on Graterol? I haven’t seen much in the way of updates.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks for reading, Matty!

      Official word at last check anyway, but Levine wants to be asked again.

      Source = Do-Hyoung Park:

      https://www.mlb.com/news/brusdar-graterol-twins-bullpen-for-now

      “At the Twins Winter Caravan stop in St. Cloud on Monday night, pitching coach Wes Johnson and general manager Thad Levine said that the current plan for the 21-year-old Graterol is to allow him to develop more effective physical and mental routines for the Major Leagues while in a bullpen role, though this doesn’t mean that the hard-throwing right-hander will be limited to such a role in the future.

      ‘This is going to be a situation where you’re probably going to need to ask us every two to three months about what we see the role being, because it’s not hard and fast and defined,’ Levine said. ‘Once again, I just think the one thing we’re all in consensus on is that this guy has the chance to be special at the big league level.'”

  6. 183414 says:
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    What do you see for Danny Santana ? Was last year an aberration ?
    When can I realistically hope for Madrigal to be called up ?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks 183414! Great questions!

      Santana: no clue, honestly.

      Can say I traded him in the one league I had him because his projections on the Fantrax site look good, and if an offer comes along where I can move him for someone who’s more bird-in-the-hand than two-in-the-bush, that’s where I’m at on Santana.

      I do like what the Rangers are doing (different bats for different pitchers, different swing planes for different kinds of pitchers, just as far out as you can go without installing buzzers on your chest), so I wouldn’t go looking to sell low or anything on him, and might even be a buyer at the right price.

      Madrigal comes up early. Bout 15 days into the season, give or take.

  7. LenFuego says:
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    This is very good information, but I feel like a bit more background info would have been helpful on quite a few of these guys to dot some of the i’s and cross some of the t’s … not everyone is quite on top,of this prospect stuff as you are or off-season transactions, which is why we are here to learn. E.g., I follow prospects pretty carefully, but have never heard of Jared Oliva before, so it is not “obvious” to me why his stock would be up (just because the Pirates traded Marte I suppose?) … and you did not even list what team Yamaguchi signed with or who he is competing with for a rotation spot.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, LenFuego!

      And good call on naming the trade: just added a bit there, and am no longer ignoring Shun’s team. Good catch.

  8. Malicious Phenoms says:
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    Itch, you continue to impress me with your writing style and your incredible insight into MILB players. Keep up the fantastic work!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks MP!!!!!!

  9. Snacks Zillion says:
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    Just swung a trade for Luis Robert, gave up Correa. Your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Chucky says:
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      Robert just went even up for Paddack in a roto dynasty, if that helps

      • Snacks Zillion says:
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        Wow, cool. Definitely helps. I like Robert alot.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I’d be thrilled to flip Paddack for him, too.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Snacks!

      I think you crushed that trade.

      Well done!

      • Snacks Zillion says:
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        Thanks, I am very happy with it. Your research helped me a lot coming on-board with L. Robert. Much appreciated.

  10. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    great post,been watching a few of these guys

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks AL!!!

  11. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Hey again! Do dipoto’s comments on Julio Rodriguez a few weeks ago (that he knows Julio wants to debut this year + isn’t opposed if he earns it) have you bumping up his late 2021 eta at all?

    He’s available in my 12 team keep forever league (keep 7 only, weekly rosters, only 7 reserve spots) and I’m wondering if he’s a must own in that league before he starts getting more attention…

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Heyooo!

      Yeah I’d get him now. Might get wild this Spring.

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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        Draft is beginning of March, so hopefully too early for any hype trains!

  12. Dong Show says:
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    Itch, would you move Bart for McKay straight up in a dynasty? Feel like this is an obvious yes but just some kind of reassurance (and I am really high on Bart, but I have Grandal, so he’s not really needed right now)

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