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.
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.
- OF Jaylin Davis | SF
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.
- RP Brusdar Graterol | MIN
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.
- 2B Mark Mathias | MIL
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.
- OF Jared Oliva | PIT
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 . . .
- OF Dylan Carlson | STL
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!
- OF Randy Arozarena | TB
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.
- SS OF Myles Straw | HOU
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.
- RHP Shun Yamaguchi | TOR
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.
- OF Trent Grisham | SD
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.
- RHP Hunter Greene | CIN
Gotta see where this goes now that velo-master Kyle Boddy is working with pitch-mix guru Derek Johnson.
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.
- 3B Jonathan India | CIN
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.
- OF Nick Senzel | CIN
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.
- OF Josh Lowe | TB
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?