Finally – stuff is happening! Now that there have actually been some meaningful free agent signings, injury news (nooooo, Brent Honeywell!), and we’re getting reports out of camps, it’s time to take a fresh look at a handful of situations and players within the deep-league landscape. I’m writing this just before actual spring training games start, so this will be my last chance to evaluate situations before my head is pelted with box scores and video highlights, which will no doubt cloud my judgment a bit whether I want them to or not. And since we’re talking about AL-only, NL-only, and other deep leagues, we won’t be discussing how J.D. Martinez or Yu Darvish’s values have changed. Nope, we’re all about less mainstream, but just as super-sexy topics, like how the Eric Hosmer signing might affect deep-league relevant guys like Jose Pirela. C’mon… deep-league players can be super sexy, too!
Padres left field/second base: See what I did there? I mentioned Pirela, then segued right into his situation in San Diego! So Eric Hosmer’s gonna be playing first base for the Pads, and Wil Myers is heading to the outfield. I was surprised to hear that the Padres seem to view Pirela and Hunter Renfroe as competitors for the left field gig, since I assumed that Renfroe would get his shot to sink or swim this year, and Pirela would be a utility guy. Pirela looked pretty good last year and is evidently already getting reps at second, so no matter how the outfield shakes out, I like him as late NL-only grab. Meanwhile, I’m moving Renfroe down a notch or two in my rankings for the time being.
Reds middle infield: I’m keeping the tiniest pin in Dilson Herrera as we head into spring. Reports are that he is healthy for the first time in a while, and I don’t want to completely fall asleep on a guy who is only 24, out of options, and was the centerpiece in the Reds/Mets Jay Bruce trade. Also, Nick Senzel was reportedly working out at second and short for the Reds, then was later reported to be getting reps only at short and third. We’ll have to wait and see what this means, if anything, but it does remind me to keep an eye on Nick Senzel this year. Meanwhile, I’ve already drafted Jose Peraza and am hopeful he fulfills some of his promise this year, but am a little nervous about his situation if he doesn’t look good in spring or gets off to a slow start in April. I’ll keep drafting him at the right price, but only if he falls to me… I’m not reaching.
Diamondbacks outfield. I feel like stolen bases are going to be harder to come by than ever in the NL this year (what with Dee Gordon’s MLB-leading 60 bags from 2017 heading to the AL), and I loved Jarrod Dyson as a late target as soon as he was signed by Arizona. Then they signed Steven Souza, and I decided didn’t love Dyson since he’s a fourth outfielder now. Then, I decided I still love him a little. (You try being a girl who is obsessed with fantasy baseball! It’s not easy!) In the deepest leagues, sometimes a guy who doesn’t play all of the time can be a good thing, since he’ll theoretically play when matchups suit him best – there’s always going to be at bat-chasing in deep leagues, but don’t forget that in some situations quality is more important than quantity. Not that Dyson is that very good, but like I said, steals, baby! (Also: Yasmany Tomas. Kind of loved him as a sleeper a month ago, kind of terrified that he may be heading to AAA now. He seems to be as out of favor with Arizona as a player can get, but I’ll still take the latest, cheapest flyer on him in a deep league, just in case he has a monster spring/guys get hurt/he gets traded, etc.)
Dexter Fowler. Well, I had to include an obligatory “best shape of his life” guy, so I chose Fowler, as it’s been reported that he’s packed on 15 lbs. of muscle over the off-season. I’ve been such a sucker for Dexter Fowler in the past that this piece of “news,” even as I mock it, will probably lead me to draft him at least three rounds earlier than anyone should in at least one draft this year. A couple of years ago, before I arrived at Razzball, I wrote a piece about Fowler for another website, which was basically a love letter disguised as fantasy baseball advice. Recently I was feeling nostalgic (
nostalgic lonely?) so I Googled my name and Dexter Fowler’s name together expecting a link to my article, but weirdly the top result was a Razzball piece I wrote early last year with my 2017 fantasy baseball boyfriend, Tommy Pham, as the lede. That probably should have been a sign that I should stop thinking about Fowler and instead think more about Pham, but then I thought about how often Pham and Marcell Ozuna were likely to drive Fowler in this year, and that Fowler could easily score 85 plus runs if he stays healthy, and now I am daydreaming about overdrafting Fowler again. Sigh.
Matt Andriese. I’m bumping him up a few notches in AL-only (which puts him in the last tier of starters I’d consider taking at the end of a draft) given the Jake Odorizzi trade, coupled with the Honeywell injury news. The Rays have already announced they will use a 4-man rotation to open the season and Andriese will pitch out of the pen for a few weeks, so he should be pretty far under the radar even in deeper leagues.
Hanley Ramirez/Albert Pujols. Both these guys seem like they should be about a hundred years old now. Pujols may lose DH time to Shohei Ohtani. Ramirez will be booted out of his DH spot by J.D. Martinez. And the reports coming from their teams sound like the ultimate BS fluff: Hanley is supposedly as healthy as ever, and Pujols has been reported to have droped 15 lbs. This all sounds like a perfect recipe for fantasy disaster, and it may be… or it could be a recipe for deep-league fantasy gold. Okay, not gold, but maybe some gem that is nowhere near as valuable as gold, but still worth picking up off the ground for free. The value of both players has hit rock bottom – Pujols current NFBC ADP is 320, Hanley’s is 336. I’ll be tempted by either player at those prices, just in case a basically risk-free investment produces a small reward (and with recent reports from Alex Cora saying that Hanley will play first base and hit third, I’m definitely going to keep an eye on him.)
Dustin Fowler. He’s on track recovering from his horrible patella tendon rupture last year, and has a shot to win the starting center field job for the A’s and be ready to roll by opening day. He’s a guy I’ll take at the end of a draft while I can… if he has a great spring and looks like he’ll be starting for Oakland, his price could get higher in a hurry in deep leagues. If he doesn’t get the gig, it’s a super low-risk investment and an easy drop in a redraft league.
Brandon Drury. There really could not be a less interesting player to draft in fantasy, as he just doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. He’s one of those guys that you could have on a fantasy team all year and completely forget about, so it’s definitely easy to forget about him come draft day. No, he’s not a guy you target, but he is a guy I will consider at the end of a super deep draft now that he may get some playing time at third base (he only qualifies at second going into the year in most leagues, FYI) in a stacked Yankees offense.