Happy March, friends! Spring training is finally in full swing, which is glorious, but with it comes the usual flurry of fantasy team-altering injuries, which are not so glorious. Hope you are enjoying the preseason and dodging the injury bullets as we all put our pretend teams together for 2023. Last week we chatted about how surprisingly weak the outfield position is this year, in my opinion at least, and we’ll continue that topic this week as we look even deeper into the murky late-in-a-draft outfield pool. Today we’re heading outside the top 400 in terms of current NFBC ADP; let’s see if we can find any potential outfield help for those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Edward Olivares (#421). I’ve had Olivares on my AL-only keeper team for what seems like forever, waiting for him to break out, and instead, I’m still just waiting for the Royals to give him a shot at everyday playing time. We’ll see what the season brings but feels like he may finally have a decent spot on the Royals’ OF depth chart, especially with fellow outfielder Drew Waters down for a while with an oblique injury. Olivares has been basically a fantasy afterthought at this ADP, and I haven’t even drafted him yet this year myself, so the current price is right if you’re looking for potential value late. Steamer projects Olivares to play in 84 games with 10 homers and 7 steals, but I for one am thinking (again!) that this is the year to take the over on all three of those numbers.
Leody Taveras (#446). I’ve grabbed Leody as kind of an escape-hatch fifth outfielder in a couple leagues, so time will tell if he provides me with a life-saving parachute of stats, or if I just fall splat to the ground. He’s got more than a little competition for time in the Rangers’ outfield, but not a lot of competition from guys whose skill set is significantly more impressive than his as I see it, and the fact that he’s out of options is what’s pushed me over the edge to actually draft him this year. Steamer projects him for 11 homers and 18 steals in 123 games, which actually feels overly optimistic to me, but if I can get 10/15 out of him I think I’d be satisfied with the return on my investment, and anything more would be a bonus.
T.J. Friedl (#453). I’ll quote myself, from an exchange I had with reader/commenter Jack after he mentioned the Reds’ outfielder in the comments of my post last week, “I have a decision to make on whether or not to keep Friedl in one of my NL-only leagues and wasn’t originally considering it given my other options, but I’m starting to think he may be a not-horrible option in NL-only. At least one of the FanGraphs guys is REALLY liking him this year so I’m going to have to dive a little deeper to see what’s there, but in the back of my head already thinking he could be the type of guy to seriously benefit from the rule changes in terms of SBs, if he can manage to get on base enough and become a fixture at or near the top of the lineup.” I’m not going to reach for him and am probably out if his price rises much, but I don’t mind him this late.
Chas McCormick (#512). I already have a few deep-league shares of McCormick after his relatively solid (if nowhere near spectacular) 2022, where he ended up hitting .264 (.343 OBP!) with 13 homers and 4 steals in 81 games. He feels like a decent OF pick outside the top 500 given that it looks like he’ll get a solid amount of playing time in center field for the Astros, at least to open the season. (Since Houston opens the season with a rare eight games in a row with no off-day, I picked Chas up in one league as a potential week-or-two injury replacement for Seiya Suzuki hoping that the ABs will be there… that ‘week or two’ thing on Seiya is starting to sound way optimistic, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, I suppose).
Dylan Moore (#551). I already mentioned him in my shortstop post, I think, but he also qualifies at OF, so just try to stop me from talking about him again. Once you’re this deep in a draft, you’re usually down to utility guy types, so why not get a utility guy type who might steal a gaggle of bases over the course of a week or two? He swiped 21 in 205 official at bats last year, after all. Plus, as I think I mentioned before, his horrible average won’t be as detrimental to your fantasy team without as much volume (and he does get a boost in OBP leagues at least, as he somehow managed to turn in a .368 OBP last season to go along with his .224 batting average).
Jack Suwinski (#551). The Pirates’ outfield has felt somewhat cloudy heading into the season, especially with the emotionally uplifting signing of Andrew McCutchen, who appears ticketed to at least part-time duty in the actual field. But if spring training lineups and managerial comments are worth anything (which as we all know they may or may not be), Suwinski is profiling as the starting center fielder and perhaps even their cleanup hitter. His strikeout rate has been his biggest negative, so I guess we’ll see if his midsummer demotion last year helped on that front, since there’s little doubt that the power is quite real.
LaMonte Wade Jr. (#575). With both Suwinski and Wade, it’s “Do as I say, not as I do,” up until this point in draft season anyway, as I haven’t rostered either yet. I’m starting to think I may try to grab at least one share of each at these prices, since there’s really nothing to lose even in deeper leagues, and it’s not inconceivable one or both actually provides some NL-only or massive roster-Draft & Hold type value outside the top 550. Wade also qualifies at first, and while he may or may not be in the best shape of his life, he does say he “feels better than he ever has,” which is just as important when it comes to spring training platitudes, no? At any rate, sounds like he’s legitimately healthy at least, after acknowledging playing on a bad knee for basically a whole season, and destined for a decent amount of playing time for the Giants (probably mostly at first base on the strong side of a platoon). Seems like a decent dice roll this late — I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 12-15 homers and perhaps even swipe a few (and yes, I do literally mean a few… the guy’s ADP is 575, after all) bags.