How do we still have a week left before the season starts?! This feels like the longest pre-season ever, which is kind of surprising given that just two years ago the pre-season lasted until late July. Anyway, I’m not complaining, just a little exhausted from drafting and overwhelmed from information overload as I head into my final drafts and auctions of the year. Let’s get to the latest news on the deep-league beat and take a look at a handful of players who most of the fantasy world won’t be paying much if any attention to, but could potentially be of interest to those of us in deep (or extra deep) leagues (ADPs are for the month of March in NFBC).
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Jeremy Pena (ADP #477 in March; 492 overall). I didn’t expect to be talking about Peña this week, since I knew I was going to keep this to players outside the top 450 when it comes to ADP, and since I assumed Peña was getting drafted much higher than that. I was really taken aback to see that his NFBC ADP is only 15 spots higher in March than it is overall, since drafts started in October, figuring it would take a nice jump when Correa signed with the Twins. As long as you have other options, I’m all in at this price – if he really plays every day and he hits at all in that solid lineup, it feels like it could be one of the steals of the season. If he doesn’t, easy enough to move on.
Thairo Estrada (ADP #736). I drafted Estrada early this winter in a draft and hold league because I thought he might get some utility man at bats for the Giants. His stock can only have risen since then, given that he’s had a great spring and San Francisco is already dealing with injuries to both Tommy LaStella and Evan Longoria. He qualifies only at short in many leagues coming in to the season, but he has just enough power plus speed (he’s stolen three bases this spring, for what that’s worth) to make him a potential deep NL-only option as the season begins, and he’s a guy who shouldn’t hurt you in average to boot.
Victor Robles. I know I’m not the only one at Razzball who’s climbed aboard the Lane Thomas train this year, and I’m still fairly optimistic about Thomas (even though it’s maddening to hear that Cesar Hernandez is going to hit leadoff). I keep reading that the Nats ‘want Robles to earn an outfield job’ as well, though, so I figured I should mention him. It wasn’t all that long ago that many of us were salivating at his speed, wondering if he’d add a bit more power, and drafting him as an OF #2. He’s been lackluster at best this spring, and I’m not too hopeful, but if he somehow gets it together at the MLB level this year he could be a deep league team-changer. While I’m talking about the Nats, I’ll mention that I believe Maikel Franco is scheduled to be their opening day third baseman. To quote myself from last week, do with that information what you will. Also, I’m writing this while watching Dee Strange-Gordon, who also happens to be fighting for an opening day spot, batting for Washington… let’s just say their roster is a work in progress at the moment.
Jorge Alfaro (ADP #463)/Jurickson Profar. Alfaro isn’t even getting drafted in 12-team, 2 catcher leagues, but I’m going to keep on eye on him for 2 catcher NL-only, if nothing else. It sounds like he’ll get some time behind the plate along with Aaron Nola, and that his left field experiment will continue with his new team (that’d be the Padres), where at the moment he’s sitting near the top of the depth chart along with Jurickson Profar. Profar, while we’re at it, has an ADP of 615, so he’s someone else to consider in the deepest of leagues if you are desperate for at bats.
Kevin Newman. Oneil Cruz’s demotion early this week may not have been entirely unexpected (he has outfield work to do, y’all!), but was still a bit of a tummy punch to those of us who started investing in him back in December. Even a stellar spring from Cruz was not enough to keep Newman from projecting as the Pirates opening day shortstop, and I feel contractually obligated to mention a player with an ADP 721, who happens to be a starter and may even be leading off for a major league baseball team, even if it is arguably the worst team of the 30.
Yandy Diaz (ADP #479)/Taylor Walls (703). With less than a week until opening day, I thought this was going to be the first year ever I made it through the pre-season without mentioning Diaz, my roto crush-who’s-never-returned-my-affections, and yet here we are. It appears he’s part of a 3-way, 2-position platoon, involving Walls and Ji-Man Choi, that is probably both one million times less interesting and less kinky than it sounds. All I’m getting out of this information is that the ABs should be there for Yandy, so maybe this is the year he does something with them. (Yes, I could have lifted that last phrase from either my 2021 or 2020 blurbs on him). Also, Walls, who’s on the short side of the Yandy platoon but who started at shortstop in Wednesday’s spring training game, should make the team and may get just enough at bats to put him on the deep AL-only radar.
Spencer Patton/Greg Holland/Matt Bush. Rangers manager Chris Woodward mentioned that he thought it might be a good idea to start the season with Joe Barlow as a “fireman” type, i.e. not necessarily in save situations, meaning that one (or more) of these three guys could work the 9th. I’m already seeing them getting picked up in some of my leagues, but for what it’s worth I don’t think I’ll have the stomach to take a chance on any of them, even in the AL-only league where I’m keeping Barlow (boo to Chris Woodward, while we’re at it). All this does is make me feel less dumb about drafting a (theoretical) top closer in a few of my leagues this year, because I have a feeling it’s going to be a long and bumpy one when it comes to the closer carousel.