Whew! What a week. Stocks wise. Baseball wise. NOLAN ARENADO WISE!!!!!!!! (Cards fan here, remember?)
Lots and lots and lots to go over this time around. The 2021 season is almost upon us and teams are scooping up names left and right. Trading names left and right. Whew, indeed!
Here’s what stood out to me lately:
J.T. Realmuto did what we kinda all thought he’d do: re-signed with the Phillies. Jank Taco Realmuto is unequivocally the best fantasy baseball catcher. There’s no debate at all. What there is debate about is whether you should bother drafting him. I’m firmly in camp “hell no.” JTR is going #35 overall on NFBC, and really that’s just the end of it for me. I could maybe be swayed if you’re in a 2C format, but nahhhh I still can’t stomach that price tag; he’s simply not as good as what you have to pay to get him. Going directly ahead of him is Jose Abreu. Going directly after him is Xander Bogaerts. Those two are justified at their ADP. The advantage you get from drafting the best catcher is vastly immensely crazily outweighed by the disadvantage you get from passing on the guys going around him. Just fade catcher like everyone else and get Sean Murphy, or even hellllla fade catcher and get bounce-back candidate Omar Narvaez. Realmuto hasn’t topped a .280 BA since 2016, has hit 20+ HR only twice, has never gotten even 85 RBI, and has never scored 100 runs. He might get you around 10 stolen bases. Neat. You know who pretty much will get you 10+ SB from the C slot? Daulton Varsho, who is getting drafted around #160. I understand the “but if you get that kind of production from C and draft upside later you’ll be grand” argument. Too risky. Don’t get suckered into paying for a truly mediocre fantasy bat. I mean, seriously — take away the C next to his name, go look at his stats, and tell me you’d pay a top-50 pick for that. I’d tell you I’d love to join your money league.
Enough about Jank Taco. We gots a trade to recap! Jameson Taillon was a recent victim (read: lucky bastard) of the Pirates fire sale, getting dealt to the Yankees for prospects. The upgrade is glaringly obvious. No need to point it out. But does it make Taillon fantasy relevant? Meh. He should be a clear spot in the rotation, but the AL East is not easy. Boston isn’t very good but the offense can pop off. The Blue Jays are upgrading like crazy. The Rays lost pitchers but they still have bats. Even the Orioles can do damage, especially at home. I’m not terribly interested in Taillon at all. He has great command but the Ks are sorely lacking. Historically, his FIP has always been 3.80 or better, but I’m still worried about the lineups he’ll be facing on a regular basis. Not enough swing-and-miss for me. I’ll pass. Plus there’s the whole didn’t-pitch-in-2020-because-he-was-recovering-from-not-his-first-but-his-second-Tommy-John-surgery thing.
Another trade to recap! Steven Matz got shipped off to the Blue Jays in exchange for Sean Reid-Foley and a couple others. Matz was *Charles Barkley voice* turrible last year. So very turrible. But, to be fair: 2020! It was goofy. And he was hurt. I feel like Matz is one of those types who took off a little when he first showed up but was never able to build off that momentum. I’m not interested in him at all in the HR-heavy AL East. I guess there’s an ounce of dynasty appeal here? The Jays have the makings of a great team before long if the pitching pans out. As for Reid-Foley, who knows what he’s gonna do. He has very strong K upside (mostly been high-20s and even sometimes low 30s K% type) buuuut I can’t really see a scenario where he has room to be in the rotation once Thor is healthy. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Basically no fantasy value unless he finds a way to start or gets late innings in relief (read: neither of those are likely to happen so he’s got zilch value unless you’re in, like, a hyphenated-last-names-only league).
Brad Hand got…wait for it…Handed a one-year deal by the Nationals. They’ve got their closer. Fantasy wise, I don’t see much change in value one way or the other. On paper, Hand looked fantastic last season. Under the hood, there are red flags. Led the league with 16 saves and had a pretty little 2.05 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. But the SwStr% dropped almost 3%, velocity on FB dropped for the second straight year, was in the 34th percentile in terms of Barrel%, and gave up a lotttt of fly balls. Which could start leaving the park, even if none of them happened to in 2020. He’s not getting grounders like he used to, instead seeing his FB% go from 34.2% in 2018 -> 42.2% in 2019 -> 57.1% in 2020. Still, other non-red flags (let’s call them green flags) were his 33.7 K% and career-best 4.7 BB%. Hard to blame anyone for drafting that kind of closer, but just don’t be too surprised if the wheels fall off at some point. And full disclosure: I’m truthfully more than a little sour on him because he ruined my James Karinchak shares by not imploding like I and others thought he would.
Marcus Semien finally found a home with the Blue Jays. They’ve been some busy little birdies, eh? See what I did there? Cuz they’re Canadian? Anywho, it causes a bit of a logjam in the infield, but I don’t think you have to worry at all about Bo Bichette or Cavan Biggio — they’ll still be starters. They can all shift around like some sort of musical infield chairs. This is a very fine landing spot, fantasy wise. I’ve mentioned time and time again how much I like this lineup. Kind of bones Rowdy Tellez owners a little, though. Forces him to DH, where he could platoon with Randal Grichuk. But! There are rumblings of a Grich trade! I’ll touch on that more in the next section. Suffice it to say, Semien has potential to be a huge bargain in fantasy baseball this year. Last year was bad and his ADP has dropped to 146.58 at the time of writing (partly due to a bad season, partly due to remaining on the market for so long). The 2019 version was exactly #100 on our historical Player Rater in terms of best seasons between 2015-2019. Not bad! If that’s a Top 100 season in the last five years, think what he could give you at his current price in 2020. Top 50? Top 25?! He was #22 when you sort that page to just the 2019 season.
Tommy La Stella has signed with the Giants. I’m a big fan of his game, but it certainly pings his value a bit going from the Oakland HR Daddies to San Francisco. I still love him as a very cheap source of BA, OBP, and even some HR. And that’s at second base, to boot. The Giants offense was surprisingly potent in 2020, but I need to see it in a bigger sample to really believe. Tommy The Star should lead off or hit second I’d think — good place to be in on any squad. Last year, The Star’s BB% was more than double his K% (11.8% and 5.3%, respectively). He snuck in 16 HR in 2019 (in just 80 games!) and 5 HR in 55 games last year (almost a 15-HR pace). Contact skills are sublime, eye is sublime, and the minuscule K-rate is sublime. He’ll get on base, and hopefully those San Fran bats (including a rejuvenated Buster Posey) can bring him home more often than not.
Andrelton Simmons was signed by the Twins on a one-year deal. I don’t have much to say about him. If sexy defense were a fantasy category, he’d be huge. His bat is nothing to write home about. There’s an outside chance at a respectable BA and double-digit HR/SB, but I wouldn’t be counting on that from him. I guess it’s a plus he’ll be hitting [near the bottom] in the Twins lineup, but don’t forget they’re currently without Eddie Rosario and Nelson Cruz, though Cruz coming back is still very likely.
Speaking of Eddie Rosario, he’s with the Indians now. Oops, I mean The Cleveland Baseball Team. Good spot for him to land. He’ll likely hit in the heart of the order with Jose Ramirez ahead of him and Franmil Reyes behind him. This is a very good landing spot, indeed. Last year he was down BA wise, but still launched 13 HR and posted 42 RBI. Only six other OFs managed 10+ HR and 40+ RBI. Rosario had a career-high 8.2% walk rate, too — more than double his 2019 rate. Really liking the 2021 outlook here, folks.
Cesar Hernandez finding his way back to The Cleveland Baseball Team dampens the excitement Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario owners had after the big Lindor trade. Hernandez in his own right is a solid enough fantasy 2B, but I’d really rather either of the other two names you see there. Much more HR+SB upside with both. Hernandez used to steal bases, but he had zilch last year and only 9 in 2019. Gimenez owners can probably feel a little safer, but there will be kind of a three-way timeshare here regardless, methinks. Poo.
Enrique Hernandez has landed with the Red Sox. Figures to get the starting gig at second, so this raises his fantasy stock. He may not hit in a very favorable lineup spot, but at least he should get regular ABs. In LA, the most he logged in a season was 462 PAs. Hernandez has some pop and it should play pretty well at Fenway. Nice cheap 2B to wait on. Won’t be a league winner by any means, but I think he can return some value for how late you can get him (NFBC ADP is at 514.42).
Also signing in Boston was reliever Adam Ottavino. I’ve been a fan of his the past few years — he’s been money in SV/HLD leagues. Which *PSA ALERT* I think should be standard practice in every league across the entire realm of fantasy baseball. Ottavino should at the very least still be a holds boss in 2021, but there’s a shot he’s the outright closer, too. Although for that to happen he’s really gotta fix those walks — been 10%+ for four straight years now in the BB% department.
Garrett Richards also landed with the Red Sox and should get slotted directly into the rotation. Don’t get me wrong, Boston isn’t all that good and I’ve mentioned above how tough the AL East is, but all that being said, Richards is at least primed for regular starts and could be a good stream based on the matchup. Take out 2019 where he made three brief ugly appearances and you’ll see a rather successful pitcher, at least ratios wise. Solid K rates, but up-and-down BB rates. His best years were with the Angels, he’s older now, and he’s in a tough division. We’ll see how it shakes out.
Joc Pederson got a one-year deal with the Cubs. Basically he’s the replacement for Kyle Schwarber. They’re the exact same type of hitter, too. You’ll get a painful-to-moderate batting average but potentially 30+ HR in a full season. This season, I’ll lean Schwarber for his supporting cast. The vibes out of Chicago are only positive for one of the teams in that city these days.
Rumors and whatnot
The HOTTEST non-stock-market-related buzz topic right now is the Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals trade. I’m keeping this in the rumors section for now because, as of time of writing (late Friday night), it’s not officially super-official yet. Ken Rosenthal has names of Cardinals prospects likely going to Colorado, there is talk of deferred money, but league approvals still need to be made, and Arenado has to officially waive his no-trade clause. Aaaand there’s that opt-out currently in his contract that kicks in after 2021 that needs ironing out. Now, as for the fantasy impact, leaving Coors will suck, but Arenado is still a top-end fantasy 3B. Home/away splits aren’t awful, but they’re not overly encouraging either. I don’t have much concern he’ll right the ship and remain as elite as ever. As a Cards fan, I’ll love having his glove over there and his bat in the heart of the lineup, NO DOUBT; however, I’m a tooch worried he turns into an albatross down the road. On the other hand, I saw a figure of $50 million that the Rox would send over as part of the package, so that would lessen the blow considerably. Reports are already circulating that that kind of money is indeed heading over to the Lou.
Anthony Santander‘s name has trickled out in trade rumors. He had himself a very nice 2021, smashing 11 HR and 13 2B in only 37 games. Cut his K% down to 15.2%, as well, while at the same time raising his walk rate to a career-best 6.1%. Interested to see if anything comes of this.
The MLBPA earlier this week said “nah” to the idea of expanded playoffs. In turn, that likely means no NL DH in 2021. Bummer. Nothing’s definitive yet, but that’s where we’re at as of now. Nelson Cruz back to Minnesota? That would make too much sense.
Seen some mutterings about Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks getting traded to Toronto. Bryant going there makes no sense to me. Too crowded as it is, unless they want to turn Biggio or Semien into super-utility men. Hendricks would be a perfect fit, but maybe the Cubs are saying you gotta take ’em as a package. I’d put both middle fingers up and pointed in Chicago’s direction if that were the case. Maybe Toronto has other ideas, though.
The Cactus League, held in Arizona, has stated it would be wise for the MLB to delay Spring Training in order to give time for the COVID situation to improve there. I just…don’t know how likely it is or isn’t that a delay would happen. It’s almost February, so decisions need to be made very soon…Monitor this one closely, folks!
That’s all for this week, y’all! Hope it was helpful stuff. Find me on Twitter @jkj0787. Comment below with questions/concerns/complaints/insults/random musings.