Howdy-do, folks. I surely do ‘preciate you stopping by for the latest in the world of offseason baseball.
The Blue Jays made three exciting signings, only to have it turn into two exciting signings (unless a Tyler Chatwood signing excites you, then you can still call it three) because the Astros swooped in. For a few hours there, the Jays lineup looked pretty damn formidable. I still really dig it, for what it’s worth.
Other things happened, too. Here’s what stood out to me:
George Springer signed a six-year deal with the Blue Jays. On that very same day, the Jays also snagged their potential closer, Kirby Yates. I like both signings, in real life and for fantasy. Yates was THE bust of 2020 for me, and San Diego didn’t feel the need to even retain his services even though they still kinda need a closer. Maybe that should tell you something, but I’m choosing to look at the positive here. I see a fresh start with a new club that’s on the up-and-up. Take out 2020 and Yates has been one of the best arms in baseball since 2017. Given health, I don’t see much reason to doubt him getting back to that level, or at least close to it. As for Springer, well, were you really worried about his fantasy stock one way or the other? He’s been consistent over the years with a solid K% and very solid BB%. Blasted a career-high 39 HR in 2019 and was at a 44-HR pace last year. Combine 2019 and 2020, and you have 173 games, which is more or less (read “more but not too much more than”) a full season: .284/.376/.576, 53 HR, and 128 RBI. He’s gonna be hitting atop one of the stronger lineups in the league as is, and it’s only getting better. Y’all seen what Vlad Jr. looks like these days?
The next day, the Blue Jays signed Michael Brantley! But then the Astros actually signed him for real after some back-tracking on Twitter by a certain bow-tie enthusiast in the baseball community. So Brantley remains in Houston, where he’s had success the past couple years. You know what you have with Brantley in fantasy. If he’s playing, he’s giving you an excellent batting average and strong OBP. Doesn’t strike out, walks a good amount, and has elite plate discipline. Dude’s Z-Contact% had been 95% or better every single year of his career until last year, when it PLUMMETED to 92.9%. Basically, if Brantley bothers to swing, he’s making contact and it’s resulting in a hit more often than not. He’s got solid enough pop, giving owners 22 HR back in 2019. His days of providing double-digit steals are probably over, but there’s no harm in rostering Brantley for everything else he can provide. My only worry is he’s staying in Houston when his bro Springer sprung off to Toronto, so the Houston lineup doesn’t look as good overall heading into 2021.
Joe Musgrove stock is through the roooooof right now! The longtime underwhelming members of the Pirates got dealt to, you guessed it, the Padres this past week for some…names. I’m not the prospect guy around here, but none of those names move the needle for me. Hudson Head was part of the package, and he’s listed as the Bucs #6 prospect now on MLB.com. The Itch talks about him some here. Check out Coolwhip’s 2021 Joe Musgrove Fantasy Outlook, where he covers things in much finer detail than I would get into here. TL:DR: gimme Musgrove in 2021.
That Musgrove deal was actually a three-team trade, and it resulted in Joey Lucchesi going to the Mets. It’s a downgrade in run support, obviously, but maybe it’s an upgrade in opportunity? Or maybe not? Kind of too early to tell. My thought would be Lucchesi gets at least the #5 role over Steven Matz. RosterResource has Lucchesi down in AAA right now, though, so take both of those takes with a grain of salt. I guess the good news is he didn’t end up in Pittsburgh!
There were three other meh signings that I’m just gonna lump all together here. Jon Lester is with the Nationals. Tyler Chatwood is with the Jays. J.A. Happ is with the Twins. Lester and Happ figure to be rotation regulars, but I’m seeing that Chatwood is just gonna be a multi-inning reliever. So, Lester and Happ maybe have an ounce of fantasy upside, while Chatwood has zilch.
Jurickson Profar will be returning to the Padres after inking a three-year contract. I had this feller rostered for the second half of that miniature fantasy baseball season last year, and I was glad I did. Sneaky power and sneaky speed from a guy who is still pretty young but it feels like he’s been in the majors for 15 seasons now. I remember the hype when he was the #1 overall prospect years ago, but it never really panned out in Texas. Though, to be fair, he did put up back-to-back 20-HR seasons in TEX/OAK in 2018/19. Profar gave faithful owners 7 HR and 7 SB last year, which doesn’t look like a whole lot, but it’s a 20/20 pace in a full season. His BA and OBP were commendable as well. Here’s the bad news, though: this is not an ideal landing spot for him from a fantasy standpoint. The Padres somehow didn’t have to trade Jake Cronenworth to get all those sexy arms, and remember, they also signed Ha-Seong Kim. Profar can play in the outfield at least, so he could give the big names some rest from time to time. Regardless, regular ABs will be harder to come by this season, unless 1). the Dads have another trade in the works and/or 2). the NL DH comes to fruition.
Ryan Zimmerman re-signed with the Nationals on Friday. Zimm has some pop left in his bat, but really the biggest fantasy impact here for Josh Bell losing some ABs potentially. So that kinda sucks, I guess. Not that I’m overly interested in either. Zimmerman opted out of the 2020 season, but combining 2018 and 2019 he had 19 HR in 137 games (22-HR pace). Health — as it’s always been with him — is of course a major concern. I don’t think 2017’s line of .303/.358/.573 with 33 HR and 108 RBI is very likely at all, but maybe the year off did him some good! We’ll see.
Rumors and whatnot
Really not much on the rumors front this week. J.T. Realmuto‘s name was linked to the Braves, but that just seems unlikely. They’ve already got Travis d’Arnaud. I still think JTR ultimately finds his way back to the Phillies since the Mets decided not to splash cash for him.
The latest news on Trevor Bauer has him narrowed down to the Mets and Angels, apparently. This comes from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The Dodgers have dipped their toes in the Bauer waters, but it’s not looking overly likely. I still like the Blue Jays odds here, for what it’s worth. Lot to like there. But if Feinsand is right, we’ll see Bauer in orange and blue or red and white come next season. Stay tuned!
James Paxton still needs a home, and now the Blue Jays have surfaced as a could-be destination. I’ve said this in various fantasy mediums on the interwebz, but Paxton is one of those guys I just steer clear of every single year. He’s really, really good when he plays, but I’m not of a mind to take that risk. He’s being taken outside of the top-250 in NFBC drafts, so I guess that price isn’t too steep given the upside. He has great stuff, evidenced by a consistently mid-teens SwStr% and an O-Swing% north of 30%, but he’s never made 30 starts in a season and has eclipsed 150 IP only twice. The dude is always hurt, got his career back on track in 2018/19, but got hurt again in 2020. Paxton’s fastball dipped from 95+ MPH in 2019 to 92+ in 2020. No bueno. But back in December, he was able to hit 94 on the gun in a showcase for teams. I just can’t trust the guy to be healthy, but maybe that’ll just make me the guy who misses out on a 2021 bounce-back.
Nelson Cruz is playing the waiting game, depending on the NL DH of course. The Twins have upped the $$$ on their one-year offer, but Cruz wants at least two years. Remains to be seen if any NL teams are offering that, but I’d wager they are if he’s waited this long.
There was a fake trade announcement that took off in the Twitterverse: Luis Castillo going the the Yankees. He did not go to the Yankees and is in fact still with the Reds. Fake stuff on Twitter is nothing new, but this one got big enough that Jeff Passan had to chime in. I bring it up because it’s a trade that actually makes since, and I can easily see it happening at some point. The Reds have made it known he’s on the table, so this fake news really just reminded me that it’s pretty likely he gets moved at some point.