The snow wasn’t exactly as apocalyptic as initially feared, but we did get quite a bit for what we’re used to down here in the Dirty Souf. Needless to say, as we’re half-drowning in snow, Spring Training is starting up in other parts of the country. Games kick off Feb. 28. Pretty much all free agents worth a damn are signed by now, so this will be my last “The Saturday Morning Post” (in name only), as I’ll be transitioning to covering the weekly “Ambulance Chasers” column, which will drop at the same time next week. All injuries I deem to have fantasy impact will be covered, with as-in-depth-as-possible hot takes on who shall benefit from said injuries. Spring Training is fun and all, but someone always does something stupid and screws over fantasy owners before games even begin for real.
Anyhoodles, for the last time this offseason, here are the sexiest nomads of the last week:
Rich Hill did indeed sign with the Rays. I tossed that little nugget onto the end of last week’s update, saying he’d give ace-like returns when he actually pitches. I still believe that to be true, but Grey had to go and point out on Twitter that Rich “Well, Well, Well Over The” Hill debuted in 2005, yet only has 976 IP to his name. That straight up rocked my brain. Grey tells you, if you’re too lazy to click that hyperlink, that that’s an average of 65 IP a year. As a starter. That’s…not ideal. If you draft him, you’re probably not expecting him to be healthy. You can’t even hope for health at this point; it’s just not happening. You just have to hope that he’s healthy enough to help you out some weeks and be willing to stash him on the IL when he isn’t. His K/9 dipped some in 2020, but he’s been double-digits pretty much his entire career otherwise — although, of course I recognize he’s frickin’ 40 now, so any kind of dip is not a good thing to see. I’ve been harping on how tough the AL East is, but I’ll still make exception for a guy who has had a 6.7 H/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 10.4 K/9 since 2015, even if he is 40, or 41, or 51. If he can sling, he can sling. And Rich Hill can still sling. He comes at a price that doesn’t hurt you in the least, yet with the upside to make you look like a dadblabbin’ genius.
James Paxton is back with the Mariners after signing a one-year deal. In the past, I’ve always skipped over him, but this year he’s going around pick #256. I can live with that given the upside, which is, like Hill, ace-like. Definitely tanks his value going from NYY to SEA, but the ratios and K upside are still very much there. The long ball was an issue in 2020, but the swing-and-miss remained. Hopefully you can squeeze 150ish inning out of him.
Justin Turner was the biggest name left on the board, but I’m giving him the third entry spot because I’m not even sure he counts as a free agent in my brain. I had no doubt he’d re-sign with the Dodgers, so I’m just pretending he did it, maskless, back when they won the title. We know what we have with Turner by now. Good to elite average, stellar OBP, good power, and plenty of R/RBI opportunities in that LAD lineup. But for me, he’s kind of the Strasburg of hitters. I know he’s good, but I don’t trust the health to stick. His career high is 151 games back in 2016. All other years of his career have been 135 games or less. I’m just not very interested in that. *shrug emoji*
Trevor Rosenthal and Sergio Romo both signed a deal with the Athletics, putting themselves directly into the closer mix. The other options there are Jake Diekman and Lou Trivino, but one would think it’s gotta be Rosenthal’s job to lose out of the gate. It’s worth noting there are three other capable relievers should he falter, but given how sexy his resurgent 2020 campaign was, T-Rose figures to be the main man at the start. He sported a ridonk 41.8 K%, and that 8.8 BB% is so much better than what we’ve seen in prior years. Is it too wild to expect Liam Hendriks type value here? Or at least pretty close to it? Hendriks sure had a nice time closing in Oakland, and now a just-as-deadly strikeout guy will be filling the void. Rosie actually edged Hendriks in H/9 and K/9 last year, but Hendriks’s command is what makes him truly elite.
Also signing with the A’s was 1B/DH Mitch Moreland. Remember how they traded away Khrush? That means Moreland has a DH spot. He may take a spell or two when a southpaw is on the mound, but take a look at his Savant profile in recent years and you’ll see a healthy amount of red. That’s cuz he pwns righties. The BA is not gonna be very good, but he walks enough to keep his OBP in a solid range. The A’s may have lost Semien, but the lineup is still a pretty good one, and I think Moreland can do an admirable job of filling Khrush’s shoes.
C.J. Cron signed with the Rockies. I mentioned Greg Bird last week, but now Cron kills 100% of that “hype” I had (it wasn’t really hype at all in the first place). Who doesn’t love a Coors bat? Especially a sneaky power bat like Cron? Arenado peacing out and Murphy retiring means 3B is open for McMahon and 1B is open for Cron, but Josh Fuentes is in the mix as well. Although, I’ve also seen that Fuentes could be more of a utility role. Don’t forget Cron paced for 34 HR in 2018, 32 in 2019, and 50 in 2020. Okay, yeah, the 50 is unfair cuz it was only 13 games, but still. There’s pop here. And now it’s Coors pop. “Coors pop” makes me wish I had a Silver Bullet or a Banquet to pop open right now, but I guess this neat rye whiskey will do.
One of the more anti-climactic players in recent years, Aaron Sanchez signed with the Giants. Sanchez looked ready to be a fantasy ace back in 2016, tossing close to 200 innings, winning 15 games, and posting a 3.00 ERA. That’s after two seasons of being a good reliever. But 2017 and onward have been straight doo doo butter. I’m not sure I’m ready to deem him fantasy relevant, but he’ll be in the rotation and was once a very good pitcher, and he’s still only 28 years old. Crazier things have happened, so we’ll just have to see. Can’t say I’m expecting much at all, at any rate. It’s not like he has great K upside and has just been struggling with walks or keeping the ball in the yard, a la Robbie Ray. He’s just been…bad.
Taijuan Walker was signed by the Mets. I wish I liked him in fantasy as much as I like his name, but alas, I’m not sold by last year’s 2.70 ERA. The ERA predictors don’t agree with it, and his .243 BABIP isn’t encouraging. The strikeouts are so very meh. He just doesn’t bring much to the table. Peep that Savant page and you’ll see blue dot after blue dot, year after year. In real baseball, I guess he’s an okay back-end type. In fantasy baseball, I don’t give three wet farts about him. Spot start him against weak teams, but I can’t imagine he’s gonna be worth a hold.
Fernando Tatis Jr. was extended for 14 years. FOURTEEN. YEARS. He’ll be 35 when he next is able to test free agency. Normally I won’t bother bringing up a signing like this, but whoa. Fourteen years. Enjoy him, Padres fans! No need to worry about him chasing money elsewhere now.
Welp, there you have it. Tune in next week for injured players to keep an eye on! As always, DMs are wide open on Twitter @jkj0787.