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December 8, 2011

Resident Fantasy Genius

New Fish in the Sea

by Derek Carty

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Jose Reyes | Miami Marlins | SS | Signed as Free Agent
Few would have predicted Reyes signing with Miami even a month ago, but the newly relocated Marlins are making big waves in the free-agent market this winter. In Miami, Reyes's value will likely rise a bit, but his ultimate fantasy value will be heavily tied to how many games he manages to stay on the field for. He'll bat leadoff for the Fish as he did for the Mets, but he'll have some much bigger bats behind him to drive him in; once you get past Emilio Bonifacio, who will bat second, he'll have Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton.

Reyes has averaged just nine home runs per season in Citi Field, so you might expect his power production to improve now that he's leaving (after all, he had a couple of 15-plus homer seasons in Shea Stadium). That is, until you realize that the new Marlins Ballpark has deeper fences than Citi almost the entire way around. The good news is that Reyes will recoup some of this value in terms of his steals. Ozzie Guillen is one of the most aggressive managers in terms of attempting steals, so Reyes could find himself back up over 45 or 50 swipes in 2012.

This deal also has a large number of players who are indirectly affected. The most prominent is Hanley Ramirez, who will shift to third base to accommodate Reyes and will lose his shortstop eligibility following the 2012 season unless he forces his way out of Miami in a trade. Also affected in Miami is Omar Infante, who was previously projected to bat second but will now slide down to the seven or eight hole, dropping him out of consideration for mixed-league owners. Emilio Bonifacio may also lose a little value, as he'll shift to center and may have to compete a bit with Chris Coghlan for at-bats.

In New York, Reyes departing will leave Ruben Tejada to man the shortstop position, but even with full-time at-bats, Tejada looks like a mere NL-only play. To make up for the lack of offensive pop at shortstop, word is that Daniel Murphy will play second for the Mets unless he's traded.
Value Change: Gain for Jose Reyes;Keeper League Loss for Hanley Ramirez; Loss for Omar Infante; Small Loss for Emilio Bonifacio; Huge Gain for Ruben Tejada; Huge Gain for Daniel Murphy

Sergio Santos | Toronto Blue Jays | CL | Acquired From White Sox
Heath Bell | Miami Marlins | CL | Signed As Free Agent
Huston Street | San Diego Padres | CL | Acquired From Colorado
Frank Francisco | New York Mets | CL | Signed As Free Agent
Matt Capps | Minnesota Twins | CL | Re-signed As Free Agent
Francisco Rodriguez | Milwaukee Brewers | RP | Accepted Arbitration
There's been a ton of movement on the closer market over the past few days, if you couldn't tell by the ridiculous list above (and more moves are likely to follow). Santos and Bell were full-time closers in 2011 and will remain so in their new homes in 2012.

Santos leaves one hitter's park for another, so his value change is almost nonexistent. While the White Sox could be in the market for a new closer, it's also possible they hand the ninth inning over to Addison Reed, a rookie with electric stuff who will look to make a big impact in 2012.

Bell leaves the friendly confines of San Diego, but Miami's new stadium looks to be quite pitcher-friendly itself, so the value loss will be minimal, if there's a loss at all.

Huston Street, Frank Francisco, and Matt Capps all held the closer role for a portion of the 2011 season, but none were guaranteed of holding that role next season. In Colorado, Rafael Betancourt seemed to have surpassed Street on the depth chart, but now he'll have the job to himself in San Diego, replacing Bell, to go with a very favorable park switch. Luke Gregerson will be breathing down his neck, but my studies have found that the guy who starts with the job is the easy, easy favorite for at least 25 or 30 saves.

Francisco finds himself teammates with Jon Rauch again, this time in New York, but the Mets figure to give him much more rope than the Blue Jays did, and switching from the Rogers Centre to Citi Field will only help. I like Francisco a lot as a fantasy sleeper in 2012. Matt Capps didn't seem particularly likely to land a closer's job this winter given the plethora of viable candidates available as free agents or on the trade market, and Minnesota may have been the only team willing to offer him such a role. That's all it takes, though, so Capps will be closing in 2012.

K-Rod owners are not as lucky, as the former Met closer has accepted Milwaukee's arbitration offer with the market for closers drying up. With fewer teams in need of a closer and fewer still willing to offer the kind of money K-Rod will get from the Brewers in arbitration, you can't really blame the guy for taking a double-digit salary to set up John Axford as opposed to taking much less to close somewhere else.
Value Change: No Change for Sergio Santos; Huge Gain for Addison Reed; No Change for Heath Bell; Huge Gain for Huston Street; Gain for Frank Francisco; Huge Gain for Matt Capps; Huge Loss for Francisco Rodriguez

Mark Buehrle | Miami Marlins | SP | Signed As Free Agent
As R.J. Anderson pointed out yesterday, Buehrle is a bit of an enigma because he makes a frequent habit of outperforming his peripherals. We're well past the point of believability in this regard, but we do have to consider how aging will affect this ability. Still, moving out of U.S. Cellular and into the new pitcher-friendly Marlin digs (man, how many times am I going to write about the Marlins and their new park in one article?!) will do wonders for him, as will moving to the National League, which generally allows a pitcher to cut a half-point off his ERA. Throw in what's shaping up to be a potent Miami offense and defense, and Buehrle is looking pretty attractive in 2012. If all of this off-season attention hasn't unduly inflated his value, he could be a good value in fantasy leagues if his ADPs turn out to be anything like they were last year.
Value Change: Big Gain for Mark Buehrle

Erik Bedard | Pittsburgh Pirates | SP | Signed As Free Agent
Disclaimer: This analysis only applies if Bedard can actually manage to make more than a couple of starts, as he often struggles to do.

Bedard moving to the Steel City ultimately results in no change in value, but it comes as a result of some pieces of his value trending upward and others trending downward. PNC Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly in terms of home runs, but it also costs a pitcher roughly 11 percent of his strikeouts. Strikeouts are a huge part of Bedard's value, but the move to the National League should offset this park affect while also dragging down his ERA.

While the park and league changes lead to a relatively large net gain for Bedard, his offensive and defensive support will likely suffer with the hapless Pirates having his back. The Pirates' offense is young and improving but not thick enough outside of Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker to really inspire confidence. Unless they add some pieces or get big seasons from guys like Pedro Alvarez and Alex Presley, Bedard would be lucky to receive league-average run support, and the defense will likely be the same.
Value Change: No Change for Erik Bedard   

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