Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s catch up on some of this off-season’s moves and their fantasy ramifications.
Jason Vargas | Mariners to Angels | SP
Vargas gets a very nice boost moving away from Seattle. We’ll start with the one drawback, which is that Safeco has played as one of the best parks for strikeouts in baseball over the past few years; Angel Stadium is neutral. After that, though, we see a slew of positives. The two parks have both been pitcher’s parks, but with the fences moving in at Safeco this year, Angel Stadium looks like the preferable destination. Even if Chris Iannetta is far from a defensive wiz, Vargas will benefit from leaving behind part-time backstop Jesus Montero. Finally, he’ll receive a big offensive boost and a moderate defensive one. Overall, Vargas stands to benefit pretty significantly, making him a solid AL-only sleeper and maybe even a late-round mixed-league option.
Garrett Richards | Angels | SP
With all of the moves LA has made this offseason to acquire starting pitching, Richards has been pushed down to the sixth man on the totem pole.
Edwin Jackson | Signed with Cubs | SP
About the only positive to this signing, in terms of E-Jax’s fantasy value, is that he remains in the National League. Chicago is still a couple years away from competing and won’t offer him much in terms of offensive, defensive, catching, or even bullpen support, and Wrigley Field is a relatively neutral field. I’m sure Jackson loves the money, but his stats will likely take a hit.
Brett Myers | Signed with Indians | SP
Myers gets an up arrow because Cleveland will give him a chance to start, something other teams might not have done. Progressive Field is a great place for a guy with homeritis, although the Lou Marson/Carlos Santana catching tandem is the worst in baseball, and the supporting defense profiles as below average. I’ve seen some tout Myers as a mixed-league option again, but I’m not convinced. AL-only for me.
Trevor Bauer, Cory Kluber, David Huff, Josh Tomlin | Indians | SP
The Indians had a lot of serviceable fourth- and fifth-starter options before the Myers signing, but now they’ll all have to battle for one spot. The rotation figures to be filled by Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Myers, and Zach McAllister, with Bauer the favorite for the fifth spot.
Roberto Hernandez | Signed with Rays | SP
While Tampa is a terrific spot for most pitchers to land, it isn’t if you’re a fringe starter. Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) will be on the outside looking in on a crowded rotation picture. He’ll likely start in the bullpen, with Alex Cobb the favorite for the fifth starter gig and Chris Archer the next-most-likely candidate. Between the park, defense, offense, and Jose Molina, though, Hernandez could find himself with good value if he can re-prove himself in the bullpen and nab a midseason rotation spot.
Russell Martin | Signed with Pirates | C
Martin moves from an extreme hitter’s park that was relatively well-suited to his power, Yankee Stadium, to PNC Park, which is a pretty extreme pitcher’s park that is not very well-suited to him. He might move up from seventh or eighth in the Yankees’ lineup to sixth in Pittsburgh’s, but the lesser supporting cast will mitigate that bonus and may actually be a net loss. Clint Hurdle could add a couple extra steals over Joe Girardi, but overall, this is not a positive move for Martin’s value.
A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Wandy Rodriguez | Pirates | SP
With Russell Martin taking over catching duties for Rod Barajas, all of the Pirates pitchers will get a slight bump up. Martin is one of the better defensive catchers in the game.
Kendrys Morales | Angels to Mariners | 1B
Easy up arrow here. Morales will benefit from the fences moving in at Safeco and from regular playing time he couldn’t find in Los Angeles last year and wouldn’t have found this year. The surrounding lineup won’t be as good, but he will bat in the middle of the order.
Melky Cabrera | Signed with Blue Jays | OF
Cabrera finds himself in a favorable situation with the Blue Jays, even if he’s moving to the (slightly) more difficult league and to a manager that is only average in terms of base-stealing aggressiveness (if only John Farrell had stayed, Cabrera could have wound with a huge up arrow). He figures to bat second in a very potent lineup and in a park that is a vast improvement over AT&T Park.
Carlos Pena | Signed with Astros | 1B
I’m actually pretty excited that Pena could be an undervalued asset in AL-only leagues this year. I love me some cheap power, and Pena is exactly the kind of player I like to target. Throw in his down 2012, the great boost he receives in the move from Tropicana to Minute Maid (am I the only one who never noticed that two orange juice companies sponsor stadiums?), and that he’ll likely bat cleanup, and he could be a really nice value buy.
Kevin Youkilis | Signed with Yankees | CI
I’ll point you toward Michael Street’s coverage of Youkilis with a few thoughts of my own. The park and lineup will help, but there is a lot of risk here both in terms of production and injury (changing positions won’t help that). It’s an up arrow, but don’t let it come across as a strong endorsement for Youk.
Mark Reynolds | Signed with Indians | CI
I’ll point you toward Michael Street’s coverage of Reynolds with a few thoughts of my own. I was a believer in a power bounceback before the Cleveland signing, and while I still believe in him—his raw power is still completely intact—Progressive Field will do him no favors. Depending how the community at large views this, though, he could still prove undervalued in AL-only leagues.
James Loney | Signed with Rays | 1B
I’ll point you toward Michael Street’s coverage of Loney with a few thoughts of my own. Not many teams were going to give Loney the kind of playing time Tampa will, so that alone earns him an up arrow. The park isn’t great and he’ll bat low in the order, but the supporting cast is at least solid, and there’s a non-zero chance Joe Maddon lets him run a little bit.