Generally, when writing on the internet, you want to produce content that is evergreen. You're also encouraged to make arguments based on facts, not rumors or conjecture. And tired tropes like "listicles" or Bill Simmons-esque breakdowns based on arbitrary differentiators are discouraged.
Let's break all the rules tonight.
The rumors are a-swirling with the Winter Meetings kicking off, many of them coming from reporters over the age of 14. Let's break down which ones fantasy owners should be rooting for, and which ones might give you even more reasons to toss and turn restlessly in your bed.
As things stand right now, Upton is going to be batting in a mediocre lineup in a mediocre ballpark. He's Justin Upton, so he'll still find a way to finish as an OF1 or OF2, but a better supporting cast or better home park would make it a lot easier.
Enter the Rangers, who have one of the most hitter-friendly home fields in the game and who could have a decent lineup once again with Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder healthy. Plus, no players of note would be blocked by an Upton acquisition; the Rangers need all the help they can get in the outfield.
The Orioles also boast a good ballpark, and their lineup figures to be even better. A healthy Manny Machado and a rebounding Chris Davis figure to offset the losses of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, to a certain degree, and Upton could be a true RBI monster in Baltimore. As with the Rangers, Upton wouldn't be blocking anyone we care about with the Orioles, either.
I don't want to oversell Upton's current situation as horrible; it's not as if he plays in Safeco or Petco, and Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis, and Chris Johnson provide some help on offense. But it's easy to see Upton's situation improving next season if he's dealt to one of these AL teams.
We'll just ignore the part of the rumor that cites the Giants, Padres, and Mariners as having interest in Upton, too. That would suck.
Headley has 1,797 career plate appearances in Petco Park. That's the same Petco Park that suppressed everything except for homers by left-handers and triples by right-handers in 2014, and the park factor numbers have been even uglier in years past.
Yankee Stadium, by contrast, is essentially rated as neutral or better in every category save for triples. It's a much, much better venue for left-handed power hitters, and Headley upped his line to .262/.371/.398 in 224 PA there last season.
Headley is unlikely to be an elite fantasy option even in Yankee Stadium, but if he ends up there for the next four or so years, he could have a few top-10 fantasy third baseman finishes. His days of 30-plus homers and 15-plus steals are well behind him, but there's still more upside here than he showed as a Padre in recent years. Yes, Rob Refsnyder may be blocked, but I can live with that.
We'll just ignore the part of the rumor that cites the Giants and Marlins as having interest in Headley, too.
THE B… NEUTRAL
One of the more surprising rumors we heard this weekend comes via loveable traffic cone murderer Jon Heyman, who tells us that the Cubs aren't making Castro available to other teams. Given the presence of Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and Kris Bryant, many expected Castro to be moved for pitching this offseason.
So why is this tidbit listed under "neutral?" Because it's probably better for Castro, but it's going to make life difficult for a talented fantasy prospect. Wrigley isn't Coors Field, but it's a decent hitters’ park, and the Cubs are about to boast a pretty potent offense. It's a much better situation for Castro than, say, the Mets would've been.
Unfortunately, this means probably means that either Russell isn't going to see much time this year or Castro is going to move off of shortstop. It's possible that the Cubs could flip Russell to get a pitcher, but that would see to be at odds with their more recent philosophy.
It takes a lot of good prospects to make a stew, and it's entirely possible that this logjam solves itself. But there would be a clearer path to playing time for a lot of the young’uns involved if Castro were on the move, so while we can take solace in the fact that Castro's situation will stay positive, it's a head-scratcher for dynasty-league owners.
Did you guys know Lester is a free agent? He's largely flown under the radar so far this offseason, but the Red Sox and Cubs both want him, and that desire has led both sides to try to acquire him, according to #sources.
We've seen this song and dance with Lester for a while now. A signing with the Red Sox is imminent. The Yankees are about to offer him a small country. The Dodgers sent him a Snapchat, so it's over. The Cubs are going to let him launch a Billy Goat into the sun. On and on the rumors go.
It's continued this weekend, what with the Cubs reportedly topping $140 million for Lester, and with Red Sox owner John Henry flying to Atlanta to meet with Lester.
Fenway and Wrigley aren't the most pitcher-friendly venues, but they're not horrible landing spots for Lester. The Red Sox figure to have a good offense, and we already know how to project Lester's performance in Boston. The Cubs also figure to have a good offense, and you'd figure Lester gets a boost if he goes to the NL.
It's best for fantasy owners if Lester joins the Giants or Dodgers, with whom he's also been linked. But the Sox and Cubs are better possibilities than the Yankees, so it's sort of a "same news is no news is good news" situation for fantasy owners.
The Red Sox and Padres are discussing a Yoenis Cespedes/Ian Kennedy swap.
For the best fantasy reaction to this rumor, I direct you to Michael Scott. This trade would be a nightmare for dynasty-league owners who possess either of these players, or for redrafters who like nice things.
The logic here is pretty simple. Most of Cespedes' fantasy value is tied to his power; he's a real threat for 30-plus bombs at Fenway, but that number takes a significant hit if he has to bat in Petco. It would be pretty cruel for a batter to finally escape the O.co Coliseum only to wind up in San Diego a half-season later.
The move would be just as harmful for Kennedy's value. The 29-year-old right-hander has struggled with the long ball throughout his career, and he'd be a near-lock to give up 20-plus bombs in a full season with the Red Sox. This is a pitcher who's generally been unable to keep his ERA below 4.00 in the NL West. Drop him in the AL East, and he's not going to be a tenable option in 14-team leagues.
Part of the reason this deal would be so miserable is that both of these players are in pretty much perfect scenarios right now, for fantasy purposes. Cespedes can be a borderline OF2/strong OF3 in Boston, and Kennedy is a good back-end starter if he stays in San Diego. Swap their teams, and Cespedes starts to look more like a low third or fourth outfielder, and Kennedy becomes nothing more than a streaming starter.
Root for both of these players to stay put, or for Kennedy to at least stay in the NL and Cespedes to be dealt to a team like the Tigers or Reds.