Carlos Correa (↓) is a Twin now (again), will start spring training with a meta version of “Who wore it better?”
The fantasy headline to the last time Correa signed a free agent contract this winter (his second) was “Carlos Correa (↑) is Met now, unless it somehow gets even weirder.” Well, friends, we got weirder. The down arrow here is in response to the up arrow the last time, where he was going to maybe the best lineup in baseball. Now he’s going to…mostly the same lineup he was in last year, which is worse for his outlook compared to a few weeks ago and a lateral one in the grand scheme of things. Sorry, but no, Joey Gallo and Christian Vázquez don’t move the needle here. Correa likely won’t gain third base eligibility and can’t boost a top heavy position. He’ll still provide the same value he did last year (20+ homers, great OBP, really nice OPS).
Meanwhile, Eduardo Escobar (↑) has a starting job again in New York, and Brett Baty (↑) and Ronny Mauricio (↑) just saw their long-term prospects rebound like a superball. If this saga were a lame senior yearbook quote, it would be “what a long, strange trip it’s been.”
Brandon Belt (↑), fully intact knee head to Toronto
Belt’s move to Toronto means he’s going to be in the best lineup he’s been a part of in years. He swears his knee is feeling better than it has in a long time, too. He’s not replacing Vladito at first base but will siphon off playing time when the team is balancing their DH spot.
In 2020 and 2021, Belt showed power the likes of which he never had, registering a slugging percentage over .590 in each season. Granted, it was only over the course of 140 games because of the pandemic and missed time, but it was still impressive. It’s hard to believe he’s somehow going to regain his late-career power surge even later in his career after absolutely bottoming out last year when he slashed .213/.326/.350. And yet, maybe there’s something to it. His walk and strikeout rates remained almost exactly what they were in 2021 and nothing in his swing profile suggests he lost an amount of skill on par with his toilet bowl line.
He’ll reap the benefits of the better lineup and be in a position to succeed in DH at-bats, making him a worthwhile dart in the deepest leagues (and draft and holds), and I have a feeling he’ll be an early waiver wire story given his new setting. If he goes on a heater at some point, I even bet Jon Hegglund will shout THREE STAR FOR BELT in the comments.
Gregory Soto (↑) becomes the newest Phillies closer, who now have, like, four of them
Lots of people were down on the Phillies for acquiring Soto. Patrick Dubuque summarized it nicely here, but I can’t help but take this space to acknowledge that Philadelphia’s recent track record with tweaking their pitchers’ stuff has yielded really strong results. The Soto we saw in Detroit — vomitrocious walk rate, Ricky Vaughn-level control — is almost certainly not going to be the one we see with the Phillies.
For starters, he could throw his slider in the zone less, which seems counterintuitive for a guy who walks too many batters but makes sense when you consider that’s a pitch they tune up because it’s always over the plate. That would give a boost to his fastball, too, given how no pitch is thrown in a vacuum. Will he immediately be a brand new pitcher? No. Will he run away with the closer job at some point this season? Also no, by the team’s design. But he’s got the stuff and he could still accrue a handful of saves, and could post better rate stats than we’ve seen before. There is always room for that on a fantasy roster.
Johnny Cueto (–) brings his elite vibes to the Marlins
On a weird quest to trade from their purported starting pitcher depth, the Marlins added Cueto in what felt like a “no, really, we mean it” move. Whatever. I love Cueto, and I’ll be happy to see him pitch. He won’t provide much — even on his absolutely wicked run last year, where he went from mid May to the end of August going at least five innings and giving up more than three runs only once, he only struck out 15 percent of batters — but he’ll be a useful NL-only arm, and will almost certain have a stretch as a spot starter and streamer in mixed, especially the deeper your league is. Trevor Rogers (↓), Braxton Garrett (↓), and Eury Perez (↓) all see a slight downturn in their stock, for now.
Like Space Ghost, Miguel Rojas (↑) goes coast to coast, is now a Dodger
The Dodgers’ offseason has been a blend of hilarious and tragic not witnessed since the final fencing scene in Hamlet, but going there is a boost for Rojas. Even a watered down LA lineup is miles ahead of whatever Miami is trotting out. Even though he isn’t slated to be a starter at any particular spot, the team has announced they intend to use him all over. He hasn’t done that since 2018, when he registered enough starts at first, second, third and short to gain eligibility at all four spots.
He’ll start 2022 eligible at short and first in many leagues, and probably add at least third base at some point, too. He’s registered over 500 plate appearances in each of the last four full seasons. Something would have to go even more wrong for that to happen now — he’s registered double-digit home runs in just one of those campaigns — but guys who scoop 400+ PA for the Dodgers and can play all over will always be interesting waiver wire fodder. Meanwhile, Miguel Vargas (↓) probably has one more obstacle in his way to consistent playing time.
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