Something big is going to happen soon on the MLB Hot Stove front. I can feel it. Whether it’s a Justin Upton trade or a Mike Morse trade or a trade that none of us saw coming, something’s gotta give. The past couple of weeks have been eerily quiet. So as we wait for the big thing that is going to happen, let’s take a look at the two medium-sized things that did happen this week.
Adam LaRoche re-signs with Nationals for two yrs/$24 million
One of the more overlooked yet consistent hitters in the game over the course of his career, LaRoche has always found a home on at least one of my fantasy squads, whether it be as a rock solid CI in a mixed league or a bargain starting 1B in an NL-only. From 2005-2010, LaRoche averaged 25 homers and 87 RBIs per season, yet he always lasted past the top-150 or so picks on draft day. As if he wasn’t underappreciated enough heading into the 2011 campaign, an injury-plagued season seemed to knock him off the fantasy radar entirely entering last year to the point where he even went undrafted in some 12-team mixed leagues. How does he respond? By driving in 100 runs for the second time in three years and launching a career-high 33 homers. The Nats did well here as they refused to budge from their two-year offer even though LaRoche was holding out for three years. So what’s the bottom line? LaRoche remains an ultra-safe bet for 25 home runs and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he again reaches the 30-homer plateau. Oh yeah, and a strong supporting lineup will continue to provide him with plenty of RBI opportunities. The first base position is very deep this year, so if you choose to pass on Joey Votto, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder in the first round, guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman or Ryan Howard could turn out to be excellent buys. Wait even longer to fill the position and you should be focusing on one name: Adam LaRoche.
Lance Berkman signs with Rangers for one yr/$10 million
Even though it’s only a one-year contract, 10 million bucks is an awful lot of dough for a soon to be 37-year-old who is coming off an injury-ravaged season in which he was limited to just 32 games. Even without Josh Hamilton, the Rangers’ lineup remains formidable. A hitter-friendly ballpark will certainly help Berkman, as does the fact that he will serve as a full-time DH, thus limiting the risk of injury. Still though, I just can’t see myself investing too much in this guy. His current Mock Draft Central ADP of 266 is more than fair, and I’d probably be willing to take a flier on him at that stage of the draft. But I have a feeling that he’ll go off the board well before then in the vast majority of drafts, due in part to his overall career accomplishments. If we’re talking late-teen rounds, I’d rather go with a younger and more exciting player.
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What do Michael Bourn, Rafael Soriano and Kyle Lohse, arguably the top three remaining unsigned free agents, have in common? They’re all represented by Scott Boras, who, in an effort to find the most lucrative contract, routinely advises his clients to wait until the last minute to put pen on paper. And it usually works. I’ve never quite figured out how he does it. I mean, doesn’t it make sense that the later it gets in the off-season, the less competition there would be for a player’s services as more teams will have already filled their needs, thus lowering the price tags? Anyway, the never shy agent recently had this to say to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick:
“People call me all the time and say, 'Man, your players aren't signed yet.' Well, it doesn't really matter what time dinner is when you're the steak.”
Leave it to Boras to defy the basic principles of supply and demand.