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Saturday 17th Feb 2018

At last year’s Mixed Tout Wars auction, I made a special effort to avoid filling my roster with too many players who are in their mid to late 30’s. For the most part, there’s just too much downside involved when investing in these guys, both from a performance and injury standpoint. And since my season was largely a success, I’ll continue to follow that approach for the foreseeable future. The same cannot be said for many major league teams, certainly not the three teams that decided to act early in free agency, the Mets, Tigers and Pirates. After all, the average age of the first three prominent free agent signings, as of Opening Day 2015, comes out to 36.7, which I guess isn’t too bad if we’re talking about one-year deals. But two of the three contracts were multi-year pacts, which is risky to say the least.

Of all teams, the cost-conscious Mets struck first, inking veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract. Now listen, Cuddyer carries an extensive track record of solid production when healthy. The problem is that he’s averaged just 105 games played per season over the past four years. Similar to what the Amazins did with Bartolo Colon last winter, they’re handing out a multi-year contract to an aging player who would have found it difficult to land a multi-year contract anywhere else. Granted, Year 1 of the Colon experiment was far from a disaster, but he turns 42 next May, so all bets are off. Plus, I think the situation is a bit different when you’re dealing with an everyday player who won’t have the DH spot as a fallback option on days where he could use a breather. Oh, and then there’s that Coors Field vs. Citi Field factor. Will the moved in fences at Citi make much of a difference? I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m staying away from Cuddyer unless it’s an NL-only league and I’m desperate.

All along, the most likely scenario for Victor Martinez was a return to the Tigers, and that’s exactly what happened, though it did take a four-year offer to retain V-Mart’s services. I’m not sure where the 32 home runs came from, and counting on a 30-plus home run encore in his age-36 season is a low percentage gamble. But Victor can hit, and I don’t think he will lose that ability anytime soon. He’s now batted over .300 in five consecutive seasons, and 20 homers and around 100 RBI is a very reasonable expectation for 2015. I’ll be open to drafting Martinez, especially in an OBP league (.373 career OBP), but I won’t go out of my way to pay top dollar for him. The loss of catcher eligibility hurts, and while a first baseman who posts a .300-20-100 line is valuable in fantasy, it’s not quite elite.

Over the past few off-seasons, A.J. Burnett has hinted that he’s ready to retire. But, he keeps coming back, and after a rough season in Philadelphia, he will return to Pittsburgh in hopes of helping the Pirates in their quest to reach the NLCS for the first time since 1992. A.J. enjoyed a great deal of success in his two-year stint with the Bucs from 2012-2013, winning a combined 26 games to go along with a 3.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.9 K/9 and 3.0 K/BB. That said, he turns 38 in January and his mediocre performance with the Phillies last season cannot be overlooked. This is one of those situations where I’d rather jump off the bandwagon a year too early than a year too late. If you can get him for around five bucks in an NL-only league, that’s fine. At least he will give you some strikeouts. But at that stage of your draft/auction, there will probably be younger, higher upside options available.

The key word, of course, is younger.

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