More often than not, the week following the Winter Meetings turns out to be the most eventful period of the Hot Stove season, as the annual gathering provides an opportunity for general managers to schmooze and lay the groundwork for various trades and free agent signings. This year was no exception, not so much with regard to the quantity of moves but rather the quality of the players that found new homes. A trio of elite fantasy options headline the list, but the astute fantasy owner will probably spend more time thinking about the less obvious guys on this list, players who aren't early-round material but still carry various degrees of mixed league appeal. But to be fair, let's start from the top.
Todd Frazier traded to White Sox
This was quite surprising, as Frazier still has two years left on his contract and is coming off a career-best season in which he launched 35 homers to go along with 89 RBIs, 82 runs scored and 13 swipes. As he will be moving from one hitter-friendly park to another, I don't see his fantasy value changing much, though it must be noted that 25 of Frazier's 35 home runs last season came in the first half and he batted just .220 following the All-Star break. I'm not so sure that I'll be willing to pay the price that it will take to draft him in 2016.
As for some of the other players involved in this swap, Jose Peraza could register an elite stolen base total if the Reds give him regular at-bats, a possibility that would come closer to a reality if they can find a taker for Brandon Phillips. The speedy Micah Johnson, who is heading to the Dodgers, actually opened the 2015 campaign as the White Sox starting second baseman before losing the gig early in the season. He might emerge onto the mixed league radar if the Dodgers do not add another second base option to pair with the brittle Chase Utley.
Jason Heyward signs with Cubs
To be honest, the contract does seem kind of ridiculous considering Heyward's solid but not superstar-caliber numbers over his first six big league seasons. But he doesn't even turn 27 until August, so he could certainly take another step forward. A return to 20/20 form is well within reach now that he will be playing his home games at The Friendly Confines. However, Heyward's draft day price figures to be significantly higher than that of your typical 20/20 outfielder, as it will factor in upside. And that scares me.
Johnny Cueto signs with Giants
After pitching to a 2.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 19 starts for the Reds last season, Cueto registered an underwhelming 4.76 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 13 regular season starts for the Royals. The good news is that he will now be moving back to the NL and should benefit from playing half of his games in a pitcher-friendly park. There's mixed league ace potential here at a mixed league SP2 cost. Sign me up.
Ken Giles traded to Astros
The trade of Jonathan Papelbon last July opened the door for Giles to assume closer duties for the Phillies. He thrived in the role, racking up 15 saves in 17 chances as Philadelphia's stopper and finishing the season with a 1.80 ERA and 11.2 K/9 across 70 innings. The change of scenery shouldn't affect him one bit, other than likely providing him with more save chances. The Astros have yet to commit to Giles as their closer, but I don't see Luke Gregerson standing in the way, even though he is coming off a strong 31-save season. Consider Giles a top-10 closer heading into 2016.
Asdrubal Cabrera signs with Mets
Maybe Asdrubal will never hit 25 homers in a season again, but he's remained a fine mixed league contributor ever since that breakout 2011 campaign. Expect more of the same from Cabrera, some pop, some speed and even some upside in the runs department if he ends up hitting near the top of the order for the Mets. As a starting MI in a 12-team mixed league, you could do a lot worse.
Steve Cishek signs with Mariners
Can anyone figure out what happened to this guy last year? I can't. Despite the disappointing season, however, Cishek did pitch better in a lower leverage role following his trade to the Cardinals (2.31 ERA in 27 appearances), so the M's are hoping that they are getting that version of Cishek, and better yet, perhaps even the version that saved 88 games for the Marlins from 2012-2014. Seattle has already named Cishek their closer to begin 2016, but the newly signed Joaquin Benoit offers the club a viable ninth inning alternative should Cishek struggle out of the gate. In a mixed league, I'd avoid this situation if possible.
Rajai Davis signs with Indians
With Michael Brantley expected to miss at least the first month of the regular season as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, Davis figures to get the bulk of those at-bats. The veteran speedster instantly becomes a viable late-round flier or endgame auction purchase for his stolen base potential, even if you only keep him around for April.
Bartolo Colon re-signs with Mets
Seriously, what's not to like about this signing? Assuming a fully healthy starting rotation, Colon will likely head to the bullpen when Zack Wheeler is ready to return sometime in June or July. But until then, Bartolo will be well worth a roster spot in NL-only leagues and even some deeper mixed formats. Plus, he's a lot of fun to own. Trust me.
Mark Reynolds signs with Rockies
Mark Reynolds in Colorado? Why didn't we think of this sooner? Just so you know, in 37 career games at Coors Field, Reynolds sports a .287 batting average to go along with eight home runs, 23 RBIs and a .955 OPS. He could open the season on the short side of a platoon at first base with the left-handed hitting Ben Paulsen, but Reynolds also has the ability to play the outfield, which would open up additional at-bats for the streaky slugger. Think of him as strictly an NL-only option for now, but don't be surprised if he enters the mixed league scene at various times during the season. When he's hot, he can carry you in the home run category for a week, or maybe even two.