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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

To borrow a phrase from one of our favorite baseball personalities, "It's getting late early." Of course, we're talking about the Hot Stove season, which heads into the new year with several big name free agents still on the board. One of the available free agents is Yoenis Cespedes, who reportedly will not return to the Mets after the team offered him only two or three years, which comes off as insulting in today's market. And of course, all the talk here in New York centers around the Mets' unwillingness to spend money and capitalize on their opportunity to win now, while they have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz all signed to team-friendly contracts.

Anyway, as for actual moves, the past week wasn't too eventful. But there were at least a few signings that deserve the attention of fantasy owners.

Hisashi Iwakuma re-signs with Mariners

Iwakuma was all set to become a Dodger until he failed his physical, and the Mariners were quick to bring him back to Seattle. In total, his deal with the M's could be worth more than the three-year contract he signed with the Dodgers, but the new pact includes only one guaranteed year with a pair of option years that vest based on innings pitched. Through his first four big league seasons, the Japanese import has posted strong overall numbers when healthy. The problem is that he wasn't fully healthy last year, missing all of May and June due to a strained lat. From a fantasy perspective, it's tough to predict how highly Iwakuma will be valued in 2016 drafts, and I honestly have no idea if he will find a spot on any of my rosters without knowing the price. If he falls to me, I'll take him. But considering the health questions along with his age (he turns 35 in April), I won't be actively targeting him.

Mike Leake signs with Cardinals

The St. Louis front office has proven to be one of the finest in the league in recent years, and I think the Leake signing could turn out to be one of the better moves of this off-season. After spending his entire career (with the exception of two months with the Giants last season) pitching his home games in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, Leake should benefit from a much more favorable park in St. Louis. Note that in six career starts at Busch Stadium, he boasts a 3.19 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. And then there's the winning atmosphere and superior supporting cast. Consider Leake a quality back end of the rotation starter in mixed leagues, and there could even be some upside here.

Daniel Murphy signs with Nationals

Interesting one. A career-long Met, Murphy now heads to the division-rival Nats, where he will presumably take over as the everyday second baseman with Anthony Rendon sliding over to third. Postseason performance aside, I don't see Murphy's fantasy appeal changing much. Expect a solid batting average, but last season's 14 homers marked his single-season high, and he can no longer be relied upon for steals. As a starting MI in a mixed league, he's fine. But as a starting 2B? Not so much.

Alejandro De Aza signs with Mets

Meet the newest Mets outfielder. No, it's not Justin Upton. It's not even Alex Gordon. It's bargain bin time, and this is exactly the type of move that frustrates the fan base. De Aza figures to split time in centerfield with Juan Lagares, meaning he's not mixed league relevant. Think of him as a late-round pick/endgame auction purchase in NL-only leagues. Maybe he can swipe double-digit bags, even in a part-time role.

John Jaso signs with Pirates

Outside of NL-only leagues that use on-base percentage (career .361 OBP), Jaso carries minimal fantasy value. He will likely share first base at-bats with Michael Morse, but considering the extensive injury histories of both Jaso and Morse, it might not be long before the Pirates will need another legitimate first base option.

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