This isn't really a tough question, but I'll ask it anyway. What do Chris Davis, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Howie Kendrick, Ian Desmond, Alexei Ramirez, Gerardo Parra, Jimmy Rollins and Dexter Fowler have in common? All of these hitters, ranging in skill level from quality big leaguer to All-Star caliber player, headed into November as free agents and remain free agents one week into the new year. Quite an impressive group at this point in the off-season, though the list of unsigned players did shrink over the past week. And there was one notable trade, a swap that made a lot of sense for both sides. But how should the fantasy owner make sense of it all?
Alex Gordon re-signs with Royals - How refreshing! A homegrown player sticking with his original team, a team that is coming off two consecutive World Series appearances and a World Series title. Gordon might not be the superstar player that many predicted when he made his big league debut back in 2007. Still, a high-end defender who sports a .348 career OBP and routinely posts a well-rounded offensive stat line has a place on any roster, real or fantasy.
Nationals trade Drew Storen to Blue Jays for Ben Revere - The Nats were clearly not fully comfortable with Michael Taylor as the everyday replacement for Denard Span in centerfield and the Blue Jays bullpen has been an obvious weakness for quite some time now. Roberto Osuna did a fine job as Toronto's closer for the majority of the 2015 campaign, but Storen is the far more established stopper and will likely take over ninth inning duties for his new club. He carries top-10 closer potential. A fully healthy season from Revere could net his fantasy owners 40-plus steals to go along with a strong batting average. His runs scored total will largely depend on where he hits in Washington's lineup. Let's hope he bats leadoff.
Denard Span signs with Giants - I'm sort of surprised that Span was able to secure a three-year contract being that he's coming off an injury-marred 2015 season that saw him appear in just 61 games. But I still consider him to be one of the more underrated players in baseball, and he doesn't get enough respect in fantasy circles either. Expected to serve as the leadoff man in a formidable San Francisco lineup, Span should easily outperform his draft day price, which thanks to the health risk, will be too cheap to pass up.
Kenta Maeda signs with Dodgers - The Dodgers were wise to sign Maeda to an eight-year contract with a low average annual value but plenty of performance-based bonuses because, well, does anyone really know how this guy will fare in the big leagues? His numbers in Japan were excellent, but so were the numbers of Kei Igawa. Maeda should benefit from a strong supporting lineup and a pitcher-friendly home park, and it's entirely possible that he could establish himself as a solid mid-rotation fantasy option in mixed leagues. But unless I can draft him in the late rounds or for a few bucks at the auction table, I'm not interested. The downside outweighs the upside. And then there's the troubling news that concerns over Maeda's elbow played a role in the heavily incentive-laden structure of the contract.
Chris Carter signs with Brewers - Carter is who he is, which was fine in 2014 when 37 homers and 88 RBIs made up for a .227 batting average. Last year was a different story, however, as 24 homers and 64 RBIs did not make up for a .199 batting average. The Brewers will give Carter an opportunity to match his 2014 stat line in 2016. Whether or not he makes the most of the opportunity is anyone's guess.
Mike Napoli signs with Indians - It's all about health with Napoli. If he's healthy, he will play. And if he plays, he will hit enough home runs to be worth a mixed league roster spot.
Don't count on it.