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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

I was all set to devote this column solely to the top MLB free agents who have yet to put pen to paper. Then, early Saturday morning, Chris Davis signed. Then, a few minutes later, news broke of Ian Kennedy's deal with the Royals, and what was previously a quiet week (let's call it the week of Alexei Ramirez) was a quiet week no more.

Chris Davis re-signs with Orioles for 7 yrs/$161 million - For some reason, the Orioles front office deemed it necessary to bid against themselves and increase their original $154 million offer. Although I cannot fault the O's for aggressively pursuing Davis, as losing him would have been a huge blow to their lineup, that's a lot of money to hand over to a player who batted .196 back in 2014 and routinely ranks among the league leaders in strikeouts. But, Davis has also launched more home runs than any player in baseball over the past three seasons, and in case you haven't noticed, consistent power production is hard to find these days. As a fantasy owner, I've never been a Davis fan due to his streakiness, which can be very annoying. But I'm starting to change my tune, as he proved last year that 2014, not his 53-home run campaign in 2013, was the exception, and although there's a perception that Davis is a batting average killer, that's really not the case. Despite the sub-Mendoza Line AVG of 2014, he's still a career .255 hitter. In other words, he's no Chris Carter, and in OBP leagues, he's actually helpful.

Ian Kennedy signs with Royals for 5 yrs/$70 million - Yeah, it's nice to be a big league pitcher, when a 4.28 ERA can earn you 14 million bucks per year. After a rough start to 2015, Kennedy did improve in the second half, recording a 3.64 ERA to go along with 98 strikeouts across 84 innings. Plus, the home run-prone hurler should benefit from pitching his home games in a park that limits longballs, and the top notch Royals defense will help to limit the damage in those disaster innings, which have been way too common in recent years. It seems like I always own Kennedy in at least one league, and he lets me down time and time again. I might be tempted yet again, but I'll really try to resist. I promise.

Alexei Ramirez signs with Padres for one yr/$4 million - This could prove to be a smart move for the Pads, who deployed Alexi Amarista as their starting shortstop for much of last season. Ramirez is certainly an upgrade, though he is coming off a somewhat disappointing season in which he posted an underwhelming .249/.285/.357 slash line. But Alexei remains mixed league relevant due to his multi-category contributions, and note that he went .277-8-35 with seven steals in the second half last year.

Gerardo Parra signs with Rockies for three yrs/$27.5 million - Finishing with a .291 batting average to go along with 14 homers, 51 RBI, 83 runs scored and 14 steals, Parra enjoyed a career season in 2015, and it surely came at the right time. When it comes to landing spots for hitters, Coors Field is as good as it gets, so don't be surprised if Parra matches or improves upon last season's numbers. Consider him a solid fourth or fifth outfielder in mixed leagues. With Parra on board, the Rockies will now look to trade one of Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson or Charlie Blackmon.

But when?

Let's just say before Opening Day.


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