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Wednesday 24th May 2017

Three-and-a-half weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training and there are still several quality players, including four former All-Stars, who are without a team. And this is after Yoenis Cespedes, the top name remaining on the free agent board, agreed to return to the Mets, signing a fairly unique three-year contract with an opt-out after the first year. Quite a statement by the Amazins, who in recent years have earned the reputation of being cheap. But this is clearly a win-now move, and that's the way it should be, as the window to win while all of those young and dominant starting pitchers are signed to team-friendly contracts will not stay open forever.

So, what about the fantasy-worthy players who are still searching for homes? Let's take a look at some of the more notable names.

Ian Desmond - To be honest, I'm very surprised that Desmond has yet to find a new team. Last year at this time, he was widely regarded as one of the top offensive shortstops in the game, and didn't last past the first few rounds in fantasy drafts. But, a sluggish 2015 campaign that ended with a .233 batting average and a career-high 187 strikeouts has changed all of that. Still, there's plenty of fantasy value in a 19 HR/13 SB shortstop. Also note that 12 of his 19 homers came in the second half, and Desmond batted a respectable .262 after the break. There's definitely bounce back potential here.

Dexter Fowler - Coming off a strong 2015 season, in which he posted career-bests in homers (17), runs scored (102) and games played (156), Fowler seemed on the verge of cashing in nicely this winter. While that still might happen, it's been all quiet on the Fowler front so far. As for his fantasy value, Fowler's eventual landing spot will largely dictate his draft day price. Batting high in the order would maximize his run-scoring potential and playing his home games in a ballpark as home run-friendly as Wrigley Field would help his chances of matching last season's 17 longballs. In that case, consider him a legit top-35 outfielder. Otherwise, you can probably do better for your mixed league OF3, especially in non-OBP leagues.

Howie Kendrick - Boring but steady is the best way to describe Kendrick, and maybe teams are just bored by the idea of signing him. The 32-year-old routinely registers high batting averages, though his power production has been minimal in recent seasons and his stolen base totals have been inconsistent. He's a fine mixed league MI, but I'd go with someone more exciting to fill my starting 2B slot.

Pedro Alvarez - You mean to tell me that there's little interest in a player who is fresh off a 27-home run season and launched a combined 66 home runs from 2012-2013? Strange but true. Alvarez is a career .236 hitter, and he does whiff at a high rate. But, with power so hard to find these days, I figured that Alvarez would be signed, sealed and delivered a long time ago. Even as the strong side of a platoon, Pedro could make a fantasy impact with his power. He's an intriguing late-round flier, especially in non-mixed leagues. Now let's get this guy signed already!

Yovani Gallardo - Although Gallardo's days as a fantasy ace are over, he's still a serviceable back end of the rotation option, and though it seems like Yovani has been around forever, he will be only 30 on Opening Day. The righty's second half collapse last year was concerning; however, as was his career low strikeout rate. There's a 95% chance that I will not own Gallardo in any of my fantasy leagues this year. If he signs with the Rockies, forget about 95%. Make it 100%.

Doug Fister - What happened? Well, elbow issues likely played a role in Fister's struggles last season, but a steadily declining strikeout rate to go along with declining velocity aren't exactly good signs. It shouldn't cost you more than a buck or two at the auction table to draft Fister this year, so there's not a lot of downside in taking a reasonably-priced flier on him.

Eventually, there will be at least one MLB front office that reaches the same conclusion, and a deal will get done.

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