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Monday 18th Dec 2017

It certainly did not take long for the injury bug to haunt our drafts in 2016. Those of us with A.J. Pollock and Ender Inciarte already feel the burn, and this past week a few more names hit the DL, making space for some free agent at-bats that could indeed help your squad.

For example, Glen Perkins is gone with something scarily deemed to be a "frayed labrum", which just sounds bad for a guy who uses said muscle to hurl a projectile. The Twins verified Sunday tha it will be more than the obligatory 15 days on the DL--in fact, to me, this sounds bad--but the closer for Paul Molitor today is Kevin Jepsen. The righty culled his second save over the weekend and is the guy for now, although I would keep an eye on Trevor May.

Charlie Blackmon--a top pick of many in NFBC-style formats--is out with turf toe, one of those seemingly minor sounding ailments that can haunt a player for a long time. Blackmon is down probably through the end of the month, and Ben Paulsen will continue to get everyday play, either in the outfield or at first. 

But, if Ryan Raburn is floating around in your free agent pool, the streaky hitter--off to a hot start of .357-2-3--will get some time and is a good bet in a deep league. Similarly, if out there, Mark Reynolds--also good out of the blocks at .280-0-3--who is equally streaky makes a good play.

Looking at backstops, the Tigers' James McCann is out with an ankle injury and that likely means Jarrod Saltalamacchia will handle the load. Salty definitely has some pop with 101 homers as pretty much a decade long part-timer who does very little else.

Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos has a broken forearm and is out until July it seems, and in an AL-only league, this could be a tough blow. Chirinos is one of those guys who could hit 20 homers if given 400 at-bats, and a lot of owners understood this going into the 2016 drafts. Right now, the Rangers have Bryan Holaday with a career .246-3-33 line as a Major Leaguer over 114 games.

Texas also has 27-year-old Brett Nicholas on the bench, owner of a minor league .275-60-355 mark over seven years of play, meaning neither is really worthy of much thought. The Rangers had signed Mike McKenry, who fit the Chirinos profile over part-time play, meaning both were .250-10-38 guys with 215 at-bats, but McKenry was released.

The other possibility is Chris Giminez, who has been down with a leg infection and is also several weeks away from being useful on the diamond. Meaning, I would not be surprised to see Texas make a bid for Jonathan Lucroy depending upon how the next weeks shake down in both Texas and Milwaukee.

However, were I plugging a fantasy hole, there is no question Boston's Christian Vazquez is the guy I would go for in just about any format. The 25-year-old Vazquez debuted in 2014 as a 23-year-old, posting a .240-1-20 total over 175 at-bats. But, the prospect then missed all of 2014 following Tommy John surgery, beginning his rehab with the Winter League in his native country. 

Since the Sox were high on Blake Swihart to start 2016, Vazquez started this season at Triple-A, but the change has been made. It has been a tough row to hoe for Boston and their "promising backstops," for just over the past years, Swihart and Ryan Lavarnway were among the guys thought to be the next stalwart catcher for Boston. I think Vazquez is the guy.

One more Texas injury, that to Shin-Soo Choo, who is out for a month with a calf injury. Enter Nomar Mazara, the 21-year-old phenom who busted onto the scene this past week, posting .444-1-5 totals. As a 20-year-old last year, Mazara put up .296-14-69 totals split between Double-A and Triple-A at age 20, notching 52 walks to 102 strikeouts, good for a .366 OBP. Mazara could well prove to be the exciting debut of 2016, and he may even force some nice decisions upon the Rangers management when Choo is ready to return. If by some miracle Mazara is available in your league, grab him.

If you are looking for an arm, not meaning to pick on the Rangers today, but Martin Perez has always been one of those guys who had talent but had trouble harnessing it. I watched Perez pitch against the Orioles Friday, and he looked very polished, so then I noticed the lefty has a solid 0-1, 3.44 record and though Perez walked six against the Angels two starts ago, six whiffs to a pair of walks were the results in a no decision. If you need an arm--and we all do--Perez is worthy of a look.

Finally, with the injury to Sergio Romo, San Francisco promoted Mac Williamson, a big outfielder, originally drafted by the Red Sox, with .290-52-210 totals over 322 minor league games. The 25-year-old had an exciting .298-5-14 spring over 27 games, and the Giants seem to come up with a guy like him every year: guys who get called up and explode for 4-10 homers out of nowhere. If you are in a deep NL format and need a hitter, give Williamson a thought.

Don't forget you can always hit me up @lawrmichaels.

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