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Thursday 18th Jan 2018

Well, that was fun. The Winter Meetings officially came to an end with Thursday's Rule 5 draft, but not before a flurry of player movement. First and foremost I'm a fantasy owner, so the focus will be fantasy implications. I can probably fill a book discussing every player in every transaction but I'll keep it simple and focus only on the notable big league hitters changing teams.

Ian Desmond - Heading into a contract year, Desmond landed in a great spot for hitters in 2016. He took full advantage, finishing the season with a strong .285-22-86-107-21 line, including a .330 batting average and a .865 OPS at home in Texas. Apparently, Desmond is quite skilled at choosing teams, as he will now be calling Coors Field home for the next five years. In 23 career games at Coors, Desmond boasts a .379 batting average to go along with three homers, 18 RBI and a 1.016 OPS. Pretty good. Expect Desmond to at least match last season's numbers, and it would not be surprising to see him post his first 30-homer campaign. He's no longer shortstop-eligible, but that's just nitpicking.

Adam Eaton - I like Eaton, but the Nationals gave up a lot. From a fantasy standpoint, the 28-year-old is a fine contributor, but likely overrated on draft day. While he should excel in the batting average and runs departments, power and speed production has been nothing special. Supporters of Eaton can point to nine of his 14 home runs last season coming after the All-Star break, so maybe he can make further strides in that area. I have my doubts. He's a low-end OF3/high-end OF4 in 12-team mixed leagues, no more and no less.

Dexter Fowler - The strange thing about Fowler is that he actually performed better on the road last season (nine homers, .915 OPS) than at Wrigley Field (four homers, .759 OPS). Especially valuable in OBP leagues (career .366 OBP), the new Cardinal should continue doing what he's been doing for awhile now, hitting for some power while chipping in some steals and serving as a steady source of runs. In other words, we're looking at a quality third outfielder in deeper mixed formats.

Jorge Soler - Fowler wasn't the only outfielder to leave the North Siders this week, as Soler will now get a fresh start in Kansas City. While the Cuban import has fallen well short of expectations, he will be only 25 on Opening Day, and the power is legit. Don't forget about this guy on draft day. He firmly belongs in the post-hype sleeper category.

Wilson Ramos - Too bad. Ramos was in line for a major payday until he suffered ACL and meniscus tears in his right knee during the final week of the regular season. So instead, the 29-year-old backstop has to settle for a modest two-year contract with incentives. He's likely to miss the first month or two of the 2017 season, but when Ramos does return to action, the Rays will have themselves quite a bargain. Drafting Ramos, who set career highs across the board in 2016, as your No. 2 catcher in a deep mixed league and stashing him on the DL is a move that could pay off in a big way.

Mitch Moreland - After launching a combined 45 homers over the past two seasons, the underrated Moreland will now share first base with Hanley Ramirez for the Red Sox. Moreland's batting average has fluctuated drastically throughout his career, but as a late-round power source in mixed leagues or a cheap starting first baseman in an AL-only format, he fits the bill. 

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