2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

2017 Fantasy Baseball National League Offseason Moves

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While you were busy watching football, I was geeking out over the MLB offseason transactions!

The Winter Meetings gets me so pumped up for baseball season every year. Baseball is unlike any other sport when it comes to players switching teams and the frequency of trades.

In the fantasy world, it’s important for us players to take note of players switching uniforms by way of trade or free agency. Which players are heading to more hitter-friendly environments? Which teams get that much needed leadoff hitter to boost the statistics of the other batters?

Well, we have got you covered here at Fantasy Six Pack – even in December! I will be covering the National League’s major transactions. Joe Bond covered the American League moves.

2017 Fantasy Baseball National League Offseason Moves

The order of these transactions reflects how much an impact I felt these moves had from a fantasy baseball standpoint. If you want to talk about some signings or trades that could affect deep leagues or dynasty formats, find me on Twitter @therealwody.

Cardinals sign Dexter Fowler

Fowler had an interesting free agency tenure in 2015. He had unofficially been linked to the Orioles, but decided to rejoin the Cubs on a one-year deal after contract issues arose with Baltimore. That wound up being a huge decision considering how the Cubs’ season went and Fowler was a hot commodity in a 2016 free agent market that had many teams searching for center fielders.

The Cardinals gave him the right deal and now he is headed to St. Louis. He should resume a similar role as he had with the Cubs as leadoff hitter and center fielder. His production shouldn’t differ all that much from the past two seasons as a 0.260/0.370/0.430 slasher with high run scoring production. The real winners here are Aledmys Diaz and Matt Carpenter, who should be in line for many more RBI opportunities than they had last year.

Carpenter lead off for most of 2015, but now should fall back to the 3-hole behind Diaz. When Carpenter wasn’t batting first, leadoff hitters for St. Louis hit 0.246 with only 2 stolen bases. Fowler’s presence impacts the Cardinals substantially while allowing Diaz and Carpenter to reach their run-producing potential.

Rockies sign Ian Desmond

Desmond was another guy who bet on himself in 2015 by signing a ‘pillow deal’ for one year with the Rangers. It paid off big time as he had a career year in Texas. The Rockies rewarded him with a multi-year deal sending him to Coors Field, where offense reigns.

Desmond will be the starting first baseman there unless a turn of events arises where Colorado trades an outfielder for a starting pitcher. Until that happens, it’s time to prepare for Desmond to be a first baseman or draft him as an outfielder. He will likely lose eligibility at shortstop unless Trevor Story gets injured again.

As for where he fits in this stacked lineup, I see him batting 5th in between Carlos Gonzalez and David Dahl. Considering how great his 2016 season was from his previous two seasons, I was ready to downgrade Desmond in 2016. That is, until he signed with the Rockies. Now, I will likely be out on him due to over-hype in draft season. He will be a very useful fantasy player in 2016, but I am not willing to overpay for a 5-hole hitter in the early rounds. Pay attention to where his ADP lies during mock draft season.

Nationals acquire Adam Eaton from White Sox for top pitching prospects

Here’s the most controversial trade of the offseason thus far. It’s widely believed that the Nationals overpaid here for Eaton with three elite pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dame Dunning. I am in agreement as well, although I don’t believe it’s as bad as some of the trades made before the 2016 season. At least Washington gets Eaton for five years on a very friendly contract and it allows them to place Trea Turner back at his natural position of shortstop.

Fantasy-wise, Eaton gets an upgrade leading off for Washington instead of the White Sox. With guys like Turner, Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, and Anthony Rendon batting behind him, the only task Eaton will have will be to get on base. That’s never been an issue with him, as he has posted 0.362, 0.361, and 0.362 OBP’s in three years with the White Sox. I’m bumping up these Nationals batting behind him in my rankings as well.

Giants sign Mark Melancon

The Giants made a necessary move to acquire Mark Melancon in the free agent market to become their closer. Their bullpen led to their eventual demise in October as they lost in the divisional series of the playoffs to the eventual champion Cubs. Melancon provides stability at the backend and allows manager Bruce Bochy to not have to deal with Santiago Casilla anymore.

On the Nationals side of things, they are really scrambling to find a closer right now. Shawn Kelley seems like the main option right now, but they have repeatedly stated that they don’t want to overwork him. Blake Treinen and Sammy Solis are candidates, but I would expect the Nationals to try and strike a deal to attain a closer if they are serious about contending in 2017. Definitely a situation to monitor going into draft season.

Cubs acquire Wade Davis from Royals for Jorge Soler

You don’t see very many one-for-one deals that help both teams in the short term. This deal definitely made sense for both teams and is an interesting one to dissect in the fantasy game.

Davis becomes the definite closer in the Cubs bullpen. I feel like the Cubs bought low on an elite closer considering how expensive guys like Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen went for this offseason. Davis was out for the latter part of the season with arm issues, but should be at full strength come Spring Training. I am expecting a fantastic season from Davis – potentially a top 5 closer barring injury.

Soler’s departure from Chicago along with Fowler heading to St. Louis yields plenty of at-bats for Cubs outfielders. This deal has me most excited for Javier Baez, who is finally not blocked for consistent playing time with an outfield spot open for him. Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber are also winners here and are decent bounce back candidates for different reasons going into 2017.

Braves acquire Jaime Garcia from Cardinals for prospects

The Braves’ 2016 rotation was a bottom five rotation in every category out of all 30 teams. This is true despite the bounce back season of ace Julio Teheran. Excluding Teheran, this rotation was historically bad – 5.32 ERA, 6.72 K/9, and a 3.25 BB/9.

It made too much sense for the Braves to pounce on starters in the offseason. The first of a few moves was to acquire Jaime Garcia to fill in the No. 2 slot in the rotation. Now, Garcia has had a roller coaster career, but I am expecting an average of his 2015 and 2016 season for 2017. A 3.50 ERA, 7.3 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9 isn’t bad as a streaming option for the backend of a fantasy rotation depending on the size of your league.

The bigger impact I believe this has lies in the Cardinals’ rotation. Garcia’s departure allows super-prospect Alex Reyes to step up into a starting role right away. The upside on this guy is through the roof, but beware of an inflated draft stock. Reyes could very well turn into the next Noah Syndergaard, but he could also be closer to a Lance McCullers type. If his control doesn’t improve, you will start to see teams draw up a patient gameplan for him and force his WHIP higher than you can handle for your fantasy squad. Keep that in mind as you are drafting pitchers.

Braves sign Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey

To continue what I started with the Braves’ rotation with Garcia, I will briefly mention Colon and Dickey as a duo. The Braves signed both of them to be innings-eaters at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, respectively. As a Braves fan, I very much look forward to watching Colon pitch and hit every fifth game. Dickey should see an improvement in his new home as well considering knuckleballers enjoy the outdoors and humidity.

The main thing I wanted to point out was how this affects whoever becomes the closer in Atlanta. As mentioned before, the drastic improvement in rotation pieces can only increase the save chances. Jim Johnson is the leading candidate after a strong 2016 campaign. Arodys Vizcaino started the season well as the closer before an injury and should get a fair shot.

The sleeper in this bullpen is Mauricio Cabrera, who has the repertoire you want as a closer. He is second in average fastball speed (100.6 MPH) only to Aroldis Chapman (100.9 MPH). His secondary pitches rate really well according to FanGraphs. Experience is the only thing holding him back, but look for Cabrera to be a major contributor to holds early on and potentially take over the closer role by midseason.

Diamondbacks acquire Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte from Mariners for Jean Segura, prospects

Another deal that fits both teams’ immediate plans happened before the Winter Meetings. It was a blockbuster relative to the other trades going on this offseason.

Arizona gets immediate pitching help as Walker slots in as the No. 3 in the rotation. Not very many pitchers that transfer to Arizona do better than their career statistics (see Zack Greinke last year). However, Walker is still learning and progressing each year so I will be curious to see if a change of scenery allows him to develop even further. His improving walk rate is encouraging for me and I will certainly be in on Walker at the right price in 2017.

With Segura leaving, some would think that Marte slides right in as his replacement. That would be an ill-advised assumption, as I believe the D-Backs want to slow down Marte in 2017. They have the pieces in Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury to man the middle infield. This allows them to work on Marte more at the minor league level and ease him back into major league relevancy. His 2017 impact could still be worthy given his skill set, but expectations need to be much lower than they were during draft season in 2016.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney

Really? Another chance of Rodney closing in the majors? You betcha.

This guy seems to always find his way to a team in need of a closer despite his history of blown saves. He’s coming off a decent season between the Padres and Marlins, posting a 3.44 ERA and his normal crazy groundball rate of 55%. However, the walk rate is only getting worse by the year and he is entering his age 40 year.

The bullpen situation in Arizona makes him the de facto closer and a draftable player in most leagues due to save chances. However, how lucky do you feel? I could see him blowing up again this season and not being useful while increasing your team ERA and WHIP. Arizona can’t be a serious contender unless it makes more moves in the bullpen, which would ultimately lead to Rodney’s demise. As is the case every year, count me out among the Rodney buyers.

About Tyler Thompson

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