Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Baseball risers and fallers from the first few days of free agency.
Following Major League Baseball news can make your head spin. It seems like teams are trying to make up for 99 days of a lockout with 99 hours of continuous signings, trades, and player movement.
With all of the news bombarding your feed, how can you keep it all straight? What does it mean for Fantasy Baseball this coming season? For each trade or signing action, there are equal and opposite reactions, or at least that's what we were taught in 10th-grade chemistry. One player's gain from a new destination is often another players' loss.
This piece includes players impacted by transactions made through Monday night, March 14th.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Freddie Freeman!
2022 Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers from Free Agency
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Matt Olson, 1B, Atlanta Braves
At first glance, it might be hard to tell how it could get much better for Matt Olson at his new home in Truist Park in Atlanta. Olson finished 2021 with 39 home runs, 111 RBI, a .911 OPS, and a top-ten MVP finish. But he did all of that while playing half of his games in one of the majors' worst parks for left-handed batters. Baseball Savant tracks what are called "park factors" for every MLB stadium. Essentially, these park factors measure how well or difficult a park plays for different types of hitters. A 100 park factor in a category would be considered league average.
The Oakland Coliseum ranked 23rd in overall park factor to left-handers with a score of 95. Conversely, Truist Park in Atlanta ranked eighth with 103. For homers, Truist checks in at 11th while the Coliseum is 23rd. Olson already made huge strides at the plate over the last season. He made a dramatic shift from a 31.4% strikeout rate in 2020 (bottom 10% in the league) to a 13% walk rate (top 10% in the league) in 2021. Now he gets a park more suited to his power and one that made Freddie Freeman a superstar.
Alex Colome, RP, Colorado Rockies
Just when it looked like the Rockies were going to go into their season with Carlos Estevez and Daniel Bard as their closer options, Colorado swoops in and announces a one-year deal with Alex Colome who has some bona fide closers' experience. He looks to aide a Rockies bullpen that ranked 24th in WAR, 25th in K%, and 27th in SIERA last season. Colome already led the American League in saves one time back in 2017. And while it's a stone-cold lock he won't get that many opportunities with this Rockies squad, he looks to be the man who jumps to the front of the closer line for Colorado. The saves might be shaky, but in the end, the man that is getting them is all that matters.
Jose Miranda, 3B, Minnesota Twins
You may be asking yourself, "Who is Jose Miranda?" Trust me, by the end of the season, you will know who he is. Miranda looks to have a clear path to playing time in front of him and now he just needs to take advantage. Miranda is the third-best prospect in the Minnesota system and has a bat that is clearly major league ready. In his last three minor league stops, Miranda has an OPS over .900 in each of them.
The defense, especially if he is asked to play third base, needs a little work, but only Gio Urshela presently stands in his way of a full-time gig. Look for Miranda to break camp with the big club and begin his assault on pitching shortly thereafter.
Seth Brown, 1B, Oakland Athletics
If Olson is moving onto Atlanta, that means 673 plate appearances and the third spot in the order are up for grabs in Oakland and it's likely Brown will be the one to reach out and take them. In his 111 games for Oakland last season, Brown produced 20 homers in just 307 plate appearances with a strong .480 slugging percentage. All projection systems that have updated to give him more than 125 games and more than 525 plate appearances for next season have him hitting mid-20s in home runs and producing about 70ish RBI. With extra playing time and some stability at first, the ceiling could be even higher.
Brown played primarily in the outfield last season, but those spots seem to be nominally filled by Stephen Piscotty, Chad Pinder, and new addition Christian Pache. Brown will man the first base job this year and be a primary bat in the third or fourth position in the lineup.
Mitch Garver, C, Texas Rangers
Because he only played in 68 games last season due to injury, it's easy to forget how great Garver was last year. He was top-ten among catchers in OBP, SLG, wRC+, ISO, and wOBA. His wRC+ and wOBA were higher than Salvador Perez last year. He was on a 150-game pace of 29 homers and 75 RBI. And now with the move to Texas, he slots in a lineup that is magnitudes better than the one he leaves behind in Minnesota and only has Jose Trevino to worry about stealing his playing time. Trevino was one of the worst catchers in MLB last season. His .239/.267/.340 slash line in 90 games was accompanied by just five home runs in 302 plate appearances.
According to Roster Resource, Garver looks to bat every day in the cleanup spot, directly after Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. With those two in front of him and Nate Lowe and Adolis Garcia providing protection behind, the counting stats should be pouring in for Garver in his new home.
Jesse Winker, OF, Seattle Mariners
Take everything we said about Olson, put it in the Upside Down, add a potential worry about a platoon against left-handed pitchers and you have the new situation for Jesse Winker. Great American Ball Park was a huge book for all hitters, but especially left-handed batters. It is third in park factor over the past three years for lefties, including a 133 score for home runs to left-handed batters.
That essentially means the Cincinnati home park allows home runs at a rate 33% higher than league average to left-handers. T-Mobile Park is dead last in park factor to batters from the left side and dead last in runs scored. The on-base-percentage and elite batters' eye he possesses will travel wherever he plays. It's just too bad the balls won't travel as well in Seattle as they did at the funhouse that is Great American Ball Park.
Gary Sanchez, C, Minnesota Twins
It's been a hard fall for Sanchez, once thought of as the next great offensive catcher of this generation. Now, he joins a likely platoon with Ryan Jeffers in a worse park for offense. For right-handed batters, Target Field in Minnesota ranks 24th with a 95 score. It is just 20th in home runs with a 91 score. Those are both significant steps down from Yankee Stadium. Sanchez also has to worry about now sharing a roster with an elite defensive catcher like Jeffers. Sanchez is, shall we say, not exactly known for his defense while Jeffers is exceptional.
Baseball Prospectus tracks a number of catcher defensive metrics such as Fielding Runs Above Average and Framing Runs. Framing Runs is essentially how many runs you saved by the strike generated from your framing of pitches. Last season, Jeffers ranked 16th among all MLB catchers. Sanchez? He ranked 93rd. Jeffers ranked 12th in fielding runs saved above average, while Sanchez checked in at 67th. It's possible Miguel Sano is moved and Gary Sanchez can move to DH almost exclusively. But right now he is probably just looking at the strong side of a 60/40 platoon with the superior defender Jeffers.
Luke Voit, 1B/DH, New York Yankees
Well, at least until the Yankees sign a big free-agent first baseman. Gleyber Torres plays second and Kiner-Falefa holds down shortstop. Giancarlo Stanton is the DH, so where does that leave Voit? He is not athletic enough to play a super-utility role. A backup 1B/DH won't have much value on this team without an injury. Realistically, the Yankees likely look to move Voit so his next destination likely determines his value. But on the Yankees? All the spots he could fill are taken.
Carlos Carrasco or Tylor Megill, SPs, New York Mets
The trade for Chris Bassitt from Oakland becomes problematic for the back-end competitors in the New York Mets' rotation. Bassitt joins Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom, and Taijuan Walker as locks to start. That leaves one of Carlos Carrasco or Tylor Megill on the outside looking in.
All indications are the spot will belong to Carrasco for as long as he is healthy. But in an 18-game audition last season, Megill showed he is ready for a spot as well. Megill posted an ERA of 4.52, a 9.94 K/9, and a WHIP of 1.28. Those are all perfectly acceptable numbers for a fifth starter.
What likely happens is the Mets now try to keep Megill stretched out by being the long man out of the bullpen or having him make some starts in AAA. Megill still has three minor-league options left. Carrasco has sadly only made 36 starts since 2018, so the likelihood is high that Megill will be needed at some point. But for now, both are just dart throws in deep leagues as you look to fill out your pitching depth.
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