The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks made a deal that could have lasting fantasy implications with two of the bigger names at the catcher position trading sides. There’s also talk in here about free agent signings with a focus on Carlos Correa and what is going on with his saga as he tries to find his future home. Plus, what are the Giants and Phillies doing in the bullpen?
Blue Jays Get: C/OF Daulton Varsho
D’backs Get: C Gabriel Moreno and OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Talk about an interesting deal. Let’s go team-by-team.
The Jays get a guy who can catch, but they figure to use Varsho in the outfield (this deal boosts the outlook of Danny Jansen who figures to be the primary catcher sharing duties with Alejandro Kirk who should see a lot of time at DH as well). More importantly, he will retain catcher eligibility in fantasy this season. Varsho brings a lefty bat to a heavily right-handed Jays lineup and allowed the Jays to have a strong defensive outfield (he was fourth in outs above average). He moves into a great ballpark/lineup, though he seems destined to hit in the 6-7 range to start the year in the lineup, a season after he went .235-27-74-79-16. He should be able to repeat those numbers across the board, but we will have to keep an eye on how many times he catches in 2023.
Moreno was the Jays #1 prospect last season and a top-10 prospect in all of baseball heading into last season. He appeared in 25 games last season with the Jays and responded with a .319 batting average (he showed little pop with a .733 OPS). He puts the ball in play, loudly, and scouts believe his power will develop. Oh, he’s also good defensively as well. His addition could curtail the playing time of Carson Kelley, though we’ve got the DH in the NL now. Moreno has a shot to be a top-10 catcher in fantasy in 2023.
Gurriel is still only 29 years old, and he has hit .290 in two of three seasons, but last year he hit a mere five homers with a .743 OPS. His launch angle, exit velocity and hard-hit rates did not appreciably change last season though, so a rebound to 15-20 homer range is totally doable. Somewhat boring in fantasy, he figures to be usable in deeper mixed leagues that require five starting outfielders.
Trevor Bauer has been removed from the restricted list. The Dodgers have until January 6th to decide what they want to do with Dodgers, but early reports suggest that he has thrown his last pitch as a Dodger. Will someone else take a chance on him given the off the field baggage and the fact that it sure seems like most of his teammate really don’t like the guy? With his arm, I find it pretty hard to believe that someone won’t give him a chance to pitch again.
Michael Conforto is a Giants after agreeing to a 2-year, $36M deal with an opt out. I will restate my position. Teams are straight stupid to give players opt-outs. If the player doesn’t want to sign for the duration of the deal, then just sign them to a shorter deal. The Giants keep giving opt outs to guys, and it means they are in essence signing all these guys to one year deals which is just stupid. Here is what I wrote about Conforto last week.
Many teams are interested in bringing in the slugger, and he’s looking for the old – multi-year deal with an opt-out. Look, I get it, but as I’ve said before, there is no way I’m giving a player a — you played great now you can leave to repeat that effort for another team. You either want to be part of the organization or you don’t. Yep, blanket no opt-out would be my call. Period. By the way, during his last full season of 2019, Conforto went .257-33-92-90. The last two seasons he played, again 2020-21, he appeared in 179 games going .262-23-86-92.
Carlos Correa signed a 13-year, $350M deal with the SF Giants that their doctors balked out, so they deal was nixed. Immediately the Mets jumped in and signed him to a 12-year, $315M deal. Alas, their doctors also did not like what they saw (we are hearing that the issue is a leg injury from when he was 19 years old). Sounds like the Mets and Correa are still working on things, but what the result will be, no one knows. What we are hearing from the NY Post is that Correa “… isn’t open to restructuring the length or financial terms of the contract.” Don’t know if Correas is being intransigent here or not, kinda seems like he is, but it is where we are right now. Sounds like up to three other teams, at least according to the report, are interested in Correa, so the saga continues
Steven Duggar signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers. He didn’t land in a great spot as the Dodgers are always adding pieces, but keep his name in mind for those of you in league only setups cause he does have a decent power/speed combo (14 homers and 19 steals over 846 plate appearances).
Craig Kimbrel was signed by the Phillies on a 1-year, $10M deal to be their closer? He saved 22 games last year for the Dodgers, but he also blew five games, lost seven games and posted a poor 1.32 WHIP. Given his track record it would be odd if he didn’t get a shot at the 9th inning, but you can argue that Seranthony Dominguez is simply a better pitcher at this point. We will see how things shake out, but the Phillies didn’t overpay to find out.
Gregory Polanco played in Japan last year, and he will again this year.
Chris Sale is of interest to folks.
He’s due like $55M the next two years and the last three years he’s thrown 48.1 innings over 11 starts. Theoretically there is a supremely talented out getter in there. In theory at least. His last season of 150-innings pitched was 2018.
Taylor Rogers signed a 3-year, $33M deal to join his twin, Tyler Rogers, with the Giants. The last two seasons that Taylor has appeared in 60 games he’s saved 30 and 31 of them (the 31 were for two teams last year). He’s an experience lefty to pair with the rather young Camilo Doval in SF. Given the outlay of cash, one would think the Giants will not only use Taylor in high leverage scenarios this season, but it is possible the Giants play the “matchup game” in the 9th inning using Rogers/Doval interchangeably based on the batter set to come up that inning.
Drew Smyly signed a 2-year, $19M deal with the Cubs that includes a $10M mutual option for 2025. He hasn’t thrown 130-innings since 2016, but that’s the game we are playing in 2023. He was effective last year with a 3.47 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with a 3.50 K/BB ratio. However, his 20.4 percent K-rate was a career low as was his 27.5 CSW. He’s more touch and feel at this point, and frequently injured.
Eli White was designated for assignment by the Rangers late last week. The 28 year old’s bat is a wet noodle, he has a .556 OPS over 389 plate appearances, but he’s also stolen 17 bases. Seems like a league only dart throw for the speed piece.
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