Baseball is back! Ok, not quite back but we’re officially 2 months away which means Daily Fantasy slates, 4 team parlays, and Kyle Lohse’s inevitable May signing and shellacking are within dangerous reach. By now, if you’re even a moderate baseball fan you’ve heard of the cannonball splash the Red Sox made with their trade for Chris Sale. But you probably haven’t heard of Koji Uehara’s move from Beantown to Titletown, or how the Blue Jays and their high flying offense are going to try to replicate Edwin Encarnacion and his parrot’s production.
Here’s the rundown on anything and everything important that’s happened since October, and how parity in baseball will prevail (yet again):
The Chris Sale trade has got Boston brewin turning the (Red) Sox into the sexiest pick in the AL. Some potential studs were given up for the tall lefty including #2 prospect in baseball Yoan Moncada. When you bring in a #1 ace though, all is forgiven and it’s hard to hate. Unless you’re a Yankees fan like me… when it comes to the Red Sox I’ll always be HATIN’.
The departures of Captain Big Papi (who put up an MVP caliber season), valuable reliever Koji Uehara, and Travis Shaw are big time losses. They were able to make a key pickup in veteran 1B Mitch Moreland on a cheap 1 year deal, but there’s going to be a lot of pressure on this bunch of up and coming youngsters. We’ll see if Pedroia can take over for the massive Big Papi size hole in clubhouse leadership and if the Mookie Betts of the world can once again hit .320 and 30+ homers with the massive Big Papi size hole lingering at cleanup.
In other AL East news, the darlings of the Daily Fantasy community the past couple seasons, the upstart Jays, lost superstar slugger Encarnacion to the Indians on a 3 year, $60 million deal. They also lost outfielder Michael Saunders on a 1 year, $9 million deal to the Phillies but I have to believe that was by design. Saunders’ average tumbled after the all-star break from a highly efficient .298 to a dreadful .178 the latter half of the year (his OPS fell 33%). I’m really impressed though with how GM Ross Atkins is piecing together the cleanup spot production with a combo of Kendrys Morales (3 years for $33 million) and Steve Pearce (2 years for $12.5 million)…these two will fit right in with the Lefty Mashing Crew led by 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson. Pearce hit .309 with .411 OBP vs L last year with a fantastic HR rate and Morales wasn’t far behind batting .330 with .369 OBP against southpaws.
The world series runner-up Indians couldn’t have had a better off-season adding plenty of fuel to their ever-growing fire. Mike Napoli did leave as a free agent (looks destined for Texas), and Rajai Davis also left on a veteran 1 year deal to the A’s. But not only did the Tribe acquire the monster bat of Edwin and his parrot, the Indians are now finally healthy. Fire flame throwers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are back and so are their #5 and #14 strikeout rates in baseball from 2015 (ace Corey Kluber was #12 last year). Super productive outfielder Michael Brantley is also back from injury enabling the legendary “Tito” to go Righty/Lefty with one of the deepest outfields in baseball.
A few of my favorite DFS players traded in their old unis this off-season for some fresh digs and will try to continue their success from a year ago in new parks. Productive catcher Wellington Castillo was a stellar pickup for the Orioles given his 1 year, $6 million price tag. The Rays were also somehow able to add Wilson Ramos for a paltry 2 years, $12.5 million. Coming off a season where he hit .307 with 22 HR, Ramos’ season was cut short in September with a torn ACL, but he appears to be way ahead of schedule and should be back by May. In sadder news for Rays fans (all 12 of them and Dick Vitale) ultra-productive infielder Logan Forsythe was dealt to the LA Dodgers in exchange for the promising young arm of Jose De Leon (#33 prospect in baseball).
Staying on the west coast, one of my favorite Lefty mashers Danny Valencia moved from the A’s to Seattle in a trade that fortifies the M’s offense. The Mariners also made a bold move that earned my stamp of approval when they acquired dynamo Jean Segura at SS from the Diamondbacks in exchange for young 24 year old pitcher Taijuan Walker. Walker has struggled so far in his career, while Segura is a 26 year old SS who hit .320 with 20 HR and 33 SB a year ago (and only makes $6.2 mil next year). With their new firepower on offense and Drew Smyly as a stopgap #4 starter replacing Walker, Seattle is very intriguing. Stay tuned.
While we’re on the subject of trades, the Jorge Soler for Wade Davis trade was probably the most debated of the offseason. And how bout those World Champion Chicago Cubs?! The defending champs are ALMOST as powerful, but the losses of Soler and Dexter Fowler to the Cards (5 years, $82.5 million) take away some ammunition. They also lost closer Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees, but were smart in not overpaying for his 5 year, $86 million price tag for a guy who just blew game 7 of the World Series. His new replacements Wade Davis and Koji Uehara are not only more than capable, they’re reliable vets who have had enormous success late in October.
The Cardinals departed with elder statesman Matt Holliday after signing the speedster Fowler from the Cubs, and thus began an outfield of musical chairs. The Yankees added Holliday on a 1 year, $13 million deal and dealt catcher Brian McCann to the Astros after finding a GEM in Gary Sanchez. There was an exodus of outfielders in Texas with Ian Desmond signing with Colorado on a solid 5 year, $70 million deal, and ex-Yankee outfielder Carlos Beltran returning to Houston on yet another 1 year veteran deal ($16 million). Beltran will try to hit the fountain of youth one last time from his 2004 glory days with the Astros when he hit a jaw-dropping, holy fucking shit .435, .536 OBP, 6 SB, and 8 HR in only 12 playoff games. He carried that team to 1 game away from reaching the World Series, enticing the Mets to sign him to a groundbreaking 7 year, $119 million deal. In some not-so-shocking news, he’s still searching for that elusive ring. He’ll have a real shot at it this year, because the Astros also signed Josh Reddick (4 years, $52 million) to be his counterpart in the outfield. A lineup that features Altuve, Correa, Beltran, Reddick, McCann, Springer, and a couple more highly touted prospects like Alex Bregman will have this offense ROLLING into October.
In sad news for Mets fans the second coming of “El Guapo”, Bartolo Colon, left and signed a 1 year, $12.5 million deal with the young Braves.
What a time, what a moment.
That just about does it for this rundown, you can expect plenty of updates (especially DFS) throughout the Spring, dog days of Summer, and early Fall. You can also find all of the key signings and trades detailed below…my World Series odds and preview edition will be up soon.
NEW SIGNINGS (in no particular order)
Carlos Beltran — Rangers to Astros (1 year for 16 mil)
Wellington Castillo — Dbacks to Orioles (1 year for 6 mil)
Aroldis Chapman — Cubs to Yankees (5 years for 86 mil)
Bartolo Colon — Mets to Braves (1 year for 12.5 mil)
Rajai Davis — Indians to A’s (1 year for 6 mil)
Ian Desmond — Rangers to Rockies (5 years for 70 mil)
Edwin Encarnacion — Blue Jays to Indians (3 years for 60 mil)
Matt Holliday — Cardinals to Yankees (1 year for 13 mil)
Kendrys Morales — Royals to Blue Jays (3 years for 33 mil)
Mitch Moreland — Rangers to Red Sox (1 year for 5.5 mil)
Steve Pearce — Orioles to Blue Jays (2 years for 12.5 mil)
Wilson Ramos — Nationals to Rays (2 years for 12.5 mil)
Josh Reddick — Dodgers to Astros (4 for 52 mil)
Michael Saunders — Blue Jays to Phillies (1 year for 9 mil)
Edinson Volquez — Royals to Marlins (2 years for 22 mil)
Logan Forsythe — Rays to Angels (TRADE)
Koji Uehara — Red Sox to Cubs (1 year for 6 mil)
Dexter Fowler — Cubs to Cardinals (5 years for 82.5 mil)
Wade Davis — Royals to Cubs (TRADED for Jorge Soler)
Jorge Soler — Cubs to Royals (TRADED for Wade Davis)
Chris Sale — White Sox to Red Sox (TRADED for prospects)
Travis Shaw — Red Sox to Brewers (TRADED)
Brian McCann — Yankees to Astros (TRADED)
Danny Valencia — A’s to Seattle (TRADED)
Nori Aoki — Seattle to Astros (WAIVERS)