2019 MLB Draft Guide: Old Faces in New Places
The offseason saw a number of MLB players changing teams and Matthew Selz gives you the full breakdown of who landed where and what the fantasy baseball impact will be during the 2019 season.
Staying put just doesn’t happen anymore…across sports in general, and baseball is obviously victim to that as well. Player movement receives heavy coverage in all leagues, but often has even more significance in baseball given the differences in lineups, pitching staffs, strategies employed and the always-present park factors. Let’s also not forget the differences between the American and National League games. So, it is in that vein where we delve into those “old faces” who are playing in new places for 2019.
*This article will be updated to reflect the latest MLB signings that involve players switching teams in a fantasy relevant fashion.
** Don’t miss out on the MLB Free Agent Tracker for in-depth coverage on free agent signings as well.
Wilson Ramos (PHI to NYM) – It’s been a busy last few years for the now veteran catcher as he’s gone from Tampa to Philly to now New York via signings and trades and was mentioned in both this piece and the contract years piece from a year ago. In 175 games in the majors since tearing his ACL at the very end of the 2016 season, “The Buffalo” has hit for a combined .290/.334/.473 slash over 590 at bats with 26 home runs, 105 RBI, and 58 runs against both eastern divisions. He also combined for an 18.1% K-rate, 6.5% BB-rate, and a great 117 wRC+. He is a big leap forward for the Mets backstop spot and one who’s familiar with most pitchers in the division having faced those same teams just two years ago. Look for more of the same production from the catcher in 2019 as since his 2016 LASIK surgery he’s been a much better hitter.
Kurt Suzuki (ATL to WAS) – After two years in Atlanta, it’s time for the catcher to take his talents up the I-95 corridor to the Nation’s Capital as the likely sidekick to another catcher a little further down this list. In that span he registered 623 at bats (697 plate appearances) and slashed .276/.340/.485 with 31 homers, 100 RBI, and 83 runs scored while splitting time with Tyler Flowers behind the dish. Now Suzuki will still split time, but he gets to do so in a better home park for hitters from a home run and double perspective which should only help to keep those numbers where they’re at, if not improve them somewhat. Even if the numbers stay where they are, he’s still a low-level catcher number one with a .276/.340/.485 slash, 15 home runs, 50 RBI, and 41 runs scored as an average of late.
Robinson Chirinos (TEX to HOU) – Chirinos hadn’t put up numbers like what we saw from him in 2018 since his days with the Cubs in A-ball in 2006 and Double-A and Triple-A in 2010. The 2018 campaign for a downtrodden Rangers arguably his best as a major leaguer as he put up 18 home runs, 65 RBI, 48 runs, and two steals over 113 games with a slash of .222/.338/.419 and a .304 BABIP and .333 wOBA. The Astros needed a replacement for the loss of Brian McCann and, for the moment, Evan Gattis and Chirinos did put up similar numbers to Gattis last year, while not having the same versatility as Gattis. He will have a better lineup around him in Houston to be sure, but a park that plays closer to fair than Globe Life Park does, especially in the summer so a bit of a regression should be expected.
James McCann (DET to CWS) – McCann looked like the next starting catcher for Detroit a couple of years ago, especially after the 2017 season but the 2018 happened. In the most games he’s played since his Double-A days in 2013, 118, McCann had arguably the worst full season of his pro career. Eight home runs, 39 RBI, 31 runs, a .220/.267/.314 slash line, a 25.4% K-rate, a .094 ISO, and a 58 wRC+ is what that season looked like. In all likelihood the 2018 season was simply a case of being on a bad team in a big ballpark because his Swinging Strike % and Swing% and Contact% all fit with his two previous good seasons when the Tigers were still a solid team. In 2016 and 2017 when he hit 12 and 13 home runs respectively, his HR/FB rates were 12.6% and 14.3% whereas 2018 the mark was 6.6%. Playing backup in Chicago means he will likely get less at bats and therefore it will lower his value for 2019.
Brian McCann (HOU to ATL) – Five years after leaving the team that drafted him, McCann is back to his original home on a one-year, two-million-dollar deal. Every year he’s spent in the majors since 2006 he’s hit double-digit home runs, until last year, though he did only play 63 games. The .212/.301/.339 slash line was also the worst of his career across the board while he was dealing with a knee injury much of the year. His new role, in his age-35 season, will see him be a platoon player with Tyler Flowers which drops whatever value he’d have as a starting backstop.
Jonathan Lucroy (OAK to LAA) – Since that trade he rejected in 2016, Lucroy has been a shell of himself the last two years. In the last 249 games split between three teams (Rangers, Rockies, and Athletics) Lucroy has hit .253/.319/.348 with 10 homeruns, 91 RBI, 86 runs, and a steal while playing in two of the top-three hitter’s parks in the league in Coors and Globe Life. His HR/FB rate in 2016, when he hit 24 home runs, was 15.8%, in the last two years it was 5.7% and 3.4% respectively. The reason he’s only signed for a one-year, $3.35 million is due to that lack of production including a .095 ISO. There is competition behind the plate in Los Angeles between Jose Briceno and Kevan Smith but if Lucroy finds his old offensive upside, he should be the starter as he has the most talent.
Carson Kelly (STL to ARI) – Kelly was the centerpiece of the Paul Goldschmidt and has had a cumulative total of 117 at bats in the majors with the Cardinals. The 24-year-old backstop has long been known as a defensive catcher and the major league chances have borne that out with a .154/.227/.188 slash and .186 BABIP and .195 wOBA and just 10 RBI and seven runs in a 63-game sample. If, and it’s a big if, his bat can come around, he could benefit from the hitter’s park advantage that Arizona offers over Busch Stadium, but right now he doesn’t have really any fantasy value to speak of.
Yan Gomes (CLE to WAS) – The Indians traded Gomes to the Nationals for Daniel Johnson, an outfield prospect, back in late-November which was a bit surprising given their other options at the position. Gomes, as the starting catcher, hit 30 home runs, 104 RBI, and 95 runs with a triple slash of .250/.311/.426 in 744 at bats, making him a durable backstop as well. The Nats get him for not only 2019 but also two more option years after that meaning that they may have found a new a new starting catcher for three years and Gomes should see a bump in production in a better hitter’s park and division and a similarly good lineup.
Mike Zunino (SEA to TB) – Zunino was dealt from Seattle, the team that drafted him, to Tampa in a deal involving Mallex Smith in early-November. The high-water mark for Zunino happened in 2017 with a .251/.331/.509 line, 25 dingers, 64 RBI, 52 runs, and a steal in 124 games played. Then the wheels fell off this past season with a batting average just barely over the Mendoza line and an OBP of less than .260 with 20 round trippers, 44 RBI, and 37 runs with strikeout rate of 37%, the most in his career and the highest amongst batters with 300 or more PA last year. To make matters worse it was his second-lowest BB-rate of his career as he had just 24 in 405 plate appearances compared to 150 strikeouts making it over a 6:1 ratio and Zunino just one of 11 hitters with more than 300 PA last year to post a ratio that large. Tampa isn’t a better hitter’s park than, now T-Mobile Park, but the division is but he’s got a ways to go to improve his value at the plate.
Omar Narváez (CWS to SEA) – After sending Zunino to Tampa Bay, Seattle was in search of a new starting catcher and found him in the form of Narvaez. The 26-year-old left-handed hitting backstop has played a total of 221 games in the majors with 187 of those happening in the last two years. Over that time he’s compiled a .274/.366/.379 triple slash line with 12 home runs, 66 runs, and 54 RBI with nine of the home runs coming last year in his 97 games behind the dish. Clearly he’s a complete opposite of the previous Mariners’ catcher as Zunino is a low-average, power bat and Narvaez is a high-average, low-power bat, which is especially true since the nine homers from 2018 nearly equaled the total he hit from 2009-2017. If you need a boost in the average department at this spot, Narvaez is worth a look but not much more will come from his offense.
Yasmani Grandal (LAD to MIL) – Grandal turned down a one-year deal from the Dodgers and a four-year deal from the Mets before signing a one-year, $18.25 million deal with Milwaukee. The 30-year-old catcher has been productive over the last three seasons, all in L.A., and last year he played the most games he’s played in a single season, 140, while hitting .241/.349/.466 with 24 home runs, 68 RBI, 65 runs, and two steals. He also hit a career-high wRC+, 125, in a full season campaign. Grandal gets to a park that’s a bit better of a hitter’s park in Miller Park than Dodger Stadium was and a place where Jonathan Lucroy flourished in, expect him to have no problems duplicating his last three years’ worth of production as the starting catcher for the Brewers in 2019.
Russell Martin (TOR to LAD) – Martin was moved to L.A. in early January in a small trade that boosts the catcher depth for the Dodgers. The problem is that Martin’s productivity has been decreasing steadily for the last four years. Last year saw the backstop play the fewest number of games he’s played as a pro with just 90 total. The stat line, in no surprise, was also the worst of his career at just .194/.338/.325 with 10 home runs, 37 runs, and 25 RBI. The now almost 36-year-old veteran is clearly starting to show his age and he will likely split time equally with Austin Barnes behind the dish.
Jorge Alfaro (PHI to MIA) – Alfaro was touched on in the Second-Year Players piece earlier this offseason and it was made clear there, and now in Greg Jewett’s trade analysis, that Alfaro needs to really improve his offensive abilities if he hopes to put up better numbers in his second year. Now though, moving to Marlins Park, the worst hitter’s park in the league, that task is even tougher. He posted an unsustainable 36.6% K-rate last year despite still putting up a .262/.324/.407 slash line with 10 homers, 37 RBI, 35 runs, and three steals in 108 games. The contact Alfaro managed last year were still really quite good with a 14.5% soft%, 47.8% Med%, and 37.7% Hard% so if he keeps the strikeout rate lower in South Beach then at least his average won’t fall off a cliff, but the power will be hard to come by as will the counting stats in a bad offense devoid of nearly any household names.
J.T. Realmuto (MIA to PHI) – Realmuto has been considered the prize in the trade market all offseason and why not given his standing as arguably the best catcher in the game. Philadelphia had a solid backstop last year in Wilson Ramos but needed help behind the plate but settled that with Realmuto entering the fold. He posted a career-high in home runs, runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and walk rate in 2018 while still posting a high average (.277) and a sub-20% K-rate (19.6%) and a very impressive 126 wRC+. All of that plays well in the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Park and the soon-to-be 28-year-old is just coming into his prime as a catcher indicating the 2019 season should be a big one offensively for Realmuto as he also shores up the pitching staff in Philadelphia with his ability to call a game and frame pitches.
Martin Maldonado (HOU to KC) – The Royals were in need of another catcher after their star backstop, Salvador Pérez , went down with a torn UCL and needing Tommy John surgery. Maldonado was still available on the open market because he had turned down a two-year, $12-million deal from Houston at the outset of free agency. The 32-year-old Maldonado has been known as a defense and receiving type catcher throughout his seven-year major league career and above-average pitcher framer in the last few years as well. His career slash line of .220/.289/.350 with a wRC+ of 74 and 73 leaves a lot to be desired even in a woeful offensive position like catcher. He has hit 23 home runs in the last two years, but that accounts for nearly half of his 51 career dingers. Now that he moves to Kansas City, his offensive profile takes a hit due to the typically pitcher-friendly ratings that Kauffman Stadium produces, and that doesn’t even touch on the lineup around him.
Justin Bour (PHI to LAA) – Bour got notoriety back in 2015 for 23-home run season and then again in 2017 during the Home Run Derby at his home park in Miami. The 2018 season saw him head from Miami after 112 games to Philadelphia to finish the season and combined for a .227/.341/.404 with 20 home runs, 59 RBI, 49 runs, and two steals. While the batting average was lower than desired, he still hit the 20-homer mark for the third time in his four major league seasons even with playing in the worst park for home runs, according to park factors, in the league. The advanced stats show a mixed bag of results as well with a career-high in BB-rate at 14.6% and K-Rate at 24.8% as well as career-lows in BABIP and wOBA and wRC+. The contact splits also show the soft contact rates going up each year with the medium going down and hard contact staying about the same. All of that paints a mixed picture and combine that with the crowded first base and DH spots in Anaheim, unless Bour is the starting first baseman, it’s hard to count on him having a productive season in 2019.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI to STL) – In one of the biggest trades of the offseason, the Cardinals got the first basemen they’ve been missing for a couple of seasons and one of the most consistent hitters in baseball rolled all in to one. Even though Goldy hit .290/.389/.533 with a .359 BABIP and .390 wOBA with 33 home runs, 95 runs, 83 RBI, and seven steals, it was considered a down season for stud first baseman as he failed to reach 100 RBI and 100 runs and double-digit steals for the first time since 2014 and only the second time in a full season in the majors. Now he moves on to the Cardinals in the final year of his contract and gets an equally dangerous lineup surrounding him and in a pretty similar park to Chase Field in terms of park factors as well.
Yonder Alonso (CLE to CWS) – With a year left under contract, and an option year potentially, Alonso is on the move to the South Side of Chicago to be their new DH. Despite playing in more games, and having more at bats, in 2018 than 2017 his stat line was worse pretty much across the board. He slashed .250/.317/.421 (.283 BABIP and .319 wOBA) with 23 homers, 83 RBI, and 64 runs which was only better than his breakout 2017 campaign in RBI. Aside from boosting their DH position for 2019, the other main reason for the trade could have been to help court Manny Machado to the White Sox since Alonso is Machado’s Brother-in-law but from a fantasy prospective not much should change, especially given the young talent already on the roster for Chicago.
Carlos Santana (PHI to SEA to CLE) – As the text in the parentheses shows, it’s been a hectic offseason for Mr. Santana, who is now headed back to Cleveland after a one-year absence. He’s been one of the most consistent first base/DH options in baseball over the last handful of years, most of that being in the confines of Progressive Field. Now that he’s out of the National League, the DH is once again an option for him and that’s likely where he plays most of the time as Jake Bauers will take the lead in first base run. Santana should be good for another 25-30 home run campaign while hitting around .250.
Edwin Encarnación (CLE to SEA) – Encarnacion was moved to the Pacific Northwest in the three-team deal that moved Santana to Cleveland and Jake Bauers to Cleveland and Yandy Diaz to Tampa Bay. He, Encarnacion, will become the main DH in Seattle to replace the departed Nelson Cruz in the middle of the lineup. In terms of production there isn’t much of a difference overall between Encarnacion and Cruz save for a handful of dingers and a better average from the latter instead of the former and in terms of park factors, T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field) is nearly the same as Progressive Field, where he’s been the last two years. There were a lot of questions as to how Cruz would fair in Seattle from a home runs stand point, and he answered them quite prodigiously, much the same way we should expect Encarnacion to as well.
Jake Bauers (TB to CLE) – The 23-year-old former seventh-round pick was moved in the three-team trade and now has him the likely starting first baseman for the Indians. Across 520 at bats between Triple-A and the majors last season, Bauers combined for a .233/.331/.400 slash with 16 home runs, 79 runs, 72 RBI, and 16 steals in 148 games. Now that line is deceiving because he hit just .201 in the 96 games with the Rays and struck out a career-high 26.8% of the time. He did however have just a middle of the road 11.0% swinging strike rate in that span. Bauers will get a boost in the lineup around him, as well as going to a more hitter-friendly park but if he can’t get his average back into the .260-.280 range that it was in the minor leagues for his whole career, his value will be muted.
Wilmer Flores (NYM to ARI) – It’s not really a shock to see the Diamondbacks get a guy that can play first base given the only choices on their 25-man roster heading into the season following the trade of Paul Goldschmidt . Flores, a man who famously cried on the field when he thought he’d been traded a couple years ago, is now moving on in earnest after showing quite consistent play over the last four years. In that span he’s averaged 119 games played with a .267/.309/.440 slash, 15 HR, 45 R, 53 RBI, and one steal in those seasons which extrapolates to 21 homers, 61 runs, 72 RBI, and two steals over 162 games. Not bad from a guy who’s flown under the radar so much in recent years and now gets a bump offensively by going from Citi Field to Chase Field.
Neil Walker (NYY to MIA) – The Marlins signed Walker to a one-year deal to be added depth to their infield as they clearly need it. Walker played more than 25 games at each of Third, Second, and First for the Yankees in 2018, after playing predominantly as a second baseman in 2017, and still had just five errors all season. The bat on the other hand, didn’t work so well for him as he hit just .219 (a career-low) in 113 game while also managing a career-low in BABIP (.257) and wOBA (.291) and wRC+ (81) and a career-high in K% (21.9). Coming off a career-worst year in at bats, home runs, runs, RBI, and steals explains why he is considered to be a platoon piece for the Marlins in 2019. Couple his reduced role with one of the worst hitter’s parks in baseball, a rebound year in anything other than average is hard to see happening unless he stops being so pull-happy (45.1% in 2018 was a career-high) and the hard hit rate (37.9%) starts to bare results.
Daniel Murphy (CHC to COL) – For the last few years, Murphy has been arguably the most consistent power bat at the keystone position in the game, until a knee injury delayed the start of his 2018 season. Ultimately though he still salvaged a respectable season in the 91 games split between D.C. and the Cubs with a .299/.336/.454 with 12 homers, 42 RBI, 40 runs, and three steals with a .308 BABIP and .338 wOBA. Now after hitting 54 round-trippers in 342 games in a neutral park in D.C. he will shift to hitting in the best confines in baseball in Coors Field. If his knee is back to 100%, which it appeared to be getting close in his 35-game stint on the North Side, his plate discipline and power could be a major asset in the thin Denver air. In a very small sample size between 2016-18 in 32 at bats at Coors, he hit .375/.412/.688 with two homers, 12 RBI, and seven runs, with three XBH.
Ian Kinsler (BOS to SD) – Kinsler was signed by the Angels last offseason but was traded to Boston for the World Series run they went on. Now to be clear, most of the stats from last year were pretty solid still with him going for 14 homers and 16 steals giving him the most steals since 2012. However, the slash line wasn’t great finishing at .240/.301/.380 with a .250 BABIP and .298 wOBA and an 87 wRC+, making it the second year in a row that he’s posted a sub-.240 season. Kinsler now gets to try and hit well in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors and try not to look over his shoulder for either Luis Urias or Fernando Tatis Jr. trying to snipe his playing time. It might be a tough year offensively for the veteran middle infielder.
Jonathan Schoop (MIL to MIN) – Following the 2017 season Schoop’s value was at the highest point it could’ve been, then it came crashing down to earth in the 2018 campaign. The .233 average was his worst over a full-season since the .209 mark in 2014 and his OBP of .266 was also the worst since that season as well. Part of the reason for the bad season was simply the terrible offense he was on in Baltimore, but his year actually got worse following the trade to Milwaukee as he hit just over the Mendoza Line in the brief stay at Miller Park. The slugging middle infielder moves on to the Twins on a one-year deal this offseason to take over the second base spot left vacant by the departure of Brian Dozier last year at the trade deadline. For the bulk of his career he’s been a predominant pull-hitter and if you look at where all of his career home runs have gone, the overwhelming majority have left in left field. Target field is easier to hit homers out of in left field, but it is still a harder park to hit in than Camden Yards so expect his power numbers to drop off a bit.
Jurickson Profar (TEX to OAK) – Profar has been a household name in baseball for several years since he became the top prospect back in the early 2010s. Last year however was his first real coming out party as he played the most games he’s played in a single pro season at 146 with the Rangers banged up all year. With that opportunity, Profar posted a .254/.335/.458 with a .269 BABIP and .341 wOBA with 20 home runs, 82 runs, 77 RBI, and 10 steals while starting 20 games at first, 46 at third, and 61 at short. Oakland made the move to get him and are slated to start him at second base in 2019, replacing Jed Lowrie , and Profar has a pretty similar contact rate split to Lowrie and combine that with Profar’s ability to spread it all over the field, there’s no reason to think Profar can’t go 15-10 again this year.
Robinson Canó (SEA to NYM) – The early blockbuster of the offseason came when Cano and Edwin Díaz were moved from Seattle to New York in the first move by new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen. Cano made the most news last year when he was suspended for 80 games for a failed PED test. At 36, with five years left on the deal, there are some question marks about what he still has left in the tank at this point. In the 80 games he did play, Cano hit .303/.374/.471 with a .329 BABIP and .364 wOBA with 10 homers, 50 RBI, and 44 runs. Those counting stat total were the worst of his career in the majors, though he did play the fewest games he’s ever played. He has clearly played in New York before so the stage shouldn’t be too big for him, but the ballpark is quite a different one than Yankee Stadium was but not too dissimilar from his previous confines in Seattle. Most of his home runs go to right field and the dimensions of T-Mobile Park and Citi Field are nearly identical in right field to right-center field.
Brian Dozier (LAD to WAS) – Dozier was a late-season get for the Dodgers last year as they made a run toward the World Series, but he didn’t exactly succeed well in the bright lights of L.A. in the 47 games he played for them. That being said, the last five full seasons in Minnesota were fruitful for Dozier as he averaged 153 games played per season with a .252/.333/.465 slash line, 29 home runs, 99 runs, 81 RBI, and 16 steals average of counting stats. Production is the name of the game for Dozier as he’s been one of the best hitting second baseman in baseball in that span. The Nationals added him on a one-year, nine-million-dollar deal to hold down the keystone for the 2019 season while Carter Kieboom continues to mature on the farm. Nationals Park should be a good place for him to hit as it’s been one of the better hitter’s parks the last few years.
Jed Lowrie (OAK to NYM) – The well-traveled 10-year MLB veteran infielder is now on his way to the Big Apple with the Mets after signing a deal with them in early-January. The Mets are the fourth major league team for Lowrie to be a part of dating back to the Red Sox in 2008. That being said, it’s inarguable that he is coming off his best two-year stretch of his career as far as the plate is concerned. In 2018 alone, he set a career-high for games played, home runs, RBI, walks, BB-rate, ISO, SLG, WAR, and wRC+ putting him in what could be the prime of his career. The interesting part of the signing by the Mets is that, as mentioned earlier, they already traded for a second baseman earlier in the offseason and now seemingly signed another one. According to early reports though, Lowrie is expected to play third base in New York, a position that he’s played a total of 15 times since the start of 2016 which could lead to some bumps in the road early on. Lowrie shouldn’t have trouble hitting 20+ homers again and a .270+ average should follow as well.
DJ LeMahieu (COL to NYY) – An arms race of sorts brewed early in the offseason in New York with the Yankees joining in with the signing of LeMahieu to add depth to their infield. LeMahieu is mostly known as a high-average/on-base type second baseman who is a top-of-the-order hitter and thus a guy that runs up the run total as well. In two of the last three seasons he has posted double-digit home run totals with 15 dingers being his career-high last year. What is interesting about those home runs, of the 34 he’s hit in the last three years, about a third of those were hit to centerfield which is impressive given his home ballpark as well as some of the ones in his division at the time. LeMahieu is moving from perhaps the best hitter’s park in the league to another one in the top-five in Yankee Stadium and one that has much smaller dimensions than Coors Field, which could help his power numbers. The Yankees are expecting to use him all over the infield as a depth piece and perhaps mostly at first base depending on Greg Bird and Luke Voit ’s seasons.
Josh Harrison (PIT to DET) – Harrison is coming off his worst major league season since 2012 and he played his fewest games in the majors since being called up. Detroit is in the middle of a major rebuild and he is just going to be a stopgap option for the Tigers. The reason he was so cheap for them to sign is his up-and-down history the last several seasons with home run totals of 13, four, four, 16, and eight dating back to 2014 and his batting average has dropped every year from then too starting at .315, the .287, then .283, then .272, then .250 last year. He is still working with a low strikeout rate but the walk rate has never been a big part of his game which also reduces his upside. Couple that with a bigger park and generally tougher hitter’s parks in that division and it might be tough for Harrison to rebound all that much in 2019.
Josh Donaldson (TOR to ATL) – After three highly-productive seasons in Toronto, the slugging third baseman had an injury-riddled 2018 split between Toronto and Cleveland that saw him play just 52 games in total. In the time in Toronto he never had worse than a .270/.371/.549 slash line with no worse than 33 home runs 65 runs, 78 RBI, and two steals and those counting stats were in 2017 in just 113 games. The Braves have had a weakness at third base for a while now and they are hoping that Donaldson is healthy again and can provide depth to the middle of the lineup either in front or behind of Freddie Freeman . If he is in fact healthy, there should be no reason why he can’t provide the top-shelf production we’ve come to expect from the 33-year-old slugger.
Yandy Diaz (CLE to TB) – Diaz was shipped to Tampa in the three-way trade between the Indians, Mariners, and Rays. He has spent most of his time at Triple-A, playing at least 85 games there in each of the last three seasons averaging 92 games a year with a .322/.419/.436 slash line, five home runs, 54 runs, 39 RBI, and three steals. Those stats don’t jump off the page except for the average and on-base percentage but again they are in just over half-seasons and at Triple-A. Diaz is expected to compete for a starting job, likely at first base, for Tampa Bay come spring training but with just 88 games in the majors under his belt, with a .283/.361/.366 line with one home run, 40 runs, 28 RBI, and two steals in that span, it’s hard to judge exactly what he’s capable of but power doesn’t appear to be in the toolshed for the 27-year-old corner infielder.
Asdrubal Cabrera (PHI to TEX) – Perhaps the Rangers didn’t want to take the chance on Patrick Wisdom being their starting third baseman in 2019. However, that being said, he only played 22 games total at third last year (starting 12) and has only played 67 games total there in his 12-year career. Mostly he played second base and shortstop so there might be an adjustment period to him fielding at the hot corner and his reads on grounders and throws. His bat though has been consistent in the last three years, hitting .280 two of those, an OBP of .336 or better twice, three-straight BABIPs of .296 or higher, two years of 23 home runs, between 65-68 runs and 62-75 RBI, in that span. Heading to Texas and the big boost the summer heat gives bats at Globe Life Park should increase his value slightly as should the fact that he’s play 143 or more games six of the last eight seasons.
Manny Machado (LAD to SD) – Well one of the top free agents has finally come off the market, and to a surprise team at that in the San Diego Padres. Machado made a point to play shortstop last season in order to increase his value on the free agent market and after signing a 10-year, $300-millon deal it’s hard to argue that the position switch didn’t help him out. However, starting out in San Diego he will be playing the hot corner once again considering they have Luis Urias at shortstop and only had Ty France slated to play third base before the signing. We all know how good of a bat he’s been for his seven years in the league but last year was perhaps his best of those seasons with a .297/.367/.538 slash with 37 homers, 107 RBI, 84 runs, and 14 steals while splitting time between Baltimore and Los Angeles. Now yes, he has spent almost all of his career in a hitter-haven in Camden Yards specifically and the AL East in general, so his numbers have benefitted from that. However, moving to Petco Park shouldn’t significantly mark down his numbers all that much as a they have played as similar parks, park factor-wise, for most of the last five seasons, plus he gets Coors Field and Chase Field thrown in as well. Machado is still an elite get at either third base or shortstop even with the positions being deep and him shifting to what’s usually considered a less-favorable home park in San Diego.
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR to NYY) – As I mentioned before, there’s an arms race of sorts happening for middle infielders in New York and Tulo is part of that as well. The Blue Jays released him with another $38 million guaranteed left on his contract which allowed the Yankees to sign him to just a one-year, league-minimum contract for the 2019 season. Injuries have overshadowed his accomplishments on the field and especially in Toronto as his three full-seasons in a Blue Jays uniform saw him play just 197 games total including just 66 in the last two years combined. In 2016 when he did manage 131 games, there was still a good bat skill with a .254/.318/.443 with 24 round trippers, 79 RBI, 54 runs, and a steal. The Yankees are hoping he can be close to that in order to replace the injured Didi Gregorius for at least a good chunk of the year.
Jean Segura (SEA to PHI) – Amongst the flurry of moves that Seattle made this offseason, Segura was sent to Philadelphia making the Phillies the fifth team he’s been a part of in his pro career. It is a bit shocking that Segura would be a guy that’s been moved so often given how productive he’s been since hitting the major leagues. Four times since his first full season in 2013, Segura’s hit .294 or higher including three-straight .300+ seasons while stealing at least 20 bases each of the last six seasons and hitting double-digit homers four times including three-straight. He will turn 29 years old during spring training but that puts him right in the middle of his prime and at a premium defensive spot, it’s hard to ignore his consistency at the plate and especially when he heads to the bandbox that his Citizens Bank Park.
J.P. Crawford (PHI to SEA) – The former top prospect of the Phillies was sent packing this offseason in the deal to get Segura, but the question is what Seattle gets out of the move. Crawford has never been known for his bat as he’s only had two seasons, since turning pro in 2013, in which he posted double-digit home runs and his best average has been a .288 in 2015 in 107 games between High-A and Double-A. His defense has been the thing carrying him, but that too let him down in 2018 as he posted a .931 FLD% in 30 starts at shortstop due to the eight errors. Now if the Mariners get the 2017 version of Crawford (.243/.351/.405 with 15 homers, 75 runs, 63 RBI, and five steals in 127 Triple-A games), they could get a sneaky bat in the middle infield but certainly not one that’s to the par of Segura.
Tim Beckham (BAL to SEA) – Beckham has spent the last year and a half in Baltimore and was a productive member of the Orioles in that span, despite the bad team seasons on the whole. In the 146 games he spent at Camden Yards Beckham slashed .258/.309/.426 with 22 home runs, 81 runs, 61 RBI, and two steals which is all-in-all a good season from a just about anyone including shortstops. Seattle signed the former number-one overall pick to a one-year, $1.75 million deal to add depth to the now short-handed shortstop spot. He will battle it out with J.P. Crawford , and should win, for the starting spot in spring training.
Jordy Mercer (PIT to DET) – Mercer is the replacement to the departed José Iglesias up the middle for the Tigers this year. Mercer is a pretty close player comp-wise to Iglesias on the offensive side though Iglesias hit for a higher average the last few years. In seven major league seasons, Mercer has been a .256/.316/.383 hitter averaging 7.8 HR, 41.5 R, 39.5 RBI, and 1.8 steals per season while in Pittsburgh. The one-year, $5.25 million deal is likely just a placeholder while the Tigers can sort out their rebuilding effort and see what they have on the farm. Expecting much more from him than his averages in an equally tough hitter’s park in 2019 is hard to see.
Freddy Galvis (SD to TOR) – After spending his whole major league career in Philadelphia, he went to San Diego in 2018 and even though the parks couldn’t be any different for hitters, he didn’t skip a beat in any of counting stats though his average has seen better days. Now that the Padres are bringing up the highly-lauded Luis Urias to be the starting shortstop in 2019, Galvis moves on to a platoon/back-up role in Toronto. Back in a hitter-friendly park his stats should once again fit in nicely with his trend the last three years, assuming he gets enough at bats to rack up the stats.
Michael Brantley (CLE to HOU) – Last year was a very nice return for Brantley after the injury difficulties of the 2016-17 campaigns and he showed part of what he was at his peak. His best season as a pro was in 2014 when he slashed .327/.385/.506 with 20 home runs, 97 RBI, 94 runs, and 23 steals over 156 games, last year in comparison went more like a .309/.364/.468 slash with 17 homers, 89 runs, 76 RBI, and 12 steals in 143 games. Houston has needed outfield help and consistency for the last few years and Brantley fits that bill. The issue for those watching the prospects in Houston now need Kyle Tucker to beat out Josh Reddick to get at bats since George Springer and Brantley likely aren’t ceding time.
Andrew McCutchen (NYY to PHI) – McCutchen was sent to San Francisco last offseason where his year got lost in the shuffle that was a disappointing season for the Giants, until that is, he was traded to the Yankees before the August deadline. The time in New York really boosted his market this offseason as he posted an impressive .421 OBP in the 25-game stint in the Bronx. By now everyone knows what McCutchen can be when he’s on his game as a 20+/10+ outfielder who will hit .270 or better and in Philadelphia, his offense should come back around as it’s the best hitter’s park he’s had a chance to play in.
Billy Hamilton (CIN to KC) – Speed…speed…speed is what Hamilton brings, and has always brought. The reason that he’s changing teams though has to do with the fact that Cincinnati got tired of him not being able to get on base to utilizes that elite speed. For his career he is a .245 hitter and has a .298 OBP in five major league seasons. He has amassed 277 career steals and stole 56, 57, 58, 59 in successive seasons until swiping 34 bags in 2018. Kansas City used speed as a base to make their runs to the World Series a few years back and now have admitted that that’s what they’re planning on doing this time around as well. Hamilton may not be a starting outfielder for the Royals but that shouldn’t hinder his base-stealing ability in 2019 as he should once again top 35 steals.
Chris Owings (ARI to KC) – The Diamondbacks have decided to rebuild of sorts and Owings was sent packing this offseason and Kansas City was the ones that picked him up on a one-year deal. Owings had a disastrous 2018 campaign that involved him being sent to Triple-A Reno at one point after hitting below .200 for much of the first half of the season and he really wasn’t settled in the field either as he played second, third, left, center, and right. Owings is slated to be a back-up all around the diamond this year which limits his offensive upside to a degree. However, if he does wind up taking a starting job, the speed could flash once more assuming he gets his stroke back at the plate.
Keon Broxton (MIL to NYM) – Broxton came onto the scene to a degree in 2016 with 23 steals in 75 games for the Brewers and then in 2017, he posted a 20-20 season in 143 games but only managed a .220 average and .299 OBP in that same span. Milwaukee had a very crowded outfield in 2018 and not surprisingly Broxton was sent to Triple-A for about half the season. Broxton’s biggest weakness are clearly his K-rates and his swinging strike rates. The K-rate hasn’t dropped below 31.5% for any time in his major league career and in his 2017 season it was 37.8% and the swinging strike rates of 17.6% and 16.6% are also unsustainable long term. Broxton shouldn’t be a starter for the Mets as they have depth in the outfield, but even if he plays for extended time due to injuries those rates will be of a concern.
Domingo Santana (MIL to SEA) – Like Broxton, Santana was a victim of a crowded outfield for the Brewers in 2018 as he split time between the majors and Triple-A Colorado Springs. Perhaps the most surprising part of the demotion in 2018 was the fact that he had a career-year in 2017 with a .278/.371/.505 slash line with 30 home runs, 88 runs, 85 RBI, and 15 steals with a .363 BABIP and .372 wOBA. He also posted the best BB-rate over a full season in his career at 12.0% as he had 75 total walks. The Mariners are starting a rebuild to a degree and they are hoping the 26-year-old outfielder can be close to the guy he was in 2017 and give him some major upside in a relatively hitter-friendly AL West division.
Matt Kemp (LAD to CIN) – Kemp was dealt to the Reds in a blockbuster deal for the Dodgers to shed salary, presumably to make some free agent moves either this year or next. It had been since 2014 that Kemp donned an L.A. uniform with a year and half each in San Diego and Atlanta in between. Most people believed that Kemp was due for a comeback year in 2018, and in the first half at least, that’s what we got with a total line of .290/.338/.481 with 21 homers, 85 RBI, 62 runs, a .339 BABIP, and .348 wOBA over 146 games. The issue was that he seemed to run out of steam in the second half as he hit just .255 with six bombs after the All-Star break compared to .310 with 15 long balls before it. Clearly Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark is one of the best launching pads in the game which should only help his offensive numbers stay solid throughout the season in 2019.
Yasiel Puig (LAD to CIN) – Puig was the second player included in the blockbuster mentioned above in Matt Kemp ’s write-up and it should be fun watching the guy known as Wild Horse run amuck in Great American Ballpark. Puig had a bit of a rough go earlier in his career in L.A. but the last two seasons have been pretty consistent for Puig with a .263/.346/.487 slash line with 28 home runs, 74 RBI, 72 runs, and 15 steals in 152 games in 2017 and then backed that up with a .267/.327/.494 slash, 23 home runs, 63 RBI, 60 runs, and 15 steals in 125 games in 2018. The Reds have on their coaching staff, the former hitting coach for the Dodgers which should also help the transition for Puig to the new confines in Cincinnati. Power and speed both play well in southern Ohio and we should see quite a bit from Puig in 2019.
Jay Bruce (NYM to SEA) – Bruce is on the move yet again as this is the third time in four years that the outfielder has been traded or signed by a different team. Last year was the first year since making the majors in 2008 that he didn’t hit double-digit homers, and only the second time he didn’t hit 20 home runs. The 94 games that he played in 2018 was also the fewest he’s played going all the way back to 2007 which also led to the simply bad season for the now 31-year-old slugger. He was included in the Cano/Diaz trade heading back to Seattle and will likely be a fourth outfielder for the Ms to start the year.
Jordan Luplow (PIT to CLE) – In a minor trade this offseason, the Pirates sent Luplow to Cleveland along with Max Moroff in exchange for Erik González and two prospects. During the 2018 season, Luplow split time between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh throughout 125 games while hitting .264/.346/.439 with 11 home runs, 57 runs, 56 RBI, and nine steals which all told is a usable stat line. His best season came in 2017 however as he played 144 games between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors with a combined stat line of .286/.364/.504 with 26 homers, 80 runs, 67 RBI, and five steals while playing corner outfield. Cleveland needed a new left fielder since Michael Brantley left for Houston in free agency and that’s where Luplow comes in. He is penciled in as the starter ahead of Jake Bauers as the backup and given Luplow’s decent combo of power and speed and ability to hit for a solid average, he could have some late flier status in drafts this year.
Mallex Smith (TB to SEA) – The Rays sent Smith to Seattle as part of the return for Mike Zunino in a November trade. The 25-year-old outfielder is known for possessing speed, and a lot of it at that. Smith put up a 40-steal season in 2018 while slashing .296/.367/.406 in 141 games with two homers, 65 runs, and 40 RBI and that 40-steal season followed a 37-steal season in 2017 between Tampa and Triple-A Durham. The Mariners had a speedy centerfielder last year when they transitioned Dee Gordon to center before moving him back to second base after the Cano suspension, and now with this move, they will again have a speedy centerfielder in the form of Mallex Smith .
Added January 19th
Avisail García (CWS to TB) - Anyone remember when he was a .330 hitter in 2017 with 18 homers, 80 RBI, 75 runs, and five steals? A career-year is that what turned out to be, which isn’t hard to figure out. In 2018 he played 43 fewer games and the slash line dropped by nearly 100 points across the board, down to .236/.281/.438 though he did hit for more homers (19). In the six seasons that Garcia has been in the majors, he’s topped 100 games played in just half of them and in those seasons, he had a total of 772 at bats while hitting .253/.295/.427 compared to a slash of .279/.318/.420 in 1484 at bats in the other seasons. Clearly the .330 season boosts the line since in all five other seasons combined have produced a .252/.302/.397 triple slash for Garcia. He's slated to be a back-up outfielder in Tampa this season which hurts his value and limits his upside substantially.
A.J. Pollock (ARI to LAD) – When the Dodgers moved Puig, Kemp, and Wood to the Reds in the salary relief move, fans thought it was to make room for signing either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado but that wasn’t quite the case. Pollock, when healthy is a still a very productive outfielder. In the last three seasons in which he played 112+ games (excluding the 12 games in 2016), Pollock is averaging a .284/.342/.486 slash line with 18 HR, 82 runs, 63 RBI, and 24 steals while averaging 127 games a season in that span. So again, when he’s on the field, he’s productive. However, if you are looking at drafting him in fantasy, only playing a total of 237 games in the last three years is disconcerting to say the least. Clearly the Dodgers think they can maximize his time on the field given his four-year, near $50-million deal they inked him to, plus with how the move guys in and out of the offense it’s possible that reduces his injury exposure but then again, fewer games don’t always make owners happy. His stat line in three of the last four years extrapolate to 23 homers, 104 runs, 81 RBI, and 31 steals in 162 games, he just won’t play that many.
Bryce Harper (WAS to PHI) – It’s finally over. The chase for the biggest ticket item on the market ended when he inked a massive 13-year, $330-million deal with full no trade clause and no opt out. The baseball world has reacted in different ways to the deal but in general fantasy players are relishing the chance to see his bat play in Citizens Bank Park which is known to be a bandbox of a park, especially for lefty hitters. The biggest issue for Harper is his ability to stay on the field and stay consistent. There is MVP-level talent there as he’s shown previously but the question remains as to whether he can show that level of talent all the time or if he will continue to have great seasons followed by so-so years. His stock will continue to rise this draft season after this signing because the power numbers could be in the 40+ home run area routinely.
Adam Jones (BAL to ARI) – Jones’ long free agency came to an end March 10th as the Diamondbacks signed him to a one-year, $3-million deal that can expand to $5-million if he hits the incentive marks in the deal. He has been in a bit of a decline over the last few years with his counting stats, though that could also be a product of the generally declining offense around him in Baltimore, but his batting average, BABIP, and wOBA have been pretty stable in that same three-year span while his K% has declined and last year was a career-low 15.2%. There is some question as to whether he’ll be a starter or a bench bat for the Diamondbacks this season since Arizona’s plan before this signing was playing Ketel Marte in centerfield instead of in the infield. At 33 years old he is in the waning stages of his career but he still has the skills to be a league-average starter last year notwithstanding.
Nelson Cruz (SEA to MIN) – The only thing that was surprising about his 2018 season was the 32-point drop he saw in his batting average as compared to his 2017 mark. The counting stats were lower but not by much considering he played 11 fewer games than he did in each of 2017 and 2016. At age 36 it was unclear as to what the free agent market would look like for the slugging DH, but Minnesota stepped up with a one-year, $14.3 million deal that has an option for 2020 for $12 million. Without question Target Field will be the least hitter-friendly park he’s called home in his career but that was said about then Safeco Field as well and that didn’t slow him down as he hit 159 home runs in four seasons in Seattle. Expecting Cruz to hit 30-35 dingers in 2019 should be a bet.
Patrick Corbin (ARI to WAS) – Corbin was the top pitcher on the market this offseason and it netted him a six-year, $140 million deal from the Nationals. The 2018 season was clearly his best one in the majors as he was fully healthy and maximized his arsenal over the 200 innings pitched to the tune of a 3.15 ERA (2.47 FIP, 2.61 xFIP) and 1.05 WHIP with an 11.05 K/9 rate and 2.16 BB/9 rate. Picking up a curveball and throwing his slider more often are the two main reasons that his numbers saw the jumps that they did. The good news for him is that Washington intends on allowing him to keep mixing his pitches the way he was this past season which means he could be in line for a similar campaign to that of his 2018 season.
Charlie Morton (HOU to TB) – Morton was often the unsung member of the Houston rotation for the last two years while posting a 29-10 record in 313.2 innings with a 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.44 K/9, 3.52 FIP, and 3.49 xFIP. All of that while being overshadowed by Justin Verlander , Dallas Keuchel , Gerrit Cole , and to a degree Lance McCullers . Tampa Bay was in desperate need of a starter, or three, heading into this offseason and got one of them with a two-year, $30 million deal signed with Morton. In terms of park factors, Minute Maid Park and Tropicana Field are pretty similar as more or less slightly pitcher-friendly parks with the difference coming within the rest of the division. The AL East is a tougher division across the board in terms of bandbox parks and loaded lineups to face which means Morton might have a drop-off in 2019.
Lance Lynn (NYY to TEX) – Lynn’s season started off pretty slowly after signing with the Twins last offseason, but the last third of the year is where his money was made, following a trade to New York. In the 20 starts for the Twins, Lynn posted a 7-8 record with a 5.10 ERA (4.72 FIP), 1.63 WHIP and a 100:62 K:BB ratio in 102.1 innings, however in the 11 appearances (nine starts) for the Yankees Lynn bettered his numbers by posting a 4.14 ERA (2.17 FIP), 1.32 WHIP, and a 61:14 K:BB ratio in 54.1 innings. When signing the 31-year-old righty to a three-year, $30-million deal the Rangers must have been looking at the FIP in New York to justify it, that and the fact that he only gave up 14 home runs all year for a 0.8 HR/9 mark. Balls fly out of Globe Life Park in the summer months and he’ll need to keep it down to keep the ball in the park and not blow up his ERA.
Anibal Sánchez (ATL to WAS) – The 2018 season saw Sanchez flashback to the earlier parts of his career when he was consistently ERAs in the mid-3.00 range with the Marlins and the first few years with the Tigers. Sanchez had a few lost seasons in 2015, 2016, and 2017 due to injuries and simply poor performances before putting it all back together again in Atlanta in 2018. Across 136.2 innings the veteran righty posted a 2.83 ERA (3.62 FIP) with an 8.89 K/9 and 2.77 BB/9 in 24 starts. Washington got an up close and personal look at Sanchez as he pitched 18.0 innings against the Nationals last year and posted a 1.50 ERA, 16:7 K:BB ratio, and a .159 BAA which made him a target for the two-year deal this offseason to become the fifth starter for Washington. If he stays in his groove, it could be another surprising season for the 34-year-old.
Garrett Richards (LAA to SD) – Like a lot of pitchers, Richards has dealt with a series of injuries in the past few years that have limited him to just 144 innings across all levels of pro ball since the start of 2016. In 2014 he showed he had the makings of a future ace with a breakout season and 2015 saw him hit 200+ innings for the first time, then the wheels fell off until this past year. Richards showed flashes of what he used to be in the 76 innings he pitched in 2018 with a 3.66 ERA (4.13 FIP), 1.28 WHIP, 10.26 K/9, and .221 BAA. The Padres needed some starters to fill in the gaps of their rotation and signed Richards to two-year deal while their homegrown prospects mature. If Richards can stay healthy, there should be a mid-3.00 ERA in his future for 2019.
Matt Harvey (CIN to LAA) – The Dark Knight is a long way from Gotham with his new deal that brings him to the Angels rotation. His injury history has been well-documented at this point but the difference in his pitching ability can’t be overstated. In his first 427 innings pitched (2012, 2013, 2015) Harvey posted a combined 2.53 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.46 K/9, 1.97 BB/9, and a 147.1 ERA+. In the next three years (2016-18) Harvey was on the mound for just 340.1 innings for a combined 5.39 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 7.25 K/9, 2.88 BB/9, and a 77.2 ERA+. It’s like two completely different pitchers but of course that’s what happens with Tommy John and shoulder problems. In 2018 he did take strides in improving but he’s clearly still a shell of his former ace-caliber self and in 2019 it’s quite possible that he improves some more, but he should still only be an average pitcher.
Trevor Cahill (OAK to LAA) – Another transplant to the Angels rotation, Cahill has been a well-traveled pitcher since turning pro in 2006. In his latest stop in 2018, Cahill was pretty effective when he was on the mound as he posted a 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a 100:41 K:BB ratio in 110 innings pitched. Like his now rotation-mate in Matt Harvey , the question with Cahill is just how healthy can he stay and how long can he be on the mound for? There are performance incentives in his contract that give him 1.5 million reasons to stay healthy and if he can, based on 2018, Cahill should be a reasonable low-end starter option in deeper leagues.
Tyson Ross (STL to DET) – Ross spent the 2018 season split between Texas and St. Louis with some mixed results. The 123.1 innings spent in Texas saw him post a 4.45 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and a 107:52 K:BB ratio. However, the 26.33 innings pitched in St. Louis mainly as a reliever (nine appearances, one start) saw him post a 2.73 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a 144 ERA+. Now he has joined a rebuilding Tigers squad as a member of the rotation in the hopes of improving on his starter numbers from a year ago but with the lack of offense around him, the wins may suffer in 2019.
Matt Shoemaker (LAA to TOR) – Not to beat a dead horse, but Shoemaker is another pitcher who is coming off a couple of injury-plagued seasons and signed a one-year deal this offseason. Shoemaker has managed just 108.2 innings in the last two years combined while pitching for the Halos with a 4.64/4.62/4.59 ERA/FIP/xFIP line. The Blue Jays need a starter to fill-in the hole left by the departed J.A. Happ and of course they think they found it in Shoemaker, but a thing to note is that even when fully healthy the righty has made 30 or more starts just twice in his 11-year career. So, in terms of a reliable, every fifth-day, starter type Shoemaker leaves quite a bit to be desired and now he gets to do it in the challenging AL East.
Clayton Richard (SD to TOR) – Another piece acquired to be apart of the Blue Jays rotation, Richard was traded for from San Diego in late-December. He’s coming off a season in 2018 in which he started 27 games, posted a 7-11 record behind a 5.33 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. That is not a good year by any means, and it explains why the Padres designated him for assignment and thus how he was traded. The Blue Jays have quite a bit of young talent coming into their rotation starting this season and so Richard doesn’t appear to have much of a value heading into 2019 even in the deepest of leagues.
Alex Wood (LAD to CIN) – Wood was the third big name in the deal between the Reds and the Dodgers earlier this offseason and he is expected to be an integral part of the Reds rotation this coming season. Though he first must agree on his arbitration deal since Cincinnati offered lower than what Wood wanted. The 28-year-old southpaw had a good two-year run with the Dodgers between 2017-18 with 304 innings pitched and a 25-10 W-L record with an impressive 3.19 ERA and 1.13 WHIP and 286 strikeouts. The confines in Cincinnati are not the friendliest for a pitcher so those numbers will be put to the test but the good news is that he’s never given up more than 0.89 HR/9 in any season in his career.
Iván Nova (PIT to CWS) – The first thing that jumps off the page about Nova is how consistent he’s been in terms of ERA and WHIP over the last three years with a 4.17, 4.14, and 4.19 ERA and a 1.25, 1.28, and 1.28 WHIP. He was dealt to Chicago for a prospect and a half a million dollars in international signing pool money in order to help bolster the depth of the Chicago rotation in the middle of it. Switching from the NL to the AL can be tricky for pitchers, but Nova has already been an AL pitcher for the bulk of his career as he came up with the Yankees and with his middling numbers the changes shouldn’t be that big, especially in a good pitcher’s division.
Luke Weaver (STL to ARI) – Weaver was the talk of the pre-season last year as one of the up and coming starters you could buy low on in the draft based off his encouraging 2017 taste of the majors. However, the high hopes for the 2018 season didn’t exactly bare fruit as he posted a 4.95 ERA in 30 appearances (25 starts) over 136.1 innings and a disappointing 7.99 K/9 rate. The Diamondbacks though were still interested enough to ask for him to be included in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Arizona needed another starter to fill the spot vacated by the departing Patrick Corbin and Weaver has the benefit of joining a very solid rotation filled with Zack Greinke , Taijuan Walker , and Robbie Ray which should help him grow.
James Paxton (SEA to NYY) – It was no secret that the Yankees needed pitching this offseason given the middling nature of their staff behind Luis Severino and in Paxton they made the move to get that depth. Paxton is coming a season in which he pitched more than 160 innings for just the third time in his eight-year career which boosted his trade value as did the fact that he still has arbitration years left. The southpaw struck out an impressive 208 batters in those 160.1 last year for the second straight year of a double-digit K/9 rate. If Paxton can avoid the nagging injuries that have hampered his career, he should be a great addition to the Yankees rotation in the number two spot in the Bronx.
Justus Sheffield (NYY to SEA) – Sheffield only has 2.2 innings pitched in the majors in his career yet has already been traded twice in two blockbuster deals. He was first sent from the Indians to the Yankees as part of the package for Andrew Miller in 2016 and then this offseason in the James Paxton deal but in both of those he was considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game. The southpaw has the upside of a number two starter but will need to learn to harness his control a little more, as well as boosting his innings in a season before he can reach his top-flight upside. The most he’s ever pitched in a season was the 127.2 he threw in 2015 in A-ball and since he’s only topped 120 once.
Tanner Roark (WAS to CIN) – In a move that was a bit surprising, the Nationals sent Roark to Cincinnati in a swap of Tanners as the Nats got Tanner Rainey , a right-handed bullpen arm, in return. Roark has been the definition of a reliable, every fifth-day, starter the last three years with innings pitched totals coming in at 210, 181.1, and 180.1 over 97 appearances, 93 of those being starts. Now the ERA isn’t anything to write home about with a 4.50 mark in the last two seasons combined and a BABIP against of .298. Washington moved him to save money and get something for him before he became a free agent at the end of 2019. The Reds get a reliable fourth starter out of the deal and one that can bide them some time before any of their pitching prospects are ready.
Sonny Gray (NYY to CIN) – The downfall of Gray has been well-documented and discussed ad nauseum to this point. Yes, he had a bad season in 2018 with a 4.90 ERA and a career-high in BB/9 of 3.94 while only pitching 130.1 innings. However, he had a far better year outside of the Bronx with a 3.17 ERA over 71 innings and nearly 100 points lower in the BAA (.315 H vs. .223 A) and nearly a double-digit (9.88) K/9 rate. Clearly his stuff didn’t work in Yankee Stadium or it was the mental side of things weighing on him. In Cincinnati you may think that his stuff may not play well either since it is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, but the career 53.3% GB% rate (which was still at 50% last year) says that he keeps the ball down at a rate of 1.92 GB/FB. Keeping the ball down avoids home runs which is where the big damage comes at the Great American Ballpark and he will now be reunited with his former coach from Vanderbilt who knows how to get the best out of him.
Drew Pomeranz (BOS to SF) – Pomeranz is coming off a down 2018 which saw him transition to more of a bullpen role (26 games pitched, 11 starts) than in previous years given his injuries and ineffectiveness when healthy. The 2017 season, his first full one in Boston following the mid-season 2016 trade, saw him posted a very good 17-6 W-L record with a 3.32 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and a 9.02 K/9 over 173.2 innings (the most of his career). Now he moves to San Francisco on a one-year deal as the Giants look to add small pieces to fill out a rebuilding roster, especially in the pitching department. While San Fran has the best pitcher’s park in baseball, it’s unclear where Pomeranz will fit in with the most likely spot being a swing man in the pen in the hopes he can recapture his velocity and elbow health.
Marco Estrada (TOR to OAK) – Estrada signed a one-year, Four-million-dollar deal with the A’s after back-to-back down seasons in Toronto in 2017-18. Last year was a bit injury-plagued for the 35-year-old right-hander and held him to the fewest appearances since 2013 and fewest starts since 2015 at 28 apiece. This past season was also the worst full-season ERA of his career at 5.64 and worst FIP at 5.44 as well and not to pile on but the K/9 rate of 6.45 was the lowest mark of his 11-year major league career. Now to build him back up after piling on, the 2015-2016 season were the best two-year stretch of his major league career in which he compiled 357 innings pitched with a 3.30 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 7.46 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, and 1.07 WHIP in that span. The numbers certainly don’t jump off the page, but they are quality nonetheless especially when pitching in the AL East both seasons. Getting up in age and coming off an injury expecting him to put up numbers in that range would be foolish, but he should be better than the upper-fours and mid-fives in ERA like the last two years have seen. Oakland is a pitcher-friendly park and Oakland needs starters, but he should still be just a fifth starter for them.
Wade Miley (MIL to HOU) – It’s no secret that the Astros have been in need of starting pitching this offseason with them seemingly having no interest, to this point, in re-signing their former ace in Dallas Keuchel and having already lost Charlie Morton to Tampa earlier in the offseason. Miley is a bit of a shocker with this move as well since most expected him to re-sign in Milwaukee after having such a great, albeit, shortened season in Miller Park in 2018 in addition to signing just a one-year deal. The veteran lefty had one of his best seasons in 2018, the it was only 80.2 innings long, with a 2.57 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 5.58 K/9, 3.01 BB/9, and a .232 BAA after making sure to ramp up his cutter usage and dropping his fastball usage for the first time, helping his pitch mix and keeping hitters off-balance. Houston has been known over the past five years or so to be a team that helps pitchers increase their spin rates on their pitches, Gerrit Cole , Charlie Morton , Dallas Keuchel and even Justin Verlander , have been the beneficiaries of that knowledge and now Miley hopes he can be the next in that line. The main key for him is to stay healthy and then keep with the pitch mix that helped him in 2018 to produce a career-high 52.8% GB% with better than 55% GB% coming on the cutter alone. Given the signing of Miley, it seems unlikely that Keuchel will be back since Miley and Keuchel are very similar pitchers in terms of stuff and relying on ground ball rates to have their numbers play up.
Andrew Miller (CLE to STL) – Miller has been at the top of the heap when it comes to relief pitchers for the last several seasons, until 2018 knocked him down a notch. He was working back from an injury at the start of the season and that limited him to a 34-inning campaign over 37 appearances. The injury could very well explain the near three-run jump in the ERA from 2017 to 2018 (1.44 to 4.24) and a drop in K/9 from 13.64 to 11.91. St. Louis is looking to reshape their bullpen this season and signed Miller to a two-year deal to help with that process. It is likely that Miller will compete for the closer role for the Cardinals, along with Carlos Martínez and Jordan Hicks , and he does have closer experience previously with 53 career saves but even if he doesn’t get the closer role, just returning to the 100 K and sub-2.50 ERA would be enough to give him value again.
Joe Kelly (BOS to LAD) – Looking at his year as a whole, the three-year, $25-million deal for Kelly from the Dodgers might seem steep but it’s all about the playoffs for the Dodgers and Kelly. The 30-year-old flame-throwing righty posted a miniscule .70 ERA with 13 Ks in 11.1 innings this postseason and career wise the man with the 100-mph fastball has a 2.49 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 47 postseason innings between St. Louis and Boston. His regular season numbers however leave a little more to be desired as he’s only had two seasons with a sub-3.50 ERA and most are in the mid-fours. He will be a bullpen piece but that’s about it.
David Robertson (NYY to PHI) – The Phillies had a closer by committee last year with Héctor Neris and Seranthony Dominguez being a couple of the arms to get saves. Robertson was just one of the arms in a stacked bullpen for the Yankees and he too chipped in with the saves in the Bronx with five of them to his credit. It is unclear whether Robertson will over take Dominguez for the closing role, though Robertson does have 137 career saves and three-straight seasons of 34+ and a career 2.88 ERA. If salary has anything to do with it, paying a setup man $11.5-million per year is a bit steep.
Álex Colomé (SEA to CWS) – Following the trade of Edwin Díaz out of Seattle it looked like Colome would close for the Mariners but then he was shipped to the South Side of Chicago for Omar Narváez . Colome posted 12 saves and 30 holds with a 3.04 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 68 innings in 2018 between Tampa Bay and Seattle. The 30-year-old reliever has a been a fixture in the backend of the pen for the last three years with 96 saves in that span with a 2.77 ERA in 191.1 innings since the start of 2016. While those are compelling numbers, he and Nate Jones will likely have to battle it out for saves in the backend of the White Sox pen.
Kelvin Herrera (WAS to CWS) – A foot injury ended Herrera’s 2018 campaign prematurely following the trade from the Royals to the Nationals. Now he’s hoping to be fully healthy for the start of the upcoming year so he can bolster the White Sox reshaped bullpen in what is expected to be a setup role. When he is on his game, Herrera can have filthy stuff in the late innings and has been known to post double-digit K/9 rates in his career, most recently in 2016 as a Royal. Don’t expect save chances to come his way though as the White Sox have Álex Colomé or Nate Jones in place for the ninth.
Joakim Soria (MIL to OAK) – Soria signed a two-year, $15-million deal with Oakland in December to become one of the setup men in the A’s pen. He split 2018 between the White Sox and the Brewers to the tune of a 3.12 ERA, 2.44 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, and a 75:16 K:BB ratio in 60.2 innings pitched including 16 saves. Since seeing his ERA hit a career high 4.05 in 2016 in Kansas City, it has fallen by about a half a run per year since which is a nice trend if the now 34-year-old reliever can continue it. Clearly Blake Treinen is the closer so Soria may only get a handful of saves when Treinen isn’t available.
Edwin Díaz (SEA to NYM) – Since landing in the closer role in Seattle in the middle of the 2016 season, Diaz has been one of the best closers in the game. Last season took that argument to a new level with a dominating campaign in which he notched 57 saves, a 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, a 15.22 K/9 mark, and a remarkable 124:17 K:BB ratio in 73.1 innings. The Mets needed a much better backend of the pen and that’s exactly what they got in the deal that netted them Diaz and Cano. There is no reason to think that Diaz can’t rack up another 45+ saves and great ratios as he’s switching leagues meaning not many hitters have seen his stuff before.
Anthony Swarzak (NYM to SEA) – Swarzak turned his best season as a pro, 2017, into a two-year deal with the Mets at the start of 2018. Now though he became a salary dump as part of the Diaz/Cano trade after an injury-riddled disappointing 2018 season. If the 33-year-old righty can go back to his 2017 form that saw him post a 2.33 ERA, 10.59 K/9, 1.03 WHIP, and 6-4 record with two saves in 77.1 innings, then Seattle got themselves a solid relief option to add to their pen.
Kyle Barraclough (MIA to WAS) – It was a disappointing 2018 season for the Marlins closer as he had the worst ERA of his major league career at 4.20 and an even worse 4.98 FIP over 55.2 innings. He did manage to secure 10 saves but had a 1-6 W-L record and a horrible 5.50 BB/9. The Nationals are hoping he can turn things around back to his 2016-2017 self in which he had a 12.25 K/9, 2.92 ERA, and a 12-5 W-L record in relief. If so, they have one more weapon backing up that sturdy pitching staff.
Trevor Rosenthal (STL to WAS) – Rosenthal was another addition to the Nationals bullpen this offseason and one that’s similar to the Barraclough add. The last three years for Rosenthal were marred by injuries, including a Tommy John surgery that cost him the whole of the 2018 season. When he’s healthy, the 28-year-old righty could once again be a late-inning weapon for Washington though likely not racking up the 45+ saves he did for a few years in St. Louis since Sean Doolittle is already in the closer’s role.
Adam Ottavino (COL to NYY) – The Yankees bullpen gets stronger with this signing, especially with Ottavino coming off of a career-year in his contract year. He went 6-4 with six saves in 77.2 innings with a 2.43 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP and an elite 12.98 K/9 rate. Yes, he pitched in Coors Field the last seven years but at least last year he still had a great year in road splits. In 2018, 43.1 of the 77.2 innings pitched came on the road to the tune of a 2.70 ERA, a .178 BAA, 65:24 K:BB ratio, and a 1.19 WHIP which all still make him an elite reliever. It is a crowded pen in the later innings in the Bronx but with the back of the Yankees rotation not being innings eaters, Ottavino and company should see quite a bit of work as he can help with the ratios and strikeout totals for you in 2019.
Cody Allen (CLE to LAA) – For the last few years Allen’s job was seemingly in danger of being taken almost non-stop from either Andrew Miller or more recently Brad Hand and Adam Cimber . Through it all though, Allen kept his numbers where should’ve been and posted four-straight seasons with ERAs between 2.07 and 2.99 before his 2018 season when it fell apart to a degree with a 4.70 ERA. That number is misleading though since 12 of his 35 earned runs allowed came in just three of his 70 games pitched and if you take out those three appearances, he actually pitched to a 3.15 ERA in 65.2 innings. During the last five seasons in Cleveland, all spent as the primary closer, he compiled 341.1 innings pitched, with 147 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 making him an intriguing target for his new team. The Angels are in desperate need of a closer given the revolving door of arms they’ve used in the last few years and that’s where Allen comes in. Expect Allen to the be main closer of the Angels during this one-year deal as he bets on himself before getting a new deal next year. L.A. should be competitive so a drop off in save chances shouldn’t be of much concern in 2019.
Zach McAllister (CLE to TEX) – The wheels fell off for McAllister in 2018 as he split his time between Cleveland and Detroit to the tune of a 6.20 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 39 Ks in 45 innings. The 31-year-old should still have some left in the tank and could very well regain his 2015-17 form while on the one-year deal in Texas. He won’t be used in high-leverage, late-game situations and really is just a middle relief option for the Rangers from Opening Day onward. That reduces what if any value McAllister had, especially in the unfriendly pitching confines in Texas.
Hunter Strickland (SF to SEA) – A guy who’s perhaps more known for his ongoing feud with Bryce Harper rather than what he does on the mound, Strickland was the Giants closer for a time last season as he racked up 14 saves in 49 games while pitching to a 3.97 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Those numbers can be misleading however since half of his 20 ER were allowed in the last five weeks of the season, after returning from a broken hand, giving him a 2.84 ERA in his first 31.2 innings. In the three full seasons spent in San Fran from 2015-17, Strickland posted a 2.75 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.01 BB/9, and .221 BAA in 173.2 innings. He will compete for the closer’s role in Seattle in spring training and just might get it if he can keep his cool on and off the mound.
Justin Wilson (CHC to NYM) – The Mets are continuing to retool their awful pen from a year ago and added the southpaw Wilson to add more depth. Wilson, like most relievers, has been well-traveled the last several years with stints in Pittsburgh, New York (Yankees), Detroit, and Chicago most recently but he’s been pretty consistent regardless of league or home park. As far as pitching in the big apple goes, Wilson had a great season for the Yankees back in 2015 when he posted a 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.74 K/9, and 2.95 BB/9 in 61 innings, so theoretically pitching for the Mets won’t get to him. The biggest issue for Wilson of late has been the walk rate which came in at a steep 5.43 in both of the last two seasons despite posting his only double-digit K/9 rates in his career. If he can manage to reduce the walks, the Mets have another arm to count on later in games.
Shawn Kelley (OAK to TEX) – After being limited to just 26 innings in 2017 due to injury, he rebounded very nicely on the mound in 2018 with a 2.94 ERA and 9.18 K/9 in 49 innings of relief work between the Nationals and the A’s. He wasn’t thought of as a trade piece from Washington, but he openly criticized his manager and pitching coach for putting him in a mop up role in mid-season game and so they sent him packing. Now he moves onto Texas who needs all the quality arms they can get a hold of and it’s a return to the AL West, which is where he started his career with the Mariners in his first four years. No matter where he’s pitched the last few years, when healthy, he’s consistently effective on the bump in middle relief, but that’s all he’ll be for the Rangers.
Greg Holland (WAS to ARI) – If you simply look at the numbers of Holland’s final stat line from 2018, it’s a bit heinous with a 4.66 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .242 BAA, and a 47:32 K:BB ratio in 46.1 innings. However, and this is a big however, Holland’s time with the Nationals was far far better than the time with the Cardinals. The 21.1 innings on the mound in D.C. saw him post a 0.84 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .130 BAA, a 25:10 K:BB ratio, and three saves. Clearly, he found something that was missing in KC and St. Louis, which is what the Diamondbacks are hoping he still has with this signing. The D-Backs are rebuilding after trading Paul Goldschmidt away and not resigning Chris Owings or A.J. Pollock and potentially trading Zack Greinke too, so this signing is a low-risk, high-reward move to bolster their pen.
Brad Boxberger (ARI to KC) – Boxberger is an interesting case study among relievers as he’s a guy who has racked up 73 saves combined in two of the last four years but then in the middle didn’t record a single save. His ERA has fluctuated quite a bit in the last four years going from 3.71 to 4.81 to 3.38 to 4.39 which if you combined the figures in the season with saves and without, they equal the same ERA of 4.02. Kansas City definitely needs a back of the bullpen arm and Boxberger could fill that role well with his closing experience and his ability to strikeout batters, he’s posted double-digit K/9 rates in three of the last four seasons. However, if he is indeed their closer, he is a risky one at best since he’s only pitched more than 30 innings three times in his seven-year major league career and he’s only been under a 3.3 BB/9 rate once in that span as well. In general closers are supposed to get guys out without allowing baserunners which is what Boxberger struggles at making him a very low-tier closing option.
Sergio Romo (TB to MIA) – Heading down I-75 to the other team in Florida team is the result of his offseason. Romo had many roles with the Rays last year ranging from closer to opener in the 2018 season adding up to the most games pitched in a season in his career (73) and the most innings in a season (67.1) as well. His ratios were only so-so with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, though it was a 3.88 ERA as a reliever and over seven as a starter and a 1.23 WHIP as a reliever and 1.71 WHIP as a starter. He’s clearly been better as a reliever with both a lower BB/9 and a much lower LOB% in the backend of the pen last year, so he was one of the openers that wasn’t really happy with that idea. Miami will use him more in a traditional sense this year as he competes for the closer role with a few other candidates in spring training. If he winds up as the closer, he could be a low-tier saves candidate for fantasy owners.