MLB Hot Stove: Fantasy Baseball Impact

After nearly 100 days of no MLB action to discuss, the lockout is finally over and the MLB Hot Stove is officially heating up once again. With spring training beginning, we’re going to see a flurry of moves over the next week or so, creating absolute pandemonium in our fantasy baseball realm. I’ll be breaking down all the notable moves here with fantasy impact and fallout.

MLB Hot Stove: Fantasy Baseball Impact

Carlos Rodon Signs with San Francisco (2 years $44M)

This was the first big domino to fail. Carlos Rodon is coming off a career year with the White Sox last year where he finished with a 2.37 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and a whopping 34.6% strikeout rate across 24 starts. The 29-year-old southpaw carries an elevated level of risk this season due to his shoulder issues, but the Giants seemed confident enough with his medical reports and physical him to fork out 44 million over the next two seasons to secure his services from he.

Rodon made astronomical improvements last season, recording a career-best strikeout, walk, whiff, and chase rate along with a solid 75.5% zone contact rate. His slider was one of the best in baseball (.107 BAA, .126 SLG, 40.6% whiff) last season and Rodon also showed an impressive four-seamer as well with a .199 BAA on the offering. He’ll need to improve his changeup which was atrocious last season, but San Francisco has a great track record with pitchers recently and helping them make the necessary adjustments. If Rodon can stay healthy this season, he should be able to produce at an SP3 level or higher for fantasy purposes with elite strikeout numbers.

Unfortunately, this signing bumps Tyler Beede from the rotation, all but killing his deep-league intrigue. He’s still a viable option in DCs and Best Balls though as he should be the next man up if San Francisco needs a starter.

Clayton Kershaw Resigns with the Dodgers

There was plenty of speculation this offseason about whether or not Clayton Kershaw was going to hang up his cleats after a 14-year hall of fame career. Well, he’ll return to the mound for at least one more season after resigning with the only team he’s ever thrown an MLB pitch for. There’s plenty of risk associated with drafting Kershaw as he hasn’t reached 30 starts or 180 innings since 2015. However, when he’s on the mound, he’s still producing like an elite talent.

Since the start of the 2016 season, Kershaw has a stellar 2.60 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 BAA, 4.3% walk rate, and a 28.6% strikeout rate. The only qualified starter with an ERA lower than that is some guy named Jacob deGrom. And it’s not like Kershaw has missed massive chunks of time. In fact, last season was the lowest IP total of his career since his rookie season at 122.1 innings. Expecting 140+ innings from Kershaw isn’t out of the question and 140+ innings likely means he’s producing SP3 value or better. If you have a safe rotation already established, I’d be okay taking Kershaw near his 175 ADP from him.

As for the rest of the Dodgers rotation, I’d bet on Tony Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney being the 4/5 behind Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Kershaw with David Price moving back to a long-relied/spot starter role.

Max Muncy Ready For Opening Day

Another Dodger with a murky outlook for 2022 this offseason was Max Muncy. A torn UCL suffered on the last day of the regular season forced Muncy to miss the entire 2021 postseason and put his availability to him for the beginning of the 2022 season in doubt. But recently, Dave Roberts indicated that Muncy will be ready for opening day. The added National League DH and a delayed start to the season definitely helped.

While this is certainly encouraging to hear, the risk surrounding Muncy doesn’t magically disappear. He didn’t have surgery to fix the torn UCL, instead opting for rest and rehab, so we truly don’t know how well that tendon will hold up over a full 162-game season. As it stands now, Muncy is a solid value after pick-150 with multipositional eligibility at 1B and 2B. He’s been remarkably consistent recently with three straight full-seasons of 35 or 36 home runs while averaging 98 runs scored and 96 RBI over the last two full seasons.

Mitch Garver Traded to Texas for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and RHP Prospect Ronny Henriquez

The first notable post-lockout trade happened between the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers with Isiah Kiner-Falefa heading to Minnesota in exchange for Mitch Garver. As I outlined here, Garver was already a top catching target of mine in 2022 drafts and his value increases with this trade as he’ll likely receive more playing time in Texas. The 31-year-old backstop recorded a 17.4% barrel rate, .546 xSLG, and 53.6% hard-hit rate last season when he cranked 13 homers in just 243 PA. If he’s able to receive 400+ PA in 2022, Garver could flirt with top-5 value at the catcher position. He’s now a locked-in top-10 catcher in drafts.

On the Minnesota side, there are a few players impacted by this. First and foremost, I don’t believe this alters Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s value much for 2022. He was likely going to start at third in Texas and should start at shortstop in Minnesota with Jorge Polanco moving back over to second where he spent the most time in 2022. But what happens to Luis Arraez? He’s not highly impactful for fantasy purposes, but he was being drafted around pick 300 on average due to his 2B/3B/OF eligibility and high batting average. I’m not sure he’s worth drafting anymore and he likely wo n’t have much of a fantasy impact until someone (Likely Donaldson or Buxton) gets hurt. Lastly, with Garver out of the picture, Ryan Jeffers should see an increase in playing time and has some intrigue as a C2 in those formats for his power potential.

Two other minor beneficiaries from this trade are Ryan Jeffers and Nick Solak. Jeffer should now see increased playing time with Garver gone and has the power to make an impact as a C2 in those formats. As for Solak, he hasn’t faired well in the Majors thus far, but he hits well at every level in the minors and should be the starting third baseman now unless Texas signs a big bat to take that spot. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues and will have multi-positional eligibility as well.

On the prospect side of things, this definitely clouds the ETA of top hitting prospect, Jose Miranda. After a breakout season in Double-A and Triple-A where he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 home runs in 591 PA, Miranda appeared to be ready to make his MLB debut early in 2022. That might have to wait a bit longer now, but his ability to play both second and third, coupled with Josh Donaldson’s durability issues, could still allow Miranda to crack the starting lineup at some point this summer.

Andrelton Simmons Signs with the Cubs

This is definitely more of a minor deal, but there is a smidgeon of fantasy impact here. Simmons isn’t worth drafting outside of deeper leagues like DCs and Best Balls, but his signing him likely pushes Nico Horner to the bench in more of a super-utility role. He was someone I was intrigued by in deeper leagues for his potential for him to hit for a solid AVG and double-digit steals, but his value for him now takes a solid hit.

Media Credit: Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire, Fabian Ardaya, Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja)

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