With Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror, the free agent and trade carousels are in motion. At this point, I’d like to take a moment to review some of the players changing teams and speculate on how the move will impact their fantasy stock for 2013.
Michael Young to the Phillies.
Young has always been a bit better as a fantasy asset than a real player. Add a reluctance to walk to very good contact skills, throw in varied positional eligibility, and an attractive home park and line-up, and you have quite the fantasy player. In a great season, Young is a four-category contributor, and in merely a good season he is quite valuable in three categories. The problem is that last year he was pretty bad overall (78 OPS+).
I expect a bit of a bounce back. After all, some added stability regarding his role can only help things and he’s merely one year removed from one of the best seasons of his career. Young leaves one of the best home parks and possibly the game’s best line-up, but inherits hitter-friendly confines and a capable cast of bats. Circumstantially, he takes a small step backward, but on mere regression, he should outproduce 2012.
The one cause for concern with a player like Young is that it seems that when players with poor plate discipline lose it, they seem to drop precipitously. Presumably, it takes more skill or athleticism, so to speak, to continue succeeding with bad discipline. I compare it to a basketball player who takes a lot of high degree of difficulty shots. As age catches up to you, you need to find a way to succeed with less stress if you want to maintain production.
Still, positional versatility is an underrated attribute to a player’s fantasy value. At a modest investment, Young could prove a nice value pick next year.
Zack Greinke to the Dodgers
He had the best season of his career with the Royals, but Greinke’s keeper owners have to be glad to see him head back to the NL. Personally, I think this move can only help Greinke. While there may be concern about his anxiety issues and the huge market that is Los Angeles, those Dodgers fans are not the bloodthirsty brand known to inhabit the Eastern cities of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. If you are a pitcher, the NL West is where you want to be.
I’m an unabashed Greinke supporter and feel he has top-five pitcher potential each year, though you normally only have to pay for top 15-20 talent. Compared to players like C.J. Wilson, the upside of a Greinke is higher at a similar price. If the price stays the same as it has the past two years, I’ll probably try my luck again.
James Shields to the Royals.
Some might be down on the stock of Big Game James after this move, but I think that notion is rooted in the foolhardy temptation to chase wins. Nothing warps a clear-minded view of starting pitcher value than win-chasing. A team’s overall record is next to irrelevant to the ability of the starter to win games, as the team’s overall record includes the outcomes of all the games in which somebody was the starting pitcher.
One should not think about whether the Royals will contend, but rather whether they are good enough to win a high quality pitcher 15-pus games. The answer to that question is yes. The drop in quality of supporting cast will be mitigated by the move from baseball’s toughest division to its easiest.
It’s almost impossible for an offensive player to head to Boston and not see an uptick in value. I’ve always been a big fan of the Flyin’ Hawaiian as a fantasy player and I think this move could return him to second-outfielder level value.
Meanwhile, Napoli departs the hitter’s haven of Arlington, but is a streaky, right-handed power bat. In Boston, that’s a good thing. Napoli is the type of player who can win weeks for you and that capability will only be enhanced in Bean Town. If he’s able to remain healthy, Napoli could also be in line for his second highest career AB total.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Napoli emerged as one of the first buy low candidates of 2013. With more attention on him than ever before, a bad start to the season (by a player who seems prone to peaks and valleys) could bring for a surge of “he’s a bust” coverage by a Boston media core that revels in failure as much as success, leading to more novice owners itching to cut bait.