Well, since last time we have had a World Series parade, a (fantastic) election result in the USA, a tropical storm that has pretty much ransacked NY and NJ, and still no NHL hockey. Thankfully, we have the MLB hot stove to get us through! Let’s get it!
Some of the Top NL Free Agents:
- Michael Bourn, OF – Likely the best defensive CF in the NL, maybe in all of MLB, Bourn will have many suitors but buyer beware – speedsters always get paid too much for too little performance in the real world which always results in the same on your fantasy team. Now, Bourn is only about to turn 30, so he isn’t ancient or anything, but with 6 MLB seasons complete with 40+ SBs each year his legs are getting the miles put on them. I don’t expect him to have a Carl Crawford drop off, at least not yet, and he should still have another couple years of .285, 90R, 40+SB…but if he does in fact sign the “big deal” somewhere, don’t be shocked if he struggles.
- Kyle Lohse, SP – After being one of the 8 players offered the mandatory $13.3M, one year offer, Lohse declined the offer from STL to explore free agency. Odds are someone will overpay for the 34 year old after some solid work in St. Louis, but as long as the deal isn’t more than 3 years the value might be there until he is 37. It’s not like Lohse has ever been a power pitching, so his velocity staying up isn’t key, pounding the strike zone and relying on his defense is. I see no reason why Lohse can’t win 12-14 games a year with an ERA around 3.25 and a K:BB ratio of 3:1 or better next year and the year after – problem is for fantasy owners this isn’t much more then SP3 production, so don’t over value at draft time.
- Adam LaRoche, 1B – I am still not really sure why LaRoche turned down his $8M option. He had a great spot on the youngest and most talented team in the NL and is 33 years old, and he isn’t going to repeat his 2012 season again, not a chance. He has had 100 RBIs twice and 30 HRs twice in his career and is a .268 hitter…not sure what there is here that is worth more then what he had in Washington. I doubt he puts up anything more then .265-20-80 next season which you can pretty well find on the waiver wire anytime.
- Edwin Jackson, SP – Not sure if Jackson will get any more in AAV then the $11M per he made in 2012, and still not sure anyone will give him more than 3 years in a deal. At 29 years old and having played on 6 teams in 6 years, obviously teams see something they don’t like. Statistically, his ERA usually is near 4.00 and he usually loses almost as many as he wins most years. He might play as a #4 or #5 starter in the fantasy world, depending on where he lands, but I wouldn’t pencil him into any plans for your draft yet.
- Ryan Madsen, RP – Recovering from Tommy John and turns down a healthy 2013 option at 32 years old…I don’t get it? He will likely land somewhere on a make good deal, but odds of him providing any sort of reliable fantasy value are pretty low for 2013.
- Shane Victorino, OF – The flyin’ Hawaiian still has some life left in those legs I think. If he gets to a team (like the Reds maybe…) who have a need for a leadoff hitter and solid outfielder he still has good value as an OF3 or OF4. I don’t see why he won’t put up another 140-145 games and a .275 BA with maybe 85 runs and 30+ stolen bases and a solid fielding percentage.
- Marco Scutaro, INF – The NLCS MVP is always the most under rated FA every year he is there. Someone will give him a 2 year deal for a decent price and he will work his way from utility guy to starter and have a solid second half again, as always. The problem is you cannot really draft him and sit him waiting, so don’t bother, his value is not worth a draft pick unless he gets a starting gig in a good line up.
- Melky Cabrera, OF – Another cheater hits the FA market and there will be more than one team who kicks the tires. I honestly don’t think Melky can provide much more value than an OF3 next year at best, and I wouldn’t expect anything more than his pre 2011 stats of something close to .270-65R-10HR-60RBI-10SB.
Non NL Rants and Ramblings:
Josh Hamilton is easily the most interesting free agent in many years. Raw talent like we have rarely seen but baggage like very few players have…question is does the former outweigh the latter? If the deal is no more than 5 years then I would say yes! He is 29 and has the whole history of drug and alcohol abuse, and no one knows what toll that took on his body, or if he can play 150 games per season (I doubt it). But in the end, if teams get 140 games per season from Hamilton for 5 years they will get value – his 2012 season is likely what we can expect from him for the next few years give or take a few ticks in each category depending on where he hits and his protection. Imagine if he played in NY hitting behind Cano and in front of Tex in the 4 hole and had that short porch in left!
Zack Greinke is the most over-valued player on the free agent market this year. So far he has gone to MIL and LAA and has not been the game changing, staff leading ace that the “experts” keep labelling him as – the same has been true in fantasy baseball as well. His best season in 2009 was excellent, but he has been living off that Cy Young season for 3 years now. An average of 14 wins, ERA of 3.60 and 195Ks (no CG or SO) for 2010-2012 are very good numbers but they are not $125+M dollar numbers. When compared to Matt Cain, Jered Weaver, Verlander, Sabathia and Felix he is not on the same level as those guys with the “big deals”. I have never had Greinke on a fantasy team because his draft day price since 2009 has always been way too high and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. I think 14W, 3.60 and 195Ks after he signs the over hyped and over-valued deal he will get just might be his ceiling, but his draft day value will continue to be overblown. Let other managers draft him too early.
Mike Napoli seems to be one player who is a year late for free agency. If he would have come on the market after his massive 2011 and 2011 postseason he would have likely been chased by many teams for big bucks on a longer deal. Of course that didn’t happen and Napoli returned to his pre 2011 self, pretty much removing the possibility of a mega deal for him as well as the possibility of a team hiring him to play 1B due to his bat. A stat line of .260-60-25-60 is what we can expect from Napoli going forward and if he is catching this is still decent value at that position, but if he were to somehow end up at 1B and lose his C eligibility he would quickly become WW fodder unless he found his 2011 self again.
BJ Upton was the Mike Trout of 2007, remember? Only 129 games, 24HR, 22SB, .300 average, destined for super stardom…now he hits free agency as a potential 30-30 guy who carries a .240 BA and 160Ks per season and will likely get a contract of half of what the world though he would in 2007. He will have many suitors, and maybe what he needs is to get out of Tampa and find his groove elsewhere, who knows.
Bargain Free agents to be had this year are the ones I enjoy focusing on more so then the big names like the ones listed above. The bargain guys are the ones who everyone has a shot to draft in fantasy leagues and whose values go up and down (fantasy wise) more dramatically as they change teams and home venues. Some of my favourite targets for 2013:
- Brandon McCarthy, SP – After a full recovery form brain surgery after taking a line drive in the melon he will be a huge score for a team that gets him for a deal of a price…both in the real world and fantasy world!
- Kevin Youkilis, 3B – Getting older, no longer in his prime, but still a good option at 3B and can still hit and hit under pressure. I expect a recovery in 2013 to something closer to his 2010 numbers.
- Ryan Ludwick, OF – As long as he doesn’t go to SD or SEA he will have some value, something like .275-75-25-90 is not too far-fetched.
Finally, the LA Dodgers won the chance to sign South Korean pitching star Ryu-Hyun Jin with a winning bid of $25.7M…say hello to the new version of the old Yankees…spend big, hope big, see what happens. We will dig into this guy’s projected stats next time.
And far more important than all this fantasy baseball stuff – on Sunday, the 11th of November, please take the time to honour those members of our Canadian Forces, who not only have made the ultimate sacrifice in the past all over the world, but also those who continue to serve today. We would not have the luxury of spending afternoons debating fantasy baseball projections without these heroes who have gone above and beyond and given more for their country than most of us can even fathom, just because it is their job. These men and women deserve our complete support and utmost respect every day, not just on November 11th.
Catch me on Twitter @CanuckHoppy
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