National League - FAAB - 3/30/14
This is the first column of the year. Thanks to all who have read the article in the past and welcome to those just joining us this season. Please feel free to provide any comments or suggestions for the year either on the site or via email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chad Billingsley/Zach Lee/Paul Maholm, Dodgers- The LA rotation is in a state of flux to start the season. The Dodgers are protecting Clayton Kershaw from himself by placing him on the 15-day DL due to inflammation in his back, though he also felt something his upper back while throwing Saturday, so he may miss more than his start on March 30 and Friday, April 4. Josh Beckett, coming off a nightmarish 2013 campaign that was shut down early as he needed Thoracic Outlet surgery in June, hit his thumb on the clubhouse door in mid-March and will open 2014 on the disabled list but will start in Kershaw's place on April 5 with Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is moving up to start Sunday getting the nod Friday. Billingsley, who had TJS last April, won't be ready to start the season and fill one of those holes, but he could be back in June/July, making him a stash candidate. In that breach, Lee, who posted a 3.22 ERA and 131.35 K:BB ratio in 142.2 innings at Double-A Chattanooga, is a possible option, though he will to start the year at Triple-A. That could change since Kershaw is out longer than expected, but for now, he will begin the season in the minors. Maholm has had less than a stellar spring, but if Beckett is unable to go Friday, he is probably the first option to fill in for him, which normally would be Kershaw's start, given his experience and track record as a starter. If Beckett can go and Kershaw is out beyond April 19, when LA needs a fifth starter, look for Maholm to slot it that spot. If going on upside, Lee is your guy. Billingsley - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (stash candidate); Lee - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (upside), Maholm - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (short-term option).
Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks - Bradley didn't have a great spring with Arizona but that doesn't diminish his stature as a big-time pitching prospect. When he is on, Bradley mixes a plus-plus fastball that sits around 93-94 and can get up to 97 with good, late life with a plus-curveball and in the works changeup. He was able to cut his BB/9 from 5.3 in 2012 to 4.1 last year, which still isn't great but at least is improvement. Once Bradley is promoted, which is expected to be around midseason, he will stick in the majors. That timeframe could be escalated if Bradley pitches well for Reno and if Randall Delgado struggles. For now, he will bide his time in the minors. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec bid, up in keeper leagues)
Randall Delgado, Diamondbacks - Patrick Corbin's season-ending injury and surgery created a huge hole in the Arizona rotation, which for the time being will be filled by Delgado. He wasn't great at either Triple-A Reno or in the majors last year, though he should some signs of being serviceable. As our outlook noted, when he keeps the ball down he can be very solid, but he is prone to hard contact when he leaves pitches up in the zone, and that trait can be particularly costly in a hitter-friendly home park like Chase Field. As long as Bronson Arroyo's back doesn't flare up, he will be the fourth starter s Delgado has his work cut out to hold off uber-prospect Archie Bradley. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Robbie Erlin/Eric Stults/Matt Wisler, Padres - Erlin was able to hold off Wisler to earn the fifth starter spot in San Diego with Josh Johnson out 4-5 with a finger injury. After making nine starts for the Padres last season, Erlin posted a 1.46 ERA and 8.8 K/9 this spring to earn the role. He struggled when initially promoted but finished the year strong and will need to pitch well to keep the job either when Johnson returns or if Wisler, the team's best pitching prospect and a seventh-round pick out of Ohio State in 2011, gets off to a strong start Tucson. Stults didn't pitch well initially and his overall spring numbers are nothing impressive, but he was better his last two starts to earn the fourth spot for now. He earned 11 wins last year, benefitting from pitching at Petco Park and his stellar control, 3.28 K/BB and 1.77 BB/9 ratios. Stults will need to have more of the same this year to hold onto his spot once Johnson returns and if Wisler, who struggled this spring but excelled at High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, is ready. Erlin - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Stults - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Wisler - Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (stash candidate).
David Hale/Aaron Harang/Gus Schlosser/Alex Wood, Braves - Season-ending injuries to Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen and the shoulder injury to Mike Minor that will keep him out about a month, have created gaping hole in the Braves' rotation. Signing Ervin Santana filled one spot but that still leaves the third-fifth spots unsettled. Wood is basically locked into the three-spot coming off his impressive stint in the Atlanta rotation, where he went 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA and a 8.7 K/9 ratio in 11 starts for the Braves. Sports four and five are still unsettled. Atlanta signed Harang, who was waived Monday by the Indians, and immediately penciled him to start the home-opener on April 8, as Santana may need a bit more time after not signing until March 12. That left Hale and Schlosser, each of whom could get a start if Santana needs more time. Hale looked to be a lock early in camp, but he struggled, posting a 6.62 ERA in five starts while Schlosser, a 17th-round pick out of Florida Southern in 2011 who pitched last year at Double-A Mississippi, posted a 2.39 ERA and a 6.7 K/9 over 25 starts and has a 2.03 ERA in five appearances. It was announced Saturday that Hale is the fourth starter and Schlosser will head to the pen, though Hale could just be a stopgap until either Minor, Gavin Floyd, recovering from surgery last year to repair a torn UCL, or J.R. Graham is ready. Hale - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Harang - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Schlosser - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Wood - Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Jason Hammel/Edwin Jackson/Carlos Villanueva, Cubs -Hammel and Villanueva will open the season in the Cubs' rotation. Hammel, who saw his ERA rise by a run-and-a-half and K/9 ratio plummet last season with Baltimore, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Cubs this offseason. He is penciled in Chicago's third starter, though given his injury history the past two years and possibility he gets flipped if he shows anything, it's less than even money he stays there. Chris Rusin looked to be a lock for a spot but he was bombed in his final spring start and the Cubs decided to head north with Villanueva, who is better suited for relieving, as their fifth starter. Villanueva will likely move to the bullpen when Jake Arrieta (shoulder) is ready, but for now opens 2014 in the Cubs rotation. If you have a stash or DL, you would be better suited grabbing Arrieta. Jackson is included because he went undrafted in my two home leagues. If you believe the spring is a portend of the season, then grab Jackson, as he posted a solid 20:2 K:BB ratio in 18 innings. In addition, his FIP last year was 3.94 compared to a 4.98 ERA, which partially was due to a 45 point rise in his BABIP, so he may be a candidate for a rebound. Hammel - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Jackson - Mixed: $3; NL: $9, Villanueva - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Roberto Hernandez, Phillies - Hernandez, nee Fausto Carmona, signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Phillies this past December. Despite a so-so spring, he will open the year as the team's fourth starter. Hernandez is mainly a sinkerball pitcher that pitches to contact and generates lots of groundballs, so the left side of the infield needs to be at its best for him to have any shot of success. With few other options available in Philly, as Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is on the 60-day DL and Cole Hamels is out till early-May, Hernandez may hold the job for a while even if he struggles. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Taylor Jordan/Tanner Roark, Nationals -Jordan and Roark benefit from Doug Fister's lat strain to both make the Nationals' rotation to open the season. Jordan moved from A-Ball all the way to the major last season driven by his strong control. This spring, he posted a solid 3.92 ERA and surprising 20:2 K:BB ratio in 20.2 innings after striking out only 29 in 51.2 innings for Washington last year. Jordan relies on a strong groundball ratio to retire hitters, and if he is able to up his K/9 ratio, he could be the one to stick when Fister returns. Roark seemed to get better when he was promoted to the majors last year - posting a 1.51 ERA in 53.2 innings - and had a solid spring with a 3.29 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Each should get a few starts before Fister is ready and Jordan may have a slight edge on Roark heading into the season. Jordan - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Roark - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Joe Kelly/Carlos Martinez, Cardinals - Kelly "won" the fifth starter spot in St. Louis, but I, like many, believe that there never really was a competition, because if there were, Martinez would have been the last man standing. Martinez posted a 1.76 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in his four spring starts but instead will pitch out of the bullpen for now, where his fantasy value will be limited to holds and some strikeouts. Kelly won 10 games with a 2.69 ERA last season but posted a middling 79:44 K:BB ratio in 124 innings and doesn't have the talent of Martinez. That said, if he pitches well, he will hold the job, but with Martinez looming and Jaime Garcia possibly back from his shoulder woes in May, Kelly's hold on the role is clearly not secure. Kelly - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Martinez - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (up substantially if your league uses holds or you believe he eventually gets the fifth starter spot).
Tom Koehler, Marlins - Koehler earned the fifth starter spot in Miami with an excellent spring, posting a 1.50 ERA whole holding batters to a .194 BAA in 18 innings. He pitched fairly well for Miami last year, making 23 starts after he was promoted with a 4.41 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Koehler generates groundballs as he is not a strikeout pitcher, and if he is able to limit his walks, which were a concern last season, he should be a serviceable back-end starter. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Jenrry Mejia, Mets - Mejia outdueled Daisuke Matsuzaka for the fifth rotation spot in Queens. Dice-K had a strong camp and outing Saturday, but the Mets opted for the upside in Mejia over him. Mejia, who left Friday's start after getting him in the forearm, did not suffer any structural damage and is dealing with some inflammation there. He has been injury-prone his whole career, so don't place too much reliance on him, but he has the stuff to succeed, as seen in the five starts he made for the Mets last year when he posted a 2.30 ERA and struck out 27 over 27.1 innings. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Franklin Morales/Juan Nicasio, Rockies - Morales beat out Jordan Lyles to earn the fifth rotation spot in Colorado while Nicasio parlayed a strong spring into the fourth spot. Morales may just be keeping the spot warm until Jhoulys Chacin is healthy, but Morales, who the Rockies acquired this offseason from Boston, had a strong spring, posting a 2.21 ERA and 23:6 K:BB ratio in 20.1 innings. Morales has experience as a starter and reliever, so he can fill either role, and if Brett Anderson, who has had injury issues in the past can't stay healthy, Morales could have a longer leash. Nicasio posted a 2.86 ERA this spring but has been unable to sustain success in the majors in three previous chances. If he fails to do so this time, he could be the odd-man out when Chacin returns. Morales - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Nicasio - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Alfredo Simon, Reds - Simon will open the season as the Reds' fifth starter but may only see one outing until Mat Latos (knee, elbow) is ready to return. When Latos does come back, look for Simon to resume the long relief role he has thrived in. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Noah Syndergaard, Mets - RotoWire's preseason outlook on Syndergaard tells most of the story. He has a mid-90s fastball that bears in hard on righties and mixes in a 12-to-6 hard-biting curveball, and but his changeup is still a major work in progress. Syndergaard should follow the same path as fellow top prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler the past two years; beginning the year at Triple-A before receiving a summer call-up. He will be limited to 150 innings this year, which will mean limiting him to five innings or 60 pitches at Triple-A, utilizing him out of the pen in lieu of some starts, and a six-man rotation for the 51s. The ultimate plan is for Syndergaard to be part of a trio of big time arms for the Mets starting in 2015 when Harvey returns from TJS and Wheeler is in his second full season. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (way up in keeper leagues).
Edinson Volquez, Pirates - Volquez flamed out, hitting rock bottom in 2013 with LA and San Diego. The Pirates signed him, hoping for success in a reclamation project like they had with Francisco Liriano. Striking oil twice might be too much to ask but Jeff Locke's oblique injury gives Volquez a shot to impress. If he fails to do so and Locke isn't ready, or the team views his first half last year as an aberration and second half more like his true self, the team could turn to Brandon Cumpton as Jameson Taillon needs seasoning and is dealing with a sore right elbow. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Joaquin Benoit, Padres - While Huston Street is the Padres closer, Benoit may be the best and most dominant reliever. Benoit the past three seasons have averaged more than a K per inning while posting a 1.075 WHIP, and in terms of "stuff," he is a notch above Street. In addition, Street has proven to be less than durable, so if looking for a reliever with upside for your team, you could do a lot worse than Benoit. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Rex Brothers/Latroy Hawkins, Rockies - Brothers is the future in the Rockies' pen while Hawkins for now will be the present. Brothers showed last year when Rafael Betancourt was out that he could handle closing, but his struggles with walks - 4.8 BB/9 and low 89% strand rate - led Colorado to sign Hawkins this offseason. Hawkins, who pitched well for the Mets last year, serving as the closer when Bobby Parnell was out and notching 12 saves with a 2.42 ERA and 0.81 WHIP the last two months of the season, will see most of the save chances, though Brothers could get a shot based upon match-ups. Brothers - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (higher in keeper leagues); Hawkins - Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
J.J. Hoover/Sam LeCure/Logan Ondrusek/Manny Parra, Reds - Aroldis Chapman's scary spring training injury will keep him out until sometime in May. With Jonathan Broxton (elbow) and Sean Marshall (shoulder) out with injuries, Hoover will likely head a closer-by-committee situation in Cincinnati. Hoover hasn't had a great spring, but pitched well down the stretch last season and many believe he has the stuff to be a closer. LeCure is likely second in line and Parra a possible option against southpaws. When Broxton returns, given his past closing experience, he could be next in line until Chapman is activated. Hoover - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; LeCure - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Ondrusek - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Parra - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Oliver Perez, Diamondbacks - Ollie P signed a two-year with the D-Backs this March. After struggling in 2010-11, in 94 appearances the past two seasons with Seattle, Perez posted a 3.16 ERA and a 10.7 K/9, so he could be worth a bullpen spot in deep, NL-only leagues. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jose Veras/Pedro Strop, Cubs - Veras pitched last year for Houston and Detroit, serving as he closer for the Astros and set-up man for the Tigers. He is a two-pitch, pitcher, mixing a sinking fastball that hovers in the mid-90s and a so-so curve. Veras say his strikeout rate plummet a K per game but reduced his walks, which aided his overall numbers. He signed a one-year, $4 million deal this off-season for the Cubs with an option of $5.5 million for 2015. Veras hasn't had a good spring. But he is the only one in the pen that has closing experience, giving him a further edge over Pedro Strop, James Russell, Wesley Wright etc. If Veras continues to struggle, as long as Strop can continue to limit base-on-balls, like he did after he came over to the Cubs from the Orioles, when he posted a 42:11 K:BB ratio in 35 innings, he should be next in line. Brian Pelowski in his excellent and comprehensive spring job battles article speculates Arodys Vizcaino could be next in line, which makes sense given his stuff, though the only caveat is if Chicago wants to use him in the pen as opposed to starting coming back from TJS. Mixed: $4; NL: $14; Strop - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Jose Valverde. Mets - Valverde regressed in 2012 from his brilliant 2011 campaign and bottomed out last year, ultimately getting released by the Tigers. He signed a minor-league deal with the Mets, and despite so-so velocity, he will open 2014 as Bobby Parnell's main set up man with Vic Black sent to the minors. If Parnell is not 100 percent as he returns from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, Valverde could see a few save chances. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Tucket Barnhart/Tuffy Gosewisch/Nick Hundley/Jordan Pacheco/Brayan Pena/Anthony Recker/Rene Rivera/Tony Sanchez - This listing is for the parade of backup catchers that have made 25-man rosters out of camp. That includes the Reds, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Mets, Reds, Padres and Pirates. Of the lot, Hundley, Pacheco and Pena have some value. Hundley could open the year as the Friars starting catcher if Yasmani Grandal is not ready to return from ACL surgery. Pachecco has historically shown the ability to make contact and can also back up at both corner infield spots while Pena will open the year as Cincinnati's starting catcher with Devin Mesoraco's strained oblique landing him on the DL. All except Hundley, Pacheco and Pena - Mixed: No; NL: $0, Hundley - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (if he starts); Pacheco/Pena - Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (for Pena, moved him to first list if Mesoraco is back soon).
Ryan Doumit, Braves - Evan Gattis is the unquestioned starter while Gerald Laird is the backup but Doumit could see the occasional start, though given his concussion history, playing time behind the plate may only come in an emergency. Doumit will likely see most of his time at first and in the outfield, but it's unlikely he sees much action unless there is an injury or two. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Yasmani Grandal, Padres - Grandal had a 2013 to forget, first starting the year with a 50-game suspension for PED use. Once he returned, he played 28 games before tearing his ACL in July. Grandal has ramped up his activity, catching all nine innings in a game this past week and could open the year as the team's starter. If San Diego decides he needs more time, it shouldn't be too long before he is activated and earns the role as #1 backstop - at least until Austin Hedges is ready. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Matt Adams, Cardinals - Adams begins the year as the Cardinals' starting first baseman. Allen Craig, last year's starter, will play right field following the departure of Carlos Beltran. Adams made the most of his playing time last year, blasting 17 home runs along with a .220 ISO in 319 plate appearances. He may sit against tough lefties and his playing time could be compromised if Craig is unable to play right or when/if the Cardinals elect to promote Oscar Taveras, but at least initially Adams will man first base just about daily. Mixed: $6; NL: $17.
Jeff Baker/Garret Jones, Marlins - Baker and Jones will open the year in a platoon as the Marlins' first baseman. Baker should play all over the place for the Marlins, mainly versus lefties at first but also at second - especially with Rafael Furcal dealing with a hamstring injury - third and possibly left field. Jones, who signed a two-year deal with Miami in December, will start against righties and should be a decent source of power in South Florida, despite his struggles at the plate last season. Baker - Mixed: No; NL: $3; Jones - Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Ike Davis/Lucas Duda/Josh Satin, Mets - I am a huge Mets fan, and right now I don't think I could tell you who will be the team's first baseman, nor do I think anyone can say who will be with any certainty. Both Davis (calf) and Duda (hamstring) missed time with their injuries but each will break camp with the team. Personally, I think Davis has more upside and is better defensively than Duda, but that may not be the universal view in the organization. It is possible that one gets dealt, but initially this battle will last into the season. Another less likely possibility is that both hit and Duda sees time in the outfield to get his bat in the lineup. Satin will play against lefties, and if both Davis and Duda struggle, he could see more playing time. Davis - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Duda - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Satin - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Travis Ishikawa/Gaby Sanchez, Pirates - Ishikawa and Sanchez will platoon at first base for the Pirates with Ishikawa seeing time against tougher righties while Sanchez will play against all lefties and most righties, making him the stronger option of the duo. Ishikawa beat out Andrew Lambo to earn the job an could end up seeing more time if Sanchez struggles against righties, as he did last year after beginning the season as the starter. For now though, Sanchez is the preferable option. Ishikawa - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Sanchez - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Lyle Overbay/Mark Reynolds, Brewers - Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is you exciting first base platoon for the Brewers. Look for Overbay, who did a nice job when Mark Teixeira was out last year, to mainly play versus righties, while Reynolds, who has more power, to play against lefties. Each earned roles over Juan Francisco, but there are strong rumors that Milwaukee is in the market for a first baseman, so neither should sign a long-term lease. Overbay - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Sanchez - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Neftali Soto, Reds - Soto will open the year as Joey Votto's backup with Jack Hannahan nursing a shoulder injury. Don't expect much time from Soto. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Joaquin Arias/ Ehire Adrianza - Giants - Marco Scutaro will begin the season on the disabled list due to his strained lower back leaving second base in the hands of a duo with the best names for a second-sacker combination in the league. Unfortunately, that does little to help them at the plate, as neither is a great option. Arias is solid defensively and been on the Giants the past two seasons, which likely gives him a slight edge on Adrianza. Don't expect much more than a few counting stats. Arias - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Adrianza - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Emilio Bonifacio, Cubs - Bonifacio, who signed with the Cubs after getting waived by the Royals in February, could see time at both middle infield spots and in the outfield. Bonifacio is a switch-hitter with speed, something lacking in the Chicago lineup, and could bat leadoff when he does play. Chicago could opt to sit Darwin Barney and his stellar glove to get Bonifacio in the lineup, but as of now, he is a bench player. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Derek Dietrich/Rafael Furcal/Donovan Solano, Marlins - Dietrich will likely open 2014 as the Marlins' starting second baseman with Furcal nursing a hamstring injury. Dietrich showed some power for Miami after his promotion last year, though that came with a .214 BA and .275 OBA. He proved he could hit in the minors and has the most upside of the three players that could see time at second. In addition, he could see time at third base if Casey McGehee struggles while Ed Lucas (broken hand) is out. Furcal missed all of 2013 recovering from TJS and now is dealing with a hamstring injury that will probably land him on the DL to start the year. When he does return, Miami will give him every chance to start at second, but after a poor 2012 campaign, that leash might be short. Solano was sent down and was called back when Lucas was hit by a pitch and suffered a non-displaced fracture. He won't see much action. Dietrich - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Furcal - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Solano - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Danny Espinosa/Anthony Rendon, Nationals - Espinosa will cede second base this year to Rendon, Washington's first round pick in 2011, who saw 95 games in D.C. last year. Rendon struggled in his first exposure to the majors but all signs point to him getting a chance to hold down the second base job. If he proves incapable of doing so, manager Matt Williams could turn back to Espinosa, who lost the job initially due to inability to make consistent enough content to go along with his power. Rendon may see time at third with Ryan Zimmerman paying first, especially against tough lefties in place of Adam LaRoche, which would afford Espinosa, penciled in as a utility infielder, more time. Espinosa - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Rendon - Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies - LeMahieu was able to hold off and beat out Josh Rutledge to open 2014 as the Rockies' second baseman, largely due to a strong spring. LeMahieu is solid defensively and should have a decent batting average but don't expect much more than that, save for some counting stats. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Dan Uggla, Braves - Our pre-season outlook on Uggla spells out his nightmarish 2013 campaign in all the gory details: "to say that Uggla's 2013 was a disaster would be an understatement, as he struck out 171 times in 448 at-bats and posted just a .671 OPS for the season. His .179 batting average was by far the lowest among qualified hitters, and LASIK surgery in August didn't help as Uggla hit just .133 after his return." So you can rightly ask "why the heck is Jan highlighting him here?" Bear with me. First, there is no real competition as Tommy La Stella was sent down and he is not ready for the majors. Second, Uggla struggled with strikeouts this spring, with 18 in 52 at-bats, but also walked 12 times and had four homers and 14 RBI following some adjustments he made this spring. For those aforementioned reasons alone, he is worth a flier, especially since he hit 30+ home runs in five straight seasons. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.
Kolten Wong, Cardinals - In a move that comes as no surprise to just about everyone, Wong beat out Mark Ellis to open the year as the Cardinals' starting second baseman. Wong didn't do much after he was promoted last season but St. Louis showed how valuable they belief he is by including him on the post-season roster. He posted a .303/.369/.466 line with 10 HR, 45 RBI and 20 SB at Triple-A Memphis last year to be voted the team's minor leaguer of the year. St. Louis made room for Wong by dealing David Freese to the Angels for Peter Bourjos and shifting Matt Carpenter from second to third. Wong is likely to be a 12-15 HR and 20SB player in the majors, which gives him added value as a middle infielder. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.
Alexi Amarista/Jeff Bianchi/Charlie Culbertson/Chone Figgins/Kevin Frandsen/Cesar Hernandez/Brandon Hicks/Jayson Nix/Omar Quintanilla/Justin Turner - This listing is for the parade of middle infielders that have made 25-man rosters out of camp. That includes the Padres, Brewers, Rockies, Dodgers, Nationals, Phillies, Giants, Phillies, Mets and Dodgers. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0, though Turner could see some starts against lefties.
Dee Gordon, Dodgers - Gordon was able to hold off Alex Guerrero and open the year as the Dodgers' starting second baseman. As he played 27 games at short and only three at second last year, in many leagues for now he is a shortstop, which is why he is listed here. Gordon posted a .385 OBA at Triple-A Albuquerque last season but wasn't able to translate that success to the majors, but he had a strong spring to earn the job. Guerrero needs seasoning and is not a true second sacker, enabling Gordon to see most of the time at the spot to open the year, backed up by Justin Turner and Chone Figgins. If Gordon can get on base, he should score lots of runs in a potent LA lineup while contributing stolen bases as well. If he struggles and Guerrero proves ready in the minors, look for LA to call up their $28 million investment sooner rather than later. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Wilmer Flores/Ruben Tejada, Mets - Flores was optioned down the minors leaving Tejada as the starting shortstop. Flores saw time this spring at shortstop for the first time as a professional since 2011 and showed enough that he will see extensive action there at Triple-A Las Vegas. The work he did this winter in the team's conditioning and nutritional camp made him a bit more flexible and has the team considering him for the position. Tejada regressed tremendously last year and got off to a horrible start this spring. He played better towards the end but his hold on the spot is tenuous at best. If he struggles and Flores proves capable at the position, a switch could occur in the short-term. Flores - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (stash candidate); Tejada - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Didi Gregorius/Chris Owings, Diamondbacks - The battle that raged on all spring finally was decided Saturday night. Gregorius, who came over to Arizona last year in a three-way deal with Cleveland and Cincinnati, is the superior defender but lesser hitter. That hot stretch he had after he was promoted last year has proven to be an aberration and there are strong rumors he may be on the block. Owings is by far the better stick, and until Saturday, it looked like Arizona was going to platoon the two as they did in Australia, with Gregorius playing against righties and Owings, lefties, which would give Didi the edge. Arizona decided to go with Owings, because of his offensive potential and he solid, though not at Gregorius' level defensively, which makes me happy because I own him in the RotoWire Staff League. Just be aware that Cliff Pennington is waiting in the wings if Owings falters while Gregorius is not far away at Triple-a Reno. Gregorius - Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (stash candidate as he could be traded); Owings - Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Cody Asche/Maikel Franco, Phillies - Asche got off to a horrible start this spring but rebounded and was able to hold off Franco to open the year as the starting third baseman in Philly. Asche hit 2.95 with 15 home runs at Triple-A Lehigh Valley to earn a promotion last season, playing 50 games for the Phillies. He got to a hot start but fell apart in September, adversely impacting his overall numbers. Asche will need to hit to keep the job away from Franco, though there is some thought that Franco could move across the diamond if Ryan Howard continues to regress and break down. It's only a matter of time before Franco, who projects to hit 30+ HR annually while keeping his strikeouts in check, is called up and starting at either corner spot, likely at third. Asche - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Franco - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (stash candidate, higher bid in keeper leagues).
Eric Chavez, Diamondbacks - Chavez re-upped for one more in Arizona where he will serve as the backup third baseman. If Martin Prado is forced to play second or in the outfield more than expected, Chavez could see 250+ at-bats again and provide some cheap power. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Casey McGehee, Marlins - McGehee signed a one-year deal with the Marlins after spending 2013 in Japan, when he batted .292/.376/.515 with 28 HR and 83 RBI for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He had a brilliant 2010 with Milwaukee but in general was done in by his inability to make consistent contact. McGehee will open 2014 as the Marlins' starting third baseman, but if he fails to hit, Derek Dietrich could replace him. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Mike Olt/Luis Valbuena, Cubs - Both players will share the hot corner in the Windy City, but for upside Olt is your man. He had a big spring, hitting .273 with five home runs, and may be finally ready to live up to the hype and promise. Olt, who came over to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal last year, had a nightmarish 2013 season at the dish and battled a shoulder injury early in camp before turning it on late. That said, Valbuena, who played 94 games at the position last year, blasted six home runs and drove in 12 runs, so if Olt falters at all, the platoon could tip his way. Of course, each player may just be holding the job until Kris Bryant, the second overall pick last year, is ready, though there is some thought Bryant may need to move to the outfield. If not, he could be up by midseason. Olt - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Valbuena - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Brandon Barnes/Charlie Blackmon/Corey Dickerson/Drew Stubbs, Rockies - This is the ever-popular four-headed monster in center field for the Rockies. Rather than making a decision, manager Walt Weiss and the Rockies have elected to go with six outfielders. Blackmon and Dickerson will play against righties while Barnes and Stubbs see time against southpaws. Right now, it's a four-sided coin flip as to who ends up getting the role, with Barnes and Dickerson having the best springs at the plate and Stubbs the best defensively of the four. At best, Barnes will be the odd-man out with the other three seeing the most time until one or two stand out. The below bids are based on pure speculation by me, as I see Stubbs due to his power-speed combo and defense, despite his issue with strikeouts, getting the job. Barnes - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Blackmon - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Dickerson - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Stubbs - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Roger Bernadina/Brian Bogusevic/Andrew Brown/Tony Gwynn Jr./Scott Hairston/Reed Johnson/Tommy Medica/John Mayberry/Xavier Nady/Juan C. Perez/Logan Schafer/Scott Van Slyke - This listing is for the parade of reserve outfielders, pinch-hitters, pinch-runners and occasional DH in AL parks that have made 25-man rosters out of camp. That includes the Reds, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Padres, Giants, Brewers and Dodgers. Bernadina had a year to forget in Washington last season but tore it up this spring for Cincinnati and benefits from Skip Schumacher's shoulder injury to break camp with the team. Bogusevic could play all three-outfield spots in Miami, especially against right-handers. Brown has shown some power off the bench as well as when in the lineup and Gwynn is mainly a defensive replacement. Johnson will back up in left and center for Miami and could see time if Marcell Ozuna scuffles. Medica may see some time at first base and proved this spring he could be passable in the outfield. Mayberry will see time at both outfield spots and first base. Nady, who spent all of 2013 at Triple-A earned a spot due to injuries to Cameron Maybin (biceps) and Carlos Quentin (knee). Schafer will back up all three-outfield spots in Milwaukee. Van Slyke likely will get sent down once Matt Kemp returns to action. All - Mixed: No; NL; $0.
Gregor Blanco/Michael Morse, Giants - Morse's calf is healthy and he will open 2014 as the Giants' starting left fielder, which relegates Blanco to a reserve role in right and center field. Blanco still should see decent action, especially if Angel Pagan is unable to recapture the form he showed in 2012. Last season, Morse hit eight of his 13 home runs in April before suffering a wrist injury that he unsuccessfully tried to play through and ultimately required surgery. San Francisco could use another solid bat in their lineup and hope that a healthy Morse can provide some additional right-handed power like he did in Washington in 2011. Blanco - Mixed: No; NL; $3; Morse - Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Peter Bourjos, Cardinals - Bourjos, acquired from the Angels for David Freese, should open 2014 as the Cardinals' starting center fielder. Jon Jay, the incumbent, struggled leading off last season and even though he rebounded after that, his overall numbers were nothing special. He will be used in a utility role this year, seeing time at all three outfield spots, opening center for Bourjos, who missed 107 games last year with injuries. Bourjos has the talent to be a Gold Glove outfielder and speed to be a weapon on the bases, but he needs to find a way to stay on the field and draw more walks, seen is his subpar BB and excessive K ratios. If Bourjos proves incapable of doing either, Oscar Taveras, if he can get over his leg injuries, could be promoted and fill a full-time outfield job. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Chris Denorfia/Seth Smith, Padres - Denorfia has been dealing with a shoulder injury this spring but looks to be healthy with the regular season about to begin. He saw a surprising 473 at-bats last year due to injuries, and with Cameron Maybin (biceps) and Carlos Quentin (knee) both out to start the year, he could see a healthy amount of action again in center and left. The A's dealt Smith this past December to the Padres for Luke Gregerson. Smith was initially expected to see copious action against righties, as he has a career .844 OPS against them but just a .582 OPS against southpaws, but injuries to Maybin and Quentin could give him additional playing time versus lefties, especially if Denorfia's shoulder sidelines him. Denorfia - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Smith - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Billy Hamilton, Reds - Shin-Soo Choo signing with Texas opened a spot in center field for Hamilton and Hamilton made the most of that chance this spring. If Hamilton is able to make contact, which has been an issue for him in the minors, 70+ steals are not out of the question for the speedster. If he is unable to control his propensity for strikeouts or bunt for base hits, then Hamilton could cede to time to Chris Heisey or Skip Schumacher, once the latter is healthy. However, given the upside, going all in on Hamilton would not be a bad idea. Mixed: $11; NL: $27.
Khris Davis, Brewers - Milwaukee made room for Davis by shipping Norichika Aoki to the Royals in December and shifting Ryan Braun to right field. Davis filled the gap when Braun was suspended by hitting 11HR in 56 games and getting better as the season wore on. He posted solid numbers in the minors and will now get the chance to show last season was no fluke by playing every day. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.
Ryan Kalish/Junior Lake/Justin Ruggiano/Nate Schierholtz/Ryan Sweeney, Cubs - Ladies and gentlemen, your five-man outfield unit in Chicago. Right now, Lake and Schierholtz look to be set as the corner starters with Ruggiano and Sweeney penciled into to platoon in center field. Kalish was once a big-time prospect for the Red Sox, but didn't play all of last year after undergoing neck and shoulder surgeries the last few years and was a long-shot heading into camp He may have the most upside of the bunch but the biggest hurdle to clear. Lake began his career as a shortstop, raked at Triple-A Iowa to earn a promotion and became a starter in the outfield last season for Chicago. He slowed after his hot start following his promotion and struggled a bit this spring, but does have some power. Ruggiano has had a big spring, hitting .300, while Sweeney has struggled, at just .156, but a platoon looks to be evident. Ruggiano has a power-speed combination, though initially will likely only play against lefties; while Sweeney has shown the ability to get on-base and will likely play against righties. Schierholtz will open the season as the starter in left, but his time in Chicago could be limited with the team in a rebuild move and looking to be get younger; so a trade could happen sooner than later. If this list isn't enough, Emilio Bonifacio can also play the OF and Kris Bryant could get moved there when he is promoted this summer. Kalish - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Lake - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Ruggiano - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Schierholtz - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Sweeney: Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Juan Lagares, Mets - You could add the Young-duo, Chris and Eric Jr. but each are more likely to be drafted than Lagares. Lagares is the question mark and wild card, since he may be on the outside looking in with Chris on a one-year, $7.25 million deal and Eric the only one with true speed and possible leadoff hitter on the team. Lagares though is the best defensive outfielder, which should afford him action, especially when someone like Bartolo Colon is on the hill. If the Mets decide to value D over O, or move Daniel Murphy to first and play EY Jr. at second, Lagares should be in the lineup. In addition, if he can hit like he did from June to August last year when he got hot, the Mets will find a place for him. If not, he will platoon with EY Jr. while Chris Young plays daily in center. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Ryan Ludwick, Reds - Ludwick injured his shoulder last Opening Day, sidelining him until August and leaving a gaping hole in left field for the Reds. When he returned to action, Ludwick was unable to regain his timing at the plate, finishing with just two homers in 140 at-bats. So far, so good this spring for Ludwick, who will man left and bat in the middle of a potent Cincinnati lineup with a 20-80 campaign not too much of a stretch. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Nate McLouth, Nationals - McLouth resurrected his career with the Orioles last season and signed a two-year deal with the nearby Nationals in December. He will be used as a back up at all three-outfield spots and should see at least 300 at-bats, where he could provide double-digit home runs and close to 20 steals. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Marcell Ozuna, Marlins - Despite a lousy spring, Ozuna was able to hold off Jake Marsinick and will open the year as Miami's starting center fielder. Ozuna got off to a strong start for Miami when he was promoted last May but pitchers took advantage of his over aggressiveness before a thumb injury sidelined him for the balance of the year in July. Ozuna has shown the ability to hit for power in the minors, but failed to transfer that to the majors. He needs a strong start to hold off Marsinick, who was optioned down despite posting a .432/.479/.571 line this spring. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks - Pollock saw more than expected playing time last year due to the injury to Adam Eaton and was solid; hitting .269 with eight home runs and 12 stolen bases, but is his value to his real-life and not fantasy-team is mainly in his glove. With Eaton now in Chicago, Pollock will open 2014 as the D-Backs starting center fielder. He has a little bit of a leash with Cody Ross still out, as Geraldo Parra, who is also solid defensively and can play center, will man right. Once Ross returns, if Pollock is struggling and Parra is raking, a change could happen, but Pollock should get the chance at holding the job. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Gregory Polanco/Travis Snider/Jose Tabata, Pirates - Snider and Tabata will open 2014 in a platoon in right field for the Pirates but in actuality, they are just holding the spot warm for Polanco. Snider should see most of the time in right while Tabata, who had a pretty good 2013 but has never hit for power and seen his speed sapped by leg injuries, should play versus some righties. Snider has teased with his talent before, so be wary before expecting him to carry his solid spring long-term into the season. The big issue with Tabata is that he is signed through 2016 with $12.25 million due these next two seasons, which could make him difficult to deal once Polanco is promoted, which should be once the Super-2 deadline passes. Polanco mixes power and speed along with good plate discipline, and once he arrives, he will give the Pirates a trio to be envied as he lines up next to Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. Polanco - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early spec bid); Snider - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Tabata - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.