This article is part of our NL FAAB Factor series.
National League - FAAB - 3/31/13
This is the first column of the year. Thanks to all who have read the article in the past or 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Henderson Alvarez/Nathan Eovaldi/Jose Fernandez/Wade LeBlanc/Alex Sanabia/Kevin Slowey, Marlins - Alvarez had a phenomenal start in 2012 thanks to a devastating sinker and strong defense from Brett Lawrie and Yunel Escobar on the left side of Toronto's infield. Unfortunately, he lacked a pitch to put hitters away and recorded just 79 strikeouts in 187.1 innings, which is a major concern for him going forward. Eventually, the extreme contact tendencies caught up with him as the season wore on. Finishing 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA, Alvarez's rotation spot was in doubt, but his inclusion in the November blockbuster with Miami earned him a spot in the Marlins' Opening Day rotation. Though at the last minute, he was placed on the 15-day DL with mild right shoulder inflammation that will keep him out about a month. Eovaldi posted mediocre results including a 4.15 ERA and 1.47 WHIP over his first 56.1 innings pitched for LA last year before being shipped to Miami in the Hanley Ramirez trade. Eovaldi showed flashes over the second half with the Marlins, but struggled with his command
National League - FAAB - 3/31/13
This is the first column of the year. Thanks to all who have read the article in the past or 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Henderson Alvarez/Nathan Eovaldi/Jose Fernandez/Wade LeBlanc/Alex Sanabia/Kevin Slowey, Marlins - Alvarez had a phenomenal start in 2012 thanks to a devastating sinker and strong defense from Brett Lawrie and Yunel Escobar on the left side of Toronto's infield. Unfortunately, he lacked a pitch to put hitters away and recorded just 79 strikeouts in 187.1 innings, which is a major concern for him going forward. Eventually, the extreme contact tendencies caught up with him as the season wore on. Finishing 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA, Alvarez's rotation spot was in doubt, but his inclusion in the November blockbuster with Miami earned him a spot in the Marlins' Opening Day rotation. Though at the last minute, he was placed on the 15-day DL with mild right shoulder inflammation that will keep him out about a month. Eovaldi posted mediocre results including a 4.15 ERA and 1.47 WHIP over his first 56.1 innings pitched for LA last year before being shipped to Miami in the Hanley Ramirez trade. Eovaldi showed flashes over the second half with the Marlins, but struggled with his command to the tune of a 44:27 K:BB that accompanied a 4.43 ERA and 1.54 WHIP for his new club. Like Alvarez, Eovaldi was penciled into the rotation, but he too landed on the DL on Sunday with a similar shoulder injury that will also keep him out a month. In their stead, Fernandez, who hasn't pitched above High-A, and Sanabia were called up. Fernandez, who is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, turned in a dynamic age-19 season in 25 starts between Low-A Greensboro and High-A Jupiter, twirling his way to a 1.75 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 134 innings. He works with a fastball in the 94-97 mph range, a solid changeup, and a put-away slider, which helped him to a 158:35 K:BB last season.
Fernandez was slated to start the year at Double-A, so it's probably unrealistic to expect him to dominate hitters upon his arrival in the big leagues. He will make his MLB debut next Sunday against the Mets and has a very bright future. He will be capped at 150-170 innings, and if he gets off to a good start, should remain in the Miami rotation, likely in place of LeBlanc or Slowey. Though it previously seemed as though LeBlanc was competing with Slowey for the fifth starter job, the Marlins elected to carry both of them into the regular season. The move comes at the expense of 21-year-old hurler Jacob Turner, who struggled his way through spring training. LeBlanc posted a 3.67 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 68.2 innings pitched (nine starts) last season for the Marlins, utilizing three flavors of high-80s heat (four-seam, two-seam and cutter) and a solid changeup that is complemented by a slow hooking curveball and solid control. Sanabia quickly climbed through the minors earlier in his career but has stalled at Triple-A the last two seasons, with elbow issues and inconsistent outings have preventing him from establishing any sort of rhythm. He did have some success over two starts with the Marlins last season, but his modest strikeout rate limits his potential impact. Slowey shined as a starting pitcher his first four years in the MLB, going 39-21. After struggling in 2011, going 0-8, Slowey played 2012 with the Indians' Triple-A affiliate. He signed a minor league with Miami this off-season and made the most of it. Slowey pitched well throughout Grapefruit League action, posting a 2.63 ERA and 13:4 K:BB over 13.2 innings pitched to earn the rotation spot. Alvarez -Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (spec for when he returns); Eovaldi -Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec for when he returns); Fernandez - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (mainly for keeper leagues, lower a bit for single leagues); LeBlanc - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Sanabia - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Slowey - Mixed: No; NL: $0
Andrew Cashner/Tyson Ross, Padres - Cashner will not open the year as the Padres' fifth starter, meaning Ross beat him out. This won't necessarily destroy Cashner's fantasy value, though it does diminish it. He should be in the mix for spot starts and could be the first man up once another San Diego starter goes down with an injury. In addition, Cashner may be better suited for a relief role, as he has been unable to stay healthy in his career as a starter. Ross has a very spotty track record at the major league level, but he had a good spring (2.57 ERA, 19:10 K:BB ratio in 21 innings). Furthermore, he allowed only a single run in his final 16 Cactus League frames, which could very well flow into the regular season, which will begin when he makes his first start on April 6. In his career, his main issue is that he just walks too many guys. In addition, while being pushed into duty for 73.1 innings in Oakland this year, his strikeout rate fell to 5.6 K/9. Ross may see an uptick in that rate at Petco Park, but if he is unable to improve his command and control, his hold on the spot won't last long. Cashner - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Ross -Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Pat Corbin/Randall Delgado, Diamondbacks - Corbin has held off Tyler Skaggs and Delgado to open the year as Arizona's fifth starter. The path to that spot was eased a little with the trade of Trevor Bauer to Cleveland for Didi Gregorius; a fact proven true where despite a rough spring, Corbin received the role. Corbin pitched well in the majors last August but faded in September, creating the competition for the spot. He's a polished left-hander with good control of a four-pitch arsenal, including a low-90s fastball and slider, and he will need to pitch better than he has to keep the rotation spot. Delgado could break camp if Wade Miley's dead arm proves to be either more serious or sidelines him early on. If so, Corbin will become the four and Delgado, who came over to Atlanta in the Justin Upton deal and had a solid spring, the five. Corbin -Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Delgado - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Scott Feldman/Travis Wood/Carlos Villaneuva, Cubs - All three benefit from the injuries to Matt Garza and Scott Baker to earn rotation spots in the Windy City. Feldman's ill-advised, three-year deal with Texas expired after 2012 and they were more than happy to let him walk. His xFIP the last two seasons (3.72, 3.87) suggest that he's pitched better than the results might otherwise indicate. With a career-high 7.0 K/9 and improved 2.3 BB/9, Feldman could prove to be better than expected. After starting the year in the minors, Wood got the call in May and turned in a serviceable season with 119 strikeouts and 54 walks in 156 innings, a 4.27 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. A flyball pitcher in Wrigley is not a recipe for success, but Wood showed last year that he knows how to pitch and minimize the damage from the longballs. Villanueva will start the year in the back of the Cubs rotation, but once Garza and Baker return from injuries - and both are expected back in April - Villanueva will move into the bullpen as a long reliever. Feldman -Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Wood - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Villanueva - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Mike Fiers/Kyle Lohse/Chris Narveson/Wily Peralta, Brewers - The late addition of Lohse to the Milwaukee has created unexpected competition in the rotation, as there were only two open spots. Fiers was the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 and exploded on the season last year. He tired late in the season, posting a 6.99 ERA over his final 10 starts to finish with a 3.74 ERA, but he also posted a 135:36 K:BB ratio over 127.2 innings and held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 22 starts. That early performance likely earned him the fifth rotation spot. The only reason why Lohse was unsigned for so long was the draft pick compensation owed to St. Louis, but Milwaukee decided it was a worth a first-round pick in June's draft in order to ink Lohse to a three-year, $33 million deal. He slides into the second rotation spot, and if he posts numbers even relatively close to the last two years, Milwaukee will be ecstatic. Narveson entered last season as the Brewers' fifth starter, but he lasted just two starts before tearing his rotator cuff and sitting out the year. He is healthy now, and unlike Fiers and Peralta, out of options, which was thought to give him a leg up on one spot. Peralta was penciled in as the team's No. 3 starter, giving him the inside track for the fourth spot, which he was awarded. He had only an average season with Triple-A Nashville, posting a 4.66 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, but he surprisingly dominated in a late-season stint with the Brewers, flashing his dominant fastball and slider and posting a 2.25 ERA in his five starts. I wrote this Friday AM, which proved to be prescient, as this is exactly what happened, "My best guess has Fiers and Peralta earning with Narveson sliding into a bullpen role." Fiers -Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Lohse - should already be owned, but if not, Mixed: $7; NL: $19; Narveson - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Peralta - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (due to upside).
Jeff Francis/Jon Garland, Rockies - Francis' near-impeccable spring sealed the fourth spot in the Colorado rotation. Though his velocity has declined into the mid-80s as he's reached his 30s, Francis has proven he can thrive at Coors Field by avoiding walks and limiting the fly balls he surrenders. That said, his 5.58 ERA and 1.47 WHIP over 24 starts from last season are probably a better indicator of how he'll fare in 2013. Garland, who signed with the Rockies last Sunday after getting his release from the Mariners, will open the year as Colorado's fifth starter as Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood and Christian Friedrich did little to distinguish themselves in their audition for the final spot in the rotation. Garland pitched well in four Cactus League starts with the Mariners before he was granted his release, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. He continued that solid pitching into his first spring start for the Rockies. A sinkerball pitcher with a career 1.31 GB/FB ratio, Garland profiles as the type of pitcher that may be able to find some semblance of success at Coors Field. Francis and Garland - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Jeremy Hefner/Aaron Laffey, Mets - The season-ending shoulder injury to Johan Santana along with Shaun Marcum's neck woes opened up the fourth and fifth rotation slots for Hefner and Laffey. Hefner had a solid camp, but was hit by a comebacker on his right elbow Tuesday. Fortunately, no major damage occurred, and despite it being a little stiff, Hefner was able to pitch two innings Saturday and should open the season in the rotation. He split last year between the rotation and bullpen. In his 13 appearances as a starter, Hefner carried an impressive 3.8 K/BB and was generally victimized by a .342 BABIP. Historically, he has shown a limited ability to miss bats after making the leap from High-A (8.5 K/9) following the 2009 season. Marcum will open the season on the DL until the Mets need a fifth starter. If he is not ready then, Laffey likely will get the spot, though the Mets has to clear room on the 40-man roster for him, which would entail placing Johan Santana on the 60-day DL. Laffey is best suited to be used as a reliever, but the two injuries may force the Mets hands until Marcum is healed or Zach Wheeler is promoted. Hefner - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Laffey - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
John Lannan, Phillies - Lannan spent most of the season biding his time in Triple-A, as the Nationals did not have room on their suddenly stacked pitching staff for a crafty lefty with very fringy stuff. Stephen Strasburg's innings cap eventually opened a spot for Lannan and he put up his usual numbers in six starts, but the Nats non-tendered him in the offseason before the Phillies elected to give him a one-year, $2.5 million deal in December. Lannan entered spring training as the favorite to win the fifth starter spot, which he did with little difficulty. He tinkering with a circle grip this spring to get a little more separation between his fastball and changeup. If he is successful, it could help him be more effective against right-handed hitters, improving his overall numbers. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Mike Leake, Reds - Leake will remain in the rotation to start the season following the Reds' decision last week to keep Aroldis Chapman in a closing role. The decision considerably boosts the fantasy outlook for Leake, who is one of the game's better fifth starters. While his low-strikeout rate, a la Bronson Arroyo, and fly ball tendencies make him a risky play in shallow mixed leagues, he'll provide decent enough ratios to make him a capable rotation plug-in for NL-only leagues. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Jeff Locke/Jonathan Sanchez, Pirates - With Jeff Karstens dealing with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, Sanchez and Locke locked up the fourth and fifth rotation spots in Pittsburgh. Locke wrapped up his spring with six scoreless innings Friday against the Yankees to close out his Grapefruit league with a 2.63 ERA. While his spring numbers are probably better than the way he's actually pitched, the lefty will break camp with the Pirates for the first time ever. Locke, using his 94 mph fastball, did post a 2.48 ERA and 131:43 K:BB ratio for Triple-A Indianapolis in 2012 but struggled in his stint with the parent club. Sanchez struggled mightily in his 12 starts for the Royals last season, and things didn't get any better once he was traded to the Rockies. The southpaw finished the year with a 1-9 record and a 8.07 ERA. He signed a minor league deal with the Pirates and compiled a 4.73 ERA and 10:9 K:BB ratio in 13.1 spring innings to earn a rotation slot.. His control was much better at the end of camp than in the beginning, enough for the Pirates to give him a chance to start. For both Sanchez and Locke, with Karstens, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole expected to crack the rotation at various times in 2013 and Jameson Taillon looming as well, their windows to hold the job are narrow at best. Sanchez - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Locke - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Shelby Miller, Cardinals - Miller outdueled Joe Kelly to win the fifth starter spot in St. Louis. Miller went 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 13:5 K:BB ratio over 16 innings, coming on strong late to earn the spot. Miller struggled at times with Triple-A Memphis last year, but he had a nice stint with the Cardinals late in the year, including a six-inning scoreless gem on the season's last day. He has a mid-90s fastball along with developing curveball and change-up and is St. Louis' top pitching prospect and one of the best in baseball. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers - The Dodgers paid a $25.7 million posting fee to Korea and then signed Ryu to a six-year, $36 million contract in December, so it seemed pretty certain he would open the year in LA's rotation. When camp opened, that foregone conclusion was in question, as Ryu, who was listed at 215, reported ay 255 and he struggled early on. Lately, Ryu has turned it around, finishing Cactus League play with a 3.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 27:8 K/BB ratio in 27.1 innings. Ryu, a left-handed starter, has a four-pitch arsenal with a fastball that sits at 88-91 mph, but will reach 94 mph, slider and changeup. He is slated to open the year as the second starter with Zach Greinke working his way back from injury. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.
Eric Stults, Padres - Stults is slated to open the year as the Padres' third starter, but overall, he has failed to inspire much confidence, boasting a 2-2 record, 6.63 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 6:4 K:BB ratio in 19 Cactus League frames. Perhaps a return to spacious Petco Park will help to settle his peripherals, which included career bests in ERA (2.91) and WHIP (1.20) in 99 innings during the 2012 season. That said, the odds of him repeating his 2012 performance in 2013 are slim as he has a career 4.81 xFIP and 1.70 K/BB ratio, which shows a real lack of command with his pitches, and his velocity dropped more than two miles-per-hour last year. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Julio Teheran, Braves - Teheran, who struggled both in the majors and minors last year, had a monster spring, posting a 1.04 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 26.0 innings. That performance earned him the fifth starter spot in Atlanta due to the absence of Brandon Beachy, who is likely out to at least mid-season. The keys for Teheran this spring were his improved sinker and curveball, which gives him additional pitches to go with his straight but solid fastball and solid change-up. He will be available out of the bullpen for the first few games of the season and should make his first 2013 start either April 6 or 7 against the Cubs. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Zach Wheeler, Mets - Wheeler, the Mets' best pitching prospect, was a major long shot to make the team and his setback due to a strained right oblique pretty much sealed his fate. If he pitches well at Triple-A Las Vegas, he could be up by the All-Star break at the latest and maybe by early-May due to service time considerations. Wheeler had a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 98 along with a mid-80s slider and developing changeup. In addition, he has a nasty and bulldog mentality on the mound. Wheeler should join Jon Niese and Matt Harvey sometime this year, and his upside is one reason why their fanbase is hopeful for the future. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec bid)
Matt Belisle, Rockies - Belisle is expected to receive extensive bullpen use this season, primarily as a late-inning reliever. The workhorse role is nothing new for Belisle, who has pitched 244 innings of relief over the past three seasons, good for second in the majors during that time. While he doesn't figure to see the 80 appearances he did last season when the Rockies restricted their starters to 75-pitch counts, short outings from the rotation will likely continue to persist nonetheless, leaving several innings for the bullpen. Belisle notched 26 holds last year, and assuming he stays in his current role, he should post numbers similar to that this year. Mixed: $1; NL: $4
Mitchell Boggs, Cardinals - Boggs is expected to begin the season as St. Louis' closer with Jason Motte set to begin the year on the DL with an elbow injury. There is no clear timeframe for Motte's return, so Boggs should get a solid early run at holding down the spot. Boggs posted 34 holds, best in the NL last year, along with career-best numbers of a 2.21 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 58 strikeouts. Mixed: $4; NL: $13.
Tyler Clippard/Drew Storen, Nationals - Clippard and Storen, the Nationals' closers the past two years, have been relegated to set up duty - which were their former jobs - following the team signing Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal this past January. What that means is that their fantasy values have taken a major tumble, though they still should provide solid numbers in ERA, WHIP and K, while also having some additional value in leagues that count holds. Clippard - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Storen - Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs - Fujikawa was Japan's most dominant reliever over the last eight seasons, and perhaps the preeminent reliever in NPB history. His dominance has been reflected in his strikeout rates, as he's averaged 12.9 K/9 over the past eight seasons. The best Japanese pitchers, particularly relievers, have proven capable of maintaining their strikeout numbers after crossing the Pacific, so there is reason for optimism in his ability to miss bats. Fujikawa is essentially a two-pitch pitcher: he features a 91-96 mph four-seam fastball with unusual rising movement, and an 82-86 mph splitter with hard downward movement. He will occasionally mix in a slider, a cutter, and a curveball, but does not rely on them. He is slated to set up Carlos Marmol, but given Marmol's struggles, which appear to have carried over to camp this year, it appears to only be a matter of time before Fujikawa closes for the Cubs. Mixed: $6; NL: $17 (based on expectation he gets closer job early in the season).
Jason Grilli/Mark Melancon, Pirates - The trading of Joel Hanrahan opened up the closer spot in Pittsburgh with Grilli being given the first shot to fill the role. Grilli has only six career saves to his credit but he showed last year that he can handle the set up job, though it's a big step from set up man to closer. His 10.2 and 13.8 K/9 IP marks from 2011 and 2012, respectively, suggest that he may be able to handle the job. If he falters, Melancon, who closed for Houston two years, before flaming out for most of the year until a good September in Boston and came over to Pittsburgh in the Hanrahan deal, could close. He has the experience but Grilli has the better stuff, so he will get the first chance at filling the spot. Grilli - Mixed: $5; NL: $14; Melancon - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers -Brandon League, off his success in LA last year, signed a three-year deal that could be worth up to $33.5 million. He finally notched his first save of the spring Thursday, but has posted a 7.36 ERA while hitters are beating him around. Conversely, Jansen is rolling this spring, posting a 1.42 ERA in 6.1 innings of work. Jansen had offseason surgery to correct a heart ailment and should be able to get through a full season in 2013 without a recurrence. Prior to being sidelined, Jansen was dominant, so it wouldn't be shocking to see him steal the closer job from League, who has surrendered that spot in the past. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Joe Kelly/Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals -Shelby Miller beat out Kelly and Rosenthal for the fifth starter spot in St. Louis, though both pitchers will have key roles in the Arch City. Kelly will likely have a swingman role in the bullpen and is probably the top candidate to enter the rotation if there's an opening. He was better in the pen last year, which could be his role long-term going forward. Rosenthal, with Jason Jason Motte out, will serve at Mitchell Boggs' set up man. If Motte is sidelined long-term and Boggs struggles, Rosenthal, who was a starter in the minors, could close in St. Louis. Kelly - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Rosenthal - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Brandon Lyon/Bobby Parnell, Mets - Lyon had a very successful season for the Astros and Blue Jays, recording a 3.10 ERA and seeing his K/9 jump to 9.3. He signed with the Mets as a free agent and should be a solid bridge to Parnell, while seeing the occasional save chance. Parnell was awarded the closer role early this spring due to Frank Francisco's lingering elbow woes and his performance did little to suggest he shouldn't keep the job. Parnell posted a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings this spring building off his late-season success. He seemed to take a leap forward mentally last September, thriving in the closer role, whereas previously he shrunk from the role. Even if Francisco comes back healthy or Lyon has a strong year, Parnell should see most of the save chances for the Mets. Lyon - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Parnell - Mixed: $5; NL: $14.
John Baker/Steve Clevenger/Tim FedorowiczBlake Lalli/Devin Mesoraco/Dioner Navarro/Wil Nieves/Miguel Olivo/Humberto Quintero/Guillermo Quiroz/Anthony Recker/Hector Sanchez/Yorvit Torrealba - The aforementioned earned back-up catcher roles, some unexpectedly, in San Diego, Chicago, Florida, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Arizona, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, San Francisco and Colorado. Baker is beneficiary of Grandal's suspension, Clevenger and Navarro earned bench roles in the Windy City, Fedorowicz outdueled Jesus Flores, Lalli's impressive spring may have earned him a bench role, Nieves beat out Rod Barajas while Olivo signed with Miami after he was waived by Cincinnati, where Mesoraco beat him out. Quintero earned the job in Philly over Steve Lerud while Quiroz may make the Giants if Sanchez's shoulder keeps him out, Recker beat out Landon Powell and Torrealba edged out Ramon Hernandez for the Rockies back up job. The only one who could return decent value are Fedorowicz, who at Triple-A Albuquerque of the power-laden Pacific Coast League last season, slashed .294/.371/.461 to go with 11 homers, 76 RBI, and 71 runs scored in 115 games (412 at-bats), Mesoraco, who had a big spring and could unseat Ryan Hanigan, Navarro, who had a big spring and could unseat Wellington Castillo and Sanchez, who could see some action behind the plate when Buster Posey plays first base. All except Fedorowicz, Mesoraco, Navarro and Sanchez - Mixed: No; NL: $0. Fedorowicz, Mesoraco, Navarro and Sanchez - Mixed: $0; NL: $2
Rob Brantly, Marlins - A 2010 third-round selection, Brantly was shipped from Detroit to sunny south Florida in the Anibal Sanchez trade. Primarily known for his defensive prowess, he put up a solid .298/.340/.412 slash line across two minor league levels in 2012 prior to getting the call down the stretch for the Marlins. He supported that promise with a respectable .290/.372/.460 line over 113 plate appearances in August and September with good plate discipline (13:16 BB:K). Brantly has been impressive with his work at the dish during Grapefruit League action. Neither Miguel Olivo nor Jeff Mathis, when healthy, present a major challenge to him, so expect Brantly to see most of the action behind the plate in Miami. At the very least, it appears as though Brantly will bat in the top-half of the order to start the year giving him a nice opportunity to pile up solid counting stats at the catcher position. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
John Buck/Travis d'Arnaud, Mets - Buck and d'Arnaud, the short-term present and long-term future of the Mets, both came over in the R.A. Dickey deal. Buck struggled to make contact for much of the 2012 season, striking out a whopping 103 times in 106 games last year, eventually ceding a large chunk of his playing time to Rob Brantly. He went to Toronto in the big Marlins-Blue Jays trade before going to the Mets. Buck will be a placeholder until d'Arnaud is ready, providing a low batting average with some power until he becomes a mentor to d'Arnaud. The Mets' intention all along was to send to d'Arnaud down, as by delaying his MLB service clock, the Mets retain his rights for another year while allowing him to refine his catching skills a little more. D'Arnaud impressed the team with his bat and his ability to call a game, so it's only a matter of time before he is called up, likely late-May, to assume the mantle of #1 catcher in Queens. Buck - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; d'Arnaud - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec bid and higher in keeper leagues).
Evan Gattis/Gerard Laird, Braves - Gattis could split catching duties with Laird or possibly catch more games than Laird to begin the year, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez. Gattis, who may be the feel-good story of the spring, given his history, has parlayed a monster spring (358/.375/.736 with five homers and five doubles) into a role on the team, and it looks like he could solid time early on. The team has kicked around the idea of keeping Gattis as a third catcher/fifth outfielder after Brian McCann (shoulder) returns, so while the 26-year-old has logged just 207 plate appearances above High-A, there's a chance Gattis' bat keeps him in the bigs. Laird was slowed for much of the spring by a calf strain, and Gattis took advantage. While Laird's experience likely ensures close to a 50-50 split over the first month, his fantasy value is marginal. Gattis - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Laird - Mixed: No; NL: $0
Nick Hundley, Padres - Hundley opens the season as the Padres' starting catcher due to the 50-game suspension handed down to Yasmani Grandal for PED use. Hundley has struggled at times at the plate, but last year he was hurt by a below-average average BABIP and injuries. This year, he has had a big spring, batting 375/.423/.708 with three home runs, 10 RBI, and six runs in 48 Cactus League at-bats, but he is likely a placeholder until Grandal returns. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Erik Kratz, Phillies - Kratz will open the year as the Phillies' starting catcher while Carlos Ruiz is suspended for the first 25 games of the 2013 season for his second positive amphetamine test. When Ruiz went down with an injury last year, Kratz seized the starting catching job away from Brian Schneider and sealed his role as Ruiz's ultimate backup for the 2013 season. Kratz has some pop in his bat, but his 20 percent HR/FB rate is likely unsustainable, though he should have better-than-average numbers for a back up. Mixed: $1; NL: $5
Wilson Ramos/Kurt Suzuki, Nationals - Ramos will serve as the Nationals' Opening Day starter and then alternate games with Suzuki. Ramos erased all doubts about the health of his knee coming off ACL surgery last May by turning in an excellent spring both offensively and defensively, earning the Opening Day call behind the plate. While Ramos will see a light workload early in a timeshare with Suzuki, who came over to Washington at the trade deadline last year to help replace Ramos, he has the higher ceiling of the two catchers, seen by his solid 2011 campaign, and should eventually separate himself in the competition, Ramos - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Suzuki - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Matt Adams, Cardinals - Manager Mike Matheny told Adams on Tuesday that he'll make the Opening Day roster. Adams, who has hit at every level since being drafted, will be a utility player and pinch hitter, providing some pop off the bench while David Freese is sidelined. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Alex Gonzalez, Brewers - Gonzalez is expected to serve as the starter at first base with Corey Hart opening the season on the DL. Though Gonzalez has played exclusively at shortstop during his long career, he's proved capable of learning the new position and continues to get better each day. Gonzalez's best days at the plate are probably behind him, but he should hold moderate value for his shortstop eligibility while he receives everyday playing time in place of Hart. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (check eligibility).
Jack Hannahan, Reds - Hannahan, who started 2012 as the Indians' starting third baseman only to lose the job to Lonnie Chisenhall, signed a two-year deal with Cincy last December. He doesn't stand out in one area specifically, but he will likely see action at third and first, backing up Joey Votto and Todd Frazier, and will give the Reds a veteran left-handed hitter off the bench. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Eric Hinske, Diamondbacks - The D-Backs opened spring training with a crowded bench situation, but Hinske is expected to make the Opening Day roster as a backup at first base and the outfield, and most of his playing time will likely come as a left-handed pinch hitter off the bench this season. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Casey Kotchman, Marlins - A strong defender, Kotchman is expected to receive the bulk of the playing time at first base through April while Logan Morrison (knee) remains sidelined following offseason surgery. Kotchman is unlikely to provide much in the way of power after knocking just 22 home runs over the last two seasons, but the veteran could be a solid run producer if he is given at-bats in the cleanup spot behind Giancarlo Stanton. That said, the last time he drove in over 70 runs was 2008, and Morrison is expected back around May, so don't overrate. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Brent Lillibridge, Chicago - With Ian Stewart (quadriceps) lnading on the disabled list and Darwin Barney needing five stitches on his left knee, it looks like Lillibridge will make the Cubs. Manager Dale Sveum likes Lillibridge's versatility, as he can play all infield positions as well as the outfield. Lillibridge could end up beginning the season as the team's starting second baseman until Barney heals. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Tyler Moore, Nationals - Moore will probably see most of his at-bats this season at DH during interleague play and backing up Adam LaRoche at first base, but he could see some action in the outfield corners as well. In deep leagues he could be a nice endgame power option with the upside for more in case of injury, though his contact rate leaves much to be desired. Mixed: No; NL: $3
Gaby Sanchez, Pirates - Pirates GM Neal Huntington hinted that Sanchez might see more time at first base, moving Garrett Jones to right field and pushing Travis Snider to the bench. Sanchez had a strong spring, hitting .317 with four homers and an 8:3 BB:K ratio. Snider batted a punchless .261 with no homers and a 6:17 BB:K ratio. After a solid 2010-11 in Miami, he fell out of favor with a .202 batting average last season before getting demoted to Triple-A. There he rebuilt his trade value by hitting .302, well enough to garner Pittsburgh's attention in a trade. Pittsburgh bit on the former Marlin, who hit .241/.323/.397 with four homers in 116 at-bats for the Bucs. This will be a fluid situation, but it sounds as if Sanchez will get several chances to succeed this season. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Alexi Amarista, Padres - Amarista will start at second base when San Diego faces a right-handed starter to begin the season due to the injuries that have befallen Chase Headley and Logan Forsythe. Headley was already slated to miss much of April due to his fractured left thumb, but Forsythe's setback with plantar fasciitis in his right foot means that Jedd Gyorko will move from second to third base to begin the season. The opening at the keystone is expected to be filled by Amarista, who is having a fine spring at the plate - a .328/.353/.500 slash line with one homer, nine RBI, and 13 runs scored. Moreover, he should slot into the leadoff spot, meaning runs could be aplenty in his potentially brief run in the starting lineup. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers - Betancourt, who asked for and was granted his release recently with the Phillies, signed earlier in the week with Milwaukee. He hit .471 with 16 this spring and should back up Jean Segura at shortstop while also seeing some time at second and possibly third base for the Brew Crew. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Reid Brignac/Jonathan Herrera, Rockies - Brignac, who was acquired from Tampa, is expected to win the utility infielder role with the Rockies. Brignac hit .310 with one homer this spring to hold off Jonathan Herrera and D.J. LeMahieu for one spot. He should see time at second and short for Colorado. In a surprising move, the Rockies demoted Tyler Colvin to Triple-A Colorado Springs, opting to keep two backup middle infielders in Brignac and Herrera. Herrera's light bat likely won't afford him many frequent starts or pinch-hitting opportunities, but his ability to provide quality defense at three infield positions should allow him to find his way on the field late in games. Brignac -Mixed: No; NL: $2; Herrera - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Daniel Descalso/Ryan Jackson, St. Louis - Descalso is likely to begin the season as the Cardinals' starting second baseman with Matt Carpenter starting at third base while David Freese (back) is on the 15-day DL. When Freese returns from the DL, which could be as early as the second week of the season, the situation at second base is unsettled as both Carpenter and Descalso will compete for playing time. That said, Descalso is likely to fill a utility role, seeing time at second and third while also filling in at shortstop. Jackson was been promoted this week by the Cards and will make the Opening Day roster with Freese back landing on the DL. Descalso -Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Jackson - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Freddy Galvis. Phillies - Galvis won a bench job following the release of Yuniesky Betancourt last week. Galvis will be the Phillies' primary backup to Jimmy Rollins at short, and should also see time at second and third along with Kevin Frandsen. Galvis made an appearance in right field on Saturday, which may indicate the Phillies will try him in the outfield at some point during the regular season as well. He doesn't ever figure to hit for power and he also doesn't steal a lot of bases, making his upside at the plate quite limited. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Josh Harrison, Pirates - Harrison earned the Pirates' final roster spot heading into Opening Day. Harrison will serve as a backup at multiple infield spots and in the outfield. He hit .233 in 249 at-bats last season, but probably won't see that much action again. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Nick Noonan, Giants - Noonan was recalled from Triple-A Fresno on Friday with Tony Abreu landing on the DL. Following a promising season at Triple-A Fresno, Noonan came into spring with a bang, delivering 10 extra-base hits in 66 spring at-bats. He will likely be relegated to a backup role behind Marco Sctuaro but could become one of the team's top pinch-hitting options off the bench. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Skip Schumaker, Dodgers - Schumaker is unlikely to see much time in the outfield early this year, as Carl Crawford (elbow) appears set to be the Opening Day left fielder. That will substantially cut into his already marginal value. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Donovan Solano/Chris Valaika, Marlins - Solano is expected to start at second base for the Marlins on Opening Day. The 25-year-old infielder batted .295/.342/.375 over 285 at-bats in 2012, scoring 29 runs and driving in 28 on the year, and will look to build on those totals during his first full season in the majors. He profiles as a seventh/eighth hitter in the majors. Valaika was added to the Marlins' 25-man roster as a reserve infielder. Valaika didn't show much at the dish during 53 Grapefruit League plate appearances, batting just .240 with a pair of homers and four RBI. He does, however, bring some youth and versatility to the Miami bench. Solano - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Valaika -Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Justin Turner, Mets - Turner is dealing with a left calf injury that may land him on the DL and open up a spot for Zach Lutz. If Turner remains on the active roster, he may back up all four-infield spots for the Mets. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Luis Cruz/Justin Sellers, Dodgers - Cruz was expected to serve as the shortstop for the Dodgers while Hanley Ramirez (thumb) remains sidelined for eight weeks. Cruz did play 24 games at shortstop last season, posting a .297/.322/.431 in 283 at-bat, so he should already be eligible at the position when the season starts. While Cruz slides over to shortstop, the original plan had the Dodgers turning to Juan Uribe at third base most nights, giving the team one of the weaker offensive left sides of the infield in the game until Ramirez is able to return. There was speculation that LA could turn to Sellers, who missed most of last year with an injury. That speculation became reality Sunday morning as Sellers will start at short and Cruz at third, pushing Jerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Uribe to bench roles. If Sellers or Cruz, who held off Dee Gordon to earn the first claim to the job, struggle and/or Gordon gets of to a hot start in the minors, a switch could be made. Cruz -Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Sellers - Mixed: No; NL: $2 (if he gets the job).
Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins - Hechavarria, who came over to Miami in the blockbuster deal with Toronto, will open the season as the Marlins' starting shortstop. He spent time this offseason trying to improve the quality of his contact at the plate in an effort to round out the offensive side of his game after carrying a .280 OBP with the Blue Jays last season. Hechavarria's defense and lack of competition will keep him in the lineup and anything he puts up offensively is a bonus, though he did bat a respectable .312/.363/.424 last year in the minors (albeit in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. Mixed: $0; NL: $3
Pete Kozma, Cardinals - Kozma was first in line to replace Rafael Furcal at shortstop as he did last year. He has made the most of that chance, having a strong spring to basically solidify his hold on the job. Historically, Kozma has struggled to hit, but he hit .349/.386/.619 with 10 extra-base hits in 63 September at-bats last year and will hit this year in another solid lineup. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Josh Wilson, Diamondbacks - Wilson will likely make the D-Backs' roster as the utility infielder to begin the season. It's almost certain that he will be designated for assignment once Willie Bloomquist is ready to return from a strained oblique, while the light-hitting veteran offers little for owners to get excited about even in NL-only formats. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Nolan Arenado/Chris Nelson, Rockies - Arenado opened the spring on fire and appeared to have the third base job locked up. Arenado faltered a bit and Nelson got hot the last two weeks to steal the job back. Nelson posted a stellar .881 OPS after the All-Star break last season, so he figures to be given a chance to hold down the job. Arenado, who struggled last year at Double-A Tulsa before righting the ship late, is just 21 years old and already boasts elite plate discipline and contact skills while markedly improving his defense at third base. He will benefit from starting the year at Triple-A and it wouldn't be surprising to see Arenado take over as the starter at some point and push Nelson to more of a utility role. Arenado -Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early spec bid and go higher in keeper leagues); Nelson - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Joaquin Arias, Giants - With Pablo Sandoval's (elbow) status for Opening Day still up in the air, Arias would likely slide in as the Giants' starting third baseman in the interim. Arias batted .270 in 344 plate appearances last season with the Giants and he offers a combination of light power and light speed. Arias' true value comes from his multiple position eligibility, having both shortstop and third base eligibility in most leagues. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals - Carpenter is likely to begin the season as the starter at third base while David Freese is on the DL. Carpenter will figure into the mix at second base after Freese returns (maybe as early as the second week of the season), but he'll get regular time at third base at the first week of the season. After that, Descalso could see some time at third, but profiles more as a utility infielder, while Carpneter has the skills to leadoff for the Cardinals at times and should be in the lineup nearly every day initially, likely at second base. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.
Eric Chavez, Diamondbacks - Chavez may see a smaller role than expected upon signing with the acquisition of Martin Prado by Arizona in January. If injuries deplete the depth chart, Prado has the versatility necessary to move elsewhere, such as left field, which could open up extra time for Chavez. Still, it may be a stretch to think that he'll exceed 300 at-bats if the players around him generally avoid significant injuries this season. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Greg Dobbs/Placido Polanco, Marlins - Dobbs should see plenty of at-bats at both corner infield positions with the brittle pair of Polanco and Logan Morrison occupying the top of the depth chart at those spots. Dobbs could also see more time at the fourth position in the lineup as the Marlins plan to mix and match in that role and will bring a bit of pop to that role when given the chance. That said, given his history, he is more likely to post a decent batting average with empty stats behind that. Polanco signed a one-year deal with the Marlins this offseason. He will open the year as the Marlins' starting third baseman, but after being limited to 90 games and hitting just .257 last season, it's likely that the Marlins will try to keep him fresh. Polanco could bat near the top of the order when he plays thanks to his ability to put together quality at-bats, but expect Dobbs to see ample action at the hot corner as well. Dobbs -Mixed: No; NL: $0; Polanco - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Juan Francisco/Chris Johnson, Braves - Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Francisco and Johnson will likely start the season in a platoon. As the left-handed batter, Francisco would get the larger share of the at-bats. Francisco, who came over last April from Cincinnati, batted a mediocre .245/.291/.477 against right-handers last year and struck out in a lofty 34.5 percent of his at-bats, which may ultimately hinder him from ever becoming a productive big-league hitter. He has batted an impressive .333 with six home runs in 69 at-bats this spring, but it's still too early to say his contact issues are a thing of the past. Johnson, who came over from Houston at the trading deadline last year, has also had a both had huge spring, batting .361 with a .536 slugging percentage. While the left-handed Francisco will probably get the larger share of third base starts in the platoon, Johnson will serve as the backup first baseman, which could ultimately keep the at-bats relatively even for both players. Both -Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (though I think Johnson ends up out-producing Francisco)
Jedd Gyorko, Padres - Gyorko, the Padres' best hitting prospect, tore up Triple-A last season following his promotion from Double-A. Gyorko hit .328/.380/.588 line with 24 HR and 83 RBI in 408 at-bats. Gyorko will play second against left-handed starters and third base against righties due to the injuries that have befallen Chase Headley (fractured left thumb) and Logan Forsythe (plantar fasciitis), as Alexi Amarista will play second against righties and Cody Ransom third against lefties. When Headley returns, Gyorko likely will shift full-time to second base, and his bat profiles to be solid at either spot, but special at second base. There are questions as to his footwork at second base, but he should get a chance to play there when Headley returns. He has had a solid spring and should be a more than productive middle infielder if he stays there and still a good option at third. Mixed: $7; NL: $18 (higher bid due to possible 2B eligibility).
Jerry Hairston/Jose Uribe, Dodgers - Uribe appeared likely to open the season as the Dodgers' starting third baseman due to Hanley Ramirez' thumb injury. With Ramirez hurt, Luis Cruz was to shift to shortstop, opening up third for Uribe. That now has changed, as Justin Sellers will start at short with Cruz moving to third, making Hairston and Uribe bench players. Hairston - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Uribe - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Brandon Inge, Pirates - Inge, who played with Detroit and Oakland last year, made the most of the minor-league he signed with Pittsburgh, earning a spot on the Pirates' Opening Day roster. Inge is currently dealing with a right shoulder blade bruise that could keep him out a few games to start the season. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Cody Ransom, Padres - Ransom will start at third base when San Diego faces a left-handed starter to begin the season. Following injuries to Chase Headley (thumb) and Logan Forsythe (foot), Ransom will be a part of an infield platoon with Jedd Gyorko and Alexi Amarista. Gyorko will start everyday, either at second or third, with Amarista manning the keystone when the Padres are going against a right-hander. Last season, Ransom slashed .264/.340/.563 with six homers and 29 RBI in 87 at-bats versus lefties, but considering Headley and Forsythe are only missing the first month of 2013, Ransom really only holds short-term value in NL-only leagues. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Luis Valbuena, Cubs - With Ian Stewart (quadriceps) likely headed to the disabled list, Valbuena is expected to be the Opening Day starter at third base. Stewart is not expected to be out long, but if Valbuena, who had a good year at Riple-A but struggled in the majors last year, gets off to a hot start it wouldn't be surprising if there's a changing of the guard on Chicago's depth chart. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Gregor Blanco/Andrew Torres, Giants - Blanco broke camp in 2012 as the Giants' fourth outfielder, but eventually earned a starting spot in the lineup due to Melky Cabrera's suspension. An above average defensive outfielder, Blanco also steals bases and has an solid walk rate, but strikes out too often for someone with such little power. He was red-hot the latter part of the spring since returning to his usual approach at the plate. He took a few pointers from Marco Scutaro and made some adjustments to his swing early in the spring, but the results weren't satisfactory for Blanco. So he reverted to his old ways and it appears to have paid off. Blanco will start the season in a platoon in left field with Torres, who is back in SF after a nightmarish campaign last year with the Mets on the heels of a poor 2011 one in San Francisco. Blanco should see most of the playing time while Torres backs up him in left and Angel Pagan in center. Blanco - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (due to SB); Torres - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Kyle Blanks, Padres - Blanks had a solid spring, batting 354/.436/.600 line with three homers,14 RBI and 17 runs over 65 at-bats but failed to earn a spot on the Padres, as the concerns over Carlos Quentin's knee have somewhat dissipated. He has endured numerous injury concerns in his quest to the majors, undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2010 and shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum last season. In the minors, Blanks will have the opportunity to play everyday in left field or at first base, hopefully building upon his recent Cactus League performance. Any injury that befalls the outfield or first could spur an immediate call-up for Blanks.. Mixed: No; NL: $2 (spec bid).
Domonic Brown/John Mayberry/Laynce Nix - Phillies - Brown has had a monster spring, finally looking like he has put it all together. If you get the Joe Sheehan newsletter, he, like others, have remarked how Philly might have promoted Brown too early, retarding his development. Brown looks locked in and should open the year as the Phillies' starting right fielder before shifting over to left field when Delmon Young (ankle) comes off the disabled list in mid-to-late April. Mayberry will likely open the regular season in a platoon with Nix in left field. The Phillies didn't make an official announcement, but Darin Ruf was sent to the minors Friday, which effectively ends any competition in left field. Nix should see the majority of at-bats as the stronger side of the platoon until Young comes off the disabled list in late April. Domonic Brown will likely slide to left at that time, sending both Nix and Mayberry to the bench, though Mayberry, who had a solid second half last year, could see the occasional start at first base when Ryan Howard needs a day off. Brown - Mixed: $6; NL: $17; Mayberry - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Nix - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Mike Baxter/Marlon Byrd/Collin Cowgill/Lucas Duda/Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Jordany Valdespin, Mets - Those names to the left are the quagmire known as the Mets outfield. Fortunately, some clarity was provided on Friday and Saturday, as up until then, your guess was likely as good as ours as to who would be playing when and where. Baxter was penciled in as a possible platoon right fielder when the spring began. Byrd's, Cowgill's and Valdespin's solid springs coupled with Baxter's struggles have pushed him to a bench role. Byrd hit .210/.243/.245 in 47 games between the Cubs and Red Sox last season before being released by Boston in June. Later that month, he was handed a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, which is considered as being served. Byrd was one of the few Mets outfielders to stay completely healthy this spring and reaped the most of the at-bats he received, going 19-for-54 (.352) at the plate. While he could eventually settle into a platoon role as the season progresses, manager Terry Collins previously mentioned he should be an everyday player, perhaps opening up more starts early on than initially anticipated, with most of them coming in right field. Cowgill will serve as the team's full-time center fielder to begin the season. There was some thought that Cowgill might settle into a platoon role with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but after Nieuwenhuis had difficulty staying healthy this spring, while Cowgill batted .317/.394/.619, the decision was rather easy for the Mets. Cowgill's spring power numbers don't seem sustainable given his career slugging percentage, but he will be slotted in as the leadoff hitter for the Mets and could be a useful source for batting average and runs. Duda was counted on to provide power to the Mets after his solid 2012 season, but he seemingly struggled throughout the year. Those struggles became even more magnified after the All-Star break, where he hit just .214 with three homers and 13 RBI in 112 at-bats after having a decent first half (.249, 12 homers, 44 RBI). Duda fractured his right wrist moving furniture this offseason, but he is healthy. He started off poorly this spring, but got hot late to finish with five home runs, 13 RBI and a .270 batting average. Duda should start nearly every day in right field, replaced late in games for defense by Nieuwenhuis, who entered the spring with a chance to claim a starting job, a bone bruise on his left knee prevented that from happening. The missed playing time even cost Nieuwenhuis a platoon spot, as Cowgill will open the season as the full-time fourth outfielder. As a result, Nieuwenhuis likely won't find much playing time in the early stages of the season, beyond serving as a pinch-hitter against right-handers and time as a late-inning defensive replacement. Valdespin showed improved plate discipline to go along with his powerful bat this spring, hitting .313 with four home runs. Due to injuries, Valdespin may see time at both second base and the outfield, especially against righties, but either way, he should get a chance to play more than expected when the spring started. Baxter/Nieuwenhuis - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Byrd - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Cowgill - Mixed: $2; NL: $7, Duda - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Valdespin - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Chris Coghlan, Marlins - Coghlan has made Miami's Opening Day roster. Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, has been hit hard by injuries the past two seasons, but a .311 spring with seven extra base hits was enough to give him the edge for a backup spot over Gorkys Hernandez. Given the fragile health of Justin Ruggiano and Giancarlo Stanton at various points last season, Coghlan could fall into playing time in 2013. He's currently slated to platoon with Ruggiano in center field. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Carl Crawford, Dodgers - Crawford was limited to just 117 big league at-bats last year due to elbow issues that ultimately led to his undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. He had a few setbacks earlier this spring, but lately, it's been all systems go and he is expected to open the year as the starting LF in LA. To expect him to post numbers as he did in TB may be a bit of stretch, but if he remains healthy, Crawford could have a rebound year in LA, health permitting. I just wish it had occurred last year when I grabbed him late in my home league draft and got basically nil from him. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.
Chris Denorfia/Will Venable, Padres - Denorfia and Venable are slated to platoon in right field for San Diego. Denorfia should see most of his at-bats against lefties while Venable plays against righties. Venable has decent power-speed combination, and given he should see more at-bats, unless Denorfia plays some in left field, he should out-produce Denorfia. Denorfia - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Venable - Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Adam Eaton/Jason Kubel/Geraldo Parra/A.J. Pollock/Cody Ross, Diamondbacks - The amalgamation known as the Arizona outfield. As of a few weeks ago, it looked as if many of the outfielders, save for Pollock, were slated to get 400-450 at-bats, but that changed rapidly. Eaton, who were having a big spring and all signs pointed to him leading off while seeing most of the time in CF, suffered a Grade 1 strained UCL in his left elbow. Initial word was that he would be out six-to-eight weeks, but there is some speculation he could be back sooner. As long as he doesn't suffer a setback, he should post solid numbers once he returns. Kubel is penciled in to start in left, but he has been dealing with a bad ankle as well as sore knee this camp. He should see most of his at-bats against right-handed pitching. Parra could lead off with Eaton out, and along with Pollock, is the main beneficiary of Eaton's injury. Parra will likely move into a corner spot on days where Pollock is in the starting lineup, which figures to be often during the beginning of the season since Ross is likely headed to the disabled list. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, but gets an initial boost due to the injuries. Pollock also gets a bump due to the injuries, as he should see semi-regular times initially. His blend of speed and on-base skills could earn him additional time even when everyone is healthy. Ultimately, Ross' will likely determine how much Pollock plays beyond the early weeks of the season, as he'll likely slide into a fourth/fifth outfielder role upon Ross' return. Ross has a left calf injury and will miss at least the first series of the year. The hope is that he will be ready shortly thereafter, and when he returns, he projects to see most of the action in right field after signing a three-year deal with Arizona this off-season. Alfredo Marte is also in the mix to be the fifth outfielder. Eaton - Mixed: $4; NL: $13 (go much higher if think he returns in mid-April); Kubel/Ross - should be owned in all formats; Parra - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Pollock - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Scott Hairston/Nate Schierholtz, Cubs - Hairston, who signed a two-year deal with Chicago, hit career-high 20 home runs last season for the Mets, but his biggest strength is playing all three-outfield positions, which gives the Cubs the flexibility to deal Alfonso Soriano or David DeJesus if they so desire, though neither has yet to occur. With each of them still with the team, Hairston is expected to platoon with Schierholtz in right field, seeing most of his time against lefties. Schierholtz, who played in Philly and SF last season, signed a one-year deal this offseason with Chicago. He hit .287/.360/.466 against right-handers last year, but his .444 OPS against southpaws makes Hairston the perfect platoon partner for him. Each may just be holding the spot warm for Brett Jackson. Hairston - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Schierholtz - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (more at-bats but less value due to Hairston's HR hitting ability)
Khris Davis/Ender Inciante/Austin Kearns/Alfredo Marte/Xavier Paul/Shane Robinson/Dave Sappelt/Jordan Schafer/Logan Schafer - The players to the left earned spots as fourth/fifth outfielders for Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Miami, Arizona, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta and Milwaukee. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers - Puig, who LA signed for $42 million out of Cuba this past June. was optioned to Double-A Chattanooga this week. The value of giving Puig everyday at-bats appears to be the most important factor in the decision to send him down, as he tore the cover off the ball during spring training and showed signs of being nearly major league ready at the plate. If a significant injury strikes one of the Dodgers' regular outfielders, it's conceivable that he'll get a look sooner rather than later. Mixed: $1; NL: $5 (spec bid only)
Travis Snider, Pirates - The Pirates are committed to Snider in right field, but GM Neal Huntington hinted that he could lose time to Garrett Jones. Snider, who has succeeded in the minors but struggled in the majors, looked lethargic at times in spring training. Ideally, Pittsburgh would like Snider to step up as an everyday player, as they need his left-handed power, and hit .270 with 15-plus home runs. While that could still happen, Gaby Sanchez has played well at first base. As a result, Jones could move to right field to give the Bucs added punch -- unless Snider finds his swing. Snider hit .261 with no homers and a 6:17 BB:K ratio during the Grapefruit League. Buyer beware. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Jose Tabata, Pirates - Tabata will serve as Pittsburgh's fourth outfielder, following the demotion of Alex Presley this past Wednesday. He's expected to back up Travis Snider in right and Starling Marte in left. Tabata hasn't been able to stay on the field since his rookie season of 2010, with an assortment of groin injuries plaguing him. He reshaped his body over the offseason in an effort to stay healthy, which along with his defense have been two major criticisms of him in the past. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Oscar Taveras, Cardinals - Taveras, St. Louis' top position prospect and one of the best in all of baseball, was sent down to Triple-A Memphis on Friday. Carlos Beltran is able to play through his toe injury, so now, it's only a matter of pain tolerance. Taveras, who improved his plate discipline last year without losing any of his power or aggressiveness at the plate, raked this spring, but Beltran's ability to play coupled with St. Louis wanting him to play daily resulted in him getting sent down. Taveras likely will see most of his time in right field and is on a fast track back to the Cardinals. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (up it substantially in keeper leagues and if you believe he sees more than expected action this year).
Christian Yelich, Marlins - Like Taveras, Yelich tore it up this spring, and like Taveras, Yelich was reassigned to minor league camp. Yelich, ranked No. 15 in Baseball America's top prospects list, is expected to open the season at Double-A after batting a blistering .330/.404/.519 at High-A Jupiter last season. He blasted 12 home runs with 29 doubles and five triples while driving in 48 runs on the year and went 20-for-26 on the basepaths. With few outfielders at the major league level outside of Giancarlo Stanton viewed as long-term assets, Yelich could have an opportunity to see time in the big leagues before the end of 2013. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (up it substantially in keeper leagues and if you believe he sees more than expected action this year).
Eric Young, Jr., Rockies - Young is projected to serve as a bench player this season, but should see ample starts as well as frequent use in pinch-running situations. Young opened some eyes by batting .406/.449/.609 when given regular playing time in August and has carried that performance into the spring, In addition to his regular outfield duty, manager Walt Weiss has been giving Young regular reps at second and third base this spring in an attempt to maximize his role as a utility player. Although he may not carry the tag of a starter this season, don't be surprised if Young finds a way to accumulate 400 at-bats. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.