Happy December. Happy Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) Day. Happy Ohtani Day #1.
Here’s your fantasy baseball news recap for Friday, December 1st.
Shohei Ohtani has officially posted.
He now has a three-week window to sign with an MLB club. All 30 teams have been working on a survey sent by Ohtani’s representatives last week, as he tries to choose the best fit for his unique skill set. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Padres may be a legitimate contender in the sweepstakes. As the race to sign Ohtani heats up in the coming weeks, let this serve as another reminder to sort out how your league (or in some cases, the site your league is hosted on) will handle his eligibility.
The non-tender deadline is today at 8p ET.
Another handful of players will become free agents at that time as teams decide to part ways with some players rather than offer them a contract for 2018. This deadline is usually the impetus behind a few minor trades, and this year was no exception. Hector Rondon is among the first players to reach free agency this offseason as a result of being non-tendered. This group will be reviewed in detail in a separate post after the weekend.
Brad Boxberger has been traded to Arizona.
D-backs scribe Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported in late November that the team’s plan is to continue to use Archie Bradley as a reliever. Still, Bradley will report to spring training and stretch out as a starter, perhaps as a safety measure in case injuries befall a starter or two on the team’s depth chart. With Fernando Rodney’s contract up, the closer chair is open in Arizona, and while Bradley appears perfectly capable of handling that role, he may be more valuable in situations where he can record more than three outs in the highest-leverage late-inning situations possible. Boxberger will get a significant raise in arbitration, hence the Rays’ willingness to deal him, and injuries have limited him 24.1 and 29.1 innings in 2016 and 2017, respectively, perhaps making him more susceptible to a one-inning per appearance role. Boxberger had the second-highest strikeout rate of his career in 2017 (12.3 K/9, 33.1% K%) and paired with the second-lowest walk rate he’s ever had (3.4 BB/9, 9.1% BB%), he offered solid ratios (3.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) when called upon. The D-backs are likely in the market for additional bullpen help this winter, but it’s easy to see a path for him to become the team’s preferred ninth-inning arm despite the presence of Bradley.
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Hanley Ramirez has changed his offseason workout routine.
Offseason shoulder surgery has provided relief for Ramirez, who played through pain for a significant portion of last season. According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Ramirez has shifted his focus to having a stronger core rather than emphasizing upper-body strength as he has in the past. Now pain-free, Ramirez enters the final year of his contract with the Red Sox, unless he triggers his $22 million vesting option for 2019 by reaching 497 plate appearances. He’ll turn 34 at the end of December, but keep in mind that he’s just one year removed from a monster campaign that included a .286/.361/.505 line, 30 homers, and 111 RBI. In addition to improved health, an actual replacement for David Ortiz in the lineup would also improve his chances of a 2018 rebound. Ramirez fell outside the Top 200 overall in three of the four Mason Mocks this fall.
Welington Castillo has signed with the White Sox.
Castillo heads to the south side of Chicago on a two-year pact worth $15 million, with a club option for 2020. In addition to being reunited with Rick Renteria, Castillo has landed in another power-friendly home park. As James Fagan of The Athletic points out, Castillo’s impact on the White Sox’s young pitchers may be just as valuable as his contributions as a hitter.
Welington Castillo hit .282/.323/.490 last year with 20 home runs in 96 games. Had an unexpected turnaround in his framing numbers last season too
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) December 1, 2017
In addition to his improved framing, Castillo threw out a league-high 49% of attempted basestealers in 2017.
Steamer projects Castillo to hit .249/.307/.427 with 14 HR, 46 RBI, and 39 runs with 365 plate appearances. Those counting stats could tick up slightly as he may get two-thirds of the starts for the White Sox and have an opportunity to hit slightly higher in the batting order this season after splitting his time nearly evenly between the sixth, seventh, and eighth spots in the order during his final season in Baltimore.
Yusmeiro Petit signed a two-year deal with the A’s.
As Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs suggests, the A’s may need multi-inning relief arms to help pick up the slack from their young rotation in shorter appearances. By all accounts, Petit’s real-life value vastly exceeds his fantasy value, unless he manages to fire another 90-plus innings out of the bullpen with great ratios (2.76 ERA, 0.95 WHIP in 2017, 101:18 K:BB) as he did in 2017. This signing may prove to be of great interest to Score Sheet players.
Hisashi Iwakuma returned to the Mariners on a minor-league deal.
The move is a low-risk deal for Seattle, who could end up getting another arm for rotation depth once Iwakuma has fully recovered from shoulder surgery. He’s not expected to pitch until late May or early June.
Mike Napoli had a torn ligament in his right hand for most of last season.
Napoli recently had surgery to repair the tear, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. He’s 36 and a free agent, and with a skill set that has never been valued less in MLB than it’s valued today, he may still face an uphill battle in the search for a guaranteed roster spot this winter. Napoli also had an ankle injury in 2017, but he swatted 29 homers despite a brutal .193/.285/.428 line.
Jim Johnson has been traded to the Angels.
Aroyds Vizcaino was closing for the Braves at the end of 2017 anyway, so it’s just a bullpen depth boost for the Halos if Johnson can find a way to regain his 2016 form.
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We’re recording new episodes of the RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Podcast every week this offseason!
Check out the latest episode with the player below, and subscribe using the link in the bottom of the player. This week, Todd Zola and I spent a lot of time discussing our offseason (draft season) processes.