Fantasy baseball: Hot stove analysis of offseason trades and free-agent signings

MLB

Tracking the offseason MLB trades and signings with fantasy baseball implications for the upcoming season, Eric Karabell and Tristan H. Cockcroft will analyze and provide an outlook for all of the key players involved. Check back often as players like Aaron Judge, Trea Turner and Jacob deGrom find their potential new homes for 2023.

Players will be separated by position, and then listed in order of fantasy relevance within each positional grouping. Also included are links to any stand-alone analysis stories and/or videos regarding free-agent signings and trades.

Note: Players who end up re-signing with their previous team will not be included.

Jump to: Catcher | First Base | Second Base | Shortstop | Third Base | Outfield | DH | Starting Pitcher | Relief Pitcher


First base

imageHouston Astros sign 1B Jose Abreu: Abreu is a good fit in Houston, where he should post similar numbers to last year and remain a top-10 1B option. Batting in the No. 6 slot, he’ll have plenty of RBI opportunities. — Cockcroft.

Go deeper on the Abreu signing with Tristan’s video analysis here.

imagePittsburgh Pirates sign 1B Carlos Santana: A historic points-league dynamo, finishing among the top-50 hitters in points scored in every season from 2013-20, Santana has seen his roto-relevant batting average crater, with “the shift” being partially responsible (he batted sub-.185 from the left side in each of 2020-22). Perhaps 2023’s new shift rules will steady his downward aging curve, but the rebuilding Pirates aren’t a great destination for an offensive rebirth, keeping him more along the lines of being fantasy corner-infield filler. — Cockcroft


Second base

image Seattle Mariners trade for 2B Kolten Wong: With it apparent that the Mariners wouldn’t dip into the free-agent SS pool, they acquired Wong to fill their 2B void. Wong is coming off a career-best year with the bat and seems likely to rebound from a surprisingly bad defensive year. He’s more of a rotisserie asset than one in points league, finishing 18th at his position in the former but only 24th in the latter, but he might take a slight step backwards in power in T-Mobile Park’s more pitching-friendly confines. — Cockcroft


Outfield

image Milwaukee Brewers trade for OF Jesse Winker: So much went wrong for Winker in 2022. He had both neck and knee surgery at season’s end, with the one positive being that he actually hit left-handers well for the first time (.244/.357/.437 rates). In Milwaukee, he’ll call a much more HR-friendly environment his home, stoking his rebound prospects, but he’ll need to first show during spring training that he has recaptured his power stroke in order to be worth a late-round mixed-league pick. — Cockcroft

imageLos Angeles Angels trade for OF Hunter Renfroe: Don’t panic following this news as Angel Stadium has actually played comparably HR-friendly to Milwaukee’s American Family Field ever since the Angels lowered the right-field fence in 2018 (oddly, including for right-handed hitters). Renfroe should again deliver his somewhat one-dimensional, 30-HR production, and if the Angels lineup can stay healthy, he might see a small boost in his RBI totals as a middle-of-the-order bat. — Cockcroft


Starting pitcher

image Texas Rangers sign SP Jacob deGrom: deGrom’s move to Texas won’t have an adverse impact upon his fantasy value — he’ll remain a clear top-10 starter with the ability to be the game’s best — primarily because the new contract itself provides neither greater promise nor additional risk of him missing time due to injury.” — Cockcroft

image Tampa Bay Rays sign SP Zach Eflin: The Rays could squeeze a lot of value out of Eflin, à la Corey Kluber last season, giving fantasy managers a sneaky-good back of your staff piece, so long as you’re willing to put in the lineup/matchups homework. — Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Eflin signing with Tristan’s video analysis here.

imageDetroit Tigers sign SP Matthew Boyd: Back in Detroit following an 11-month absence while recovering from September 2021 flexor tendon surgery, followed by a brief stint as a reliever with the Mariners, Boyd shouldn’t have much trouble landing a rotation spot with the 2023 Tigers. He’ll need to maintain the small velocity and spin-rate bumps he saw in limited time to turn a profit on his likely fantasy dart-throw stock, but Boyd did have a strong three-month stretch as recently as 2019 (3.72 ERA, 30.8 K% from April-June). — Cockcroft

imageChicago White Sox sign SP Mike Clevinger: Not all returnees from Tommy John surgery have flawless comebacks, and Clevinger’s 2022 wasn’t the smoothest. His average fastball velocity was down nearly 2 mph (consistently all year) and his season marred by various bumps and bruises. He’s a worthwhile speculative add for the White Sox, but for fantasy purposes, would need to show either a recovery of his lost velocity or past ferocity with his slider during spring training to be more than a mixed-league dart throw. — Cockcroft

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