Looking At The Fantasy Implications of 2017 Free Agent Landing Spots, Part 1
Now that the World Series has finished up, we’re finally into the insanity of the MLB offseason where massive, undeserved contracts get inked each year, and where your favorite team trades players you didn’t know existed for other players you didn’t know existed (Zack Littell and James Pazos, anyone?). These decisions also have huge implications for the fantasy season, as these offseason trades and signings can seriously affect a player’s value (Just ask 2016 Zack Greinke owners). For my next few articles, I’m going to specifically focus on a few of the quality bats in this class (There’s a lot of them) and the implications of them signing to one of their 3 likely landing spots.
OF Yoenis Cespedes
The big prize of this year’s Free Agency class, Yo proved that 2015’s production was no fluke, once again hitting 30+ home runs and even cutting down his K’s. Cespedes will likely be seeking a long-term deal worth big money, but there are enough teams on the market desperate for an OF bat that he should have no trouble finding a team willing to meet his demands.
As some will recall, Cespedes hit free agency last year but, unable to find a long-term deal to his liking, signed a 3-year, $75M deal with the Mets that allowed him to opt out after year 1 and 2. Cespedes could very well return to the Mets, who would be in an unenviable OF situation if he left, having to choose between the fading Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, light hitting Juan Lagares, or unproven Brandon Nimmo (My bet’s on Lagares and Granderson). The Mets are a very talented team, just two years removed from a surprise World Series appearance, and a full year of health from their starting rotation could easily result in an NL East title, even against the equally talented Washington Nationals. The Mets, knowing this, could potentially make a play to keep Cespedes, and continue their quest to reach the October Classic again.
Perhaps no team is as desperate for OF offensive production than the Giants, who have had one of the most anemic hitting OF’s in baseball for years running. The Giants were 28th in the MLB last season in HR’s with just 130, and Cespedes would offer some relief to that problem (Cespedes hit just six fewer HR’s than the Giants starting OFer’s combined last season). However, AT&T Park’s incredibly pitcher-friendly confines could hurt his fantasy numbers in big ways, as could having to hit in the highly unextraordinary Giants batting order. Cespedes would still be a solid fantasy producer, but would get drafted too early by owners chasing his numbers from previous seasons, which he simply will not reproduce if he signs in San Francisco.
If any team is as hungry for a player like Cespedes as the Giants are it’s the Angels, who lack a threatening bat apart from incumbent MVP Mike Trout and aging future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Apart from Trout, the Angels OF consists of the passable but uninspiring duo of Cameron Maybin and Kole Calhoun (Cespedes would likely take Maybin’s spot in LF). Though as a whole the Angels lineup is not much of a threat, hitting between Trout and Pujols isn’t too bad of a gig and could lead to some very good production by Cespedes, even if the Angels may not make meaningful gains in the win column as a result.
3B Justin Turner
A pleasant surprise for the Dodgers after they inked him to a minor league back in 2014, Turner has quietly been one of the league’s best hitting third basemen over the last three years, and additionally has the versatility to play 1B, SS and 2B. Due to the presence of bigger names like Cespedes, Encarnacion and Bautista though, Turner will likely continue to be one of the biggest bargains in baseball.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Turner return to Chavez Ravine and continue to play for the first MLB team that really gave him significant PT. Offensively, the Dodgers were about middle of the road as a team, but in my opinion have the potential to be one of the best in the MLB this season, as the lackluster production of Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick shouldn’t be hard to replace and the re-emergence of Yasiel Puig could mean big things for this team. Combine that with a top-10 starting rotation and you have a very dangerous team. These factors, plus the loyalty factor, could make LA a very attractive spot for Turner again– a promising result for his 2017 fantasy prospects.
The Braves’ many years of utter futility could soon be coming to a close, as they’ve built a very solid team to mark the opening of a new field. Some smart moves by GM John Copolella (namely the trade that brought Dansby Swanson to Atlanta) mean Atlanta will be a much better team this year, especially if Turner were to sign. With Turner, the top part of the Braves lineup would look something like:
- Ender Inciarte, CF
- Dansby Swanson, SS
- Justin Turner, 3B
- Freddie Freeman, 1B
- Matt Kemp, LF
- Nick Markakis, RF
It would be hard for them to complain about this kind of lineup, and the perennially underrated Nick Markakis would be easily one of the league’s best 6th batters. Turner might be averse to Atlanta because of their reputation as one of baseball’s worst teams over the last several years, but there are much worse places to be than in a new, hitter friendly ballpark with a team on the rise.
This would be a double bonus for the Giants: getting a very good player at a position they’ve lacked production from as of late, and sticking it to their hated rivals, the Dodgers. Though perhaps not as much of a slap to the face as signing Duke Snider in ’64, you’re fooling yourself if you think the Giants front office wouldn’t be grinning like mad if they did this. As I said earlier with Cespedes, the ineffective Giants offense and the pitcher-friendly ballpark would affect Justin Turner’s offensive production, but he would be a major shot in the arm for the Giants if he signs (not that the Giants are strangers to shots in the arm).