WATCH: CHASE OR FADE – CLEVELAND OFFENSE
MLB’s offseason transactions tend to peak right around the holidays, so I don’t blame you if you forgot some of the big moves that took place over the winter. But with fantasy baseball right around the corner, it’s time to refresh your memory with the five most impactful fantasy players that switched uniforms for 2017.
OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Fowler signed a 5-year/$82.5 million contract to leave the Cubs in December.
Fowler is one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, evidenced by his .393 on-base percentage. This is a huge addition for the Cardinals, even though they got solid leadoff production from Matt Carpenter last season. This is a win-win for Fowler and the entire top of St. Louis’ order from a fantasy perspective. Fowler should have another great season in a division he knows well (.276/13 HR/48 RBI in 2016), and I love Carpenter to improve upon his 2016 (.271/21 HR/68 RBI) now that he should be dropping back to the heart of the order.
OF, Washington Nationals
Eaton was traded from the White Sox for two top-10 pitching prospects: Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.
For starters, the Nats gave up a HAUL to bring in Eaton, so they must feel great about what he can bring to the table for them. Giolito and Lopez could play major roles in the White Sox rotation this year and have the potential to become top of the rotation talents. When it comes to the Nationals, Eaton has the potential to spark this entire offense. D.C. got some of the worst leadoff production in baseball last season, and will now plug Eaton (.284/14 HR/59 RBI in 2016) in to fix the problem. Keep in mind, Eaton’s numbers came in a pretty lackluster White Sox offense … simply put, he could be in line for a career season.
OF, Colorado Rockies
Desmond signed a 5-year/$70 million contract to leave the Rangers in December.
Desmond raked last season in a great ballpark for hitters with Texas — .285/22 HR/86 RBI. But now he’s shifting over to the BEST ballpark for hitters, the DFS-legendary Coor’s Field. The Rockies didn’t lose any core pieces this offseason either, which not only leaves Desmond in an awesome spot but sets the Rockies up to have one of the top lineups in baseball. Much like Eaton, Desmond couldn’t be in a better position to produce a career year in 2017.
NOTE: Ian Desmond will start the 2017 season on the DL.
SP, Boston Red Sox
Sale was traded from the White Sox for top hitting prospect Yoan Moncada in December.
While the offseason blockbuster in real baseball was Sale changing the color of his Sox, it remains to be seen what the fantasy impact will actually be. Sale obviously makes Boston a much better team, but we need to see how he responds to pitching in Fenway Park. David Price had many frustrating outings last season in his first year in Boston and will begin this season on the DL. That puts a little more pressure on Sale to succeed. In theory, moving to the AL East and pitching half his games in Fenway Park should hurt Sale’s 3.34 ERA from last season. At the same time, having that high-powered Red Sox offense behind him should also help him greatly improve an already solid 17-10 record. What’s nice about Sale, and will keep him consistently valuable, is that fact that he had 233 strikeouts last season. There’s no reason for that to change. Sale strikes me as the kind of guy that wants this pressure in Boston and will pitch better in meaningful games. Yes, his ERA could decline, but it will likely be slight enough that the wins and strikeouts make up for it.
1B, Cleveland Indians
Encarnacion signed a 3-year/$60 million contract to leave the Blue Jays in January.
Edwin was by far the biggest bat to swap uniforms this offseason, bringing some huge pop to the middle of the order for the World Series runners-up. Like Sale, though, this doesn’t mean it improves Encarnacion’s fantasy value. This guy jacked 42 homers last season to go with an AL-leading 127 RBI (tied with David Ortiz) while batting .263. Leaving the Rogers Centre and no longer hitting alongside Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista is going to make it tough to repeat that performance. Although he’ll still be a feared home run hitter, I’ve got to think Edwin’s production goes down this season. It’s not all bad news, however. The guys that wind up hitting next to Encarnacion this season should be in for a boost in numbers, so keep an eye out for that.
Hit me up on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.