Fascination with the unknown. It’s a trait to which we all fall victim. It’s why Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton continue to be drafted in the first couple of rounds. I know, we’re taking them for their upside. It has nothing to do with satisfaction of being able to say “I told you so.”
Truth be told, we’re only doing what we see others do. I’m not talking about our fellow fantasy baseball brethren; I’m talking about the real thing: Major League Baseball owners and general managers. I mean, if Theo Epstein and the Red Sox management could become infatuated with a mythical gyroball who are we to trust the tried and true and not bet on the come?
The Rakuten Golden Eagles are effectively holding MLB hostage as they are still deciding whether to post Masahiro Tanaka. And of course, there’s a handful of teams that would rather take the chance on a 25-year old phenom coming off a 24-0 season than sign the likes of Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez or Matt Garza or trade for David Price or Jeff Samardzija. I know, Tanaka has so much more potential than Santana, Garza or Jimenez and teams won’t have to give up talented prospects to deal for Price or Samardzija. But you know what? Daisuke Matsuzaka had gobs of potential as well.
Mini-rant aside, there are still some dealings to be done before talk of the Hot Stove shifts to counting the number of days until pitchers and catchers report. The Tanaka situation should resolve soon and the dominos will begin to fall. Let’s take a look at what’s left in terms of free agents, there they may land and which teams still have glaring needs. We’ll conclude by reviewing the rumored players on the block and where they may land.
Nelson Cruz: Cruz has been linked with the Seattle Mariners as despite acquiring Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, a right-handed power hitter capable of playing corner outfield would round out their lineup nicely. Other possible destinations include Baltimore who needs someone to play left and/or DH and Pittsburgh who could use some pop to play right field.
Kendrys Morales: Agent Scott Boras is trying to convince the New York Mets to use Morales and not Lucas Duda at first if they deal Ike Davis but the Mets are not biting. That leaves a sparse few possible landing spots with Baltimore making some sense.
Stephen Drew: Boras is also pushing Drew to the Mets, which makes some sense but so far money is the deterrent. There’s really not a whole lot out there available for Drew, especially since it will cost most teams a valuable draft pick headed to Boston.
Ervin Santana: Much to the chagrin of Drew Smyly owners, Detroit is allegedly interested in Santana as well as Arizona. Since a scare in 2009 where Santana was able to rehab an elbow strain and avoid surgery, he has averaged 32 starts and 210 innings a season. Still, at least from a fantasy sense, he has that injury risk stigma (perhaps unfairly) following him around.
Matt Garza: On the other hand, injuries are a definite concern with Garza who returned from a stress fracture to make 24 starts this past season. The Diamondbacks and Yankees are the teams mentioned the most for Garza and both are also admittedly waiting on Tanaka’s fate.
Ubaldo Jimenez: There’s still a chance that Jimenez returns to Cleveland. If not, it will be a team still desperate for starting pitching after the Tanaka domino falls and others ensue.
WHO STILL NEEDS WHAT
Atlanta Braves: I personally have a hard time seeing how you can start the season with a guy you benched for Elliot Johnson in the playoffs last fall. If not Dan Uggla, then who plays second base?
Baltimore Orioles: If Baltimore is to compete in the revamped AL East, they need more than Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia providing the offense expected from left field and designated hitter. The O’s could also use a starting arm as insurance for youngsters like Kevin Gausman.
Boston Red Sox: The defending World Series champs may look for a veteran platoon partner for Jackie Bradley and/or an infielder to play the left side as Will Middlebrooks protection.
Chicago Cubs: There is a desperate need for a centerfielder in Wrigleyville.
Cincinnati Reds: Is Billy Hamilton really going to be the opening day centerfielder? And what about second base for someone needs to play there if Brandon Phillips is indeed dealt.
Cleveland Indians: A solid spring from Lonnie Chisenhall would go a long way to curing the Tribe woes but since that isn’t assured, Carlos Santana continues to take grounders at third base which means Cleveland might need a stick to take the DH at bats intended for Santana. Chances are this won’t be settled until the spring when Chisenhall will either quell the fears or fuel the flames at the hot corner.
Colorado Rockies: The Rox could opt to fill left internally with Brandon Barnes, Corey Dickerson and/or Charlie Blackmon or they could sneak in and steal Cruz or Morales.
Los Angeles Angels: One more veteran stick is likely to hedge against Kole Calhoun and provide insurance for Raul Ibanez.
Los Angeles Dodgers: With increasing concern Alexander Guerrero can step right in and handle second base, there’s a chance the Dodgers look for some reinforcement.
Miami Marlins: Is Casey McGehee really the answer at third? If so I shudder at the question.
New York Mets: If Ike Davis is moved with Lucas taking over at first, the opens up a hole in the outfield.
New York Yankees: For a team that has already done so much, it’s hard to believe the left side of their infield is still in flux as well as the pitching. The ARod situation will flesh out soon enough.
Pittsburgh Pirates: A power bat to complement Travis Snider and Jose Tabata is possible.
Tampa Bay Rays: An outfielder to play the Sam Fuld role is in order and since Joe Maddon plays everyone, even a reserve is fantasy relevant.
ON THE BLOCK:
Atlanta Braves: They’d deal Dan Uggla for a bag of used balls if they could.
Boston Red Sox: Given that you can never have too many starters, either Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront would begin the season in the bullpen thus one could be moved.
Chicago Cubs: If they get the proverbial godfather offer, Samardzija could be had.
Chicago White Sox: After acquiring Adam Eaton, Alejandro De Aza is expendable.
Cincinnati Red: Brandon Phillips, though the longer he remains a Red, the better the chances it stays that way.
Kansas City: There have been mumblings Billy Butler is available.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Both Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have seen their names floated around as trade candidates.
Milwaukee Brewers: One has to believe the Brew Crew would entertain offers for Rickie Weeks.
New York Mets: It’s no secret the Mets are listening on Ike Davis.
Philadelphia Phillies: Philly has let it be known that if you call about Jimmy Rollins, they won’t hang up.
Seattle Mariners: With Robinson Cano in town for ten years, either Brad Miller or Ryan Franklin are expendable, most likely Franklin.
Tampa Bay Rays: Perhaps the biggest catch is David Price. But we have to wait on Tanaka first.