Just when it seemed another signing would not come to fruition, the Padres reeled in their man, Eric Hosmer agreeing to an eight-year deal worth $144 million, if Hosmer does not take the five year opt out clause. Also, in Florida, not to be outdone by the Marlins, the Rays shed more salary by moving Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a toolsy shortstop prospect, traded for C.J. Cron and designated their All-Star representative from last year, Corey Dickerson, for assignment. Tampa Bay must move Dickerson within seven days or he will be subject to claim on waivers.

While letting all of this sink in, especially with regards to fantasy ramifications, there’s many moving pieces to all of these moves. For starters, the Angels needed to make room on the roster for a more versatile player with a six-man rotation looming, the need to create at-bats for Shohei Otani at designated hitter and a renewed sense of trust in Albert Pujols playing first base. Although it seems a leap of faith, much will depend on Pujols reporting in much better shape along with his lower-body injuries holding up, plus Luis Valbuena’s ability to play first and third plus his .200 spike in isolated power during the second half last year made Cron expendable. Now for the rest of the fantasy fallout.

Hosmer heads West…

Transitioning from Kansas City to San Diego does not mean much in the way of impact due to ballpark factors, in fact, they’re closer to each other using Fantasy Alarm’s listings in regards to home run average and totals from last season. Although Hosmer is coming off back-to-back 25 home run campaigns, his 53.4 career ground ball percentage caps any power growth in the midst of his perceived peak due to age.

Over the last three years, Hosmer’s slashed .294/.359/.463 creating a solid baseline in regards to his average. He also benefits the Padres lineup adding some length along with on-base ability. As for the home runs, Hosmer repeated 25 homers in 2017 in spite of his hard contact rate dropping to 29.5 percent. His ability to hit to the opposite field could serve him well in Petco and here’s his spray chart from last year courtesy of BaseballSavant.com:

Moving to a new league could impact Hosmer’s start to the season along with facing a myriad of strong southpaws who exist in his new division with pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray and more on tap for a majority of his games. On the surface, Hosmer’s projection for the season should not change much due to his new home, in fact, playing for the Padres could help sustain his counting statistics compared to returning to the Royals. If his average draft position suffers at all, Hosmer could gain a bit of value, but treat him similarly with regards to his projections prior to his signing.

Cron escapes from Los Angeles…

If C.J. Cron stayed with the Angels, trying to forecast his at-bats seemed a daunting task. However, he should gain a full-time role with Tampa Bay representing an inexpensive option to take over first base or designated hitter depending on how their roster construction evolves. Cron hit 16 home runs in 100 games last year with a .248/.305/.437 slash line. Due to a lack of early at-bats and production, he ended up back in Triple-A but seemed to find a new level in the second half.

After the All-Star break, Cron appeared in 63 games with the Angels hitting .267/.326/.512 with 14 home runs (One every 15.5 at-bats), 42 RBI, a .244 isolated power and 123 weighted runs created plus. He also finished the second half ranked 17th in fly ball percentage (46.4 percent) plus 28th in both home run per fly ball percentage (19.7) and hard contact rate (38.6). Cron did trade some plate discipline increasing his swinging strike percentage and lowering contact in order to pull the ball more with the rise in hard contact.

Cron enters his Age-28 season with a full-time role for the first time. Over the last three years, he’s averaged a home run every 23.4 at-bats but take note of his improved rate in the second half and potential to move up in the batting order with the Rays which would benefit his counting statistics. This makes him a flier still in drafts, but gives him a chance to emerge as a potential 25 home run hitter with 500 at-bats given a home run every 20 at-bat pace. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities but does come with risk. At his present price, it’s not a bad venture. His spray chart seems to agree:

Corey Dickerson gets DFA’d…

One season removed from representing the Rays in the All-Star game, Corey Dickerson has been designated for assignment. He hit 27 home runs last year with a .282/.325/.490 slash line. But this masks his collapse in the second half. It seemed to be a tale of two seasons for Dickerson and which one will emerge going forward?

  • Corey Dickerson 1H: 343 AB, 60 Runs, 17 HR, 42 RBI, 2 SB, .312/.355/.548 with a 139 wRC+
  • Corey Dickerson 2H: 245 AB, 24 Runs, 10 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB, .241/.282/.408 with a 80 wRC+

During the last three seasons, Dickerson’s hit .272/.314/.489 which seems to set a reasonable level. He cannot sustain the hot first half, but should be better than the complete crater in the second. Here’s his rolling 30-game chart from the last three years, key on his divergence of hard contact compared to his weighted on-base average after the break:

Much will depend on where Dickerson lands along with his potential role. Atlanta’s been rumored as a landing spot. If Dickerson’s not traded for, the Rays will spend a million dollars to shed him from the roster which could cost Dickerson almost five million dollars of salary. He should be motivated to prove them wrong, but heed the warnings in the on-base percentage going forward.

Jake Odorizzi traded to the Twins…

After losing out on Yu Darvish in free agency, the Twins made two pivots by adding Anibal Sanchez via free agency and traded their 31st ranked prospect, Jermaine Palacios, for Jake Odorizzi. This makes sense from an innings standpoint, especially to bridge the gap for Ervin Santana to return to the team. It buys them time early in the season.

As for Odorizzi, he did win 10 games for the third time in his career last year, moves from one advantageous pitchers park to another and could benefit from the Twins outfield defense anchored by Byron Buxton. Last year did not go optimally for Odorizzi from a fantasy standpoint. He generated fewer ground balls while yielding more fly balls and a higher home run per fly ball rate. Over the last three years, he’s 29 - 23 with a 3.71 ERA in 500 plus innings of work. Here’s his 15-game rolling chart with ERA-, swinging strike percentage and strikeout percentage represented in the graph:

Hope for an improved 2018 comes in two forms. First, referencing a tweet by Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman), Odorizzi’s made 60 starts versus teams in the American League East with a 19 - 19 record and 4.28 ERA, versus the rest of the league, he’s 21 - 17 in 60 starts with a 3.36 ERA. Also, Odorizzi did produce a 11.2 swinging strike percentage last year with his contact rate dropping to 76.6 percent. Draft him accordingly.

Feel the need, the need for speed?...

Perhaps lost in all of the Rays news, a path to playing time’s been forged for Mallex Smith. Using Steamer 600’s projection, Smith’s projected for 539 at-bats, 63 runs, seven home runs, 51 RBI, 38 stolen bases and a .250/.314/.356 slash line. He could end up in a platoon but 25 or more stolen bases at his present 23rd round average draft position according to his present NFBC data could make him, a steal? Consider it takes a pick in the fourth round to roster Billy Hamilton who’s projected for a .242/.301/.343 slash with 51 steals in 543 at-bats.

Last, but not least, how will the Rays handle top prospects like Brent Honeywell and Jake Bauers? According to the team’s beat writer, Marc Topkin, neither’s guaranteed to make the opening day roster but should be promoted once the team gains another year of monetary control.


Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com, BaseballSavant.com, ESPN.go.com, Steamerprojections.com