We are in peak fantasy baseball draft season and just a couple weeks away from Opening Day. Draft strategies are being modified and adjusted daily thanks to injuries, but that is to be expected. One of the more difficult decisions to make at a draft is deciding whether to spend an early round pick on a player who is currently injured with no real time table on when he may return. Those first couple draft picks can make or break your season, so you need to make them count. A few players that fit that bill are on this edition of the walking wounded.
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF-NYY)
Ellsbury has been out for a week and a half with a strained oblique but has started doing some baseball activities. The Yankees seem confident he will be ready for Opening Day, but we have seen all too frequently how oblique injuries can linger and be re-aggravated if not given the appropriate amount of rest. Ellsbury is clearly an elite fantasy option when healthy, but there is some risk involved here if he has any setbacks.
Anthony Rendon (2B/3B-WAS)
Fantasy GM’s have fallen in love with Rendon thanks to his five-category production and multi-positional eligibility. He has justifiably been a late first round or early second round pick in many standard 12-team leagues. However, he recently had another MRI which confirmed that his knee is still sprained after he injured it a couple weeks ago. Rendon will not be ready for Opening Day and right now there is no exact timeframe for when he will return. Right now it does not appear that he will miss too much time, but there is enough doubt where you should think twice before spending your first on him.
Kenley Jansen (RP-LAD)
Jansen underwent surgery on his foot last month but has been playing catch from 60 feet away for the past week. He will likely miss most of the first month of the season as he recovers and rehabs. The Dodgers do not have great options to replace him so it has been reported that they will likely go with a closer by committee approach. Jansen could be a draft bargain if he slips late enough because he will still likely end up with 25-30 saves and a dominant strikeout ratio. If you are in a league that rewards middle relievers, then pitchers like J.P Howell and Joel Peralta could pick up some early season saves for you as an added benefit.
Koji Uehara (RP-BOS)
Uehara has been dealing with a hamstring injury and only recently started doing some throwing drills. He is no spring chicken so recovering from a hamstring injury at his age can take longer than normal. His status for Opening Day is not determined yet, but it may behoove you to spend a late round draft pick on someone like Edward Mujica who would be next in line to close for Boston.
Jose Pirela (2B-NYY)
Pirela was pegged to be a super-utilityman for the Yankees this year playing both infield and outfield. However, he suffered a concussion last weekend after crashing into the outfield wall and is now sidelined indefinitely. Pirela should have been the Yankees’ starting second baseman but not for justifying the $5M spent on Stephen Drew. Once Pirela returns, he should see action at various positions given the injury concerns the Yankees have around the diamond.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and is also the co-host of the Fantasy Alarm podcast. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment),