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BP Fantasy: familiar faces in new places

The MLB off-season is always one of speculation, rumors and excitement for fans as we all sit by our phones and computers looking to see who will sign where and who will get traded for whom. This past winter gave us more than enough to keep track of with signings and trades.

For our purposes here, we need to look at some of those familiar faces that find themselves in new places. Some went for the money and others left for a chance to win big. All of these changes give us players in new situations, some good and some bad. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest fish that will be swimming in a new pond this summer and their fantasy impact.

Greinke with his new threads
Greinke with his new threads

Zack Greinke Ari- SP: In an off-season loaded with player movement, there might not have been a more shocking signing then when Greinke announced he was signing with the Diamondbacks. Rumors swirled that he was either going to stay in Los Angeles or go to the division rival, Giants. No one expected the other NL West team to jump in a grab the young ace. It helps they gave him $34M a year, but what not many casual fans see, is a young, emerging team in the desert heat. I expect Greinke to be energized by the culture and the responsibility of being the team’s number one guy. It will be almost impossible for him to match last season’s numbers (19-3, 200 K, 1.66 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP—please read those numbers again. This guy DIDN’T even win the Cy Young Award) but there’s no reason not to believe another outstanding season is on tap. I would imagine the win/loss record and strike outs to be around the same, whereas you would have to guess the ERA and WHIP come down. Even a slight decrease in each statistic would be Cy Young worthy.

Jason Heyward ChC- OF: Another young budding star bolted his team for the greener pastures of a division foe. Heyward left the Cardinals in the dust, for the exciting young Cubbies. He joins a lineup that is stacked with young power bats (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber) and figures to settle into the lead off or second spot in the lineup. There is nothing not to like about this move for Heyward as he joins a more explosive offensive team primed to take over the NL Central. I love the potential Heyward has in this offense as I see his average, runs scored and steals to jump this year. Any home run and RBI production increase is a pure bonus as he finds his place in the Windy City.

Justin Upton Det- OF: Upton is a player with a ton of talent, who hasn’t always been in a situation where he is able to thrive. He came up with the Braves, got traded to the Padres and has had to figure it out on the fly. With each franchise, he was the star hitter in the lineup and was never surrounded by much protection. He had enough of missing the playoffs and chose to sign with the Tigers this winter, becoming one of many potent bats. With the help of Miguel Cabrera, Victor and J.D. Martinez, Upton can settle into a role where he isn’t always expected to carry the load. He has 30-home run potential to go along with 90 runs and 90 RBI outputs, which makes him a strong late fifth or early sixth-round fantasy selection.

Johnny Cueto SF- SP: Cueto was traded from Cincy to Kansas City at the trade deadline last season and went on to lead the Royals to the World Series title. He chose to travel further out west to join a strong pitching staff with the Giants, led by Madison Bumgarner. Aside from Cueto’s strong performance in the post-season, he had some struggles breaking in with KC and while some might point that out, don’t let that sway you from picking him this year. He soon rebounded and there are signs that point to more success as he lands in San Francisco. A return to the National League will surely help, as will pitching in the vast park that is AT&T Ballpark. The part I like most is Cueto sliding into the number two spot, allowing him to miss starts against aces as he had done in Cincinnati and Kansas City.

David Price Bos- SP: Price is another one of many players who have switched teams during this off-season that we find ourselves trying to figure out. Price is one of the few free agent landings that I’m not as high on. He will stay in the AL East, signing with Boston this winter- his third of five AL East teams. Again he will face the challenges of pitching in hostile parks, against teams with good offenses. What’s different, is he now has to face his old Blue Jays teammates and loses the chance to pitch versus the Red Sox hitters. This is a drastic switch in terms of strength of opposition no matter how good the pitcher. I wouldn’t be shocked if Price didn’t post numbers most expect of a pitcher with his caliber.

Aroldis Chapman NYY- RP: As a Yankees fan, I love this move. Adding Chapman to the backend of the bullpen with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances creates a three-headed monster that opposing batters will fear. However, as much Chapman makes sense in reality, the fantasy aspect of his game is a bit worrisome. First there is the 30-game suspense he will face to start the season. In the scheme of things, 30 games out of 162, isn’t a big deal, but in fantasy it is huge- especially for a closer. Chapman could potentially miss 10 saves early in the season. That’s a huge hit to his effectiveness and draft stock. There is also the possibility that Miller thrives again in the closer role that leads Joe Girardi and the front office to get cold feet and decide to put Chapman in a set-up role along side Betances. Too many questions from a fantasy side of this trade prevent me from being all-in on this move.

Frazier getting used to his new home
Frazier getting used to his new home

Todd Frazier CWS- 3B: Frazier became a Cincinnati darling during the Home Run Derby, only to be moved to the White Sox this off-season as the Reds continue their rebuild. The Derby champion finds himself in a much better situation from a lineup perspective, to a team ready to make the jump into the playoff picture. He has strong bats in front of him (Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu) that will allow him to see an increase in his RBI numbers. He shouldn’t see a dip in power and his average should stay in the .260-range. If the projections for the White Sox hold true to form, Frazier will be in the middle of their success story.

Craig Kimbrel Bos- RP: Once considered the best closer in the National League, the dangly armed flamethrower makes his way to the AL East. The Padres sent Kimbrel packing early this winter to Boston for a bunch of prospects after their relationship hit a wall. This will mark Kimbrel’s first run in the American League after spending his career in Atlanta and San Diego. He gets the pleasure of closing for a team that converted on only 66 percent of their save opportunities a season ago. (Last year Kimbrel had one less save than the entire Boston bullpen). It might take some time for Kimbrel to get used to the style of play in the AL East, and as he takes that time, I would expect a couple of blown saves along the way.

Andrelton Simmons LAA- SS: The defensive wiz at shortstop was shipped from Atlanta to the Los Angeles Angels almost out of the blue. The LA front offense is hoping that the young Gold Glover can find the offensive firepower he had a couple seasons ago to go along with the hot glove. The luxury for both Simmons and the Angels is that he won’t be counted on to carry the offensive burden as he was for the Braves. Of course that responsibility will fall on the broad shoulders of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but Simmons should benefit. A relaxed sense of belonging, and the release of stress of being the leader could propel Simmons into another tier of shortstops. He wouldn’t be someone I plan on drafting as a starter, but if I needed a backup infielder, Simmons would be a great pick.

Shelby Miller Ari- SP: When Shelby Miller was traded from the Braves to the Diamondbacks, you could hear the cheers from the Miller household all across the baseball universe. After breaking and setting records with 24-straight winless starts, yes 24-straight starts without a win, he finds himself with a franchise looking to win now. With a 6-17 record in 2014, Miller somehow still posted a 3.02 ERA getting no help from his offense sporting a league worst 2.5 run support. Pitching in Arizona, Miller will definitely get more run support which will undoubtedly boost his record, thus being a much better fantasy asset.

As we said, this off-season was full of movement, which is always fun for fans. For fantasy folks like ourselves, we need to figure out what this means for our drafts. Most of the players highlighted above found themselves in beneficial situations for themselves, and of course us fantasy owners (we can be selfish).

Be sure to follow our season-long articles on the website as we will have instant reaction to any major moves during the season that impact fantasy outlooks. As always, be sure to reach out and let us know whom you think the biggest impacts with their new teams.

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