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Never even had a chance.
That turnaround we all saw coming for Corey Seager, as we unflinchingly started him week after week out of allegiance to his ability, was never going to happen. And we all found out why Monday.
Torn UCL. That's one of the worst of the -CLs. It signifies the need for elbow reconstruction, AKA Tommy John surgery.
AKA he's done for the year.
Looking back, there were warning signs, most notably him missing most of the Dodgers' march to the World Series last October with a vague elbow injury. But we had heard next to nothing about the elbow since then. Most recently, he was sidelined by a hip issue.
Attempting to speculate whether injuries are worse than reported – and it's fair to assume Seager did more damage to his elbow at some point here recently, seeing as MRIs weren't invented yesterday – is a fool's errand that might have compelled us to pass over Clayton Kershaw for his back, Freddie Freeman for his wrist or Aaron Judge for his shoulder, if we played it consistently. So rather than retrace our steps and try to determine where we went wrong, let's instead look forward, at how to rectify the situation.
First of all, there's a little something to be gained here for the non-Seager owner. Chris Taylor is expected to shift from center field to shortstop for the time being, which creates a more permanent opening for Alex Verdugo, should the Dodgers choose to have him fill it. And if they suspect their top position prospect is ready for the majors – they've already called him up to fill in for Yasiel Puig (hip contusion) – why wouldn't they grant him an extended look? There's some question whether he has the power potential to stand out in today's game, but the bat skills are unquestioned. And generally, those play up in the juiced ball era.
And of course, Taylor himself will be picking up shortstop eligibility in standard CBS Sports leagues here in the near future, making him a potential trade target for the Seager owner or anyone else. His present owner wasn't counting on playing him at shortstop and presumably has someone he likes better there. It helps that, offensively, Taylor has yet to offer that owner anything he'd miss.
Which is something Seager owners themselves should keep in mind. Possibly because he was playing at less than 100 percent and in and out of the lineup with various ailments, he hasn't offered anything you'd miss either. You'll certainly miss the idea of him, the expectation of what he'd eventually bring to your lineup, but to say you'll miss him suggests you've relied on him to this point. And you haven't.
So if you're already off to a respectable start, you can navigate this storm. Yours isn't the only third-round pick that will implode. The complication is he plays the position where there's the least to be found on waivers, unless you want to go to the Addison Russell or Ketel Marte well again. Me, not so much.
But a trade, really? At the position with no excess? Look, just because it's all rostered already doesn't mean there's no excess. Eliminating the injured Elvis Andrus and without including Taylor, I count 20 shortstops owned in 75 percent or more of CBS Sports leagues. I'll add Tim Anderson, whose aptitude for stolen bases makes him a must-have in categories leagues.
It's more than enough to go around in a standard 12-team league, which means you only have to find the path of least resistance. Taylor's slow start makes him someone you could reasonably acquire, but there's an angle to be had everywhere.
Alex Bregman HOU 3B
| || || ||slow start|
Francisco Lindor CLE SS
| || || ||slow start|
Xander Bogaerts BOS SS
| || || ||made do without him already|
Elvis Andrus TEX SS
| || || ||DL discount|
Marwin Gonzalez HOU 1B
| || || ||slow start, unproven|
Andrelton Simmons LAA SS
| || || ||"boring" production|
Gleyber Torres NYY 2B
| || || ||unproven with unclear future|
Yangervis Solarte TOR 3B
| || || ||questionable production, playing time|
Zack Cozart LAA 2B
| || || ||last year a fluke|
You're obviously swinging for the fences with Francisco Lindor and Alex Bregman, who might have been Seager's twin in terms of expected production this March. Most likely, their owners know exactly what they have and haven't entertained the idea of benching, much less trading, them. But you never know. April overreactions are commonplace among more casual participants, so particularly if you see that either's owner has benched him for some other, obviously inferior, shortstop, throw him an offer and trust in regression to take its course.
More realistically, though, these others all seem like shortstops that an owner might pair with another shortstop, for all the reasons mentioned. Even the Bogaerts owner would have a second shortstop on his roster right now after going three weeks without his primary option, and the injury came early enough that the second option might be someone as good as Simmons or Solarte.
I love those two, particularly in points leagues, where their superior plate discipline makes for sneaky-good production behind an ordinary exterior. Simmons was the No. 4 shortstop in that format last year, for crying out loud. And as for Solarte's job security, the Blue Jays recently showed their commitment by demoting Devon Travis to the minors. Solarte has an OPS over .800 as it is, and that's with a bound-to-improve .203 BABIP.
Marwin Gonzalez and Zack Cozart are Hail Marys by comparison. Each was indisputably high-end last year, but for each, there were reasons to doubt the production. Factor in their slow starts, and their owners may be looking to do something "before it's too late," which means you could potentially get one for next to nothing. And while it may turn out to be a waste of time if the worst-case scenario continues to manifest, no part of either player's batted-ball profile suggests he's definitively not the player he was a year ago.
In a way, it'd put you exactly where you were with Seager: disappointed, but with reason to hope for more. And since you wouldn't have to give up much to get back there – maybe one of your worst two or three players – that's probably the path of least resistance. And in the meantime, you can be on the lookout for that next waiver wire breakthrough.
Who knows? Maybe this is Addison Russell's year after all.