Fantasy Baseball Offseason Tracker: What Yankees mean for Gerrit Cole and the impact of Didi Gregorius

The hot stove is heating up. Many of the top free agent targets remain, but moves are happening and we're here to guide you through them, breaking down the Fantasy implications where applicable.

Here's what's happened so far:

Nomar Mazara traded to White Sox

TEX Texas • #30 • Age: 24
2019 season
BA
.268
HR
19
OPS
.786
AB
429
K
108

With him having only two years of team control remaining, the Rangers ended up unloading a player who at one point seemed poised to become the face of the franchise but who failed to progress by even the smallest measure across four seasons. The White Sox have a glaring enough outfield opening to give Mazara a second look and have expressed some optimism they can unlock his potential, but if he hasn't learned to elevate the ball by this point, it's safest to assume another boring 20-homer season is in store.

Gerrit Cole signs with Yankees

HOU Houston • #45 • Age: 29
2019 season
ERA
2.50
WHIP
0.90
IP
212.1
BB
48
K
326

He'll have to contend with the short porch in right field, yes, but the fact the Yankees won 103 games in 2019 with what was basically a C-grade rotation tells you everything you need to know about Cole's new supporting cast. He definitively established himself as the best pitcher in baseball down the stretch, averaging 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings over his final nine starts while consistently pitching deeper into games, and should be at worst the sixth player off the board in 2020 drafts. Read more about it here.

Didi Gregorius signs with Phillies

NYY N.Y. Yankees • #18 • Age: 29
2019 season
BA
.238
HR
16
OPS
.718
AB
324
K
53

Though the Phillies may not be out on Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson, Gregorius fills their infield opening for now, giving Jean Segura, who has been crowded out at shortstop, a chance of regaining some mixed-league standing by shifting over to second base. It's another hitter-friendly venue for Gregorius, who has delivered quality power numbers over the past few years despite making fairly weak contact, and the fact he won't be back with the Yankees frees up some of their first base clutter by opening up shortstop for Gleyber Torres and second base for DJ LeMahieu full-time.

Stephen Strasburg signs with Nationals

WAS Washington • #37 • Age: 31
2019 season
ERA
3.32
WHIP
1.04
IP
209
BB
56
K
251

Strasburg goes back from whence he came, so his 2020 standing won't be a response to any changes in venue or supporting cast. At least in terms of Fantasy production, his 2019 was a high point for his career, representing only the second season in which he reached the 200-inning threshold. More than health, though, it's the changes to his arsenal -- ones that made him more of a ground-ball pitcher and seemingly better equipped to withstand today's homer-happy environment -- that make him a surefire Fantasy ace. Read more about it here.

Rays trade Tommy Pham to Padres for Hunter Renfroe, prospect Xavier Edwards

TB Tampa Bay • Age: 27
2019 season
BA
.216
HR
33
OPS
.778
AB
440
K
154


It'd be hard to make the case either of the outfielders changing hands here stands to benefit much, but the Rays do at least have a history of reforming flawed players, which the all-or-nothing Renfroe most certainly is. Then again, the Padres were slow to commit to him in a full-time role, and the Rays may be even less so given their tendency to mix up their lineup.

SD San Diego • Age: 31
2019 season
BA
.273
HR
21
SB
25
OBP
.369
OPS
.818


Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer should benefit from having a genuine on-base threat ahead of them, though Pham's poor launch angle puts him at risk for a power decline as he enters his mid-30s. Xavier Edwards is a fascinating contact/speed prospect whose appeal remains limited to long-term keeper leagues as a 20-year-old yet to graduate from A-ball.

Michael Pineda signs with Twins

MIN Minnesota • #35 • Age: 30
2019 season
ERA
4.01
WHIP
1.16
IP
146
BB
28
K
140

Pineda gets another two years with the team that took a flier on him coming off Tommy John surgery and is apparently willing to take another flier despite a 60-game PED suspension. And it's worth pointing out Pineda was beginning to come into his own leading up to the suspension, seeing his fastball effectiveness tick up with more consistent use of his changeup. His 2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 over his final 11 starts makes him a pitcher Fantasy players shouldn't overlook even though he still has five more weeks to serve on the suspension, and the Twins' willingness to double down is telling.

Omar Narvaez traded to Brewers

MIL Milwaukee • Age: 27
2019 season
BA
.278
HR
22
OPS
.813
AB
428
K
92

Narvaez gets improved job security with his move to the Brewers, who desperately needed a catcher after losing Yasmani Grandal to free agency, and the hitter-friendly environment mitigates some of the regression risk for a player who succeeded in spite of a bottom-20 exit velocity. But the bigger winner here is Tom Murphy, who becomes a genuine sleeper after homering 18 times in 260 at-bats this past year. Granted, his splits were far better against lefties than righties, but he was poised to see a bigger share of the at-bats anyway because of his superior defensive skills and now most certainly will given that his backup, Austin Nola, is also best against lefties.

Dylan Bundy traded to Angels

LAA L.A. Angels • Age: 27
2019 season
ERA
4.79
WHIP
1.36
IP
161.2
BB
58
K
162

If there's anyone who could benefit from a change of scenery, it's Bundy, who not too many years ago was considered the game's top pitching prospect. Injuries have diminished his stuff to a degree, but he has an elite breaking ball and is one of the few swinging strike leaders who isn't already regarded as an ace. Maybe "ace" is aiming too high, but given the Orioles' poor track record of developing pitchers and the effect this venue change could have on Bundy's home-run tendencies, there still sleeper appeal here.

Zack Wheeler signs with Phillies

PHI Philadelphia • Age: 29
2019 season
ERA
3.96
WHIP
1.26
IP
195.1
BB
50
K
195

Why is it the biggest pickups are so often the least interesting for Fantasy purposes? It's a downgrade in venue, sure, but Wheeler has always a knack for keeping the ball in the ballpark and is obviously well acquainted with the NL East. It's a lateral move in terms of supporting cast, too, so while the venue change may expose him to greater risk, his most likely outcome is more or less the same.

Cole Hamels signs with Braves

ATL Atlanta • Age: 35
2019 season
ERA
3.81
WHIP
1.39
IP
141.2
BB
56
K
143

Soon to be 36, Hamels is clearly in the twilight of his career and was signed to help bridge the gap to the Braves' next wave of young pitchers, headlined by Ian Anderson. The fact he accepted only a one-year deal shows how much his stock has fallen, but the fact he got $18 million shows there's still some production to extract. He had a 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 in 17 starts before missing time with a strained oblique, making what seemed like a concerted effort to keep the ball on the ground, but then got pummeled while pitching through a balky shoulder the rest of the way.

Jonathan Villar traded to Marlins

MIA Miami • Age: 28
2019 season
BA
.274
HR
24
RBI
73
R
111
SB
40

True, Villar immediately becomes the best player on a bad Marlins team, which means he has little in the way of support, but was it any different for him with the Orioles last year? Considering all the places he could have gone after the Orioles put him on waivers, this one at least assures he'll keep playing regularly, which should lead to a big steals total even if the power numbers decline with the change in venue. A fifth-round pick in 12-team Rotisserie leagues is still defensible.

Jesus Aguilar claimed by Marlins

MIA Miami • Age: 29
2019 season
BA
.236
HR
12
OPS
.714
AB
314
K
81

With so few of their longer-term assets ready for the big show, the Marlins can take a flier on reclamation projects like Jesus Aguilar, who quickly fell out of favor with the Brewers after hitting 35 homers with a near-.900 OPS in 2018. Though it was a breakout few saw coming, it wasn't exactly out of nowhere either, seeing as he hit 16 homers with an .837 OPS in 279 at-bats in 2017. A rebound season on a team with nothing to lose isn't out of the question for the 29-year-old.

Mike Moustakas signs with Reds

CIN Cincinnati • #9 • Age: 31
2019 season
BA
.254
HR
35
RBI
87
R
80
OPS
.845

Though it has obvious real-world implications, this signing hardly impacts Moustakas' Fantasy value. He goes from one hitter's park to another, where he'll continue with the second base experiment that by now we should classify as a success. Another 30-homer season is likely, but his limited batting average potential and modest on-base skills make him decidedly second-tier even at a weak position.

Jurickson Profar traded to Padres

SD San Diego • Age: 26
2019 season
BA
.218
HR
20
OPS
.711
AB
459
K
75

An earlier trade with the Brewers gave the Padres an opening second base, and GM A.J. Preller opted to fill it with Profar, who he knows well from their time in the Rangers organization. Back then Profar was considered the top prospect in baseball, and while he has proven to have good bat-to-ball skills, the quality of contact is lacking. After a breakthrough year with Texas in 2018, he was exposed in a larger park in Oakland and could suffer more of the same in San Diego, where he'll attempt to hold off converted third baseman Ty France for at-bats.

Padres trade Luis Urias, Eric Lauer to Brewers for Trent Grisham, Zach Davies

This trade is most notable for the hitters, who have each proven all they could in the minors but seemed to be getting squeezed in the majors. Urias, an exceptional contact hitter with a top-prospect pedigree, will try to break in as the Brewers' starting shortstop, with the light-hitting Orlando Arcia serving as his only real competition. Grisham, an outfielder, has more competition in the form of Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero and Josh Naylor, but he had a respectable showing as an injury fill-in down the stretch in 2019 and has obvious sleeper appeal after hitting .300 with 26 homers, a .407 on-base percentage and a 1.010 OPS in 370 minor-league at-bats.

Drew Pomeranz signs with Padres

SD San Diego • Age: 31
2019 season
ERA
4.85
WHIP
1.43
IP
104
BB
44
K
137

A signing that would seem to have minimal implications in Fantasy may actually have medium-size ones just judging by the terms of the deal. At four years, $34 million, Pomeranz is being paid like a premier reliever and, upon closer inspection, became one when he joined the Brewers bullpen (after previously starting for the Giants) last August, compiling a 2.39 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 15.4 K/9 in 25 appearances. Clearly, the Padres are buying in, and if they're right, the journeyman lefty could be an impact middle reliever worth a late-round look for ratio help in 5x5 categories leagues.

Kyle Gibson signs with Rangers

TEX Texas • Age: 32
2019 season
ERA
4.84
WHIP
1.44
IP
160
BB
56
K
160

While on the surface, Texas seems like a terrible destination for a pitcher who has never been more than fringy, Gibson has recently showed signs of becoming so much more, delivering an elite swinging strike rate with an impact slider and under performing his 3.80 xFIP by more than a run (4.84 ERA) in 2019. Your attitude toward Gibson will depend on how much credit you think the Rangers deserve for maximizing their return on Lance Lynn and Mike Minor, two of last offseason's under-the-radar signings, but he'll get some late-round looks.

Travis d'Arnaud signs with Braves

ATL Atlanta • Age: 30
2019 season
BA
.251
HR
16
OPS
.745
AB
351
K
85

While Tyler Flowers is an expert pitch framer, the Braves almost certainly aren't giving d'Arnaud $16 million over the next two years to be his backup. But while it's true d'Arnaud was once a top prospect under GM Alex Anthopoulos' regime in Toronto and seemed last year to rediscover the offensive potential that years of injuries had obscured, most of his production came during a magical July in which he hit .342 with eight home runs. Still, at a weak position like catcher, he's verging on top-15 status as a projected starter.

Prospect Evan White signs long-term deal with Mariners

The six-year, $24 million deal is certainly noteworthy for a player who has yet to make his major-league debut, and it suggests the Mariners are ready to turn over first base duties to the 23-year-old. White has yet to advance past Double-A, where he hit .293 with 18 homers and an .838 OPS in 365 at-bats, but the scouting reports are more sold on the glove than the bat. T-Mobile Park isn't the sort of environment that will elevate his modest pop, so an Eric Hosmer-like outcome may be the best anyone can hope for.

Will Smith signs with Braves

ATL Atlanta • #51 • Age: 30
2019 season
SV
34
ERA
2.76
WHIP
1.03
BB/9
2.9
K/9
13.2

Though the Braves gave Smith closer money -- fittingly, seeing as he was a top-five reliever in virtually every format last season -- they're for now saying Mark Melancon is still their first choice to close. And while Melancon is an elite strike-thrower with elite ground-ball tendencies who seemed to rediscover his All-Star form with a 2.93 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 in the second half last year, he's no Smith. There's an argument for drafting Smith ahead of Melancon still, trusting the talent to win out in the long run.

Yasmani Grandal signs with White Sox

CHW Chi. White Sox • #24 • Age: 31
2019 season
BA
.246
HR
28
OBP
.380
OPS
.848
AB
513

This signing signifies less for Grandal himself, who goes from one hitter's park to another, than for the White Sox's intentions. They're transitioning from rebuilding to competing, which means impact prospects like Luis Robert, who've already proven all they can in the minors, are probably on the fast track. Stock up for him. Stock more or less even for Grandal, who may lose a larger share of at-bats to 2019 All-Star James McCann than he did to his backup in Milwaukee last year, but the DH spot should help in that regard.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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