Welcome once again to The Week That Was, where we have a look back at the previous seven days of acquisitions, signings and more within the Major League Baseball offseason. While the week that just passed wasn’t necessarily filled with the biggest of names, it still had some interesting developments that could help you late in drafts once you start building your teams. After all, it’s a given that in the first few rounds, you should always be looking for the best player available to start yourself on a certain path. Once you understand where you’re going, it’s only then where you realize what you need to finish the journey. And that’s where we at RotoFanatic come in. Sure, we can nitpick over four to five category players and whether or not they should be drafted. It’s those one to two category specific players that need to be recognized as such, and knowing when and where to draft them is the key. All that being said, let’s get right to the acquisitions.
Just a reminder that, unless otherwise noted, all ADP listed is taken from January 1, 2021 and from the NFC platform.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Texas
1-year contract, $2 million
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 5, 2021
This is arguably the most interesting signing of the week, as the seemingly forgotten Mike Foltynewicz signed a small deal with the Rangers to try and get himself back on track in 2021. After a disastrous 2020 in which he lost a ton of weight and subsequent velocity in his fastball, he was rocked for six earned runs in his only outing of the year and was subsequently gone from the Braves shortly afterwards. It was a shocking development, given his highly successful 2019 season, but unsurprising in that he was hardly the same player once the shortened season began. However, the Rangers are confident that he can make a return to glory, and believe that he can return not only healthy, but fully prepared for the chance to shun those who doubt him. As for why he was unable to perform last year, Foltynewicz blamed his loss in muscle to his inability to train during the shut down, and thus he came into July a much different person.
Said Foltynewicz: “When the quarantine hit, I just didn’t get a chance to work out and that was about it. We were throwing with some teammates, but the gyms were all closed and I didn’t have much [weight training] equipment laying around. And then little mechanical things started to happen. But I’ve cleaned it all up and worked out pretty well this offseason. I’m ready for this opportunity.”
During a recent workout, the Rangers have said that his fastball registered in the low 90’s, which, although not where it was when it averaged 94.8 mph in 2019, is still better than where it was in 2020. Given his 669 ADP, I am by no means recommending you go and grab him, but velocity and muscle mass were his key downfalls last year. Keep a mindful and quiet eye on him in Spring Training, and if that velocity gets any better, you could have a diamond in the rough, considering he was an All-Star in 2018.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis
1-year contract, $9 million
Back for his 18th season.
— MLB (@MLB) February 9, 2021
Yes, Yadier Molina will be returning for yet another season as the Cardinals’ catcher, and yes, you need to take notice. While Father Time could hit at any moment, Molina still figures to get a bulk of the playing time in for St. Louis, and thus needs to be bumped up in any rankings. For a position as volatile as catcher, knowing that you can slot in someone who will play who has good bat-to-ball skills (13.8% K-rate in 2020), he’s worth a shot to just slot in and let him ride. It will be interesting to see if last season’s batting average drop to .262 (his second lowest in the last 10 years) and expected batting average of .256 (his lowest in the last five years) are indicators of age or of the inconsistencies that plagued all Cardinals hitters due to their struggles with Covid last year. Either way, he owns a 278 ADP, and is sandwiched in the likes of both platooning Blue Jays catchers. He will cost you next to nothing and will probably play 80% or more of his team’s games. Given his track record for success, he’s someone to target late and slot in. If he fails, he’s easily replaceable as most catchers in that range are in a time share, so the counting stats are somewhat similar.
Adam Duvall, OF, Miami
1-year contract, $4.5 million
Adam Duvall has an MLB deal with Marlins. One year. Believed to be for about $4.5M.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 9, 2021
Another minor signing here, but it’s one to monitor throughout the upcoming season. The same has been said about Duvall for years: he’s valuable when he’s in the lineup, but there’s no guarantee of that happening with any sort of consistency. That being said, he helped savvy owners who picked him up last year, as they were rewarded with his 16 home runs and his 7th place finish in that category. While there’s no reason to believe he would have maintained his 40+ home run pace (as evidenced by his final two week batting average drop of 35 points), he does maintain a career 31 home run output per 162 game average. Nonetheless, until he learns how to hit anything but the fastball, (not counting the juiced ball year of 2019, he is borderline Mendoza-like versus anything but a fastball), he may only be relevant in daily leagues when he can be slotted in and out of the lineup, since consistent playing time probably won’t be in the cards. Given his current 427 ADP, he’s a decent enough power stash in those types of leagues as a backup outfielder.
Jake McGee, LHP, San Francisco
2-year contract, $7 million
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 9, 2021
There are so many questions about the closer situation that need answering in San Francisco right now. Last season, Trevor Gott led the team in saves, so is he the answer? But Tyler Rogers had superior stats compared to Gott, so maybe he’s the closer? If so, then why did they sign Matt Wisler, whose slider is arguably the best pitch within their entire bullpen? And we can’t forget about Reyes Moronta, who was awesome in 2019. Now we add in Jake McGee, who, despite being a left handed pitcher, throws as hard as anyone and has a 4-seamer with a ton of movement. Essentially, here’s a live glimpse at the Giants’ bullpen right now, late in games:
The only problem is that, the fire that each of them spew isn’t necessarily the hottest. My initial gut reaction was that Reyes Moronta would win out the role, and, for now I’ll stick to it. His velocity was up last September, following shoulder surgery a year previous, but his conditioning was an issue, so he was never used or called back up. Both he and manager Gabe Kapler apparently had a heart to heart talk about how important his (Moronta’s) off season dedication to himself was vital to the team. That leads me to believe that he is the end game result the Giants want most, but it could be ultimately up to Moronta to see that happen. The Giants wouldn’t have gone out and signed an excessive amount of pitchers for their bullpen (which include five left handed arms) just to have them sit and not be used in high(er) leverage situations. Ultimately what I’m saying is watch for Moronta in the weeks to come and if he looks anywhere like he did before his injury, he’s a nice late round pickup with an ADP of 472. Should he falter in any way or not live up to expectations, I’d say the newly signed McGee will be the man to start.
Nomar Mazara, OF, Detroit
1-year contract, $1.75 million
Source: Nomar Mazara in agreement with the Detroit Tigers.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) February 12, 2021
Anyone who has followed me has known for awhile that I put less value into the 2020 season because of the extraneous circumstances surrounding them, as outlined at the top of this, where I went over players to remember. And while Mazara didn’t make the list, I still feel that he applies to the mantra that I’ve been promoting, which is that bounce backs in 2021 will be aplenty. The question that remains with Mazara is, how big of a bounce back will he have? Unfortunately for him, he looks to be mixed within a platoon with a plethora of players, and that could ultimately hinder any sort of consistency needed to prove the doubters wrong. Since the end of 2020, Mazara has admitted that he had strep throat just before the season started and was unable to take any swings or work out. After that, he said he felt lost at the plate, and it took him a long time to regain any confidence he once had, and by then it was already halfway through the season. So now, we need to figure out if that year was an anomaly or not.
Looking above, there appear to be some inconsistencies from 2020 when compared to those from the years previous. His 29.5% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate are much worse than his career averages have ever been. Still, it’s an unenviable position now to be in, having to fight for his right to play and show that he’s superior to the criticism he’s received. While I do believe in him and his potential 25+ home run upside, there’s no telling when that will happen. Heck, I know the Tigers would be very happy if he repeated his 2019 season. For now though, he’s a fade for me, but his 597 ADP makes him a free add if he comes ready to play in the spring.
Mark Melancon, RHP, San Diego
The Padres and Mark Melancon are in agreement on a deal, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) February 12, 2021
Good Lord, I didn’t see this coming. The Padres now have one of, if not the, best bullpen out there, and are all in on winning a World Series title for this year. This obviously hurts Pomeranz a bit, as Melancon provides another option for saves, should Pomeranz struggle or not be able to work on back to back nights. In fact, Melancon may win this outright if the Padres want to use Pomeranz for spot starts or bullpen games, as he’s got the ability to transition into long relief, though he hasn’t been as consistently effective in that role compared to when he was in the bullpen. Back to Melancon, he looked good with the Braves last year, despite the fact that his fastball got knocked around to the tune of a .306 average with over a 55% usage; his xBA of .236 suggests he was unlucky. As for the stats that matter for your leagues, however, he blew only two of his 13 save opportunities and surrendered a total of seven earned runs spread out over only five of his twenty three appearances throughout the season. As for where he fits with the Padres…..I honestly don’t know. They may go to him since he’s a traditional right hander and fits better for the usual role of a closer, but Pomeranz has been better since the All-Star Break of 2019. If I had to guess right now, I’d say Melancon gets the first crack, but I wouldn’t forget about Pomeranz at all. Both Melancon (337 ADP) and Pomeranz (237 ADP) will probably end up with an ADP somewhere in the middle of both of the aforementioned numbers before anything is announced. That said, I’m not averse to drafting both in deeper leagues so as to get as much exposure to San Diego saves as possible.
Rich Hill, LHP, Tampa Bay
1-year contract, $2.5 million
Rich Hill’s one-year deal with the Rays is worth $2.5 million, per source. @TBTimes_Rays first with the $
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 13, 2021
What an interesting development we have happening in Tampa Bay, as the Rays now find themselves with a pretty decent rotation. Hill finds himself slotted right on the thick of things, potentially as high as their SP2, and looking to bounce back after taking a step back last year. What makes Hill such a unique pitcher at age 40 is the incredible amount of movement he gets on his pitches, thus not having to rely on velocity to be a factor in his effectiveness.
While that’s a lot of movement that can deceive a lot of hitters, he does enter a division that is high on offence. In fact, the strength of every American League East team is their strength from behind the plate, so we could see a drop in his production yet again. His drop in K% from 2019 to 2020 is alarming (by nearly 10%) and his rise in walk rate is significant too (by 3.5%), but the case can be made that it was a shortened season and he did come back from injury. His ADP is nearly 500, so he might be worth a pick up once the season begins if you believe in him, but right now, I’d fade unless you’re in the deepest of leagues.
Andrew Benintendi gets traded to Kansas City
The three-way trade is done, sources tell ESPN.
Royals get: OF Andrew Benintendi
Mets get: OF Khalil Lee
Red Sox get: OF Franchy Cordero, RHP Josh Winckowski, two PTBNLs from Kansas City, one PTBNL from New York
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 11, 2021
This one was surprising for a couple of reasons. We knew that the Red Sox were displeased with Benintendi and there were rumours of him possibly being shipped out. The surprise were that the Royals and the Mets both found themselves not just interested but also involved in the final product. Time to…
Royals: Kansas City has quietly yet impressively improved their roster this off season, and Benintendi is a part of that growth. He immediately steps into the left field job for the Royals as he looks to bounce back after a disastrous 2020 campaign. While others had their fair share of struggles in Boston (and league-wide) last year, Benintendi’s problems seem to be unrelated to the problems of the world and instead a product of his own demise. I don’t like to post analysis from a year ago, but given that he only had three hits after it was posted, I’m going to use it as a reference point.
Andrew Benintendi has dropped to 9th in BOS lineup after starting w/ a 60% GB rate
It seems he has attempted to open up his stance (right) back to his success in 2018 (left) but more flat footed & slightly lower hands than 2019 (mid)
— Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams) July 28, 2020
As Matt has said, his problems were aligned with batting stance change that was obviously not working. The Royals must have looked at how he’s dropped from a .290 hitter in 2018, to a .266 hitter in 2019 (.141 in September) and then a .105 hitter in 2020, saw him as a work in progress and thought they could fix him. So perhaps there’s a chance he turns things around and returns to his 20/20 ways. However, his bat takes a bit of a hit moving to a more pitcher friendly ballpark, and his 229 ADP is too rich for me to want to take that chance on him, as he would be in my starting lineup.
Red Sox: Boston gets Franchy Cordero in return, who now moves onto his third team in his fifth season, with only 315 career plate appearances. I don’t like it when players this young get dealt this often, as it screams that their previous team saw something that they didn’t necessarily like. His batted ball profile projects him to be a pull hitter who also hits to straight away, so perhaps he gets some extra hits off of the Green Monster, but I’m going to take a wait and see approach, despite the fact that he’ll be their starting left fielder.
Mets: The Mets get someone, who in 2019, had a .264/.363/.372 line and stole 53 bases. Potentially the most useful player in the long run, he could very well be in the Mets’ outfield come 2022 Opening Day with some Minor League seasoning.
Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles
2-year contract, $34 million
Justin Turner deal with Dodgers, per source: Two years, $34M, with club option for third season. Includes $8M signing bonus.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 14, 2021
This one came late Saturday night, and it was a big one. There was a lot of speculation as to who would be the starting third baseman for the Dodgers come Opening Day, and this pretty much solidifies the notion that nothing will change from last year. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? The reliable veteran hit .307 last year with four home runs in a only 42 games played. Known as a slow starter (only four of his 124 career home runs have come in the months of March and April), Turner showed no signs of slowing down as he actually lowered his strikeout rate and raised his walk rate, both slightly. Before signing, he was the 23rd third baseman drafted off the board (in between Austin Riley and David Fletcher) and was the 220th pick overall. Being back in Los Angeles and playing within their potent offence will undoubtedly shoot his ADP upwards and puts him at least in the Top 20 of all third basemen in baseball. Get him while you can, because his ADP is about to shoot up. At the end of the day, he makes for a very nice corner infield option or even possibly a starting third baseman in the deepest of formats. This also puts a massive dent in any hopes people had for an Edwin Rios breakout season. While the potential for a DH in the National League leaves some small glimmer of hope for playing time, it will be from the bench where Rios can demonstrate his power potential while also trying to show added patience at the plate. He is a massive fade right now, as his ADP of 326 will undoubtedly plummet.
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle
1-year contract, $8.5 million
Left-handed James Paxton and the Seattle Mariners are in agreement on a one-year deal for $8.5 million. Has some reachable bonuses that could take it to $10 million.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 14, 2021
Here’s the thing about James Paxton. When he’s healthy, he’s good, as supported by his career 3.58 ERA, his 9.9 K/9 and his 2.7 BB/9 that put him as someone who knows what they’re doing. However, his health has never been as good as his stuff, and as such, he’s missed quite a bit of time.
On top of that, the Mariners have already been among the front runners to mandate and use a six-man rotation, which is another boulder in his way for success, since general manager Jerry Dipoto has said that he wants to limit starters to about 140 – 150 innings this year. So, if you add up Paxton’s injury history, plus the six-man rotation, plus the mantra of limiting innings, you have yourself an injury riddled pitcher who may give you 120 innings in 2021. Right now, he is the 98th pitcher off the boards with a 259 ADP. Judging by his injury history, he will probably miss time in 2021, as he hasn’t not been on the IL since 2014. With a shortened season too, I am staying away from Paxton, unless he falls to me. I don’t want to rely on him to give me the stats I need to win my league. In simpler terms, if my fantasy staff is an ice cream sundae, he’s not the bowl, the ice cream, the spoon or the chocolate sauce. He is the sprinkles I add on top to make the entire dessert a little better than I really needs to be.