Hello, and welcome to “The Week That Was”, where we look back at the week that was in the world of Major League Baseball and take a deeper look at some of the biggest ongoings. With so much happening in the offseason, it can be tough to not only keep track of every signing and trade, but even more, figuring out what it all means. That’s why this is here, to help you gather the important information you need, read about why it’s important, and then make a more informed decision for you and your teams going forward. We’ll examine see agent signings, trades and lineup decisions that come to fruition in an organized fashion and give you the advice you need to gain the edge come draft season. Let’s get right to it.
Note: Unless noted, all ADP listed below is from NFC and is taken the the beginning timeline of January 1, 2021.
Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay
1-year contract, $6.5 million
Back to Tampa Bay.
— MLB (@MLB) February 2, 2021
One might say that it’s the Circle of Life here, as Archer returns home following the infamous deal where he was shipped out to Pittsburgh for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and a Player to be Named Later (Shane Baz). Some have called it one of the most lopsided deals in MLB history (before the Arenado trade took place), and it looks even worse now that he has left Pittsburgh after a disastrous one and a half years where he went 6-12 and spent time on the IL. Still, much of his troubles in Pittsburgh can be attributed to the Pirates wanting to add a sinker to his repertoire, which subsequently got destroyed:
Unsurprisingly, he stopped using it midway through the 2019 season and finished the year strong, surrendering zero home runs and striking out 27 batters over his final 18 innings pitched. After missing all of 2020 with thoracic outlet surgery, Archer returns to the place that made him famous in Tampa Bay. With a 641 ADP since the signing, he remains free in most drafts, though having a home now will undoubtedly rise his draft price. Give him chance late in drafts and see if he can reclaim some of the magic he had before being dealt to the Pirates.
Nelson Cruz, UT, Minnesota
1-year contract, $13 million
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz and the Minnesota Twins are in agreement on a one-year contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
Cruz, 40, has been a linchpin of the Bomba Squad Twins' lineup. And he'll be back right in the middle of it in 2021.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 3, 2021
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised here that Cruz went back to the Twins, as they could obviously use his power in their lineup. While he did slow down a little bit last year, he still finished with a batting average over .300 and hit 16 home runs. His ADP, as it stands, hovers just a tick past the 100 mark, making him a nice source for power as he can still and probably will hit 30+ home runs this season. Some owners like to shy away from drafting UT-only players as they don’t like to limit their flexibility with lineup construction. Still, looking at those around him come draft time, owners will be hard pressed to find someone who can hit for that much power while maintain a high batting average, so it’s worth taking the discount and rolling with the rewards. The only caveat I would say is to be wary of Father Time arriving, because at age 40, he can’t keep this up forever, can he? Then again, David Ortiz retired at age 40 and still hit 38 home runs that season for the Red Sox.
Kolton Wong, 2B, Milwaukee
2-year contract, $18 million
2023 club option
Free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong in agreement with Brewers on two-year, $18M contract with a third-year club option, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 3, 2021
At first glance, it had looked like he and 2B Keston Hiura were potentially destined to split time up the middle, but then we found out that this could allow Hiura to slide over to first base to have both players play at the same time. It’s an interesting development in Milwaukee. First, with regards to Wong, he should fit in nicely at the top of the lineup, giving the Brewers some speed as their leadoff hitter with he possibility of double digit home runs too. Sporting a career .308/.373/.482 line at Miller Park, this is an improvement for the 30 year old to continue being the under-rated hitter that he is and has been. As for Hiura, while it’s a new spot on the field to be learned, it would give him another position of eligibility which is valuable in the fantasy world. As such, he needs to be considered as a near the top of the position-type player. ADP-wise, he’s in between Luke Voit and Matt Olson, and if you can somehow get him later than that, I’m all in. He’s got potential with the bat for significant power, but needs to stop chasing bad pitches. He’s still young and this potential move can only make him even more valuable.
Alex Colome, RP, Minnesota
1-year contract, $6.25 million
Alex Colome and the Twins have a one-year, $6.25 million deal, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 3, 2021
Alex Colome comes into Minnesota after two successful years in Chicago where he racked up 42 saves over 83 innings pitched for the White Sox. While his strike out rate has decreased steadily since 2018, one thing remains true, and that’s the absolute lethalness of his Cutter, which he throws almost exclusively.
What’s encouraging is that he has also regressed in the amount of home runs surrendered, thus helping secure leads and saves late in games. The problem with Colome now, though, isn’t the quality of him as a pitcher, but rather the situation that he’s in with regards to the Twins. While it’s true that they have rebuilt their bullpen this offseason, it isn’t a guarantee that he is their closer going forward. Manager Rocco Baldelli has famously used a committee over the past couple of years, picking and choosing when and how to use late inning options. In 2020, the top three save earners, Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo and Trevor May, collected nine, five and two saves respectively. In 2019, despite leading the team in saves earned with 30, Rogers was one of nine players to earn a save that year as well. This offseason, the Twins have bolstered their pitching with the addition of Hansel Robles, who also has closing experience, and are rumoured to be looking for more pieces to fill their bullpen. All in all, with a 185 ADP, Colome may not be worth that price if he is going to share closing duties with others. Keep that in mind come draft season as we enter Spring Training.
Dexter Fowler traded to the Los Angeles Angels
OFFICIAL: The #Angels have acquired OF Dexter Fowler and cash considerations from the St. Louis Cardinals.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) February 5, 2021
This deal has less to do with the Angels believing in what Fowler can do and more in what they worry about what Jo Adell can’t do. The highly acclaimed rookie looks to be starting the season in the minors to get some conditioning and refinement as he looks to improve on a extremely conquering strikeout rate (41.7% at the MLB level last year), in order to get himself ready to show his true potential. His ADP of 337 is sure to plummet as a result, and he seems destined to be unrosterable in redrafts to start the year. Keep an eye on him to see how he develops though. As for Fowler, the once promising 20/20 candidate has never quite lived up to expectations, and thus should be ignored in most leagues despite having regular at bats. Only give him a consideration in the deepest of leagues or AL-Only.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
3-year contract, $102 million
Trevor Bauer’s record-setting contract with the Dodgers:
➖Opt-outs after each of the first two
➖$40M/2021 + 45M/2022
— Boardroom (@boardroom) February 5, 2021
In a shocking twist, it came down to two teams, and in the end, Trevor Bauer chose to go home and play for the Dodgers. Now, as the highest paid player in MLB history, he gives Los Angeles three former Cy Young winners pitching for them, as well as a fourth elite option in Walker Buehler to help solidify them as the league’s best rotation. This does, however, have residual effects for the entire team, as the Dodgers now have seven pitchers who could start games for them, but just as many questions going forward. Going forward, how will the threesome of Bauer, Kershaw and Buehler be ranked with regards to being their Opening Day starter? Will Buehler and Kershaw get more days of rest to help preserve their arms in the long run? Will David Price opt out again and if he doesn’t, how will his arm hold up after a year off? Which of Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May will be relegated to long relief, spot starts and/or bullpen duty? So many questions. Here are my thoughts:
- Given the structure of the contract with potential opt outs, the Dodgers will likely give Bauer the high usage rate throughout the length of his deal. They want to get the most out of him, and with his third year being worth so little compared to the first two, chances are that Bauer is a Dodger for two years.
- Kershaw is a free agent after this season, so while I think he will be a Dodger for life, there’s a chance they could let him go all out too and pitch a lot of innings for them. That said, they understand his injury history and will probably be very careful with his innings and even skip/delay a start here and there.
- Buehler is their long term solution within the rotation, he has massive upside, and I don’t believe in much of the negativity from last year. He is, unfortunately, a slow starter, and his 2020 offseason was halted and altered due to the pandemic. I’m all aboard the Buehler hype-train in 2021.
- I believe that David Price will play in 2021, despite missing last year. I’m not 100% sure how the uptick in innings after missing an entire year will transpire, and perhaps that’s why the Dodgers have a plethora of options. I do think though that he will be an effective fourth starter. His 181 ADP has been going up as people may have forgotten bout him earlier in the offseason. Given the injury history and potential for limited innings, I caution to not overpay, but rather leave him as your fourth starter in case of failure.
- Julio Urias has been treated with kid gloves for years, but his usage rate last year suggested that he was ready for more. I’m confident that he’ll produce as their fifth starter. His ADP of 116 is a bit high for my taste, as he’ll need to work on developing a third pitch in order to maintain the level of greatness that some are projecting.
- As for May and Gonsolin, it’s frustrating for owners who invested in them last year, and it could be the same level of frustration in 2021. It will be hard to keep them rostered if they’re being sparsely used in long relief here and there. And even if they get spot starts, it may be with little to no notice, meaning that weekly leagues could be seeing some starts from the bench. My advice would be to wait for both ADP’s to drop (May 163, Gonsolin 202) and if you can find a spot at the end of your bench to stash them, I would. However, given their cost now, it’s not worth the volatility.
Elvis Andrus traded to the Oakland Athletics
Full trade, per sources: SS Elvis Andrus, C Aramís García and cash to Athletics. DH Khris Davis, C Jonah Heim and RHP Dane Acker to Rangers. First on Garcia: @Evan_P_Grant.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2021
It’s a pretty interesting deal here as some proven bats get dealt. Let’s have a look at it from sides:
- Texas Rangers – They go all in on power and get another high power, low average bat. Davis is two seasons removed from hitting 48 home runs in 2018, and was rumoured to be playing injured over the last two years. If he can come in healthy and ready to go, I could see him going back to his old ways of hitting .247 with 30+ home runs. With an ADP of over 500, he’s worth a late dart to see if he can go recover. It does clog up the already busy Rangers outfield/DH spots with Tavares, Dahl, Gallo and Calhoun all fighting for at bats, thus creating some confusion. It’s important to see how things develop here, as Dahl has never been a mainstay of health, there are rumours of Tavares starting in the minors and we need to see if Calhoun can finally put it all together. For now, Davis remains a depth piece for the Rangers in a prove-it year. A sneaky watch here from the trade fallout is Jonah Heim, who could eventually unseat Trevino at catcher. He’s got some power and pitchers in Oakland loved it when he played.
- Oakland Athletics – After losing Marcus Semien to the Jays, the Athletics get their replacement in Andrus, who just four years ago went 20/20, and who just two years ago stole 31 bases. With a chip on his shoulder for feeling left out, I could see nice rebound year coming with consistent at bats. If you need a late draft middle outfield option, Andrus could be that guy for you who fills the void nicely. The cash headed to the Athletics too helps them as they look to add bullpen pieces to solidify their bullpen.
Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS, New York
1-year contract, $3.5 million
Jonathan Villar deal with Mets with MLB deal. Expected to fill super utility role.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 9, 2021
When he was originally believed to have a deal with the Reds, my eyes widened and my smile deepened. That would have been the perfect fit for him, since he would have been given a starting role, he would have hit leadoff, he would be playing in a weak division, and he would be playing in a ballpark that hits incredibly well. Instead, he now goes to a team that was already seemingly set in all of its positions, may hit near the bottom of the order, plays in a division with some great pitching, and looks to be fighting for at bats. What’s worse is that the Mets are in desperate need for the DH to be reinstated throughout baseball in 2021, as it would solve a lot of playing time problems. Still, assuming he gains eligibility and plays almost everywhere on the field, the question then becomes as to how he’ll perform. Unfortunately for him, 2020 was a bad year, as he couldn’t seem to get things going, especially after being traded from Miami to Toronto. While his stolen base distribution between the two teams is pretty equal, he seemed out of place and uncomfortable with the Blue Jays. As such, he hit .156 batting average against Breaking pitches, posted a career low 1.5% Barrel Rate and had a below career average Hard Hit rate of 35.8%. The only way he comes close to bringing back anything close to value at his current ADP of 147 is with playing time, and it’s hard to guarantee that. If there is a DH in the National League, keep an eye on how the Mets construct their roster. Until then, he’s a fade.