Jose Ramirez to fill in at 2B while Jason Kipnis is out, Yandy Diaz wins 3B job
With Jason Kipnis set to start the 2017 season on the DL with a shoulder injury, the Indians plan to move Jose Ramirez from 3B to 2B, while starting rookie Yandy Diaz at 3B. This is yet another increase to the fantasy value of Ramirez, whose breakout 2016 has resulted in a 5 Yr./$26 million contract extension with the Tribe. Ramirez has always posted excellent contact rates (11.0% career K%) and had good speed, but he surprised in the power department last season with an impressive 46 doubles, good for 3rd in MLB. That trend has continued this Spring, in which Ramirez has knocked seven 2B's in 51 AB's. He was a valuable mixed-league asset even without the Kipnis injury, but he should now soon be eligible at 2B, 3B, and OF. Just don't go into the season with Ramirez as your only 2B, as could take a couple weeks before he gains that eligibility.
Yandy Diaz, CLE
It looks like the rookie Diaz will be making his MLB debut and starting at 3B for the Indians in 2017, at least until Jason Kipnis returns from his shoulder injury. Diaz should be playing nearly every day and his above average contact numbers in the minors could lead to a solid BA, but that's about all Diaz has to offer as he hasn't shown significant power or speed at the minor league level. Playing regularly in a good lineup should at least allow him to collect some runs and RBI, but that will only be relevant in the deepest leagues.
Michael Brantley still uncertain for Opening Day
The Indians haven't yet made a decision on Brantley for Opening Day, but it's hard to expect better results than what we have seen so far in Spring Training. Through 7 games this spring, Brantley is hitting .391 with 2 HR's and 2 2B's in 23 AB's. Of course, there's still plenty of concern about his health and there probably will be even if he goes into April without setbacks, considering all of the setbacks he has had until now. But that also means he's still likely to come at a discount in drafts, and if he does make the roster, there's no reason not to have him in your lineup.
Lonnie Chisenhall to DL, Abraham Almonte makes roster
While it's unlikely that Almonte will be playing every day, he should still get a decent share of playing time in the outfield to start the season, especially if Michael Brantley isn't ready to go. His splits have been hard to read in recent years; the switch-hitter's OPS in 2015 was over .200 higher against RHP's, but in 2016 it was over .100 higher against southpaws. This makes him difficult to use in daily fantasy, and he is not really relevant in season long leagues considering his underwhelming stats (career .249 BA, 23.2% K%, 11 HR's in 233 games) and lack of an everyday role.
Austin Jackson also makes Indians roster
You wouldn't normally expect a guy who had four straight seasons of 90+ runs scored to be barely making a major league roster by age 30, but that's what has happened to Jackson. His power disappeared, his spot in the lineup lowered, and his overall production decreased. But in some ways, Jackson made improvements in 2016, with career bests in K% (19.2%), SwStr%(), LD% (30.3%), and Hard% (34.2%). He'll have chances to get in the lineup with Lonnie Chisenhall on the DL, Michael Brantley still a question mark, and Brandon Guyer primarily playing against lefties. If he starts strong, it's not impossible that he gets moved up in the lineup, especially with Jason Kipnis on the DL and Jackson's "leadoff experience". Those are some big ifs, and Jackson is certainly not draftable right now, but there are scenarios in which Jackson could end up holding fantasy value.
White Sox Notes
Jacob May to be the White Sox starting CF
With Charlie Tilson out with a foot injury and Peter Bourjous traded to the Rays, the White Sox will use rookie Jacob May as their starting CF in 2017. May wasn't great offensively in AAA last season hitting .266 with a .662 OPS in 83 games, but he's hitting .349 this spring and that was enough to convince the White Sox to give him a shot. There's no reason think he'll continue to hit for a high AVG though, and the only fantasy value he even remotely offers is speed (94 SB's over the past three MiLB seasons), but there are plenty of better speed-only guys out there.
Carlos Rodon looks ready for the DL
Rodon was a popular late-round SP in drafts this season (at least for me he was), but it looks like he won't be starting his season until at least mid-April due to his biceps injury. If he'll be getting off the DL sometime in April, he's probably worth holding on to, at least if you have a DL spot available. But if it turns out that it will be longer, it's hard to justify sticking with him. He has a lot of potential with a very good K% and an improved BB%, but he still has a career ERA of 3.90 and I don't know if I want to wait two months to hope for a potential breakout.
Matt Davidson, Cody Asche hoping to make White Sox roster
Davidson is still likely to make the White Sox Opening roster and serve as at least a part-time DH for the club, although his spring hasn't been that promising. While he does have 3 HR's in 23 games this spring, he is hitting just .246 with a whopping 25 K's in 57 AB's. This continues a trend for Davidson, who has been striking out at a nearly 30% clip throughout his AAA career. That time of contact rate won't usually serve well at the big league level.
Cody Asche, CWS
Asche is another candidate for a roster spot with the White Sox, but like his teammate Matt Davison, he has seen a lot of swing and miss during Spring Training with 17 K's in 42 AB's. The good news for Asche is that he is slashing an impressive .310/.453/.714 this spring, which should help him make the big league roster, and possibly even be given somewhat regular playing time at DH. It's not likely however to help him suddenly put together a productive major-league season, as he has always had high K% and low power totals. Even if the White Sox don't pass, you should.
Matt Boyd makes Tigers rotation, Anibal Sanchez to 'pen, Mike Pelfrey released
Matt Boyd has made the Tigers rotation as the #5 starter after quite an impressive spring in which he has posted a 2.10 ERA with 23 K's and just 1 BB' in 25.2 IP. We shouldn't let the spring training numbers outweigh the regular season numbers when it comes to judging Boyd, who had more middling numbers in his rookie season with the Tigers last season. But it's certainly a good sign, and makes Boyd worth watching early in the season to see if he can keep up his spring success.
J.D. Martinez out 3-4 weeks with foot injury
Martinez' foot injury is a big blow to his owners, but I wouldn't be so quick to give up on the slugging outfielder. This is a guy who has three straight season of a Hard% over 40%, and while he does strike out more than average, his Hard% indicates that his career .343 BABIP is not a total fluke. And of course, he has plenty of power. There aren't many players right now that are more worth filling up your DL-slot.
Around the League
Yadier Molina signs contract extension with Cardinals
Molina has been one of the top catchers in baseball over the last decade and the Tigers have awarded him with a 3-year extension. The power is pretty much gone, but his contact rate remains excellent making him a rare catcher that is likely to hit around .300. That alone continues to give Molina fantasy value at age 34.
Blake Treinen named Nationals closer
After posting a 2.28 ERA, 65.9% GB%, and 8.46 K/9 in 2016, Treinen has been appointed as the Nationals closer in 2017 making him immediately a must-own in all fantasy leagues. His major downside is his high BB% which could prevent from posting a great WHIP, but as long as he remains the Nats' closer, he should be in your lineup.
Shawn Kelley, WAS
With Blake Treinen chosen to be the National's closer, Shawn Kelley will move into a setup role, severely limiting his fantasy value. He did post excellent ratios last season (12.41 K/9, 1.71 BB/9) and Treinen could always get injured or struggle, but Dusty Baker said he wants to go with one closer, so don't expect Kelley to get saves anytime soon. He could still have some value, but don't hesitate to drop him at this point.
Maikel Franco, PHI
Franco's excellent contact rate led to just a .255 BA in 2016, and he has similar luck this spring hitting just .234 despite only 10 K's in 77 AB's. He has also slugged 6 HR's. He may always be a low BABIP guy, but his average should still somewhat improve and along with his power, he has every sign of producing more than his draft cost.
Because Accuracy Matters on Draft day: