Josh Donaldson, who is in the final year of his contract, recently said that he and the Jays are "not in the same type of area" on contract talk. This is a fantastic sign for Donaldson owners, as he knows he's playing for a huge contract next season. Donaldson certainly isn't hurting for dough, but he's never had that monster contract - he was still arbitration eligible this year! Donaldson has fallen down draft rankings for no good reason; he had a great season last year, but battled a nagging leg injury. With a new contract incentivizing him, I think Donaldson tees off this season.
Troy Tulowitzki has been unavailable all spring with - you guessed it - a nagging injury. The one-time absolute stud has had the last several years of his career mired by injury woes, with last season being the worst of all as he played just 66 games with a 78 wRC+. I really wanted to see Tulo as a decent bounceback candidate - not to the 140 wRC+ days, but at least marginally better than league average. However, this spring training injury has me anticipating much of the same for him throughout 2018. Maybe a late round flier is worthwhile for him, but I'm having trouble even wrapping my arms around that.
Jaime Garcia has a solid start for the Blue Jays yesterday, going 4.2 innings while allowing just 4 singles with 6 strikeouts. It was a nice start for Garcia, but he appears to be nothing more than an innings eater at this point. He has an excellent 55% GB rate to boast about last year, but unfortunately he walked 3.7 batters per 9 innings, which erased any good fortune he'd benefit from on the GB front. That said, he will be just 31 so he's not the worst bounceback candidate in deep leagues.
Randal Grichuk returned to the lineup yesterday, batting a rib injury, and hopes to make it to Opening Day. Grichuk was a great candidate for a new environment, and he could potentially see more consistent playing time in Toronto than with the Cardinals. Grichuk has some solid power potential, hitting 22 HR in just 442 PA last season, but he still has holes to fill in his game. It's reasonable to anticipate another step forward for the 26-year-old this season, which would make him a solid mid-tier OF.
Steve Pearce was briefly moved to Minor League Spring Training, but strictly just to get more ABs in before the season. He is expected to be ready for and make the opening day roster. Pearce is now 35 and warrants very little fantasy consideration, except in deeper daily leagues where you may be able to take advantage of his platoon splits. He could be a cheap source of 20 HR in about 100 games worth of AB if all goes well, which is a steal if you get him as a waiver wire addition. (It's all about value!) Pearce will have to deal with injuries this season, but keep an eye on his power numbers as he sits on the wire.
Jake Arrieta took the mound for the first time yesterday, reaching 95 MPH while striking out the first two batters he faced, though he did allow an opposite field HR to Miguel Cabrera. Arrieta has been falling pretty far in drafts - rightfully so after last year's performance, but he's just a year removed from a solid season, and two years removed from an excellent season. Granted, that's a lot of if's, but as a later round flier, I like taking a chance on him. You should note that it's not likely he'll be ready for Opening Day given his late start, but that will be a precautionary measure and not injury related.
Miguel Cabrera took Jake Arrieta to opposite field yesterday, his second HR of spring training. Miggy is sporting a .900 OPS this spring in 48 at-bats, which is a good sign, even though he has a career OPS of .948. I like Miggy for a solid bounceback this year. Last year's 91 wRC+ is such an anomaly when looking at his entire career. Sure he is now 35, but we've seen players adjust at older ages (Jose Bautista, David Ortiz) and still be very valuable. I don't have expectations that he reached MVP-Miggy levels, but he could certainly be a great average/RBI contributor for reasonable value.
Shohei Ohtani's status remains up in the air in terms of how he will be used. Yesterday, Angel's GM denied that Ohtani will start the season as a DH, saying that no decision has been made yet. Ohtani is batting just 3-for-28 this spring, all singles. His performance on the mound has been equally inconsistent. He's beginning to slide much later in drafts, to such a place that I would be willing to buy in if he falls far enough (ideally past the 8th round as a pitcher). Very few players at that point in the draft can return top 10 positional talent, so it's worth a flier in my book.
Carlos Carrasco's left Wednesday's start when he was struck by a comebacker, but fortunately Terry Francona didn't seem overly concerned about it. Carrasco is coming off one of his best seasons, and he was at 71 pitches in the game, showing that he's basically ready to take the hill at the start of the season. Fortunately this comebacker won't seem to hinder that.
Michael Brantley made his Cactus League debut on Wednesday night and promptly homered in his first at-bat. Brantley is nearly going undrafted in some leagues, but there should be some optimism for the former 5-tool stud. I say former, but he could very well still be that guy with a clean bill of health. Brantley was off to a great start last year and ended up with a respectable .299 average and 11 SB in just 90 games. He's a bigtime sleeper that can pay big dividends late in rounds, but he now carries the cloud of injury history over his head.
Blake Swihart has put together enough of a solid spring to potentially justify a spot on the Red Sox opening day roster. This is interesting because Swihart will have Catcher eligibility in nearly all leagues, but the Red Sox will try to find unique ways to get him on the field - this is all assuming he makes the roster. The 25-year-old former big time prospect is still just 25 and is out of options, making him a solid candidate to make the roster, and an interesting option in 2 catcher leagues.
After hitting two home runs yesterday, Aaron Judge has once again reminded us that he makes hitting home runs look easy. Interestingly, Aaron Boone has Judge slotted for the #2 spot in the lineup, given that he anticipates Judge getting on base frequently. Personally I like the move - putting Judge 4th or even 5th if you're crazy will just result in fewer at-bats. You may quibble that he'll end up with a handful of fewer RBIs, but there will be more opportunities to hit HR at the plate, which is what you're getting him for.
As if you needed another reason to draft this guy first overall, Mike Trout - through yesterday's 36 Abs - has yet to strike out this Spring. But he ONLY sports a .909 OPS, so all is not that good.. That was sarcasm. Trout posted the highest wRC+ of his career last season at 181. We may not have seen his ceiling yet.
There's very little news in the spring sometime, so we talk about some silly stuff. For example, Bryce Harper batting leadoff. He hit leadoff yesterday so he could quickly get his two ABs in before leaving the game, which left reporters asking if Harper may bat leadoff during the season. Dave Martinez didn't deny it as a possibility.. so now Bryce Harper batting leadoff is a headline. I personally don't see it happening; if it does, it will certainly hurt Harper's ability to garner as many RBIs as we're expecting, but I just don't see this being a real possibility. Managers get bored in Spring Training.