Jacob deGrom, Texas Rangers - deGrom is scheduled to resume his throwing program on Monday after a brief "scare" last week after feeling some side tightness following a throwing session. Chris Young said that it's something he'd pitch through in the regular season, but in the early part of spring (and adding in deGrom's recent) injury history, the Rangers are obviously going to take it slow with him. deGrom was the prized free agent haul for Texas in the offseason, giving him $185 million over five years despite deGrom throwing just over 150 innings across the last two seasons combined. When he's been healthy though, the results are as good as ever with 14 K/9 in each of the last two seasons along with walk rates just above one per nine innings, numbers that are career highs in each category for him. In the non-Shohei division, he's still going inside the top 5 starting pitchers but personally it's not a price I'm willing to pay on him. I'd much rather dip two spots lower with Aaron Nola and take the volume he's proven over the last few years and even wouldn't mind Brandon Woodruff a little lower if I'm searching for an anchor ace in the first handful of rounds.
Frankie Montas, New York Yankees - Montas is set to undergo surgery on his shoulder on Tuesday. Matt Blake, Yankees pitching coach, said that the injury is not a 100% season-ender but we can assume that at best we'd see him late in the second half of the season. The Yankees acquired Montas as the deadline last season, knowing the shoulder was potentially a risk, and he didn't perform well in New York with a 6.35 ERA over eight starts. His FIP metrics tanked as well with a 4.93 FIP in the Big Apple after a 3.35 FIP in Oakland, and his strikeout rate dropped by 8% and his walk rate jumped up 2%. The 17% strikeout rate he showed in New York got paired with a flyball rate that also jumped, and without the big park in Oakland to help him out the ball jumped as he allowed six homers in 39.2 innings compared to 12 in 104.2 innings before the trade. It's not a profile that's encouraging for me, even before adding in the shoulder surgery for him.
Trevor Story, Boston Red Sox - Story underwent an internal bracing procedure on his UCL in January and will miss the beginning of the season but the Sox's infielder is targeting a second half return. Story's first season in Boston was not what we were expecting with a .238/.303/.434 slash line and 16 homers to go along with 13 steals in 94 games. Story has seen his average decline over each of the last two years and his slugging percentage has lagged as well, but considering the average and injuries he dealt with last season 16 homers and 13 steals are strong numbers. In redraft leagues he's obviously off the board for now, but I'm looking to acquire him in dynasty leagues (I did in one) as I think the speed/power blend is still strong for the position and I think the average should rebound a bit once we see him healthy again. I don't think we'll see him near .290 ever again, but something around .265 is certainly manageable and you can potentially tack on 25 homers and 20 stolen bases as well if he can play a full season.
Elvis Andrus, Chicago White Sox - Andrus inked a one year deal with the White Sox on Sunday. Andrus hit .271 for the Sox last year after filling in for Tim Anderson, adding nine homers and eleven stolen bases. With Tim Anderson back healthy and ready to resume his normal SS role, Andrus should be one of the front runners to win the second base job for the team (if not THE front runner for the job). New manager has already said that Leury Garcia is being viewed as a backup, and Romy Gonzalez and Lenyn Sosa both have less than zero track record at the major league level. Depending on where he hits in the lineup Andrus could have a little value at the MI position for leagues, or even second base depending on how deep the league is. He still has double digit pop and speed, and is in one of the better lineups in the league that could lead to plenty of RBI/R as well. His draft position will rise a bit now that he's signed but he should be a solid dart throw at the end of drafts that won't hurt, but also won't be a league winner.
Clarke Schmidt, New York Yankees - Schmidt has been working on a cutter this offseason in hope that it can give him another pitch to be effective against left handed hitters. In a small sample size, facing 96 lefties in 2022 they hit .268 off him with a .439 slugging percentage compared to righties hitting a significantly worse .192, and slugged just .280 off him. He struck out just 20 left handed hitters (20%) and fanned 36 right handed batters (25%), which tracks due to him having his slider and curveball being two of the top three pitchers he throws and those being primary pitches to generate whiff against right handed batters chasing the ball out of the zone. He has a changeup, but it's an offering he only throws 4% of the time and it's almost exclusively thrown to lefties (10% usage against lefties compared to .6% against righties) but it does generate a surprising high number of whiffs considering he doesn't use it a ton. Or is that the reason it gets whiffs... Schmidt should be in the mix for the 5th starter spot in New York with Domingo German and could inch ahead if the cutter ends up being a viable out pitch against lefties.
Craig Kimbrel, Philadelphia Phillies - Kimbrel says that he's open to working in a flexible bullpen role after signing with the Phillies this offseason. The Phillies 9th inning man was a handful of pitchers last season and the never really had a designated closer, and it doesn't sound like they are going to name someone the closer at this point in the season. Kimbrel had a rough year with the Dodgers posting a 3.75 ERA and posted a career low 27.7% strikeout rate. We've seen Kimbrel struggle though at times when he's thrown outside of the ninth inning so we'll need to see how he responds to that, but on a strong Phillies team he should be a quality sv/h option who has a shot to earn the ninth if he throws well. Currently, based on Fantasy Pros Consensus ADP across major fantasy sites, Kimbrel is the 26th reliever off the board which essentially makes him risk free with an outside chance he can regain form in a great situation.
Kyle Schwarber, Philadelphia Phillies - Schwarber is expected to hit second this season after the signing of Trea Turner, who will take Schwarber's spot atop the lineup. This doesn't really do a ton to effect Schwarber's value, maybe just trade a few runs for a few RBI. He's coming off a season in 2022 with Philly that saw his hit 46 homers and drive in 96 runs and even swiped 10 bags to go along with it. It came with a .218 batting average, but a .323 OBP is perfectly serviceable in those leagues when it comes with that insane amount of production around it.
Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays - Glasnow got back on the mound Sunday after dealing with a stomach illness, and Kevin Cash said it's the best bullpen session that Glasnow has thrown yet. Glasnow returned from Tommy John surgery late last year to make two starts and throw 6.2 innings, striking out 10 batters in that span against just two walks. The loan run he allowed was via a solo homerun. It appears that Glasnow will enter the season with no sorts of restrictions following the TJ, but the Rays have always been on the more cautious side of things with starting pitchers and Glasnow's career high in the majors for a full season is 111.2 innings in 2018 between Pittsburgh and Tampa. Glasnow is currently going off the board around the 25th starter, and I'm not sure that I feel fully comfortable paying that price right now. That's not knocking his talent, Glasnow might be my favorite pitcher in all off baseball, but I just always worry about the innings that he's going to get even if he could strike out 200 batters in as few as 150ish innings. I'm very interested to see what he looks like over a full 100+ innings workload after we saw him introduce his unreal slide that generated almost a 50% whiff rate in 2021 before getting hurt. That plus that innings could shoot him up the list of starters, but I don't think the price is quite good enough right now.
Jose Miranda, Minnesota Twins - Miranda is expected to be the everyday third baseman for the Twins when they break camp next month according to Rocco Baldelli. Miranda played very well in his rookie season, hitting .268 with 15 homers and 66 RBI over just shy of 500 PAs. Miranda had relatively pedestrian contact numbers with the twins last season, but hits the ball well enough that it leads to good production. He chases the ball a little too much, but he doesn't swing and miss a ton as a whole, sitting around batters like Pete Alonso, Vlad Guerrero Jr, and CJ Cron in the terms of raw whiff rates. He doesn't have the shiny-new-toy aspect to him like some of the other third baseman getting drafted around him, but at pick 150 I don't think he's going to hurt you in any categories.
Josh Donaldson, New York Yankees - Aaron Boone expects Josh Donaldson to be the everyday third baseman for the Yankees in 2023. DJ LeMahieu is expected to be the odd man out but is still likely to play everyday as the primary backup for first, second, and third base. Donaldson had a horrific season in New York hitting .222 with 15 homers and 66 RBI. Donaldson still hit the ball hard, but it came with an extremely low xBA and a career low fly ball rate, something Donaldson has always excelled at. His strikeout rate took a jump as well to 27% which was also a career high for him. This isn't a profile I'm exactly rushing out to draft this year.
Ricky Tiedemann, Toronto Blue Jays - Tiedemann is already turning heads in camp with his fastball, and has caught the eye of Danny Jansen already. Tiedemann will likely start the year in the minor leagues because last season he was under such strict pitch limits that he could use a little more seasoning in the minors but he could seize the 5th starting spot from Yusei Kikuchi and Mitch White, the later who is already dealing with a shoulder issue to start camp. Tiedemann's stuff is undeniable though. He struck out 117 batters over just 78.2 innings and crossed three levels of the minor leagues last season. Even with the innings/pitch limits last year, for a contending team there's a non-zero chance that he can snag the final spot in the rotation. He's currently going undrafted but a little buzz here and there and a solid spring showing or two could vault him up the draft board fast.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins - Buxton underwent surgery on his knee in September but has no limitations entering spring training. Buxton has another injury riddled season last year, ending with a .224 average and 30% strikeout rate but he also homered at in insane pace and finishing with career-high 28 homers. Buxton's evolution has been extremely odd considering he's still one of the fastest players in the league, but as completely stopped swiping bags. However, he's now posted and xSLG of over .500 for the third straight season and his hard-hit rate is hovering around 50% for the last three seasons as well. He hits the ball as hard as anyone, swings and misses almost as much as everyone, and has just 17 steals over the last three years despite a 92nd percentile sprint speed. I'm not sure what the lack of running has been because, perhaps it's an injury prevention thing, but also with the amount of strikeouts and homers he has there just aren't as many chances to run.
Ian Anderson, Atlanta Braves - Anderson has been working on a slider this offseason in hopes it can become a third offering to his fastball and changeup. Anderson was on the way to being the Braves next great starting pitcher, but last year was awful with a 5.00 ERA over 22 starts that had him find his way back to AAA. His strikeout rate has dropped dramatically from 29% to 23% to 19.7% last season, while his walk rate has stayed steady at around 10%. The reality is that Anderson needs to find a third pitch or start to harness his command a little more, as his path is eerily similar to what happened with Chris Paddack. Both pitchers rely almost exclusively on the changeup fastball from the over the top arm slot, and when batters are able to adjust and figure it out things get rough fast. Anderson isn't a lock for the fifth rotation spot in Atlanta as both Bryce Elder and Mike Soroka (returning from two achillies tears, a hurt shoulder and now a tweaked hamstring to start camp) will both be in the mix for the final job.
Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers - Buehler could return to the Dodgers this season, and is set to start a throwing program within the next two weeks. Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery in August and the talks are that he could return to the team by the end of the season, but it'd be as a reliever or possibly an opener type starter like we saw with Tyler Glasnow at the end of 2022. Buehler was not throwing well at the time of him going down with his injury, posting a 4.02 ERA with a 21% strikeout rate which is by far the lowest total he's posted since becoming a major leaguer. The strikeout numbers decline makes sense when it's paired with a declining whiff rate.
Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves - Wright will have a slow start to the season after getting a cortisone injection in his right shoulder, and will likely make his spring training debut in the Braves second spring series. Wright does say that his shoulder feels great, and even better than it did entering 2021 when he won a starting job in the rotation and proceed to lead the league in wins. Wright saw an increase in his strikeout rate to 23.6% and he saw his walk rate plummet over 50% down to 7.2%, which is a huge improvement for the righty. A huge change to his pitch mix came too via him jumping his curveball usage up to 34%, and his slider dropped all the way to 7%. Wright has a lockdown on the Braves rotation spot and should be one of the staples going forward.
Fernando Tatis Jr, San Diego Padres - Tatis Jr participated in his first full batting practice session on Monday. Tatis underwent a pair of surgeries last fall after he was suspended for PED usage and ruled out for 80 games. Tatis was dealing with a pair of injuries to the wrist and shoulder anyways, so it's really almost a silver lining that he was ruled out as it gave him the proper time to recover. Tatis is still out for the first 20 games of the season as it finishes up his suspension. He's going as the 4th shortstop off the board to start the year behind Trea Turner, Bobby Witt Jr, and Bo Bichette and that feels like fair value based on the lack of games, considering he could still go 30/30 in limited games.