Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS-SDP) gave an encouraging update on Monday, saying that he'd be ready to play if the season started today. The Padres have been easing him back into action this spring after he missed all of 2022 with injuries and suspension, especially since he still won't be eligible to return until April 20. He'll begin the year at Triple-A El Paso before returning to the Padres, where he's expected to hit leadoff this year, according to manager Bob Melvin. That could give his fantasy value a significant bump, as he'd likely score a ton of runs batting in front of Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado. Regardless of where he hits, Tatis should be a force to be reckoned with if he's healthy.
Carlos Rodon (SP-NYY) threw 30 pitches during a bullpen session on Monday and said he felt comfortable while doing so. He's currently dealing with a mild left elbow strain and will stay in Tampa Bay to throw live batting practice for the next step in his rehab when the team departs for Opening Day. Rodon will open the season on the injured list after signing a six-year, $162 million deal with New York during the offseason. He's been somewhat injury-prone in the past and has only one season with more than 30 starts on his resume, so fantasy managers shouldn't necessarily expect a ton of volume from him. Still, he's been one of the best pitchers in baseball on a per-inning basis over the last two years and will look to pick up where he left off when he returns to the hill.
Joey Votto (1B-CIN) revealed that he'll open the season on the injured list as he continues to rehab from offseason shoulder surgery. He is expected to start the year at Triple-A Louisville and remain there until he is ready, refusing to give a definitive timetable for his return. Now in his 17th and perhaps final season, Votto will miss Opening Day for the first time in years. The 39-year-old is coming off his worst season as a pro after batting just .205/.319/.370 in 91 games last season, so he probably wants to make sure he feels as good as possible before returning to the lineup to help give him a better chance at bouncing back. Three of Votto's last four seasons have been underwhelming by his standards, however, so fantasy managers probably want to avoid him at this point.
Nico Hoerner (2B-CHC) and the Cubs agreed to a three-year, $35 million extension on Monday. Chicago has not yet confirmed the deal yet, but it was reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan. Hoerner's new contract would buy out his two remaining arbitration seasons as well as a year of free agency, keeping him with the Cubs through 2026. Chicago was apparently looking to extend the former first-round pick after his strong 2022 campaign in which he batted .281/.327/.410 with 10 home runs and 20 steals in what was essentially his first full season. Hoerner batted .302 with a .382 OBP in 2021 as well, so he's now had multiple years of success at the MLB level. He's still only 25, too, so the Cubs are essentially buying out his prime years. Hoerner will look to build on his breakout season and potentially add a bit more power to his game in 2023.
The Guardians received some bad news on Triston McKenzie (SP-CLE) on Monday as an MRI revealed a strain in his right teres muscles. He will be shut down from throwing for at least 2 weeks and may need up to 8 weeks to return, which means he may not be available to pitch for Cleveland until late May. This is disappointing news for the 25-year-old right-hander, who will need to open the season on the IL. He is looking to build off a strong 2022 where he went 11-11 with a 2.96 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings -- 71 1/3 more than his previous high. Perhaps his body is still feeling the effects of the increased workload. On the plus side, perhaps the delayed start will help keep McKenzie fresh later in the year and in the postseason as well should the Guardians make it back.
The Red Sox demoted Bobby Dalbec (1B-BOS) to Triple-A on Monday. He missed out on the team's final infield roster spot, as Boston opted to open the season with utilityman Yu Chang instead. This is a somewhat surprising development for Dalbec given his superior hitting skills to Chang as well as the fact that he was having a strong Spring Training, batting .235/.304/.510. Perhaps the organization is still concerned by his 37.5% K rate during the spring, which has been a problem throughout his career thus far (career 34.9 K%) and has prevented him from realizing his potential in the big leagues. The team may want to see him cut down on his whiffs a bit before bringing him back up, but he'll likely be back up in the majors at some point this year as injury depth.
Luke Voit (1B-MIL) agreed to a one-year deal with the Brewers for the 2023 season with a club option for 2024 as well, giving him some stability heading into the new campaign. Voit had initially signed a minor-league deal with Milwaukee, which he opted out of after a strong Spring Training that saw him bat .316/.333/.526 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs in 14 games. The 32-year-old slugger is expected to DH and bat against lefties after a solid 2022 in which he matched his career-high with 22 home runs. Injuries have often kept Voit off the field in his career, but they haven't stopped him from topping 20 homers three times in the last four years. He may not get enough plate appearances to do so again in 2023, but he should still be a quality bench bat in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats.
Jordan Montgomery (SP-STL) ended Spring Training on a high note with five innings of one-run ball against the Orioles on Monday. He gave up 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 4, throwing 49 of his 72 pitches for strikes. The 30-year-old southpaw already appears to be in midseason form for St. Louis and will look to pick up where he left off last year after logging a 3.11 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP n 11 starts for the Cards. While nothing special, Montgomery is a solidly above-average pitcher, which makes him a quality fantasy arm to help build out your rotation.
The Red Sox announced on Monday that Yu Chang (U-BOS) won their final infield roster spot during camp and will open the season with the team. Chang beat out Bobby Dalbec for the role, likely due to his defensive versatility and ability to play every infield position. Boston has prioritized flexibility and multi-position players since Chaim Bloom took over in 2019, so Chang fits that mold. The only problem is that he can't hit, as he's a career .213/.279/.360 hitter. Chang was even worse during his brief stint with the Red Sox at the end of last year (.596 OPS in 11 games), but perhaps some stability will help after playing for four different teams last year. Chang is 27 and doesn't figure to have much fantasy impact unless Fenway Park suddenly gives his batting stats a dramatic boost.
The Mets DFA'ed Darin Ruf (OF-NYM) on Monday and replaced him with outfielder Tim Locastro on the roster. This is not a surprising move, as Ruf was terrible for New York last year and continued to struggle during Spring Training. He batted just .152/.216/.197 with no home runs and 7 RBIs in 28 games after being traded from the Giants to the Mets last year. His Spring Training numbers were just as bad, as he hit .167/.265/.233 in 11 games. At age 36, Ruf appears to be in decline and his career may be nearing its end, making him avoidable in all fantasy leagues.
The Orioles shared surprising news on Monday that the team's No. 2 prospect, Grayson Rodriguez (SP-BAL), did not make the Opening Day roster. He will open the season in Triple-A Norfolk but is not expected to stay there long, according to GM Mike Elias. Rodriguez was sent down for additional seasoning after struggling during Spring Training to the tune of a 7.04 ERA in five starts. The 23-year-old righty will have to wait a bit longer for his MLB debut, but shouldn't need much more work at Triple-A after going 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 14 starts there last year. He is expected to be a key part of Baltimore's rotation for the foreseeable future and is worth stashing in fantasy leagues until he arrives.
Wander Franco (SS-TBR) told reporters on Monday that he'll be ready to start on Opening Day despite dealing with right quad soreness. The issue caused him to be scratched from Saturday's game, but he received good news from his MRI on Sunday. Manager Kevin Cash is optimistic that Franco will be good to go, but Franco said he felt good after hitting in the batting cage on Monday. He'll continue to work out over the next few days as he prepares for Opening Day, but expect him to be in the lineup for Tampa Bay, barring any setbacks. The 22-year-old shortstop is looking to play a full season for the first time in his career after playing fewer than 90 games in each of his first two seasons. If he does, perhaps fantasy managers will finally get the breakout season they've been waiting for since his highly anticipated arrival.
The Red Sox revealed on Monday that Connor Wong (C-BOS) has won the backup catcher spot over Jorge Alfaro, who was demoted to Triple-A. Wong is expected to platoon with Reese McGuire to start the year even though he barely played in Spring Training (three games) and struggled after his call-up last year (.188/.273/.313). Wong is 26 and Boston is still hoping he can develop into a useful catching option after acquiring him as part of the Mookie Betts trade in 2020. Alfaro is more experienced and a better hitter, but Wong is believed to be better defensively and has more experience with the team's pitching staff. Time will tell if Wong stays up for the whole season or ends up getting sent down at some point, but either way he's unlikely to be much of a factor in fantasy leagues.
The Twins expect Jose Miranda (3B-MIN) to be their starting third baseman on Opening Day against the Kansas City Royals. This is an encouraging update for Miranda, who was limited to DH duty for much of Spring Training and unable to play in the World Baseball Classic due to a sore right shoulder. He still isn't throwing at 100% but is apparently throwing well enough to handle the hot corner during a real game. At least the shoulder injury didn't seem to hamper his swing much, as he slashed an impressive .278/.366/.778 with 5 home runs and 10 RBIs in 13 spring games. The 24-year-old is looking to build on a strong rookie campaign that saw him bat .268 with 15 homers, 25 doubles and a .751 OPS in 125 games last year.
The Red Sox demoted Jorge Alfaro (C-BOS) to Triple-A on Monday, opting to keep Connor Wong as the team's backup catcher over him. This is actually pretty surprising given that Alfaro was tearing the cover off the ball in Spring Training, batting .478/.520/.870 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs in nine games. Alfaro was on a minor-league deal, however, so it's not like a roster spot was guaranteed. Still, he's a much more experienced player and a better hitter than Wong, who has barely played in the majors or in Spring Training. Alfaro has taken a step back at the plate in recent seasons, however, slashing just .242/.283/.359 with nearly nine times as many strikeouts (233) as walks (26) over the past three years combined. Needless to say, Alfaro will be called up if Wong and/or Reese McGuire struggle, but he probably won't get enough playing time to make much of an impact in fantasy.
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