Andres Gimenez, 2B, CLE
Gimenez is reportedly set to sign a contract extension with the Guardians worth $106.5 million over 7 years. He is coming off an all-star season in which he hit .297/.371/.466 with 17 HR's and 20 SB's in 146 games. The speed is nothing new for Gimenez, but the power was a nice surprise, as was the near .300 BA. It's fair to expect some regression here; his HardHit% did improve to 37.6%, but that's still nothing special, and he doesn't hit a ton of FB's (32.7% FB% in 2022). His xBA and xSLG were .257 and .400 respectively. He should still contribute across the board, but expecting him to be a perennial all star may be a bit optimistic.
Rowan Wick, RP, CHC
Wick was demoted to AAA after a lackluster spring in which he allowed 7 runs (3 ER) in 6.2, along with a 7:5 K:BB. Wick had a strong second half last season, recording a 3.27 ERA, 3.31 WHIP, and 10.09 K/9 in 33.0 IP from July 1 onward, and found himself saving games at one point after the Cubs had traded away several other relievers. He would have appeared to be a candidate to start the 2023 season as the team's closer, but that obviously won't be the case. A career 4.07 BB/9 isn't ideal for that position anyways. He will likely be back in the big-leagues at some point this season, but he's no longer a fantasy target.
With Wick out of the picture for now, Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger are the frontrunners for saves out of the Cubs bullpen. Fulmer has had some success out of the bullpen over the past two years, compiling a 3.17 ERA and 9.05 K/9 covering 133.1 IP for the Tigers and Twins, and picked up 17 saves during that period. However, his peripherals all took a step back last season; his K/9 dropped from 9.43 to 8.62, his BB/9 rose from 2.58 to 3.96, and his GB% plummeted from 45.2% to 35.4%. He was saved last year by a 5.5% HR/FB, but a 4.45 xFIP and 1.37 WHIP aren't promising numbers. He is almost certainly not the best arm in the Chicago pen, but he could still end up being their closer.
Boxberger hasn't been a full time closer since 2018, but he has had strong results in each of the past three seasons, combining for a 3.13 ERA and 10.37 K/9 across 146.2 IP since the start of 2020. But like with Fulmer, the peripherals aren't as bright. Boxberger owns a 4.01 xFIP over those same three seasons, along with a 3.68 BB/9. His career walk rate is 4.37 BB/9. He also allows too many fly balls with a 44.6% FB% last season (41.6% career). It's also kind of concerning that his SwStr% fell to a career low 9.5% last season, even though he still managed to strike out over a batter an inning. Neither he nor Fulmer would be among the stronger closing options in the league.
Christopher Morel, OF, CHC
In other Cubs news, Morel was optioned to AAA Iowa, despite a solid spring in which he posted a .910 OPS and hit 4 HR's in 52 AB's. Of course, he also struck out 24 times in those 52 AB's. This is quite a disappointment for fantasy owners after Morel became a surprise contributor in 2022, hitting 16 HR's and notching 10 SB's in 113 games. But the contact struggles are real, as he finished with a 32.2% K% last season. That number got even worse as the season wore on, as he posted a 36.5% K% en route to a .163 BA over his final 55 games. Morel will almost certainly be back with the Cubs at some point this season, and the power and speed should be there on a per-game basis, but his contact woes make a full time position with the Cubs far from a guarantee.
Trevor May, RP, OAK
May had a rough outing in his most recent spring appearance against the Giants on Monday, allowing 4 ER's on 4 BB's in 0.2 IP. He entered spring as a possible closing option for the A's this season, but now owns a 12.79 ERA and 1.74 WHIP through 6.1 spring innings, which you would think would hurt his chances. In 2022, May finished with a 5.04 ERA, and while some of that may have been unlucky, it was also related to an elevated 3.24 BB/9 and 45.8% FB%. With May struggling, Dany Jimenez and Domingo Acevedo may be the bets to close out games for Oakland.
Jared Walsh, 1B, LAA
Walsh will begin the season on the IL due to headaches that he is suffering from. It's hard to know how much time he will miss, but hopefully this won't be an extended absence. Walsh took a big step back last season, hitting just .215 with 15 HR's in 118 games, while striking out at a 30.4% clip. His BABIP predictably fell from .335 in 2021 to .281 last season, while his HR/FB% dropped from 25.4% to 14.6%. Both of those numbers may have regressed more than expected, so there should be a bounce back on some level, but if that puts him in the .240, 20-25 HR range, that's still not a very exciting fantasy profile.
Hunter Gaddis, SP, CLE
With Tristan McKenzie set to open the season on the IL, Gaddis will be part of the Guardians Opening Day rotation and is scheduled to start the second game of the season against the Mariners. Gaddis has had a strong spring, allowing 4 ER's in 13 IP over 5 appearances (2 starts), along with an excellent 17:3 K:BB. He has had strong strikeout rates throughout the minors, but he has had trouble keeping the ball on the ground. He hasn't built up completely yet, so he may not be able to go too deep into his inaugural start of the season.
Cristian Pache, OF, OAK
Pache will not be making the A's Opening Day roster, and since he is out of options, this may be the end of his tenure in Oakland. Pache has yet to have success offensively in the big leagues, with a career .156/.205/.234 line and 4 HR's across 332 MLB PA's. He had a solid season in AAA in 2021, hitting .265 with 11 HR's and 9 SB's in 89 games, and his 40.8% HardHit% with Oakland last season wasn't bad either, so there is potential. He will likely still get an opportunity with some team at some point.
Tyler Wells, SP, BAL
With Grayson Rodriguez set to start the season in AAA, Wells will be a part of the Orioles rotation to start the season. How long he remains part of the rotation will depend on when Rodriguez is ready, as well as on his performance. Wells had a good first half last season but finished with a mediocre 4.25 ERA for the season and weak peripherals including a 6.60 K/9. He is not an appealing fantasy option.
Joey Gallo, OF, MIN
The Twins are considering using Gallo as a leadoff hitter against RHP's, at least until Jorge Polanco returns from injury. Traditionally, a sub-.200 hitter wouldn't be put into the leadoff spot, but Gallo does walk a lot, so it's not the craziest idea. Gallo had a poor season in 2022, hitting just 19 HR's in 126 games, but he still hit tons of FB's (52.7% FB%) and his 50.5% HardHit% was slightly above his career average. If he keeps hitting the ball that hard, his 19.4% HR/FB should climb back closer to his 26.8% career norm. Hitting leadoff would increase Gallo's value a bit, giving him more PA's, and more opportunities to score runs.
Leody Tavares, OF, TEX
Tavares will open the season on the IL with an oblique injury. He had a torrid first half last year, hitting .341 with a .920 OPS in 29 games but that was buoyed by a .426 BABIP. In the 2nd half, his BABIP fell to a more typical .313, and his BA and OPS plummeted to .231 and .585 OPS respectively. For the season, his xBA was .230 and his xSLG was .322, which indicates that his 2nd half may be a better projection. Right now, he can't be relied on for much more than steals.
Ezequiel Duran, IF, OF, TEX
With Tavares heading to the IL, Duran has an increased chance of making the Rangers Opening Day roster. Duran didn't do a ton in his brief MLB stint last season, but between the majors and minors, he hit 21 HR's and stole 18 bases in 136 games. He will likely need to improve upon his 31.2% HardHit% with Texas last year to supply significant power at the big league level.
Joe Musgrove, SP, SD
Musgrove is recovering from a toe injury and is still on track to return to the Padres by mid-April. He has been excellent the past two seasons, recording a combined 3.06 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.61 K/9, and 2.38 BB/9 since joining the Padres in 2021. He has also been durable, making at least 30 starts and covering over 180 IP each season. He has consistently induced weak contact at a rate better than league average, which has allowed him to maintain a low BABIP. For those who haven't drafted yet, Musgrove has been slipping outside the top-100 in many cases, which seems like a big discount for a guy who is only expected to miss a couple of weeks.
Keston Hiura, 1B, MIL
Hiura cleared waivers and will begin the season in the minors for the Brewers. After a tremendous rookie season in 2019, Hiura has fallen off a cliff, and has been bouncing back and forth between AAA and the big leagues. After a dismal 2021 in which he hit just 4 HR's in 61 games, Hiura's power returned last season and he hit 14 HR's in 80 games (266 PA's) thanks to a strong 45.2% HardHit%. But while the power is clearly still there, so is the swinging and missing, as Hiura put up an unacceptable 41.7% K%, leading him to a lowly .226 BA despite a .355 BABIP! Those type of contact issues make him unplayable in both real life and in fantasy.
Scott McGough, RP, ARI
McGough struck out 2 in a scoreless 9th inning against the Guardians on Monday to record the save. He is a candidate to be the closer for the Diamondbacks this season, and his usage (and success) on Monday could be a sign that he has a good shot at securing that role. McGough pitched the last 4 seasons in Japan and saved 80 games during that time. He has had a great spring overall, posting a 1.93 ERA and 11:2 K:BB across 9.1 IP, so it shouldn't be surprising if he ends up in a high leverage role.