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The MLB hot stove? Well it ain't cold.
How hot are we talking here? David Ortiz in the World Series hot? Or is it more comparable to Yasiel Puig's scorching hot opening month?
None of the above. I'm thinking MLB's recent wave of transactions has approached Joe Pesci with his head on fire levels of hotness. Yes, I may or may not have watched Home Alone recently.
For those of you hoping for a quiet offseason (I know ESPN's Tim Kurkjian wanted to see his family at some point this year), keep dreaming. Tim Hudson, Brian McCann, David Freese, Josh Johnson, Jhonny Peralta, Dan Haren and Ricky Nolasco have all switched teams in the last week. And none of that was important enough to make it into this article!
The fantasy landscape is rapidly shifting and before it gets any crazier, let's acknowledge what in the world happened yesterday. Here are some of the wildest moves that have gone down in the last 24 hours.
Jacoby Ellsbury signs 7-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees:
In Boston, Ellsbury just became the most hated player since ... well last year when Kevin Youkilis did the same thing. And then it was Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon and okay, this betrayal thing actually happens quite often.
But it doesn't make it hurt any less! So why did he do it?
Well, I can think of $153 million reasons. Suddenly Carl Crawford is looking at himself in the mirror saying, "Wow, I was actually a bargain" (No, you weren't, Carl).
Let's do the math: 153 million divided by the nine home runs Jacoby hit last season equals ... WAY TOO MUCH MONEY. Yup, that checks out.
This will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst signings in Yankees history, and they've already had a lot of those (A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett ... you get the idea). With that said, if Ellsbury can manage to stay healthy in 2014, which is always a big if, he should have a chance for a pretty good fantasy season. If Ellsbury can't bop 20 homers over that kid-size porch in right field, it might be time to consider a new profession (I hear paralegal work pays quite well).
One more bullet point before we move on. That's $238 million the Yankees have spent in the last week and a half on Ellsbury and Brian McCann. Unless there's some forest of money trees we don't know about (it's probably next to all those ticket oaks from the StubHub commercials), where exactly are they getting the dough to keep Robinson Cano? I'm sure Jay-Z is wondering the same thing.
Jim Johnson traded to Oakland for Jemile Weeks:
Who are these Oakland A's? My only guess is that Billy Beane is being held hostage by Somalian pirates a la Captain Phillips.
The money-pinching A's are suddenly throwing cash around like Pacman Jones at one of his preferred adult establishments. Two years and $22 million for journeyman Scott Kazmir? And now probably close to $10 million on the heart attack-inducing Johnson with no guarantee he'll re-sign in 2015?
As bizarre as Oakland's sudden abandonment of any kind of fiscal responsibility may be, it shouldn't affect Johnson's fantasy standing. The dude has more saves than anyone in baseball since 2012 and the A's should still win a lot of games. He's a mid-to-late rounder in fantasy drafts.
Tigers ship Doug Fister to Washington:
Now Drew Smyly is going to start for Detroit. But more importantly, look at Washington's starting rotation: Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and now Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA)? It doesn't even matter who they send out there on the fifth day. It's gold, Jerry! GOLD!
NL East Champs? That was the plan last season. Maybe the Nats will actually get it right this time around.
Detroit signs Joe Nathan for two years, $20 million:
His birth certificate reads 39 but Nathan didn't pitch like it in 2013. The six-time All-Star held hitters to a .162 batting average in 64 2/3 innings. His ERA over that span was a miniscule 1.39.
Having a stable ninth inning man will do wonders for the win totals of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. And it might prevent Torii Hunter from plunging head first into any unsuspecting bullpens in the future. Safey first, fantasy owners.
Brian Wilson close to one-year deal with the Dodgers:
This one isn't official yet but it will be soon. And it makes me FURIOUS.
Wilson is way too bearded and awesome to be wasted in the eighth inning. Yet that's probably what his role will be next year in Los Angeles. I'm still hoping Wilson will launch a midseason coup d'etat and defeat closer Kenley Jansen in an epic sword battle. But until that happens, Wilson won't have any fantasy value.
Now that Wilson is off the market (presumably), that leaves Fernando Rodney, Grant Balfour and Chris Perez as the best ninth inning options available. One of them ought to wind up in Baltimore.
Pierzynski signs with Sox, Salty to the Marlins:
The Marlins .. but why? Was it Florida's lack of taxation that lured him? Or was it the opportunity to possibly join LeBron James' entourage? Or maybe the scenic fish tanks and tropical motif he'll get to look at in Marlins Park?
No, the reason Jarrod Saltalamacchia and his clown hair are headed to Florida is because Miami was the only team to offer him a three-year contract. He will now enjoy money instead of championship rings. To each their own.
Meanwhile, Salty's exit gave the Red Sox an opportunity to sign veteran catcher/baseball villain A.J. Pierzynski. And when you get that chance, you have to take it, right?
Pierzynski is a .283 lifetime hitter with 16 years of big league experience. And they signed him to a one-year deal, which as Red Sox fans know is Ben Cherington's favorite kind of contract. Sounds like a match made in Heaven, doesn't it?
Justin Morneau heads to Colorado for two years, $13 million:
That guy's still around? Indeed and guess what? I think he's going to have a monster season next year. Okay, maybe not monster but he'll definitely be productive. In a lineup with absolutely nobody protecting him (aside from singles hitter and sideburn advocate Joe Mauer), Morneau still hit .259 with 17 HR and 74 RBI for the Twins last season.
I don't know if you've heard about it but there's this place called Coors Field and it's basically a hitter's paradise. It had the highest park factor in baseball last season. Morneau isn't about to go Barry Bonds on us all of a sudden but he should be in the neighborhood of 25 HR and 90-100 RBI.
Rockies deal Dexter Fowler to the Astros:
Hold the phones! Fowler is coming to Houston?! Alright, I'm being a little facetious here. Fowler is an average joe in the fantasy world. He's good at a lot of things but not great at any of them. The troubling aspect of the Fowler trade, however, is what it does to everybody's favorite UConn outfielder George Springer.
The expectation was that Springer would be the 'Stros everyday center fielder in 2014. In a strange coincidence, Fowler plays the same position.
So what happens to Springer now? He could move to one of the corners or the Astros could decide to further destroy the sport of baseball by burying their best prospect in Triple-A for the second year in a row. Let's hope it isn't the latter.
Cano, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran are still out there so don't expect things to cool off any time soon. So yeah, Tim Kurkjian, maybe send your family a postcard or something.
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