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2023 fantasy baseball reactions to offseason trades, signings

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Why Aaron Judge's return to the Yankees stabilizes his fantasy value (1:53)

Tristan H. Cockcroft explains why Aaron Judge remains a clear first round pick for fantasy managers after deciding to return to the Yankees. (1:53)

Tracking the offseason MLB trades and signings with fantasy baseball implications for the upcoming season, Eric Karabell and Tristan H. Cockcroft will analyze and provide an outlook for all of the key players involved. Aaron Judge and Brandon Nimmo are staying put, but Trea Turner and Jacob deGrom and Xander Bogaerts have opted to play in front of a new set of fans. Check back often as more players find their potential new homes for 2023.

Players will be separated by position, and then listed in order of fantasy relevance within each positional grouping. Also included are links to any stand-alone analysis stories and/or videos regarding free-agent signings and trades.

Note: Players who end up re-signing with their previous team will not always be included.

Jump to: Catcher | First Base | Second Base | Shortstop | Third Base | Outfield | DH | Starting Pitcher | Relief Pitcher


Catcher

Toronto Blue Jays trade for C/OF Daulton Varsho: Varsho, one of the more fantasy-relevant catchers of the past two seasons, should take over as the Blue Jays' starting right fielder. There's a chance his days behind the plate will soon come to an end, but he still carries his catcher eligibility forward to 2023. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Varsho trade with Tristan's full article here.

Minnesota Twins sign C Christian Vazquez: Vazquez comes off a season as the No. 12 catcher on the Player Rater, relatively safe in batting average and capable of double-digit home runs, but we can probably forget about the 23 blasts he somehow tallied in 2019. Managers in ESPN leagues can likely find him on free agency in mid-April and stream the position. -- Karabell

St. Louis Cardinals sign C Willson Contreras: Conteras should remain the same decent-pop, heavily-utilized catcher in St. Louis that he was with the Cubs, but his shaky pitch-framing metrics could actually make Cardinals pitchers slightly less attractive fantasy picks. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Contreras signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

Atlanta Braves acquire C Sean Murphy from Oakland Athletics, William Contreras to the Milwaukee Brewers in 3-team trade: Both Murphy and Contreras improve their lot in the trade while Travis d'Arnaud likely becomes a backup, albeit one with top-10 upside. The A's meanwhile get some interesting players for deeper league consideration in Kyle Muller, Esteury Ruiz and Freddy Tarnok. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the three-team trade with Tristan's full article here.


First base

Chicago Cubs sign 1B Trey Mancini: More of an NL-only than mixed-league factor, Mancini's arrival with the Cubs might be met with groans from fantasy managers who would have liked to have seen Matt Mervis, a 2022 minor-league and Arizona Fall League sensation, get a chance to play regularly. Mancini should deliver another .250-25 type of stat line in his new digs. -- Cockcroft

Los Angeles Angels sign 1B Brandon Drury: Drury can be a valuable later-round pick for the power and versatility, but fantasy managers should not expect him to flirt with 30 home runs again for the Angels. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Drury signing with Eric's video analysis here.

Cleveland Guardians sign 1B Josh Bell: Bell is capable of hitting for more power than 2022 and him doing so is critical to the success of Cleveland's upgraded lineup. Fantasy managers should expect similar numbers to his 2021 campaign, with myriad RBI opportunities. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Bell signing with Eric's video analysis here.

Houston Astros sign 1B Jose Abreu: Abreu is a good fit in Houston, where he should post similar numbers to last year and remain a top-10 1B option. Batting in the No. 6 slot, he'll have plenty of RBI opportunities. -- Cockcroft.

Go deeper on the Abreu signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

Pittsburgh Pirates sign 1B Carlos Santana: A historic points-league dynamo, finishing among the top-50 hitters in points scored in every season from 2013-20, Santana has seen his roto-relevant batting average crater, with "the shift" being partially responsible (he batted sub-.185 from the left side in each of 2020-22). Perhaps 2023's new shift rules will steady his downward aging curve, but the rebuilding Pirates aren't a great destination for an offensive rebirth, keeping him more along the lines of being fantasy corner-infield filler. -- Cockcroft


Second base

Miami Marlins trade for 2B Luis Arraez: The AL's defending batting champion, Arraez should have a firmer role with the Marlins than he did with the Twins, taking over as Miami's everyday leadoff hitter and second baseman. His ability to play multiple positions should prove valuable, especially with the team trying out Jazz Chisholm Jr. (CF), Jean Segura (3B) and Joey Wendle (SS) at new primary positions -- remember that it's 10 games played in-season to earn new eligibility -- and his elite contact and line-drive stroke shouldn't suffer any park-related effect even in Miami's pitching-oriented home.

If there's a negative to the move, it's that the Marlins offense isn't close to that of Minnesota's, hurting the number of times the lineup turns over and runs scored/RBI opportunities, but Arraez should set a new career best for plate appearances and therefore might well match 2022's No. 95 (Player Rater) and 67 (points-based scoring) finishes. -- Cockcroft

Seattle Mariners trade for 2B Kolten Wong: With it apparent that the Mariners wouldn't dip into the free-agent SS pool, they acquired Wong to fill their 2B void. Wong is coming off a career-best year with the bat and seems likely to rebound from a surprisingly bad defensive year. He's more of a rotisserie asset than one in points league, finishing 18th at his position in the former but only 24th in the latter, but he might take a slight step backwards in power in T-Mobile Park's more pitching-friendly confines. -- Cockcroft


Shortstop

Boston Red Sox trade for SS Adalberto Mondesi: The simple reality that stolen bases are scarce in today's game drives Mondesi, who played just 50 games combined in 2021-22 and has made six trips to the IL since his 2018 permanent recall, into the discussion on this page. He has averaged 67 steals per 162 games played since that 2018 arrival, with a hint of pop (20-HR average) but very little else of fantasy relevance.

However, he will need to recapture the blazing Statcast sprint speeds he had pre-2021 if he's to register even in roto leagues. The Red Sox present Mondesi with a more favorable overall offensive environment, both in terms of ballpark and lineup support, but he's still a very risky pick who is primarily worth only a late-round look in roto formats. -- Cockcroft

Minnesota Twins re-sign SS Carlos Correa: Is Correa's third contract agreement the charm? After issues arose with his physicals for both the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets (both of which had agreed to considerably longer deals than this one that returns him to the Twins), we must all await finalization of his six-year, $200-million contract. Still, Correa's return to the Twins again strengthens the lineup up and down, even if the 2022 team averaged only a 17th-best 4.30 runs per game. He should deliver similar numbers to last year, with his ankle issue being more of a long-term worry.

Still, perhaps the failed physicals could spark enough panic in prospective fantasy managers that he comes at a relative bargain. Anything bordering on or outside the top 10 at his position is undervaluing him. The main players who potentially lose out here are the recently acquired Kyle Farmer, who will slide back to utility-man status, and Nick Gordon, although he can still log everyday at-bats in center field if he lands the job in the spring, making him a worthwhile deeper-league breakthrough candidate. -- Cockcroft

Chicago Cubs sign SS Dansby Swanson: He's a safe, reliable hitter with the potential to keep hitting for power and perhaps even steal more bases. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Swanson signing with Eric's full article here.

San Diego Padres sign SS Xander Bogaerts: Bogaerts may be the safest and most reliable fantasy option that you don't have to secure in the first three rounds of your fantasy draft, but the bigger news coming out of this signing may be about the other shortstops affected by this deal. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Bogaerts signing with Eric's full article and video analysis here.

Philadelphia Phillies sign SS Trea Turner: Anything Turner lost in fantasy terms by leaving the elite Dodgers supporting cast, he'll gain with Philadelphia's ballpark-factor boost as well as the prospect of leading off daily. He's the guy you build around in roto leagues, and a top-20 overall player in points leagues, too. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Turner signing with Tristan's full article and video analysis here.


Third base

Boston Red Sox sign 3B Justin Turner: Expect more of the same nearly top-10 positional production that you've come to expect from Turner in Boston. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Turner signing with Tristan's video analysis here.


Outfield

San Francisco Giants sign OF Michael Conforto: Perhaps perceived a consolation prize after the Giants missed out on Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, Conforto gives the team a disciplined, decent-pop bat, but also adds to their already cluttered stable of outfield and DH candidates. Like Correa, Conforto brings injury questions of his own, having sat out the entirety of 2022 following surgery for a late-reported shoulder issue, and if he plays any of 2023 at less than full strength, 2021 represents the downside and he could fall into a platoon on this matchups-conscious team due to his occasional struggles with lefties. Still, he's a decent, mixed-league outfielder with stronger points-based than roto skills. He was 77th overall/OF23 in points and 116th overall/OF29 on the Player Rater in his last full healthy season (2019). -- Cockcroft

Chicago White Sox sign OF Andrew Benintendi: Good for Benintendi on turning a season in which he muscles up for five home runs into a lucrative, five-year deal, but he's just not that valuable in fantasy. Sure, batting average counts and he's helpful in points formats for the walks, but even hitting a career-best .304 this season, he was just barely a top-50 outfielder. He's likely to be barely this again in 2023. -- Karabell

Minnesota Twins sign OF Joey Gallo: Gallo still offers intriguing power but, for roto formats, it's not worth dealing with after three consecutive seasons with a sub-.200 batting average. In points or OBP leagues, however, we should all be interested. Perhaps Gallo tops the Mendoza line now that shifting is going away and I kind of like his chances of sniffing 40 home runs again with a positive home park and a "prove it" contract. Good work, Twins. -- Karabell

Toronto Blue Jays sign OF Kevin Kiermaier: His arrival in Toronto upgrades the defense and takes some of the defensive strains off George Springer, but Kiermaier's injury history is a major concern, as he missed 99 games last season, 150 in the past three seasons combined, and has averaged 59 absences per 162 contests over the last seven years. He has a bit of pop and hasn't shown a steep decline in his sprint speed, so he could contribute to AL-only managers when available, but he's more of a plus for the fantasy value of the Blue Jays pitching staff than for himself. -- Cockcroft

Boston Red Sox sign OF Masataka Yoshida: Yoshida's elite plate discipline and decent pop makes him a potential points-league value, but Fenway might put a cap on his HR production. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Yoshida signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

New York Yankees re-sign OF Aaron Judge: Aaron Judge was fantasy baseball's No. 1 player last season, outscoring Sandy Alcantara by 29 points and generating a Player Rater score nearly 40% better than Trea Turner, and his return to the Yankees strengthens his odds of returning first-round value again in 2023. Keeper-league managers can worry about how he ages through the life of the deal -- and they should -- at a later date. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Judge re-signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

San Francisco Giants sign OF Mitch Haniger: Haniger's last four seasons feature two solid seasons with power, and two others with myriad missed games. Good luck guessing what happens moving forward with the Giants. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Haniger signing with Eric's video analysis here.

Chicago Cubs sign OF Cody Bellinger: Bellinger, looking to rebound from a miserable 2021-22, at least should get as expanded an opportunity as possible with the Cubs. Hopefully, he can fix his swing enough to be a late-round dart throw. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Bellinger signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

Milwaukee Brewers trade for OF Jesse Winker: So much went wrong for Winker in 2022. He had both neck and knee surgery at season's end, with the one positive being that he actually hit left-handers well for the first time (.244/.357/.437 rates). In Milwaukee, he'll call a much more HR-friendly environment his home, stoking his rebound prospects, but he'll need to first show during spring training that he has recaptured his power stroke in order to be worth a late-round mixed-league pick. -- Cockcroft

Los Angeles Angels trade for OF Hunter Renfroe: Don't panic following this news as Angel Stadium has actually played comparably HR-friendly to Milwaukee's American Family Field ever since the Angels lowered the right-field fence in 2018 (oddly, including for right-handed hitters). Renfroe should again deliver his somewhat one-dimensional, 30-HR production, and if the Angels lineup can stay healthy, he might see a small boost in his RBI totals as a middle-of-the-order bat. -- Cockcroft


Designated hitter

San Diego Padres sign DH Nelson Cruz: As far as bounce-back opportunities are concerned, San Diego is a pretty good one for Cruz, whose 2022 ended on a sour note due to an eye infection that ultimately required surgery. He should bat sixth or seventh behind a strong middle of the order, but badly needs a hot start before Fernando Tatis Jr.'s return creates more of a late-April lineup crunch. In the new standard game, Cruz provides too little from his DH spot to warrant a late-round selection, but he's worth a final-round look in 12-team or larger mixed leagues. -- Cockcroft

San Diego Padres sign DH Matt Carpenter: Thanks to those oft-discussed adjustments to his hitting approach last winter, Carpenter broke through in a major way for the Yankees after they took a late-May chance on him. He ended up as one of only 10 hitters to average at least 3.0 fantasy points per game (minimum 47 games played). He could potentially slide in as the Padres' DH (although that's less likely now with the Cruz signing) but his injury history and departure from the very HR-friendly Yankee Stadium will probably make him more of a plug-in/NL-only type for 2023. -- Cockcroft

Los Angeles Dodgers sign DH J.D. Martinez: This signing is a bit curious, as Martinez is a clear DH at this stage of his career and he joins a team that previously loved the "half-day off" positional approach, utilizing 14 different starters in the role in 2022. Yes, that means a slight playing-time downgrade for incumbent Dodgers like Max Muncy, Will Smith and Martinez himself, since there's only one DH spot and Dave Roberts loves to play the matchups, but Martinez does boost the overall lineup's production to compensate for any prospective value hit to the group in terms of fantasy. Now 35, Martinez's career downward slope should slow a bit in Los Angeles, keeping him as a top-100 overall hitter, even if he is locked into DH-only status. -- Cockcroft


Starting pitcher

Minnesota Twins trade for SP Pablo Lopez: Here's an example of a great acquisition from an on-the-field perspective, but less so of one for fantasy purposes. Lopez might well already be the Twins' most talented starter, but the ballpark switch from Miami's Marlins Park to Minnesota's Target Field represents a definitive downgrade. To that end, Lopez had a career ERA nearly a full run higher away from Marlins Park (4.54) than in it (3.45) over five seasons, and he has below-average Statcast Barrel rates (hitters do really get into one against him from time to time) that could be exacerbated in the wrong environment.

Sure, Lopez will receive more run and bullpen support in Minnesota than he got in Miami. However, wins aren't the fantasy target they used to be, he tends not to pitch deep into games, and his new team loves to mix-and-match. Among fantasy "third/fourth starters" (SP30-40), he's a couple of ranking spots less attractive now. -- Cockcroft

Texas Rangers sign SP Nathan Eovaldi: Until back and shoulder issues began to bother him during the second half of last season, Eovaldi had been in quite a groove for the Red Sox, scoring a 19th-best 547 fantasy points between 2021 and his IL placement on June 12. The injury risk persists, but he'll call a more pitching-oriented environment his home in Texas, and bear in mind his home ERA (4.03) was a half-run higher than on the road (3.49) during the last two seasons. Eovaldi has top-40 starter potential, if you can steer through his likely absences. -- Cockcroft

Boston Red Sox sign SP Corey Kluber: His 92-mph fastball and high-spin curveball now firmly in his past, Kluber's skill set is that of a mere matchups type. Last season alone, he had an ERA more than 1.25 lower at pitching-friendly Tropicana Field than elsewhere, and an ERA 0.90 lower against teams with losing records. In Boston, he's moving to a much less pitching-oriented environment, so the homework simply gets harder and the streaming opportunities fewer and farther between. -- Cockcroft

New York Yankees sign SP Carlos Rodon: Rodon's ERA will rise in New York, but he should still be a top-15 option at his position. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Rodon signing with Tristan's full article and video analysis here.

Los Angeles Dodgers sign SP Noah Syndergaard: The Dodgers had some success with reclamation projects in 2022, most notably Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney, so perhaps they similarly see something good they can coax out of Syndergaard's skill set. He's a more interesting dart throw in Los Angeles than he would have been elsewhere, but restoring a pitcher's velocity (which is the main obstacle to Syndergaard's top-80 starter candidacy) is a tough ask. -- Cockcroft

San Francisco Giants sign SP Ross Stripling: Stripling rode improved command and greater use of his changeup to a 2.64 ERA in 19 season-ending starts. Now he joins the Giants, about as good a landing spot for his fantasy prospects as he could have picked. They've been excellent at finding what works best for pitchers and squeezing the most out of them. Stripling's masterful control might well vault him into mixed-league relevancy, making him one of the better "end of your draft" dart throws.

Toronto Blue Jays sign SP Chris Bassitt: Bassitt certainly isn't the starting pitcher fantasy managers covet in early rounds, but he's the one you can feel good about in the middle ones as a No. 3 or 4 starter. He should deliver reliable value as a member of the Blue Jays in the coming seasons. Don't expect a ton of strikeouts or a league-leading ERA, but he's safe and should win games. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Bassitt signing with Eric's video analysis here.

New York Mets sign SP Kodai Senga: Senga's arrival in New York places him in one of the most likely spots to support a top-40 fantasy starter candidacy. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Senga signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

San Francisco Giants sign SP Sean Manaea: Manaea's first year away from Oakland didn't go anywhere near as smoothly as expected, as he cratered during the season's second half -- his ERA was a ghastly 6.16 over 14 starts and two relief appearances as his average fastball velocity dropped and the effectiveness of his changeup waned. He'll now call one of the game's best pitching environments his home and, in an organization that has bred many rebound seasons over the past decade, but it would probably take a big spring for him to warrant a late-round selection in an ESPN standard league. -- Cockcroft

New York Mets sign SP Jose Quintana: Now a full-fledged journeyman joining his sixth team since 2020, Quintana was surprisingly reborn last season as a five-inning hurler who won only 6-of-32 starts for the Pirates and Cardinals. Beware some major regression here in ERA/WHIP thanks to a low K/9 and an unsustainable HR rate, among critical factors. -- Karabell

Philadelphia Phillies sign SP Taijuan Walker: Walker, a pitcher who is rather reliant upon the defense behind him, will find it challenging to repeat his top-50 fantasy starter status as a member of the Phillies. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Walker signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

Chicago Cubs sign SP Jameson Taillon: The Cubs infield has yet to be settled, which has a bearing on Taillon's 2023 fantasy value, but the improvements he made last season bode well for him repeating as a top-40 fantasy starting pitcher. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Taillon signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

Texas Rangers sign SP Andrew Heaney: One of last winter's more buzzworthy rebound candidates, Heaney did just that in 2022, posting a 3.10 ERA and 35.5% strikeout rate, second-highest among pitchers who made at least as many starts as he did -- but he made only 14. His improvements, due mostly to increased velocity and diminishing the use of his changeup, should carry over into 2023 (and beyond), but injuries and inconsistency over the past four years cast doubt upon his reliability in fantasy. -- Cockcroft

New York Mets sign SP Justin Verlander: Perhaps fantasy managers shouldn't expect another 1.75 ERA from the now-former Astros ace, but Verlander should be reliable and awesome -- at least much more so than the ace he is replacing. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Verlander signing with Eric's full article and video analysis here.

Texas Rangers sign SP Jacob deGrom: deGrom's move to Texas won't have an adverse impact upon his fantasy value -- he'll remain a clear top-10 starter with the ability to be the game's best -- primarily because the new contract itself provides neither greater promise nor additional risk of him missing time due to injury." -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the deGrom signing with Tristan's full article and video analysis here.

Tampa Bay Rays sign SP Zach Eflin: The Rays could squeeze a lot of value out of Eflin, à la Corey Kluber last season, giving fantasy managers a sneaky-good back of your staff piece, so long as you're willing to put in the lineup/matchups homework. -- Cockcroft

Go deeper on the Eflin signing with Tristan's video analysis here.

Detroit Tigers sign SP Matthew Boyd: Back in Detroit following an 11-month absence while recovering from September 2021 flexor tendon surgery, followed by a brief stint as a reliever with the Mariners, Boyd shouldn't have much trouble landing a rotation spot with the 2023 Tigers. He'll need to maintain the small velocity and spin-rate bumps he saw in limited time to turn a profit on his likely fantasy dart-throw stock, but Boyd did have a strong three-month stretch as recently as 2019 (3.72 ERA, 30.8 K% from April-June). -- Cockcroft

Chicago White Sox sign SP Mike Clevinger: Not all returnees from Tommy John surgery have flawless comebacks, and Clevinger's 2022 wasn't the smoothest. His average fastball velocity was down nearly 2 mph (consistently all year) and his season marred by various bumps and bruises. He's a worthwhile speculative add for the White Sox, but for fantasy purposes, would need to show either a recovery of his lost velocity or past ferocity with his slider during spring training to be more than a mixed-league dart throw. -- Cockcroft


Relief pitcher

Kansas City Royals sign RP Aroldis Chapman: This is a notable move, mainly in that Chapman ranks third on the active saves leaderboard and the Royals already have a closer in Scott Barlow, who had a plenty-productive 2.30 ERA, 40 saves and 28.2% strikeout rate over the last two seasons combined. Chapman should operate in a setup capacity, strengthening that roster's weak spot, but it's a scenario where he could steal some save chances, even if only to boost his value ahead of the trade deadline. Barlow's fantasy managers shouldn't be pleased with this news, although he's still a top-15 capable fantasy reliever. -- Cockcroft

Philadelphia Phillies trade for RP Gregory Soto: Soto saved 30 games for last season's Tigers, but that sure isn't happening again in a potentially loaded Phillies bullpen, where a committee of savers -- including the active saves leader (see below) -- looms. Soto loses most of his fantasy value. The big news in this trade is someone else in Detroit gets to save games. It should be RHP Alex Lange, who had 23 holds last season and better numbers than Soto. -- Karabell

Philadelphia Phillies sign RP Craig Kimbrel: Kimbrel may get saves with his new team or he may not, but fantasy managers should remember he doesn't have to pitch like a top reliever in order to add top-20 value to fantasy teams. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Kimbrel signing with Eric's video analysis here.

Boston Red Sox sign RP Kenley Jansen: The reliable, predictable Jansen piles on the saves every season with his signature cutter, and he should do so again with the Red Sox. He'll provide fantasy managers with a top-five closer. -- Karabell

Go deeper on the Jansen signing with Eric's video analysis here.

Los Angeles Angels sign RP Carlos Estevez: Are the Angels really going to into 2023 with Estevez as their closer? We'll see what their subsequent moves are, but he does have a high-velocity fastball, a 3.51 career ERA away from Coors and less competition for saves in Los Angeles, so there's a path here for third-tier closer value if everything falls right. -- Cockcroft