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.
Shohei Ohtani is the hottest player in the mix, even with the expectation that he will not pitch at all in 2024. Among those who will take the mound next season, we've got the likes of Aaron Nola, Blake Snell and Josh Hader potentially on the move. At the plate, names such as Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman could generate some buzz.
Check back often as more players find their potential new homes for 2023.
Players will be separated by position, 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.
Eugenio Suarez traded to Diamondbacks from Mariners: Suarez ranks fifth in home runs since the start of the 2018 season and he knocked in 96 runs last season, so that's the good news. The bad news is Suarez also leads all of the majors in strikeouts over that span, leading the AL with 214 last season and 196 in 2022. Suarez was 25th among third basemen in fantasy points last season, barely a top-150 overall hitter. The move back to the NL doesn't figure to alter his value much in a positive direction, if at all.
As of now, the Mariners claim they intend to go with veteran Luis Urias, acquired recently from the Red Sox, at third base. He had a lost 2023 season for two teams, suffering a major hamstring injury on Opening Day and hitting just .194 with three home runs over 175 PA. Urias hit 23 home runs for the 2021 Brewers and he defends better than Suarez, but there isn't much to like here for ESPN standard formats. -- Karabell (11/22)
Alex Verdugo traded from Red Sox to New York Yankees: Another move in the Yankees' winter chess game. Presumably, he won't be the only hitter the team adds. Verdugo is certainly a better fit for Yankee Stadium than he was Fenway Park, a point underscored by Statcast's estimate that he'd have hit 51 home runs from 2021-23 had all his games been in Yankee Stadium, compared to the 37 he actually hit.
Beyond that, his arrival warrants no parade, as he's a solid-yet-unspectacular player better fit for points-based than rotisserie scoring. The Yankees' other moves will determine the height of Verdugo's 2024 ceiling -- does he bat in the upper third, or lower third, and is he platooned? -- but he could reach top-100 overall/top-25 outfielder heights. -- Cockcroft (12/6)
Jarred Kelenic traded from Mariners to Braves: This deal, an effective salary dump, also sent SP Marco Gonzalez, who will miss a good chunk of 2024 while recovering from surgery to repair a nerve issue in his forearm, and 1B Evan White to Atlanta in exchange for RP Jackson Kowar and SP Cole Phillips. It cleared roughly $30 million off Seattle's books, so expect the team to make another transactional splash on this page soon.
Nevertheless, it cost the team a still-24-years-old Kelenic, who showed impressive pop over the first 54 days of 2023, batting .297/.350/.564 with 10 home runs in 45 games, but who otherwise has a ghastly .182/.268/.328 hitting line and a 31.1% strikeout rate in his remaining 207 big-league contests. Would anyone be shocked if the 2018 No. 6 overall pick and No. 3 overall prospect on Kiley McDaniel's pre-2021 list finally figures things out in Atlanta? Certainly Kelenic will be worth the late-round gamble -- but everyone will probably be sharing that thought. -- Cockcroft (12/4)
Mark Canha traded from Brewers to Tigers: Detroit acquired Canha's contract in exchange for a minor league pitcher, agreeing to pick up the veteran $11.5 million team option. One of the better on-base specialists currently in the game (although that's as much due to his penchant for being hit by pitches as it is for his strike zone judgment), Canha should occupy a similarly sizable role in Detroit to the ones he occupied for the Athletics, Mets and Brewers over the past five seasons, with similar fantasy production.
Canha was a top-200 overall option (and top-125 hitter) in points leagues, but also a top-300 rotisserie performer in 2023, the latter a credit to his above-average speed and unusually good success rate in stealing bases (80% career). -- Cockcroft (11/7)
Some names still available: Cody Bellinger, Teoscar Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Harrison Bader, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Michael Brantley, Tommy Pham, David Peralta, Randal Grichuk, Michael Taylor, Robbie Grossman, Kevin Kiermaier, Garrett Cooper, Andrew McCutchen, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Aaron Hicks, Jesse Winker, Jurickson Profar, Kevin Pillar, Jung Hoo Lee (KBO)
Luis Severino signs with Mets: Why do we care about a pitcher coming off a nightmare season with a 6.65 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP? Because Severino was terrific the season prior, with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, and he nearly won a Cy Young award a few seasons before that. Severino offers little-to-no clarity to the Mets or fantasy managers for volume and performance, making only 40 starts over five seasons as he battled one injury after another for the frustrated Yankees, but he isn't even 30 yet. If he regains some fastball velocity and his once-wicked slider, who knows, right? The Mets think it is worth taking a chance on upside, and fantasy managers should consider this late in drafts, too. -- Karabell (11/30)
Sonny Gray signs with Cardinals: The runner-up in AL Cy Young award voting joins his fifth franchise, and his second in the NL. He figures to help his new team considerably more than recent Cardinals innings-eater signings Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn. Those veterans struggle to keep runs off the board. Gray, third in the majors with a 2.79 ERA, led all qualifiers with a 2.83 FIP, and he has struck out a batter per inning over the last two seasons. Gray has earned his career 3.47 ERA, but he is modestly inefficient and doesn't go deep into starts, thus his single-digit win total over each of the last three seasons and fewer than 12 wins in every year since 2015. Still, fantasy managers may view him as a top-30 fantasy starter after he finished as the SP14 in points scoring. -- Karabell (11/27)
Kenta Maeda signs with Tigers: Maeda heads back to the NL after a mostly disappointing run with the Twins in which he made only 52 starts over four seasons, winning 18 games with a 4.02 ERA. He also missed all of 2022 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Maeda, who finished outside the top-100 starting pitchers in points-league scoring in 2023, turns 36 in April. While he still misses enough bats to matter and fantasy managers have always noticed his low WHIP (career 1.14), it is tough to expect high volume. The Tigers wanted an established, veteran presence in their generally young rotation, but fantasy managers can find more than 75 starting pitchers better suited for their teams on Draft Day. -- Karabell (11/27)
Kyle Gibson signs with Cardinals: The Cardinals sure are assembling an "innings-eater" style rotation, going for consistency over upside. Gibson brings a lesser fantasy reputation than fellow signee Lynn -- but maybe rightly so, having scored 34 more points and placed 13 points-league spots higher (SP49, versus SP62 for Lynn) than his new teammate, though with an identical number of 15-point performances in 2023 (11). Hey, at least both are still in a pitching-friendly environment, so both will have matchups appeal. -- Cockcroft (11/21)
Lance Lynn signs with Cardinals: A longtime second-tier fantasy starter, Lynn's average fastball velocity has dipped significantly over the last two seasons, and his 5.73 ERA in 2023 was the highest of his 12 big-league seasons. Still, his durability carries weight in points leagues -- he was the No. 62 starting pitcher in fantasy points last season -- and Busch Stadium's pitching-friendly confines might help him bring that ERA down somewhat. Consider him to be a borderline 12-team mixed option in those formats. -- Cockcroft (11/20)
Some names still available: Clayton Kershaw, Blake Snell, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jordan Montgomery, Michael Wacha, Marcus Stroman, Mike Clevinger, Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty, Martin Perez, Zack Greinke, Seth Lugo, Johnny Cueto, James Paxton, Rich Hill, Michael Lorenzen, Vince Velasquez, Hyun Jin Ryu, Corey Kluber, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (NPB), Shota Imanaga (NPB)
Nick Martinez signs with Reds: It's rare to see a pitcher deliver nearly identical stat lines working in an effective swingman role in back-to-back years, but that encapsulated Martinez's 2022-23 following his four-year stint in Japan. The Reds are likely to plan around his being a member of their rotation -- the role in which he was slightly less effective, thanks to a higher WHIP and walk rate, and a lower average fastball velocity than in relief.
Still, he could end up being effective in a multi-inning relief role if starting doesn't pan out or if the team loads up on rotational depth. For fantasy, Martinez would be a streaming candidate only in a starter's role, but a potentially handy daily-league plug-in if handling 80-plus frames out of the bullpen. -- Cockcroft (11/30)
Some names still available: Josh Hader, Liam Hendriks, Craig Kimbrel, Will Smith, Andrew Chafin, David Robertson, Daniel Hudson, Dylan Floro, Hector Neris, Keynan Middleton, Wandy Peralta, Aroldis Chapman, Woo-Suk Go (KBO)