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Should Manny Machado or Bryce Harper sign with an American League team, they will become protected in all AL-Only drafts that are in progress. Al-Only only drafts beginning after their signings will have them included in the player pool.
The same applies should AJ Pollock sign with an AL team. It will also apply should Craig Kimbrell or Dallas Keuchel sign with an NL team.
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The Cincinnati Reds are making progress in trade talks for New York Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray, according to insider Jon Heyman. The Reds are considering dealing two prospects and a draft pick to acquire Gray. The Braves, Brewers and Giants are also thought to be considering a trade for Gray. If Gray were to be dealt to Cincinnati, he'd be reunited with his former pitching coach in college, Derek Johnson. The veteran right-hander has not fared well in his two seasons with the Yankees and was even demoted to the bullpen late last year and left off the playoff roster. It's believed that a change of scenery and a move out of the American League East will do him well, but a move to hitter-friendly Cincinnati wouldn't exactly be the best landing spot for Gray. He'd be worth a late-round flier in deep mixed leagues if he's guaranteed a rotation spot with a new team, but the Reds wouldn't be the best match from a fantasy perspective.
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said that shortstop Addison Russell is getting a "conditional second chance" after being suspended 40 games last October for violating the league's domestic-violence policy. "If he continues to meet the high standards weve laid out for him, put the work in, he will be eligible to return to the Cubs after serving his full suspension," Epstein said. Russell is expected to be with the team in spring training and can return to action on May 3. He'll be just 25 years old this year, but the former top prospect has fallen on hard times and might just be a bench player for the Cubs moving forward if he remains in the organization. He should be avoided in all mixed leagues for 2019.
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish (elbow) is set to begin long tossing in a few days and is a week away from throwing a bullpen session for the first time this offseason. The right-hander said being ready for Opening Day is a realistic goal based on his progress so far. The Japanese starter was a bust in his first season in Chicago, pitching only 40 innings (eight starts) due to injury. Because of the lost season, he should be drafted as more of a high-risk/high-reward second fantasy starter. When healthy, Darvish can be one of the more dominant starting pitchers in the game, as shown by his 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his six years in the big leagues. If he shows he's healthy this spring, his draft price will slowly rise.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (shoulder) said he's healthy with spring training approaching. The shoulder is perfectly healed. Feels great, Bryant said. Everything about it feels right back to where I was before. The star third baseman made two trips to the disabled list due to inflammation in his left shoulder last year that basically derailed his entire season. Bryant finished with career lows in games played (102), batting average (.272), home runs (13) and RBI (52). He said he's been swinging a bat since Dec. 1, so he should be good to go for the start of the regular season, barring any setbacks. When Bryant is healthy, he's one of the premiere power hitters in baseball and hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI three seasons ago.
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (shoulder) said he feels back to normal already this offseason after dealing with left shoulder fatigue that landed him on the disabled list twice late in the 2018 season. I feel normal again. Im able to throw free and easy and feel loose and kind of have that whip back. Its obviously a nice feeling," Sale said. The left-hander still had a phenomenal season, going 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and career-high 13.5 K/9 in 27 starts. He'll likely be held back as a precaution in spring training, but fantasy owners can still target him as one of the first couple pitchers off the board in fantasy drafts late in the first round/early second round.
The Tampa Bay Rays finalized their one-year, $3.5 million deal with free-agent outfielder Avisail Garcia on Friday. He can earn an extra $2.5 million in performance incentives based on plate appearances. The 27-year-old is convinced his disappointing 2018 campaign was the result of knee and hamstring injuries that caused him to develop bad habits with his swing. He hit just .236 with a .719 OPS but a career-high 19 home runs in 93 games for the White Sox. Garcia was second in the American League in 2017 with a .330 average, 18 home runs and an .885 OPS, however, so he could bounce back with his new team if he's healthy. He's expected to play right field or serve as the designated hitter in 2019, mainly against left-handed pitchers. Garcia has bounce-back potential, but because of his injury history and the fact that he may essentially be a platoon player, he's more of a target in the later rounds in deep mixed leagues.
Free-agent relief pitcher Cody Allen is in serious discussions with the Los Angeles Angels on a one-year deal, according to sources. The agreement is believed to be in place and is only pending a physical. With Blake Parker now in Minnesota, Allen could be the favorite to close in Anaheim over options like Ty Buttrey, Justin Anderson and Cam Bedrosian. Allen had a bloated 4.70 ERA (career high) with 11 home runs allowed in 67 innings. He also had a 1.36 WHIP, 10.7 K/9 and 27 saves as Cleveland's main ninth-inning man. Allen has 149 career saves, at least 30 saves in three of the last four years and an excellent 11.5 career K/9, so he'll be in the mix as a midrange fantasy closer if he's give the job for the Angels. Walks (4.4 per nine innings) and the long ball can give him problems, though, so he's certainly not an elite option.
Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (knee) is "doing great" as he begins his running program this week, according to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Pedroia's left knee has been an issue since the start of the 2017 season, and he played in just three games in 2018. The veteran believes he'll be ready to go for the 2019 season, but the Red Sox are taking a wait-and-see approach as spring training nears. If he has a setback, Boston has infield depth in Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez, who can both play the keystone. It'll be a plus if Boston is able to get anything out of Pedroia, who is now 35 years old, so fantasy owners shouldn't be looking to draft him in mixed leagues.
The New York Yankees are closing in on free-agent relief pitcher Adam Ottavino on Thursday, according to sources. If the agreement is completed, the deal is expected to be in the three-year, $25 million range. Ottavino had an excellent year in 2018 and was Colorado's best reliever, posting a 2.43 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, six saves and a career-high 13.0 K/9 in 77 2/3 innings. New York's bullpen was already one of the best in baseball, so they're about to get even better. Ottavino might be third or fourth in the pecking order for saves in the Bronx, though, limiting his fantasy value to deeper leagues for his excellent ratios.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes (elbow, lat) had a light mound session to work on his mechanics on Tuesday during the team's instructional league in Florida. Alex has continued steady progress with his throwing progression, general manager John Mozeliak shared in an email after Reyes workout. He is utilizing our Pitching and Performance Staff at the Jupiter complex for supervision of his training programs. He is currently long tossing without limitation and beginning to practice his pitching mechanics. (He) will likely start mound progression in the next one to two weeks. Reyes' program will be specialized in spring training and the team is still deciding on whether they can "put out foot on the gas" with him in 2019. The former top prospect threw just four innings last year before dealing with shoulder issues after missing all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. The right-hander could serve as a starter, long reliever or late-inning reliever this year if he's healthy, but one thing that is certain is that he has a ton of upside if he's in the starting rotation. His spring will give us a better idea of how the Cardinals plan to use him, but Reyes is certainly worth a look in the later rounds of drafts for his upside alone. He should be stashed in most dynasty/keeper setups.
The Arizona Diamondbacks signed free-agent infielder Wilmer Flores to a one-year, $4.25 million deal on Wednesday, according to league sources. He will make a base salary of $3.7 million with a $500,000 buyout on a 2020 club option worth $6 million. Flores was mostly a part-time player with the Mets in 2018, hitting .267/.319/.417 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI in 386 at-bats, but he brings the D-Backs some much-needed infield versatility. He could split time at first base with Jake Lamb and at the hot corner with Eduardo Escobar, mainly starting against left-handed pitchers. He has some sneaky pop and will be in play mainly in NL-only leagues. Lack of consistent playing time has capped his fantasy upside in the past, but he could find more playing time in the desert, perhaps even at second base if Ketel Marte is moved to the outfield.
The Chicago White Sox's offer to free-agent shortstop Manny Machado was for $175 million over seven years. With just the White Sox and Phillies believed to be interested in Machado, the White Sox decided to take a low-ball approach and go from there. One of the best shortstops both offensively and defensively was seeking $300 million or more on the free-agent market, so this offer clearly leaves a lot to be desired. He'll find a home eventually and he'll be a top-10 fantasy player no matter the destination.
Cleveland Indians outfielder Leonys Martin was cleared to resume all baseball activities last Nov. 20 after dealing with a life-threatening bacterial infection, and he said he is now feeling 100 percent healthy. Martin played in just six games with the Indians before his illness hit, and he played in 78 games with the Tigers before being traded to Cleveland. He hit a combined .255/.323/.425 with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and seven stolen bases on the year. Even though Martin is likely to be the starter in center field, questions about his health or how he'll rebound will make him one to avoid in mixed leagues to begin the season.
The Tampa Bay Rays are closing in on free-agent outfielder Avisail Garcia, according to sources. Garcia played in just 93 games due to injury in 2018 in his final year with the White Sox and hit a disappointing .236/.281/.438 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI. If he signs with Tampa, he should see consistent playing time and has a chance to bounce back if healthy. Garcia will turn 28 this June and was a first-time All-Star in 2017 when he hit .330/.380/.506 with 18 long balls and 80 RBI. Consider him a sleeper pick as a bounce-back candidate in the later rounds in deep mixed leagues.
The San Francisco Giants re-signed starting pitcher Derek Holland to a one-year, $7 million deal on Monday, according to a source. The deal includes an option for the 2020 season. He'll make a base salary of $6.5 million in 2019 with a $6.5 million option or $500,000 buyout for 2020. Staying in the National League and the pitcher-friendly environment in San Fran was probably the best thing for the left-hander after he surprised with a 3.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 171 1/3 innings over 36 outings (30 starts) in 2018. Holland had a 6.20 ERA the year before with the White Sox, so he'll be a shaky deep league streaming option despite his good season in 2018.
The Chicago White Sox offered free-agent shortstop Manny Machado an eight-year deal on Sunday and could be compelled to give him more years, according to league sources. The Phillies are also engaged with Machado, but at this point it appears they are more interested in trying to land superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. While the White Sox clearly want Machado, it doesn't appear that they are willing to exceed $300 million to get him, at least not yet. He turns 27 next July and is already one of the best offensive and defensive players in all of baseball, regardless of position. The fact that he is eligible at both third base and shortstop makes him a top-10 overall fantasy asset, regardless of where he lands. Both Philly and Chicago would offer fine hitting environments as well.
The Philadelphia Phillies have emerged as the favorites to sign free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper after meeting face-to-face with him in Las Vegas on Saturday, according to three officials. Nationals executives are now calling a reunion with Harper a "long shot." The Phillies have yet to make a formal offer to Harper but are confident that they will sign at least him or free-agent shortstop Manny Machado. Philadelphia is prepared to make the largest offer to both Harper and Machado. While Harper hit a disappointing .249 in 2018, he still managed to slug 34 long balls, drive in 100 runs, score 103 runs and steal 13 bases in 159 games. He could easily rebound to being a top-10 fantasy player in 2019, and Philadelphia would be a nice hitting environment for the superstar.
Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (knee) is scheduled to start running and testing his surgically-repaired left knee this week. The veteran second baseman had microfracture surgery in November of 2017 and played in just three games before being shut down in 2018. He underwent a second arthroscopic procedure in August. The team and Pedroia remain hopeful that more time off and more rehab this winter will help Pedroia return in 2019. He'll turn 36 this August and hit .318/.376/.449 with 15 home runs and 74 RBI in his last full season in 2016. But Pedroia is an extreme injury risk and shouldn't be drafted in most formats until we get a better idea on his health.
San Diego Padres second base prospect Luis Urias (hamstring), who has been slowed by a lingering hamstring injury that cut his 2018 season short, believes he'll be ready when spring training begins next month. He is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the team's system, but he played in just 12 major league games before his injury and hit just .208/.264/.354. Urias estimates he's running, swinging, throwing and fielding at about 70 or 80 percent right now. He played 295 games at second base in the minors and another 110 games at shortstop. With Ian Kinsler in line to play the keystone, it appears Urias will slide over to either shortstop or third base until top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. is ready to come up. Because Urias isn't guaranteed much playing time in 2019, he's not one to target in mixed leagues. Urias is best stashed in dynasty leagues at this point for his upside.
San Diego Padres outfielder/third baseman Wil Myers said he will move back to the outfield full time in 2019. He played outfield his first year in San Diego but then played first base for two years before the team signed Eric Hosmer. Myers played in just 83 games last year for the Friars due to injury, hitting .253/.318/.446 with 11 home runs, 39 RBI and 13 stolen bases. With better health, Myers could easily rebound after he hit a combined 58 home runs and stole 48 bases from 2016 to 2017. Look to draft Myers as a value pick in the early middle rounds because of his power-speed combination.
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