Fantasy Implications of Signing Heyward, Zobrist, and More

Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist signed with the Cubs

The signing of both players by the Cubs points to two major impacts, a good Cubs offense and Javier Baez doesn’t have a full-time job. Starting with the offense, the Cubs don’t really have any holes except at catcher and there are worse catchers than Miguel Montero. If last year’s rookies (Russell, Bryant, Schwaber, and Soler) continue to grow and don’t regress too much, the Cubs could put up a ton of runs. This means plenty of Runs and RBI for every Cub. They will also get more at-bats since fewer outs are being made so more offense. It tough to put an exact number on the run increase, but I would not be surprised to see them challenge the Rockies for the most runs scored next season.

I just don’t see how Javier Baez is going to get regular playing time with Zobrist at second base and Russell at short. Zobrist gives the Cubs some flexibility to give some others a day off and Baez could fill in. Baez may only be looking at 200 plate appearances unless another starter has a major injury or a second-year player has a huge slump. I could see the Cubs move Baez in a trade.

Not much else really changed. The Cubs pitchers may see a small increase in value with Heyward in the outfield. Over the course of a season, Wrigley Field plays pitcher-friendly in the cold spring and then heats up in the mid-summer, so the pair’s offense will stay the same. Heyward and Zobrist are pretty much done stealing bases, so I don’t any movement in that category.

 

John Lackey signed with the Cubs

Looking over Lackey’s changes from the Cardinals to the Cubs only a possible higher home park home run rate sticks out. It is not that Wrigley is a launching pad, it is Busch Stadium doesn’t allow many homers. Lackey used a four-year low HR/9 rate (0.9) and an 83% LOB% to reach a 2.77 ERA in 2015. The low ERA was about one whole point lower than his ERA estimators. I see Lackey’s 2016 results being worse. The decline will not be from the change of venue, but instead from some good old regression.

 

Asdrubal Cabrera signed with the Mets

This will be interesting. The Mets replaced a poor defending, power hitting shortstop with another poor defending, power hitting shortstop. This seems to be a signing to just appease the fan base that wanted Flores moved. Here is a comparison of the pair’s stats over the past two season.

Stat: Cabrera, Flores
AVG: .252, .259
HR/FB: 8.1%, 8.9%
BB/K: 0.40, 0.33
SB: 16, 1
UZR: -15, 4
wOBA: .313, .299

Cabrera may be a tad bit better of an overall hitter and can steal a base, but the difference isn’t huge.

While defense isn’t measured in almost all fantasy leagues, it does come into play here. By the eye test, both of these two are horrible defenders at shortstop. When looking at the metrics, Cabrera is still bad, but Flores grades out around league average. I could see the Mets shortstop position be a revolving door between these two with Reben Tejada being a late inning defensive substitution for both. The Mets pitchers are going to have to deal with a defensive void at shortstop. Heck, the whole left side of the infield will be suspect with David Wright at third. It is a good thing the Mets pitchers can get a good amount of strikeouts because quite a few groundballs to the right side could go for hits.

I could see the Mets move Flores in a trade to a team like the A’s or Rays who could use a cost-controlled shortstop. Even if Flores is traded, Cabrera could consistently lose playing time to Tejada late in games. With the Mets current roster configuration, I don’t see any winners with this signing.

 

Hisashi Iwakuma signed with the Dodgers

Iwakuma’s singing is probably on a net positive in that he moved from the AL and the DH to the NL. When the 35-year-old has thrown over the past few seasons, he has been one of the better pitchers in the league. His problem has been staying healthy. His innings pitched have dropped from 219 to 179 to 129. Right now, he has a projected 52% chance of going on the DL. The Dodgers have never shied away from signing injury-prone starters (Josh Johnson and Brett Anderson).

The signing doesn’t push out any other decent starters, so no fantasy value lost. I could even see the Dodgers adding another arm to help their rotation.

 

Steve Cishek signed with the Mariners

It seems like Joaquin Benoit’s hold on Seattle’s closer role was short lived. Well maybe. I am not sure what to make of Seattle’s bullpen as they seem to have a new possible closer each week. I know Cishek has the closer tag, but he was a pretty bad reliever last season with a K/9 under 8 and a near 4.5 BB/9 to coincide with a 1 mph drop in velocity. Cishek may be slotted in as the closer role right now, but Benoit is the better pitcher and could have the role back quickly.

 

David Hernandez signed with the Phillies

This signing is major with Giles getting traded to Houston. Hernandez now looks to be the closer until mid-season when he is traded off for a minor league arm. I would top him out at 15 Saves. It might be worth looking into the Phillies setup man in deeper leagues for some late season Saves. Right now I don’t want to guess who that may be, but the position should become clearer in spring training.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Bubba
Member
Member
Bubba

Heyward just set a career high in steals at 23, why would you say he’s pretty much done stealing bases?

weselm
Guest
weselm

This was my question as well. Also, I had to double check because I don’t recall Josh Johnson ever pitching for the Dodgers. Maybe he meant Josh Beckett there.

wily mo
Member
Member

they never signed beckett though, they picked him up in that trade and it wasn’t really him they were after

even though the names aren’t similar at all i’m gonna bet it was supposed to be brandon mccarthy

wily mo
Member
Member

they never signed beckett though, they picked him up in that trade and it wasn’t really him they were after. also that was a different administration

even though the names aren’t similar at all i’m gonna bet it was supposed to be brandon mccarthy

wily mo
Member
Member

ugh, both of those went through. sorry. was having some schrodinger’s wifi over here

Sean
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Sean

Because now he got paid.

bob
Guest
bob

Yea, I thought that was kind of bizarre to say about a guy entering his prime, just set a career high, and has nabbed 20+ in three of the last four years.

The only think I can figure is the author made an assumption and didn’t look at Heyward’s numbers before he wrote the article. It happens to everyone, though. Sometimes you just have an idea in your head about someone and it turns out to be wrong. Happens to the best of us.