The Astros have so far been the major mover this offseason. After signing Charlie Morton earlier this week, they picked up Brian McCann and Josh Reddick yesterday. The team has already remade themselves and the offseason has just started.
With the offseason just getting started, it is tough to get a good feeling on what the Astros will end up looking like going into spring training. When the offseason is nearly over, fantasy owners will need to sit down and figure how the playing time will get divided up among the players in Houston to help determine final values.
Astros sign Josh Reddick
Josh Reddick is one of those players in I hate drafting. If Reddick is an option on my draft sheet, I usually go another direction as Reddick offers little to no upside and downside. He is the safe play and for some people, the right move for them. The 30-year-old has had some up-and-down performances like the 32 home runs in 2012 or the single stolen base in 2014 but otherwise he is good for a dozen home runs and 10 steals with a .270 AVG.
Over the past four seasons, Reddick has traded off some power for a better contact rate. His strikeouts are down (20% to 13%) with his batting average being up (.226 to .281). While he has changed some, it is not enough to move his fantasy value.
When looking for possible changes in talent because of the new home, I don’t see much to mention. He is going to a better home park than his one in Oakland, but it won’t make much of a difference. He will still be in the AL West, so the opponents will be the same.
The final big question mark for him is his playing time. I don’t believe Houston would have given him a four-year $52M contract to sit on the bench or platoon. He looks to be a full-time player.
This move hurts the value of some Astros on the fringes of playing time like Teoscar Hernandez, Nori Aoki, and Tony Kemp. Additionally, the move pushes Yulieski Gurriel to the infield, probably first base. Like I mentioned earlier, come back to this team once the offseason is nearing an end and take a informed guess then how the playing time may be distributed.
I will start with the two prospects going to the Yankees in which our own Eric Longenhagen wrote up. Both of these pitchers are a ways from the majors and lack control with career minor league walk rates over 6.0 BB/9. Abreu is considered the better prospect with MLB.com giving him an overall future value grade of 50 and Baseball America had a 55 grade on him at the start of last season. Abreu may be in play in the deepest of dynasty leagues but with the distance from the majors and complete lack of control from each, neither is likely to be fantasy relevant for years.
As for McCann, he moves into to a catcher/DH platoon role with Evan Gattis if the Astros make no more moves. I think the move is great for McCann’s value right now with likely more guaranteed plate appearances than if he stayed in New York. If he can stay healthy, he has the chance to get to 600 PA for the first time in his career with the potential time at DH. The only possible issue I see with his playing time is if A.J. Reed gets hot and forces himself into the DH slot.
I think trade doesn’t move the needle on McCann’s production level much. Maybe a small drop in home runs since he no longer has Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch to get some cheap home runs. Otherwise, he will just keep hitting 20 home runs with a .235 AVG.
Houston Astros: Runs and RBIs
One of the biggest changes from these two moves (and some regression from other Astros) could be a team-wide increase in Runs and RBI. Last season the team averaged 4.47 Runs scored per game. This season, they are projected to be at 4.89. This increase works out to an extra 68 Runs (and almost as many RBI) to get spread around to the regulars. These two moves may help every starter on the team move up the fantasy value ladder.
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.