I’m a little weary of the Hot Stove season until about 80% of the free agents have signed. Team compositions change so fast that research done one day is irrelevant the next. Instead of wasting my energy, I normally focus on other topics and wait for everything to settle down and come into focus. Like, how much will Manny Machado’s value change if he signs with the Phillies or the Yankees? Or even the White Sox? Not much if his profile was written now or right after his season ended. He’s still going to be valued in the top-20 picks.
It’s hard sometimes for baseball fans, who play fantasy baseball, to differentiate the general excitement around a baseball move to one that makes a legitimate change in value.
That being said, some free agent signings do have a little more variance depending on where the player signs Jonathan Schoop and Nathan Eovaldi are two such players. Both maxed out their value with their recent signings. Here are my two cents on each.
The Twins sign Jonathan Schoop
I put Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez, and Schoop all in the same class of hitters coming into the offseason. They could start for a team and provide positive fantasy value. Or they could be useful utility infielders as each one has at one point previously. Nunez will have the utility role with Boston while Escobar and Schoop look to be their team’s regular starter.
While Schoop likely will be playing full time, his profile has some playing-time risk. The Twins are hoping for him to rebound after a disasterful 2018 season and possibly trade him. He could a complete loss for an AL-only league owner. Even for an owner in a mixed league, the loss of playing time is a possibly like his owners experienced this past season when he was traded to the Brewers.
Most of his 2018 struggles were BABIP driven. His power and plate discipline number where simple to his historic values. He didn’t make a launch angle change. I love the rebound potential and hopefully, he’ll remain anchored to his current NFBC ADP of 202 (172 to 252).
The Red Sox sign Nathan Eovaldi
The biggest improvement Eovaldi made was signing with Rays. They implemented the one change teams should have been doing for years, don’t let Eovaldi face a lineup more than twice. Here are his career ERA’s for the first, second and third time through the order.
Time through the order: ERA
His strikeout rate did jump to a career-high(8.0 K//9) but this increase is expected since his K/9 went from 9.5 K/9 the first time through the order to 7.0 and 7.3 the 2nd and 3rd time.
The reason I’m happy he signed with the Red Sox is they kept this trend going after trading for him at the deadline. The Red Sox are smart enough to know his limitations and build a game plan around it. If he signed with the Angels, I’d be bearish on his outlook.
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.