I was originally going to cover all of these moves (sans the Miami ones because they hadn’t happened yet) yesterday when I wrote up San Diego’s busy offseason, but that might’ve been pushing 2500 words so I broke it up into two pieces. Let’s get caught up on the latest offseason deals:
Mike Moustakas to Cincinnati
While the terms of deals aren’t a major concern for us in the fantasy realm (at least until they start to play a role in dictating playing time), it feels like Moose is finally getting the money he deserved the last few years. After making $12.5 million the last two seasons for production worth at least three times that, he’ll be paid $64 million over the next four seasons to play in Cincinnati and make a more permanent move to the keystone. With Eugenio Suárez locked in at 3B, Moose will now be an everyday 2B and also cement Nick Senzel’s future in CF.
His ballpark is move is neutral at worst and could potentially add a bit to his bottom line while the lineup move is a downgrade. He put up 35 HR and 87 RBI in 584 PA as a part of the Brewers team that finished 15th in runs scored with 769 and now he’ll join a Reds offense that finished 25th with just 701. However, a poor supporting lineup didn’t stop him from posting 34 HR and 87 RBI per 600 PA in 2017-18 with a Royals team that was 28th in runs scored over that time.
There may even be a tinge of upside based on the fact that Moose could have three premium on-base guys ahead of him in Jesse Winker (.379 OBP the last 3 years), Joey Votto (.412; even his .357 from ’19 would work), and Suarez (.364). He’ll likely be penciled into the cleanup role and might not leave there outside of a random game here and there whereas in 2019, he spent 30% of his PA (180) in the 5th-6th spots of the lineup. He’s seen as a “boring” pick in the 115-140 range, but he has premium pop, dual eligibility, and could finally wrangle in that elusive 100-RBI season.
I was a bit shocked to learn that Baltimore didn’t think they could or should pay about $10 million dollars to a player who has produced 6.0 WAR the last two seasons (generally worth about $45-50 mil on the open market) as he’s on the right side of 30, not blocking a damn soul, and could maybe even be parlayed into something at the deadline if he’s pacing toward another 4-win season like his 2019. It seems Miami had the same thinking as they traded for Villar after the perplexing DFA, shipping Easton Lucas back to Baltimore.
Fantasy managers are breathing easier after the move because while it is a downgrade in home ballpark, it’s an unencumbered role on a team that should have no issues with giving him a green light. The Marlins had just 55 SBs on the season (25th in MLB), but that was mainly because they lacked the speed to do real damage on the basepaths. Their 31 second half SBs were 16th in the league as they let the speedy Jon Berti run freely and accumulate 16 of his 17 bases over that time.
This move should drop his price a bit – currently going 29th on average – as he’ll almost certainly fall well shy of the 24 HR he hit in 2019, but matching his 2018 output of 14 HR and 35 SB will play, especially if paced to 600 PA (16/41). However, he will also likely post similar R/RBI outputs (54/46) that are still light years from his 111/73 marks in 2019 even when paced out: 63 R/54 RBI. I’m not even looking at him before pick 60 and even that might be too much of an overpay for the speed as his 2018 production was good for just the 26th middle infielder on the Auction Calculator, a far cry from 6th this past season.
Nothing in Aguilar’s 2018 breakout looked particularly fluky so while projections pulled back on his .274 AVG/35 HR/108 RBI numbers a bit, he was still a safe bet for something like .260/28/85. Instead, he went .236/12/50 with two teams in nearly 200 fewer plate appearances. He no doubt deserved better than his .307 wOBA, though, as he improved both his strikeout and walk rates while continuing to hit the ball pretty hard.
His HR/FB rate did drop 10 points and he wasn’t pulling the ball quite as often, but that doesn’t merit a 67-point plummet in wOBA. Aguilar’s xwOBA was .334, a mark that puts him right in line with Daniel Vogelbach (.333), who hit just .208 but got on base at a .341 clip with 30 HR, 76 RBI, and 73 R. Those counting numbers aren’t too far off of what most expected to be Aguilar’s downside in 2019, but it just never came together.
Aguilar is solid bounce back candidate as his skills didn’t really erode during the falloff and he once again has playing time. I’d start by taking his last two seasons and averaging them which leaves him at .259/.341/.480 with 24 HR. Moving from Milwaukee to Miami definitely hurts the R/RBI production, but with these two moves and some development elsewhere on the roster, it seems like they can eclipse their 615 runs from 2019 (29th in MLB) so maybe Aguilar can get to 70 R and 85 RBI with a full season in the middle of the lineup. He has been a draft afterthought thus far at pick 567, but this move will definitely push that up. Even still, he’ll be remarkably cheap and makes for a solid power gamble on the reserve roster.
Kyle Gibson to Texas
The 32-year old righty probably signed with Texas to make his landscaping commute less cumbersome (IYKYK) after signing a three-year deal worth $30 million, the exact same deal they gave Lance Lynn. Gibson was probably tracking toward a healthier deal through July as he had a 4.10 ERA in 22 starts, but he finished the season with just a 6.80 ERA in his final 43.7 innings and was even relegated to the bullpen in September. By skills, he’s been the same guy the last two years (4.25 SIERA both seasons) despite disparate ERAs of 3.62 and 4.84 in 196.7 and 160 innings, respectively.
With one injury-related IL stint in his career and 173 innings per season since 2014, Gibson has been a bit of a modern workhorse. He’s always been more valuable to his MLB team than a fantasy one with a 4.42 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in that time and he’ll likely remain the same in Texas. Their new stadium has a retractable roof that will be closed more often than not and should mitigate the climate factors that often benefit hitters, so this move is probably neutral.
Texas found another level in Lynn and Mike Minor, perhaps Gibson follows suit and gets back on his 2018 track but maybe with a better WHIP (1.30). Moving further away from his brutal fastball (double-digit negative pitch value in four of the last five years) in favor of his breaking balls and changeup could help him further maximize that 13% swinging strike rate from 2019 while also cutting his hit and home run rates. For now, his 4.42 ERA/1.40 WHIP projections from Steamer feel right and as such, I’d only consider him around his 367 ADP, if at all.
Travis d’Arnaud to Atlanta
Only the Dodgers (112 wRC+) topped the Braves in offensive production behind the dish in 2017-18 as Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers joined forces for a 107 mark. Suzuki left to Washington, Flowers fell off a bit, and Brian McCann couldn’t pick up the slack, relegating the Braves to 12th in catcher production this past season with an 88 wRC+. They’ve retained Flowers and now added d’Arnaud to complete their 2020 duo. Both are right-handed hitters so it’s not an obvious split dictated by the opposing starting pitcher and both have been better against lefties over their careers.
That said, Flowers did have a stark (but BABIP-fueled) split in 2019 with a 111 wRC+ v. righties and 37 v. lefties so maybe he starts off getting more of the work against right-handers. d’Arnaud has battled injuries throughout career with 7 IL stints, but he stayed healthy once he returned from Tommy John surgery in early-April and after bouncing from the Mets to the Dodgers to the Rays, he showed an above average bat from mid-May on. After 26 nondescript PA with NYM and LAD (1 of which came as a Dodger), he landed in Tampa Bay and was a force for four months (.822 OPS through August), but sputtered into the finish line with a punchless .633 OPS in September.
As I mentioned earlier, he’s done his best when facing lefties (.781 career OPS, 85 pts better than v. RHP) and 2019 was even sharp with an .886 OPS against southpaws, good for a 228-point split. There are only three lefties penciled into the other NL East rotations (Patrick Corbin with WAS, Steven Matz with NYM, and Caleb Smith with MIA) at this moment so I’m not sure he’s all that interesting even as a C2 in deeper leagues given his career-long deficiencies against righties. He’s currently the 16th catcher off the board at pick 274 in early NFBC leagues and I’m not paying that price.