Read all about the big free agent deals that went down between New York teams
Friday featured a flurry of free agent signings, with three high-profile deals involving former or future New York players. Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Carlos Beltran shuffled the fantasy deck by signing with new teams. Read on for the fantasy implications of these new deals.
Fantasy Impact: Robinson Cano
Cano got his big deal, to the tune of $24 million per year. The Mariners got a robust bat for the middle of the lineup and a solid defender up the middle. This added power and hitting could boost Seattle's profile in the AL West and bring them out of a dark period where they've had a losing record over the last four years, and lost at least 90 games in four of the last six seasons.
Cano's move west touched off a chain reaction of moves in New York, with both the Yankees and Mets making corresponding moves to upgrade their offenses. But first, let's look at the fantasy impacts of the biggest off-season move.
Fantasy player helped by this deal: Dustin Ackley
The former second baseman made the transition to center field in late June in Seattle and only played a handful of games in the infield following the move (strangely more at first base than at second). Cano's presence means Ackley is solidified in center, which helps fantasy owners make a solid call on him. Fantasy owners who like positional flexibility won't be so happy as Ackley will lose his 2B eligibility.
Fantasy player hurt by this deal: Nick Franklin
The Mariners' top pick in 2009 had a good pro debut this season with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs, but his batting average was .225 and he struck out 113 times in 369 at-bats. With Cano in the house, Franklin has nowhere to go in the infield except as a bench/utility man, or to another club in a trade.
If it is possible to list the second base position for the Yankees as a loser in this deal, I would go there. The club failed to develop any middle infield prospect with slam dunks like Cano and Derek Jeter up the middle, but now that Cano is gone and Jeter is almost certainly irretrievably broken, there's nothing to look forward to in the long term and nothing to plug into the lineup in the short term. That sucks for fantasy owners; to work with one fewer team for draft resources.
Fantasy Impact: Carlos Beltran
Beltran reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Yankees over the weekend. He should assume right field duties for the team and would fill in the missing offense left by Cano's departure. Rather than spend to retain Cano, the Yankees dished out a reported $198 million between Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury. It's not my money, but I find it silly that the Yankees would quibble over $50 million, especially over such a beloved and important player like Cano.
Beltran had a gangbusters postseason with the Cardinals, both as a hitter and as an iron man. He kept on playing through injured ribs and solidified his standing as one of the greatest postseason hitters of all time. The Yankees were undoubtedly attracted to that kind of star power, and Beltran sought a multi-year deal. The two parties matched up just right.
Fantasy player helped by this deal: Allen Craig
Right field in St. Louis is now wide open for Allen Craig. The All-Star outfielder saw a dip in his power production this past season but still drove in runs and hit .315. With nobody to share playing time other than Matt Adams (the projected first base starter), Craig should take off and approach his 20 home run/90 RBI potential.
Fantasy players hurt by this deal: Brett Gardner, Ichiro, Slade Heathcott
If Gardner and Ichiro were fantasy factors to begin with, these two lose out big after the Beltran acquisition. Gardner was good for stolen bases and not much else. Ichiro, the once fantasy monster, is simply old and won't do much aside from get some hits and a few steals. At any rate, neither will be relevant in fantasy except maybe Gardner if he ends up on another team.
Heathcott was a player I spotlighted in my Kids Are Alright series on prospects as a potential impact outfielder. He tumbled down the internal prospect depth chart after a so-so year in Double-A Trenton and the Beltran signing reads as a lack of faith on the part of the Yankees in Heathcott's future. The former 29th overall pick would have to wait another three years to get to New York and even then, he'd have to pass Mason Williams and Tyler Austin, two highly rated outfield prospects, in the process.
Fantasy Impact: Curtis Granderson
Granderson took his act to the New York Mets for four-year, $60 million deal. Once a 40 home run/110 RBI man, Granderson flopped last year due to injuries. The Mets are banking on the 32-year-old to get healthy and reach his peak performance again to combat four straight losing seasons.
The Mets outfield got a makeover with the Chris Young signing and now Granderson. That makes two new outfielders who are looking to have bounce back seasons. Additionally Granderson gives David Wright some protection in the lineup--good news for Wright's owners.
Fantasy player helped by this deal: Eric Young, Jr.
Young reached a career high and NL best in stolen bases in 2013 with 46 between Colorado and New York, and he also had the most playing time in his entire career last season. Young banged out 27 doubles and had 134 hits, also career bests. He played all over the outfield last year but may have a permanent home in left with Granderson in center and the other Young, Chris, in right. That kind of stability could lead to a breakout season for the 28-year-old.
Fantasy players hurt by this deal: The Mets center field corps (Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker)
Lagares and den Dekker's names came up a lot towards the end of the season as they both performed well in their small sample sizes. Lagares got a lot more playing time than den Dekker and produced a .242 batting average with 21 doubles and 34 RBIs. The Mets were unlikely to hand the starting center field job to either of these players in 2014, but Lagares could have sneaked into fantasy drafts as a fourth (or lower) outfielder for the smart fantasy owners. Now neither Lagares nor den Dekker have fantasy value.
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