Fantasy Baseball Christmas Gifts & Coal

John Aurora, Contributor 

Happy holidays everyone! It’s that time of year where there are a couple more weeks left for football, which means only 50 more days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Below I break down the most relevant offseason transactions so far and will provide a fantasy spin to those prepping for the fantasy baseball season.

Christmas Gifts

Giancarlo Stanton, OF

  • 2017 team: Miami Marlins
  • 2018 team: New York Yankees

The Yankees’ major trade acquiring Stanton is probably the biggest trade they’ve made since acquiring Alex Rodriguez. Stanton is coming off an MVP season in Miami where he hit 59 homers and 132 RBIs. I LOVE the trade for Stanton as he will be crushing balls out of Yankee Stadium, he can stay fresh rotating between RF and DH, and I believe playing for a winning team and playing with a similar type player in Aaron Judge will motivate him to be even better. I believe we have not seen the best from Stanton and would consider drafting him in the top three of any draft.

Marcell Ozuna, OF

  • 2017 team: Miami Marlins
  • 2018 team: St. Louis Cardinals

Ozuna had a career year in Miami and will now be taking his talents to St. Louis. He ended the year with a .312 average, 37 HRs, and 124 RBIs. I do see some regression with his high .355 BABIP, but he is entering his prime years and I expect his power to continue in a similar venue to his old team’s home. The Cardinals are a first-class organization with a history of winning and I do believe that culture plays a part in helping players reach their potential. That being said, Ozuna is a top-10 outfielder for me and worth an early round pick.

Dee Gordon, 2B

  • 2017 team: Miami Marlins
  • 2018 team: Seattle Mariners

The Mariners acquired the speedy Gordon from the Marlins and plan to bat him leadoff and play centerfield. We’ve seen this before moving a speedy infielder to the outfield (see Billy Hamilton), so his dual eligibility will definitely be a bonus. Stolen bases will be scarce yet again, so Gordon will be counted on to produce his usual 60+ stolen bases with a good batting average and plenty of runs in a deep Mariners lineup. He deserves a mid-round pick.

Christmas Coal

Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH

  • 2017 team: Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Japan)
  • 2018 team: Los Angeles Angels

Ohtani is one of the most interesting players both in real life and in fantasy. The so-called “Babe Ruth” of Japan signed with the Angels and is expected to pitch and be the team’s designated hitter. Various fantasy websites are still figuring out how to classify his “position,” but I see him being a non-factor as a hitter at least, especially playing half his games in spacious Angels Stadium. Mike Scioscia is not exactly the most innovative manager in the league and an aging, expensive Albert Pujols cannot expect to play first base every day. I do not expect Ohtani to get the necessary at-bats to stay relevant, as a .240 average with about 5-8 homers seems most realistic.

Ohtani, the pitcher, makes an interesting case for fantasy. He has high strikeout potential, but I do have concerns about his health (he missed most of 2017 with ankle and hamstring injuries) and his transition from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league to MLB. Even the great Yu Darvish struggled a bit his first season. I think Ohtani has the potential to be a factor, but would wait to see how he pitches in spring training to see how he fares.

Evan Longoria

  • 2017 team: Tampa Bay Rays
  • 2018 team: San Francisco Giants

Going to miss Longoria on the Rays, but will be happy to see him not killing my Yankees anymore. “Longo” has been a model of consistency the last five years, although he is more of a “brand name” than a player who has the upside to win you a championship. Longoria is a high-floor, low-ceiling type of player, which is useful in fantasy, but his ceiling is further limited by the fact is new home is the very spacious AT&T Park. He is a player worth a later draft pick, although my strategy is to spend those picks on high-risk/high-reward players.

Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future

Fernando Rodney, RP

  • 2017 team: Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 2018 team: Minnesota Twins

The ageless Rodney will be on his ninth team for his 16th major league season. He finished last year going 5-4 with a 4.23 ERA and converted 39 of 45 save chances, which was tied for 4th in MLB. The Twins will be competitive again in 2018 and I expect him to be the closer. Although every time he pitches is eventful, he should finish with 30+ saves due to a lack of competition. Remember don’t pay for saves.

About Matt Hicks

Matt’s writing at Top2 is focused on dynasty fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @Top2Matt

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