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Fantasy Week 4 | MLB Week 4

Old Faces in New Places

Thu Feb 15 10:32am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

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Ohtani looks to lead the Dodgers


Spring Training is here! Before you know it, we’ll be playing games that matter across Major League Baseball. As we get ready to approach peak fantasy baseball draft season, it’s time to help you get prepared to hopefully bring home a title. Let’s look at some familiar names that changed teams during the offseason, and what it means for their outlooks moving forward.

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Dodgers

The headline move of the offseason was Ohtani leaving the Angels to sign with the Dodgers. While he had plenty of suitors, he decided to remain in Los Angeles and join a Dodgers team that is a perennial contender for the World Series. Their lineup is loaded with Ohtani, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman as their scariest hitters. It’s a deep lineup, too, with Will Smith, Max Muncy and Teoscar Hernandez also in the fold.

Ohtani is not going to pitch this season after having Tommy John surgery in September. However, it is expected that he will be ready to hit Opening Day. Entering this season, he has three straight campaigns with at least 34 home runs, 90 runs scored and 95 RBI. Last season, he had a career-high 1.066 OPS. With so much talent around him, it would not be a surprise if he set new career-highs in both runs scored and RBI. Oh yeah, and he had stolen at least 20 bases in two of the last three seasons. Expect him to be well worth his current ADP of 12.

Juan Soto, New York Yankees

If not for the Ohtani signing, Soto would have been the biggest name to change teams this offseason. Badly needing to add a spark to their lineup, the Yankees acquired Soto from the Padres. With one season remaining on his contract, the Padres decided it would be best to cash in on Soto now, acquiring a package that was headlined by promising starting pitcher Michael King.

The Yankees have been a team that has struggled to make contact in recent seasons. That won’t be a problem with Soto, who has a higher career walk rate (19.0 percent) than he does strikeout rate (17.1 percent). His career .400 wOBA should also be a huge asset, whether he hits second or third in their lineup. With a current ADP of 11, fantasy managers selecting late in the first round should be thrilled to build their lineup around him.

Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers

Ohtani wasn’t the only big name that the Dodgers landed during the winter. Since Ohtani won’t pitch this season, they still needed to bolster their starting rotation. They brought in the top free-agent pitcher, signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They also acquired Glasnow in a trade with the Rays. They quickly locked him up long term, agreeing to a four-year, $110 million extension.

There is no question about Glasnow’s talent. He can be an ace for fantasy managers. In 21 starts last season, he compiled a 3.53 ERA and an even better 2.91 FIP. For his career, he has a 30.9 percent strikeout rate and a 1.21 WHIP. However, he has had problems staying healthy. The 120 innings that he threw last season were the most in his career. With that in mind, projecting him to throw more than 150 innings this season might be a mistake. His current ADP is 49, which makes him a bit of a risky option.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks made a surprise run to the World Series last season and were active this winter to try and improve their squad. Their starting rotation needed the most help, and they bolstered it by signing Rodriguez away from the Tigers. Last season, Rodriguez had a 3.30 ERA and a 3.66 FIP, thanks to his career-best 1.15 WHIP.

In terms of his fantasy value, Rodriguez’s lack of strikeouts doesn’t make him the best of options. He had a 23.0 percent strikeout rate last season, which was on par with his career mark of 23.8 percent. His new home stadium is also a bit of a downgrade. The Tigers’ home stadium is one of the most pitcher-friendly in the league in terms of Park Factor, while Chase Field ranks towards the middle of the pack. On the positive side of things, Rodriguez has logged at least 152 2/3 innings in three of the last four full seasons. There’s not a ton of upside that comes with drafting him, though, which is why his ADP checks in at 181.

Carig Kimbrel, Baltimore Orioles

The future is bright for the Orioles with all of their young talent. If there was something negative that came out of their breakout 2023 campaign, it’s that their closer Felix Bautista underwent Tommy John surgery that should keep him out for all of 2024. Needing to replace him, they signed the veteran Kimbrel to take over as their closer.

Kimbrel has 417 career saves, so he’s certainly no stranger to the role. However, he’s not the elite option that he was during his peak with the Braves and Red Sox. He registered 23 saves for the Phillies last season and had a 33.8 percent strikeout rate, but his 3.81 FIP was his highest mark since 2020. Save chances should be plentiful on a great Orioles team, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him reach at least 30 saves for the ninth time in his career. Pair that with his strikeout upside and he’s worth his current ADP of 136.

Jorge Polanco, Seattle Mariners

Injuries limited Polanco to just 80 games last season, but he still slugged 14 home runs. That would end up being his last campaign for the Twins, who are the only team that he has played for during his entire career. They traded him to the Mariners during the offseason, clearing the way for Edouard Julien to take over at second base. They also have the emerging Royce Lewis at third base.

Now a member of the Mariners, Polanco will play his home games at one of most difficult hitter parks in the league. His strikeout rate has also been on the rise, topping out at 25.7 percent last season. His ADP of 247 doesn’t come with a lot of risk, though, so he’s worth considering for those who decide not to spend early draft capital at second base.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

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