10 Early 2020 Fantasy Baseball Bold Predictions
The MLB off-season is already underway with both Jake Odorizzi and Jose Abreu accepting one-year, 17.8 million dollar qualifying offers. Additionally, the Braves already inked two of the top relievers on the market while the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright agreed to a one-year incentive-heavy deal.
With everything bound to heat up in the coming weeks, I figured it was time to kick off 2020 fantasy coverage, and what better way than to offer a series of bold predictions for the upcoming season. We have to, of course, start with free agent and trade predictions, however.
#10 Free Agent Predictions
- Gerrit Cole (SP) – Angels
- Anthony Rendon (3B) – Rangers
- Stephen Strasburg (SP) – Nationals
- Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP) – Yankees
- Zack Wheeler (SP) – Cubs
- Nicholas Castellanos (OF) – Cubs
- Josh Donaldson (3B) – Braves
- Yasmani Grandal (C) – Brewers
- Madison Bumgarner (SP) – Braves
- Mike Moustakas (3B) – Nationals
- Yasiel Puig (OF) – Rays
- Marcell Ozuna (OF) – Reds
- Howie Kendrick (2B) – Twins
- Julio Teheran (SP) – Giants
- Didi Gregorius (SS) – Brewers
- Edwin Encarnacion (DH) – Indians
- Rich Hill (SP) – Astros
- Cole Hamels (SP) – Phillies
- Dallas Keuchel (SP) – Padres
- Michael Pineda (SP) – White Sox
- Shogo Akiyama (OF) – White Sox
- Corey Dickerson (OF) – Indians
- Will Harris (RP) – Cubs
- Travis d’Arnaud (C) – Pirates
- Avisail Garcia (OF) – Giants
- Brett Gardner (OF) – Yankees
- Hunter Pence (OF) – Padres
- Daniel Hudson (RP) – Phillies
- Scooter Gennett (2B) – Nationals
- Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (OF) – Mariners
- Robinson Chirinos (C) – Astros
- Brandon Kintzler (RP) – Nationals
- Steve Cishek (RP) – Mets
- Justin Smoak (1B) – Red Sox
- Asdrubal Cabrera (2B) – Diamondbacks
Interestingly enough, some of the hottest teams on the big-three at the top are all their hometown teams and believe it or not, that’s where I’ve got two of them signing. Cole is a So Cal kid and the Angels have both the money and the need to make it happen. Rendon grew up in Houston and attended Rice University so don’t be surprised if a huge offer to head back home to a hitter’s park in Texas is enough to get him to ditch the Nationals. Then there is Strasburg who became famous for his deadly repertoire at San Diego St. after pitching at a high school in the San Diego suburbs. Apparently, the Padres are willing to put big money on the table for him, but the current word is that Strasburg and the Nationals are quickly nearing a historic deal.
#9 The Phillies will acquire an elite player in a blockbuster trade
I realize many of you have been exclusively paying attention to the NFL and perhaps even the NBA so let me clarify; this is not hyperbole to get clicks or turn heads. Rather, the Indians could seriously entertain trade offers for their prized shortstop. He is two years away from free agency and they likely won’t be able to sign him, and if they were to wait until next year, their return would be substantially less (see the crummy package Baltimore received for Manny Machado from the Dodgers). As of now, the Phillies have promising utility man, Kingery, manning third base so in dealing him, they’d open up third base for current shortstop, Jean Segura. Cleveland meanwhile, would land a capable Kingery to fill any gap they needed while they wait for any of these 10 (not kidding) exciting middle infield prospects to eventually take over at short. Perhaps more importantly, in adding Howard and Moniak, they’d get a pitcher with true ace upside and a former 1-1 pick with the opportunity to realize his potential with a new landing spot.
#8 Lindor won’t even be the biggest star dealt, however
“Ok, now you’ve gone too far, Bobby.” No, friends, John Henry has gone too far. The Red Sox have now paid the luxury tax in back to back years and the way the rule works is that the longer you spend above the threshold, the more severe the penalty becomes. He wants to remove about 20 million from their budget in order to finally get under, and while J.D. Martinez or David Price are both possibilities to move as well, the Red Sox could get a haul for their young star who is soon nearing a 400 million dollar payday. Boston fans surely wouldn’t be happy, but adding a 25-year-old pitcher coming off a 16-win season with a 3.35 ERA is no small consolation. Not only that, but Carlson is among the elite prospects in all of baseball with legitimate five-tool talent and a bat that should be ready to replace Betts in the Boston outfield by the summer. St. Louis would either need to bring Carlos Martinez back into the rotation, put their trust in Ryan Helsley, or sign a veteran like Rich Hill or Cole Hamels to replace Hudson. All are reasonable scenarios plus we’ve seen them acquire big pieces via off-season trade much more often than they make a splash in free agency. Dating back to Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna, Matt Holliday, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Mark McGwire, St. Louis has shown that they are confident in their ability to convince stars to sign extensions, and more often than not, it works out.
#7 Dinelson Lamet will receive NL Cy Young votes
When you look at the final line for Lamet, his season may not seem all that impressive. When you account for the fact that he missed 22 months and essentially used his return in July as his Spring Training, it makes a little more sense. From August on, he was downright filthy with 75 Ks in 50 innings. I probably don’t need to tell you that over 200 innings, that translated to 300 strikeouts. Not only that, but hitters only battled .211 against him in that stretch despite a BABIP above .300. This should all come as no surprise, of course, seeing that he was among the most dominant rookies in MLB history from a K/9 and H/9 standpoint.
#6 Julio Urias will morph into a third ace for the Dodgers
While we are talking about unhittable youngsters, lets move onto a guy who has been in the bigs now for four seasons but is still just 23 years old. Through 184 MLB innings, the former top prospect has done everything asked of him, tossing out 187 Ks to go with a 3.18 ERA. Now that Dave Roberts has said Urias is expected to join the rotation, we should finally see the fireworks we’ve been waiting for. And again, the tremendous performance we’ve seen thus far has been while he batted with injuries and at an age that most pitchers were still trying to get out 19-year-old Single-A hitters.
#5 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will break out into a fantasy superhero
I’ve gotta say, I’m so convinced this is going to happen that I don’t even feel a bit bold writing it, but the fact of the matter is that Gurriel will go outside the top 150 picks in fantasy drafts a few months from now. Meanwhile, he was an absolute rockstar from the moment the Jays called him back up. The reasons no one noticed are that he wasn’t a top prospect, had already lost his rookie eligibility and didn’t compile enough at-bats to compile imposing counting stats. But consider this, once Toronto promoted him on May 24th, he finished the season with 20 homers, 5 steals and a .292 batting average. Folks, over a full season that translates to 46 homers, 115 runs, 99 RBIs, 12 steals and a near .300 batting average! As if that isn’t exciting enough, he also qualifies at nearly every position.
#4 George Springer will bring the AL MVP award back to Houston
“Wait, you aren’t picking Alex Bregman or Carlos Correa or Jose Altuve?” No, fam, I’m picking their best player from last year. “Come again?” Yeah, I didn’t say their most productive player (Bregman – 41 homers, 112 RBI, 122 R, .296 BA), I said their best player. When he was on the field, Springer was downright better. Over just 122 games he still managed a ridiculous 39 homers, 96 runs and 96 RBI with a similar .292 BA and more steals than Bregman’s full season. To put it plainly, if Springer had kept up that pace for a full season, he would have blown Mike Trout away to win the MVP with 52 homers, 128 runs and 128 RBIs. Basically, I’m just betting on him staying healthy this time around.
#3 J.D. Davis will take home the N.L. batting crown
Although Davis batted .342/.406/.583 in 2018 for the Astros’ Triple-A team in 2018, he barely got a chance in the bigs before the Mets acquired him. Davis began the year positively destroying baseballs according to every Statcast metric, but he also happened to be the single most unlucky hitter in baseball so the Mets, of course, benched him (eye roll). When injuries forced him back into the lineup, positive regression took hold and he batted .336 (with 16 homers) for his remaining 283 plate appearances. Keep in mind, Davis has just 634 trips to the plate in his entire MLB career so it is very likely that we haven’t seen the best from him.
#2 Luis Robert goes 30/30 on his way to the AL Rookie of the Year award
As electric as Fernando Tatis Jr. was as a rookie, he was certainly no Robert when they were in the minors. In fact, Robert blows Tatis (16 HR, 16 SB, .286/.355/.507 in 88 games) away. The 21-year-old and former superstar Cuban prospect went 32/36 in just 122 games last year while batting .328/.376/.624. Yes, if you pro-rate that to a full season, we are talking about a 43/48 season. Granted, that won’t happen in the majors, and certainly not as a rookie, but 30/30 is entirely possible from this special talent, so long as Chicago doesn’t hold him back from the MLB roster.
#1 Eloy Jimenez will mash 50 homers
Yep, we are sticking with the breakout Chicago White Sox for #1 as well. Look, Robert is an incredible prospect, but if you can believe it, Eloy was an even bigger deal. Heck, last year I called him a future Manny Ramirez and while it didn’t happen right away, he eventually settled into that mold and ended up terrorizing pitchers. Over his final 84 games, the rookie swatted 25 homers, drove in 65 runs and batted .284. You can say that’s a small sample size but I’ll remind you that he was just 22-years-old. There is much more to come from this mammoth power hitter.