Unlike redraft leagues, dynasty leagues require a strategy that focuses on both the short-term and the long haul. The correct strategy usually employs a mix of both, and the offseason is when many important decisions are made.
Is your team potentially a move or two away from competing for a championship this season? Are you in full rebuild mode and focusing on acquiring youth? Are you somewhere in the middle, hoping to hit on some short-term moves while continuing to build your foundation for the future?
Regardless of where you are in the process, here are a handful of players worth targeting in dynasty leagues this offseason.
Speed is becoming increasingly hard to find in baseball, and Jarren Duran has a ton of it. In 2019, he stole 46 bases in 132 games across High Single-A and Double-A. And while he has hit for a high average in the minor leagues in part because of his elite speed, he is lacking in the power department.
However, he has reportedly been working on that.
Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic wrote a feature on Durran in December and mentioned that the young outfielder has been working with a hitting coach to shorten and simplify his swing to allow him to get behind the ball better and generate more power. Take a look:
Now, we hear these stories about young hitters tweaking their swings all the time, and it doesn’t always lead to results. But it is certainly intriguing, and Duran could be up with the Red Sox sooner rather than later given their uncertain future in the outfield. The best-case scenario is he gets called up in the second half of 2021, hits for a solid average while stealing a few bases and popping the occasional home run. At worst, Duran’s floor could be as a hitter who offers little power but hits for a high average and steals bases in a Red Sox lineup that should be better in the coming years.
Since there was no minor league season in 2020, the development of many prospects is relatively unknown. That presents opportunities for fantasy managers to draft or trade for players like Duran before the price goes up.
Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery recently and won’t pitch in 2021, so this would be a move for the future. But how often do established top-of-the-line starters become available for what could be a bargain in dynasty formats? He recently signed a two-year deal with the Padres, so he’ll be in San Diego for at least the 2022 season (and likely longer if all goes well).
Clevinger has ace potential and just recently turned 30, so he’ll still only be 31 for the start of the 2022 season. You shouldn’t overpay for a starter who is going to miss a full year, but it’s worth contacting the Clevinger manager and asking what their price is. If that manager eyes a fantasy championship in 2021, it’s possible they move Clevinger for much cheaper than he would normally cost. This is a long-term move that shouldn’t cost you too much in terms of short-term assets.
I covered Eflin back in August in our Positive and Negative Regression Candidates series, and I explained at the time how he had essentially ditched his four-seamer in favor of his sinker. His final ERA was a pedestrian 3.97, but his FIP (3.39), xFIP (3.23), and xERA (3.31) all indicate that he pitched even better than that.
I was down on Eflin in 2018 and 2019, but I’m all in on this new version of him. His strikeouts soared in 2020 (18.3% in 2019 to 28.6% in 2020), and he cut his hard contact number down to 24.5% from 37.9% in 2019. He also dropped his BAA down to .262 despite a .344 BABIP, and his xBA was down to .224 from .251.
I don’t ever expect Eflin to turn into an ace, but he should become a reliable fantasy contributor who should be available for cheap this offseason. He may even be a free agent or available in the draft in some formats.
Kim signed with the San Diego Padres this offseason after .306 / .397 / .523 with 30 home runs and 23 steals in 138 games in the KBO in 2020. I don’t expect him to replicate those numbers with the Padres in 2021, but he’s only 25 years old and should be given plenty of time to adjust to the big leagues in a deep lineup.
Kim should be available in the draft portion of most dynasty leagues, and he is likely to go in the first round of most of them due to his age and production in the KBO. He is expected to start at second base for the Padres, but it would be risky to roll into the 2021 fantasy season with Kim as your only option at second base in fantasy. He is likely to hit some bumps in the road during his transition but has a ton of upside. Think of Kim as a long-term investment that has the potential to contribute in the short-term, rather than the other way around.
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