Free Agent Frenzy: March 11 (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
Play ball! The players and the owners finally agreed, and it is time for Major League Baseball. Players are reporting to Spring Training, and transactions are taking place. Things are happening fast, so I am here to keep you up to date on all the transactions that take place and their fantasy impact. Each morning I will publish a new article covering players that signed the previous day. There was a lot of action yesterday; let’s get to it!
Free Agent Signings and News: March 11
*Transactions up to date as of 3/12/22 at midnight.
Drew VerHagen signs a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Cardinals
The Cardinals kicked off free agency with a bang by signing relief pitcher Drew VerHagen. VerHagen spent 2014 through 2019 with the Tigers before pitching in Japan with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. He posted a 3.49 ERA with 216 strikeouts in 208.2 innings in Japan. The Cardinals say he will get a chance to compete for a rotation spot, but VerHagen likely ends up in the bullpen.
Martin Perez signs a one-year, $4 million deal with the Texas Rangers
Perez spent the last two seasons in Boston, compiling a 4.65 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP in 176 innings. Perez finished the first seven seasons of his career in Texas with the Rangers. He has minimal competition for a rotation spot, but he is not someone I am looking to roster on any of my teams.
Carlos Rodon signs a two-year, $44 million deal with the San Francisco Giants
Hello! We have a big signing. Rodon was arguably the best starting pitcher left on the market, and he was scooped up by one of the better pitching development organizations. He also moves to a great home ballpark.
Rodon is a heavy fly ball pitcher, though he did generate a well above average pop-up rate. Regardless, Oracle Park has the best home run factor for pitchers over the last three seasons. Meanwhile, the White Sox home park had the third-worst home run factor for pitchers.
Last season Rodon pitched 132.2 innings and posted a 2.37 ERA with 185 strikeouts. He was elite. The issue is, Rodon does not have the best record of health. Between 2019 and 2020, Rodon pitched just 42 innings due to injuries. He also had shoulder issues last season. Reports stated that teams were impressed with his medicals, though.
With a clean bill of health and the move to San Francisco, Rodon is a buy for me. His price tag may take off, but for now, his ADP has been reasonable considering his upside.
Clayton Kershaw signs a one-year, $17 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers
I’m not sure anyone could picture Clayton Kershaw in a uniform that was not Dodgers’ blue. Kershaw was drafted by the Dodgers in 2006 and has been with the team since. He owns a 2.49 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP across 2454 innings for his career. Those are Hall of Fame numbers.
Kershaw will be 34 years old next week, but he still has his stuff. Last season Kershaw posted his highest strikeout rate since 2017, and his swinging strike rate was the highest of his elite career. But much like Rodon, there are injury concerns here. Kershaw pitched just 121 innings last season and missed the entire postseason due to elbow inflammation and forearm discomfort. Those things never go well together in a sentence. But, it appears Kershaw’s medicals were clean enough for the Dodgers to resign him.
If Kershaw can stay healthy, he still has plenty to offer to fantasy managers. But that is still a big question mark. I would not expect more than 120-140 innings if you draft him. Now, he has the Dodgers tax attached to his ADP, which is sure to move up.
Andrelton Simmons signs a one-year, $4 million deal with the Chicago Cubs
The most significant fantasy impact here is for the Cubs’ pitching staff. Simmons is a wizard at the shortstop position but not much of a hitter. Last season he posted a higher OBP than slugging percentage and a meager .223/.283/.274 slash line. This move could bump Nico Hoerner out of the starting shortstop role. Hoerner could also move to the outfield, considering Ian Happ is likely the one player with a secure spot there. The Simmons move has Cubs pitchers moving up and Hoerner moving down rankings for me.
Ranger Suarez is having visa issues
This is a non-transaction, but it is worth noting that Suarez’s Opening Day status is in jeopardy due to visa issues. I have to wonder what other players may be affected by this issue. MLB clubs handle these responsibilities, but teams did not have contact with players during the lockout and did not have players’ visas on the to-do list. It is uncertain how long this process could take for Suarez to obtain, and for all we know, he could be back by Opening Day. But this should give you some pause before drafting him.
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