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Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Juan Soto, Walker Buehler, Anthony Santander (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Juan Soto, Walker Buehler, Anthony Santander (2024)

Fantasy managers often try to find value by drafting players entering the final year of their contract, believing that the athlete will increase their performance to secure a large payday. Logically, this notion makes perfect sense, but studies have shown this to cause only a slight increase in stats at best. There is anecdotal evidence supporting the contract year phenomenon (Blake Snell‘s Cy Young last year, Aaron Judge‘s 62 HRs in 2022), but these examples are, well, anecdotal. Just because a player is in a contract year does not mean they are going to break records, but players have performed *marginally* better playing with just one remaining year of team control. Listed below are 2024-25 free agents.

MLB Players Entering their Contract Year

Juan Soto (LF – NYY)

The superstar lefty could theoretically sit out every game of 2024 and still earn a huge contract based on his incredible first six seasons, but he obviously is not doing that. It may take Soto time to acclimate to New York, but there is little reason to believe that he will not play up to his remarkable career slash line of .284/.421/.524. In addition to the small contract year boost, Soto should enjoy the infamous short porch in the Bronx and belt a few more homers as a result. Juan Soto is being targeted very early in drafts, and rightfully so. Everything points towards him having a spectacular season.

Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)

Walker Buehler has been mentioned a lot less these last few years because of his injuries, which makes it easy to forget how just good he was. In six seasons (638.1 IP) as a Dodger, he posted a 3.02 ERA, 1.036 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9. Though there is no “hard date” for his 2024 debut, Buehler unquestionably wishes to return to form as soon as possible to be a top free agent this winter. The pitcher will be an early injury stash, but he has the upside and inspiration to become an ace once again after he shakes off some rust.

Anthony Santander (1B,RF,DH – BAL)

Most members of this list could theoretically have better years due to their contract status, but this might not be the case for Santander. The switch-hitting slugger is the star of the Orioles’ outfield, but the Venezuelan could walk if Baltimore does not see him in their future picture. Santander may be replaced in 2025 by Heston Kjerstad, which would cause the veteran to lose 2024 opportunities on a crowded roster as management attempts to ease the transition. Although he may have slightly fewer opportunities this year, Santander will surely be motivated to continue playing to a high level.

Other Contract Year Players / Honorable Mentions


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