Lowrie, Morrow among risers; J. Upton, Rios hold steady
By Fred Zinkie
The Hot Stove season simply would not slow down last week. General managers apparently did not need a break after the Winter Meetings, as major deals continued to be consummated virtually every day. Here are the most notable changes in fantasy values from another head-spinning week of transactions.
Jed Lowrie (Astros): The 30-year-old has not flashed much power in his career, outside of his lone season in Houston when he went deep 16 times in 340 at-bats. Lowrie has often struggled to stay healthy in his seven-year career, but if he can stay off the DL in 2015, he could threaten the 20-homer mark.
Brandon Morrow (Padres): Injuries have limited Morrow to 87 2/3 innings over the past two years, and his fragile nature will combine with his 1.36 career WHIP to keep him on waivers in April in most mixed leagues. However, the move to pitcher-friendly Petco Park gives the right-hander some sleeper value, and he is a player to watch if he looks to be healthy at the end of March.
Brett Anderson (Dodgers): Anderson is a nearly identical case to Morrow, as he has not thrown 100 innings in any of the past four seasons. But the 26-year-old owns a respectable 3.73 career ERA, and he should have solid offensive and defensive support in Los Angeles. Anderson will likely start the season on waivers in mixed formats, but he should be scooped up quickly if he starts April with a few quality starts.
Chase Headley (Yankees): Headley has yet to do anything to suggest that his 31-homer, 115-RBI campaign in 2012 was anything more than an amazing hot streak. However, his first full season in the Bronx should give the 30-year-old a great chance to exceed 20 dingers for the second time in his career, and his .347 career on-base percentage suggests that he could score plenty of runs with better lineup support.
Steven Souza Jr. (Rays): Souza's path to Major League playing time was blocked in Washington, but he has a good chance to be in the Rays' Opening Day lineup. The 25-year-old hit .350 with 18 homers and 26 steals in 346 at-bats at the Triple-A level last season, so fantasy owners can feel free to dream about a quick transition to the Majors and immediate five-category production.
Wil Myers (Padres): Myers posted 13 homers and a .354 on-base percentage in 335 at-bats in 2013, before showing some regression during an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. The 24-year-old seemed like a fine bounce-back candidate for the coming season, but his move to Petco Park should dampen that enthusiasm. Myers could struggle to hit for power in his new surroundings, and fantasy owners will be wise to wonder why the Rays lost faith in him after two seasons in the organization.
C.J. Cron (Angels): The 24-year-old posted a .289 on-base percentage as a rookie in 2014, but with 11 homers in 242 at-bats he flashed the kind of power that made fantasy owners dream of 20-25 homers in 2015. The arrival of Matt Joyce should dampen those expectations, as Cron will likely receive starting assignments only when club faces a lefty. He can be ignored in mixed leagues for now.
Jarrod Dyson (Royals): If the Royals were to commit to Dyson as their regular right fielder, he would immediately become one of the favorites to lead the AL in steals. But the addition of Alex Rios to the roster means that Dyson will once again serve as a speedy fourth outfielder. The 30-year-old could exceed 30 swipes for a fourth straight season in 2015, but a breakout year likely is not on the horizon.
T.J. House (Indians): House could be one of the best sleepers for 2015, as he quietly posted a 2.53 ERA in 10 second-half starts last season. But the 25-year-old appears to be on the outside of the team's five-man rotation, due to the signing of Gavin Floyd. It is still possible that House forces his way into a larger role by posting dominant numbers in March, and there is enough volatility among the Tribe's starting five to believe that he will be needed as a starter at some point during the first half.
Martin Prado (Marlins): With 12 homers, three steals and 58 RBIs, Prado was not a mixed-league asset last season. There was hope that a full campaign with the Yankees would get the 31-year-old back on track, but his move to Miami means that he will likely post nondescript numbers once again in 2015. Also, after years of having multi-position eligibility, Prado will be eligible only at third base in most formats next season.
Nathan Eovaldi (Yankees): Eovaldi is an interesting case. His relocation from Miami to New York, combined with his 5.51 ERA in the second half of 2014 suggest that he will not offer much value to mixed-league owners. However, this hard-thrower kept his ERA in the 3.50-range from the beginning of 2013 until the All-Star break in '14, and he posted a 3.37 FIP overall last season. Joining the Yankees is not a good move for Eovaldi's '15 value, but he is still a mixed-league sleeper.
Justin Upton (Padres): A trade to Petco Park is not good news for a power hitter such as Upton, but he collected 56 homers and 172 RBIs in two seasons as a member of the Braves, and Turner Field is also a tough park on hitters. The 27-year-old should be able to find success anywhere, and he will be highly motivated to avoid an offensive regression during his final year prior to free agency. The Braves finished 29th in baseball in runs scored last season, and even though the Padres were 30th, their offensive additions should make Upton's 2015 supporting cast superior to the '14 group.
Alex Rios (Royals): It is hard to get excited about a player who hit four homers last year in Texas, but Rios' one-year deal with the Royals could help him rebuild some fantasy value. The short contract should keep this inconsistent performer motivated, and manager Ned Yost's aggressive base-running practices should mesh well with a player who stole 42 bags in 2013.
Michael Morse (Marlins): Marlins Park is not a great venue for a power hitter such as Morse, but on the positive side, the team is committed to using him as their everyday first baseman. Morse is a power hitter who has posted just one 20-homer season, because of his inconsistent and injury-prone tendencies. Morse's future production is likely more related to his personal variables, rather than those that surround him.