MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Fantasy fallout from wild Winter Meetings

Sale to Red Sox, Desmond to Rockies highlight major moves

Fantasy fallout from wild Winter Meetings

What a week.

Once again, the Winter Meetings did not disappoint fantasy owners who were looking to spice up their offseason with a few days of rapid-fire transactions. Let's take a look at the fantasy fallout from this week's major moves.

Red Sox pay the price for Sale: Having already proven his dominance for an American League club with a hitter-friendly home park, Chris Sale will be among the top five starters in 2017 fantasy drafts now that he has the support of a high-scoring Red Sox lineup. Fantasy owners should project the left-hander to produce at least 19 wins with 235 strikeouts and an ERA in the low-3.00s during '17. Sale will join David Price and Rick Porcello as pitchers with guaranteed spots in Boston's rotation, meaning Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz will likely need to compete for two starting jobs.

Fantasy impact of Sale trade

Now a member of the retooling White Sox, Yoan Moncada could soon find himself with a regular big league role. The consensus top prospect in baseball, Moncada has the potential to make a major impact in 2017 fantasy leagues after producing 15 homers with 45 steals and a .407 on-base percentage in the Minors last season. Even if he is not on the Opening Day roster, the 21-year-old will be a prime stash candidate in all formats.

Nats trade prospects for Eaton: Adam Eaton has posted an impressive .286/.362/.430 slash line since the outset of 2015, averaging 14 homers, 16 steals and 94 runs per year over that span. Set to occupy a premium spot in a Washington lineup that was far more productive than Chicago's last season, the outfielder should be a five-category asset with the potential to score 100-plus runs for the first time in his career. By adding Eaton and moving Trea Turner to shortstop, the Nationals will push Danny Espinosa (24 homers in '16) to their bench -- and mixed-league waiver wires.

Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez should compete for spots in an unsettled White Sox rotation. But while Giolito is ranked among the top prospects in baseball and Lopez also has a solid Minor League track record, both should open '17 on waivers in mixed formats after struggling with the Nats a year ago. In Chicago's outfield, Eaton's departure may open up a starting role for prospect Charlie Tilson -- a fleet-footed 24-year-old with solid contact skills who could help owners in 15-team leagues.

Davis dealt to Cubs: Now a member of the defending World Series champions, Wade Davis has the talent (1.18 ERA, 0.89 WHIP from 2014-16) and supporting cast to be a major fantasy asset in 2017. But the right-hander could rank outside the top tier of closer options because of health concerns stemming from a pair of arm-related DL stints last season. With Davis in the Windy City, Hector Rondon will remain in a setup role -- and off '17 mixed-league draft lists -- while Royals righty Kelvin Herrera joins the second tier of fantasy stoppers as Davis' likely replacement.

Now free from Chicago's outfield logjam, the powerful Jorge Soler could be on the verge of a breakout '17 campaign. While the slugger did not post head-turning stats in '16, he made encouraging strides that were masked by poor batted-ball fortune (.276 BABIP) and a lengthy absence due to a hamstring injury. With Soler gone, Javier Baez should be viewed as a major fantasy breakout candidate. Baez could produce more than 20 homers and 15 steals as the Cubs' regular second baseman now that versatile defender Ben Zobrist has the opportunity to work primarily in left field.

Desmond to experience Coors Field effect: Slated to play home games at arguably the most offense-assisting park in baseball, Ian Desmond is a strong candidate to repeat his 2016 bounce-back campaign. True, the strikeout-prone slugger may experience some batting-average regression (.285 in '16) if last year's career-high .350 BABIP moves back toward his lifetime .326 mark. But with his new attachment to Colorado's hitter-friendly home venue and high-scoring lineup, Desmond will likely produce at least 25 home runs, 20 steals, 85 RBIs and 85 runs scored in '17.

Desmond's fantasy potential

Chapman back in the Bronx: With stellar lifetime numbers (2.08 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) and an eye-popping career 15.2 K/9 rate, Chapman will be the first closer off the board in many 2017 drafts. Fantasy owners should expect the southpaw to be one of the few firemen to finish near 40 saves and 100 strikeouts next season. Chapman's return to the Bronx will push Dellin Betances back to a setup role. Although Betances won't be able to compile saves, the right-hander should be selected in all mixed leagues on the expectation that he will provide excellent ratios and roughly 130 whiffs.

Transaction tidbits

• One of the game's most reliable closers, Mark Melancon (1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP since the outset of 2013) should rank near the top of the second tier of closers now that he has joined a competitive Giants club.

Dexter Fowler is not the type of leadoff man to notch a prolific stolen-base total, but he will likely provide a dozen steals -- and a similar long ball tally -- with the on-base skills (career .366 OBP) to score 100-plus runs from the top of a talented Cardinals lineup.

Zinkie on Fowler's fantasy value

• Having returned to the Rangers, Carlos Gomez can be projected for 17 long balls and 20 steals in 2017. But he is unlikely to return to peak form without recovering his heyday hard-contact rates (36.5 percent from '13-14; 30.2 percent since '15) or lowering last year's career-high 30 percent strikeout rate.

• Back with the Dodgers on a three-year pact, Rich Hill should use his effective fastball and outstanding curveball to rank among the most dominant hurlers on a per-start basis again in 2017. But with longstanding durability woes, the 36-year-old is best regarded as a boom-or-bust No. 3 option, rather than an ace in mixed leagues.

• Coming off a breakout 2016 campaign, Wilson Ramos would rank among the top five catchers in '17 drafts if he was not recovering from right knee surgery. Still, the newest member of the Rays will be worth a mid-round pick in mixed leagues on the expectation that he can contribute upon his return to health.

Zinkie on Ramos' fantasy impact

• Although Tyler Thornburg instantly becomes one of the premier non-closers in the AL, his expected lack of save chances with the Red Sox will take him off mixed-league draft lists. Back in Milwaukee, either Corey Knebel (4.68 ERA, 1.47 WHIP in 2016) or Carlos Torres (2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in '16) could emerge as the ninth-inning man. Travis Shaw could help deep-mixed-league teams as Milwaukee's third baseman against right-handers (.762 OPS vs. RHP in '16). Meanwhile, veteran Pablo Sandoval and utility man Brock Holt should compete for the Red Sox's hot-corner job during Spring Training.

• With a lifetime .778 OPS against right-handers (.673 vs. lefties), Mitch Moreland can be expected to accumulate more than 20 homers and 65 RBIs as a platoon option in Boston. The first baseman should also help minimize the physical strain on Hanley Ramirez -- who has logged more than 130 games played in just two of the past six seasons -- by giving the Red Sox the option to regularly use Ramirez as their designated hitter.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.