Fantasy baseball managers in redraft formats need not worry that the Kansas City Royals will grab Salvador Perez when his new long-term contract, announced last weekend, expires. They’re worried about this season, and judging by the latest ADP data, they don’t seem worried at all. Perez was selected in the ninth round of the ESPN draft, the No. 2 receiver.
That makes sense, I guess, although I’m not a fan of receivers in the top 100 of the standard mixed draft, especially those who have already reached the magic age of 30. Perez was outstanding in 2020, winning the American League Comeback Player of the Year award and finishing second in the catcher’s poll. Few expect him to even score 50 points this year, which is close to his 2020 batting average, but he clearly has value. Like Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, the first to leave the table at that position.
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Nevertheless, these are traps that from time to time pose a certain risk. Did the Phillies and now the Royals make the right move by investing in catchers in their 30s for so much money? Probably not. Each franchise regrets the length of its contractual obligations, with team leaders freely admitting that they took these actions out of loyalty and emotional reasons. Fantasy managers in Keeper/Dynasty formats should be smarter. Perez and Realmuto are durable among their peers, but history tells us that doesn’t last long and that offensive production suffers with age, especially at the catcher position. Investing in 2020, but acting for them and guaranteeing an expensive contract is worrying.
I put Perez at second base, as did most others, although he wouldn’t be my choice in a fantasy game that counts walks and/or on-base percentage. However, Perez hit 27 home runs in 2017 and 2018 before missing the 2019 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. In 2020, he hit 11 home runs in 37 games and 156 PAs. His batting average of .333 was a fluke, as he had a BABIP of .375, and we can find fault with ESPN Fantasy’s projection that he is hitting .272 this season. Before 2020, Perez last hit .272 during the 2013 season. Is it really getting better and safer now that it’s 30 years old? I doubt it.
As for Realmuto, he was supposed to make his long-awaited spring debut on Sunday after suffering a broken thumb, but then missed the game with general muscle soreness – a term that means nothing but is troubling. Realmuto probably won’t be able to make regular catches in the first few weeks of the season. He’s still my best receiver, but I’m really not going to invest in a 6th round pick. Hitters get injured more often than other hitters and play less. San Diego Padres starter Austin Nola is also suffering from a broken finger. Are these guys healthier as they get older? Read that sentence again and you’ll know the answer. Long-term commitments to beneficiaries are not reasonable.
Either way, it’s a lot of time to play with the ball. For more on this topic, listen to Tristan H. Cockcroft and I discuss this topic in Monday’s Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast. We continue with Monday’s Market Watch, where we discuss the weekend’s moves and shakes as we know you followed the NCAA Tournament. Here’s last week’s version.
Increase in stocks
C.J. Crown, 1B, Colorado Rockies It was no secret that this was a golden opportunity for a fantasy sleeper when this shaky organization gave Kron a minor league contract a few months ago. Krohn is still outside our top 200, but not for long. He has power, but nothing else, and this is a terrible team, even if he plays half his games at his best. For the deeper formats, Josh Fuentes could be a valuable choice right now, especially if he plays third base.
Emilio Pagan, RP, San Diego Address: The San Diego Union-Tribute reported over the weekend that Pagan could open the season as a closer, which was not on the radar of most fantasy managers. Pagan saved 20 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, so this shouldn’t be a complete shock, but if that’s true, all those picks on Drew Pomeranz (currently suffering from a forearm strain) and Mark Melancon seem silly.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros: I don’t quite agree that he’s returning to his former level of excellence, but the fact that he looks like a likely leader is a pretty good sign, even if his spring performances were mediocre. He has some good baseball players behind him. Altuve may be returning to the basics of stealing. Kyle Tucker could also move to center field, meaning the Miles Straw experiment could be over.
Other on trend: Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt (get the future Pittsburgh Pirates in dynasty now!); Steven Matz, SP, Toronto Blue Jays; Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves; David Bednar, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Louis Arraz, 2B, Minnesota Twins; Dolton Varsho, C/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Will Smith, C, Los Angeles Dodgers: He’s still one of the best receivers in fantasy, but the announcement this weekend that the team plans to halt his start around 90 games is a big deal. He’s in a timeshare with Austin Barnes and maybe others! If Smith isn’t a top-10 receiver in terms of performances on the ground, he’ll have a hard time being a true top-10 receiver in fantasy. Give me volume options instead.
Carlos Carrasco, MS, New York Mets: It’s a disgrace. He’s fighting leukemia and everyone loves him, and now he breaks his hamstring and we might not see him until June. It makes me sad. Carrasco may not be a top-50 starter at this point.
Bobby Witt, Jr., CC, Kansas City Royals: Yeah, not much news, guys. Looking back, it was ridiculous how many people wasted time last week discussing what Witt could do for the Royals. He could make his major league debut this season, but he might have to skip the Double and Triple-A to get there. I don’t see that happening, especially in standard ESPN leagues with small benches. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Joe Adell has also been demoted. He could be promoted in May if he performs well. Witt, I don’t think so.
Other descents: Sonny Gray, SP, Cincinnati Reds; Jose LeClerc, RP, Texas Rangers; Casey Mize, SP, Detroit Tigers; Miles Mikolas, SP, St. Louis St. John’s. St. Louis Cardinals; Franchy Cordero, OF, Boston Red Sox; Scott Kingery, 2B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies.
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