While most baseball fans are still tingling from the Chicago Cubs World Series win in Game 7 against the Indians, there’s one group of people that have been waiting for Spring Training even longer: Fantasy owners. What 2017 Fantasy Baseball changes do you need to know about before Draft Day?
From the Arizona Fall League in October to winter meetings in December, to Seattle’s complete revamping of their roster under General Manager Jerry DiPoto, there’s a lot to discuss!
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll go over all the 2017 Fantasy Baseball changes to get you up to date, and then, over the next few weeks, we’re going to share our Fantasy rankings, sleepers, busts and breakouts with you.
For now, though, let’s look back at the offseason that was!
2017 Fantasy Baseball Changes
Understand that there are hundreds of different things that have changed over the past few months, but we’re going to hit on some of the most important ones in each category. Here are some of the more important trades and transactions that have happened since the Cubs broke the curse:
New-Look Seattle Mariners
After a bevy of DiPoto trades, the Mariners have a new-look outfield, and they flipped just under half of their pitching staff (starters and pen). New names on the roster to get used to include OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger, C Carlos Ruiz, SP Yovani Gallardo and SP Drew Smyly.
Sluggers in New Stadiums
Edwin Encarnacion left Toronto to play for the American League champions in Cleveland. His value drops a little bit, but this is still a top-10 first baseman that you’ll have to take in the top 35 picks if you want him.
Ian Desmond, formerly one of the best slugging middle infielders in the game, signed with the Colorado Rockies after a season of playing center field for the Rangers. Instead of playing shortstop or center field, the 31-year-old is going to play first base at Coors Field (but he’ll still have OF eligibility).
Carlos Gomez re-upped with the Texas Rangers after a strong finish in Arlington last year. The best news is that he only signed a one-year deal, so he’s going to try his best for a big 2017 season in hopes of one last huge contract.
Dexter Fowler parlayed his season with the World Series champs at Wrigley Field in order to play for the rival Cardinals in St. Louis. He’ll work as a nice late-round add in mixed drafts.
Adam Eaton was traded from the South Side of Chicago to play for the Nationals, which will love him at the top of their order. This is a nice boost for the run potential of this Nats team, which certainly excites Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon.
The Yankees always seem like they’re adding an aging slugger to their outfield, and this time, it’s Matt Holliday who signed a one-year deal. A fractured thumb limited the 37-year-old outfielder last season. A resurrection in the Bronx is probable, unlike the last Cardinal-turned-Yankee-OF Carlos Beltran (who is now in Houston).
Pitchers in New Places
Chris Sale dyed his White Sox to become Red Sox this winter, after Chicago traded him to Boston. He remains a top-five starting pitcher, and a good second-or third-round Fantasy pick. What he gives up in a small ERA bump, he’ll get back in wins.
Drew Storen signed with Cincinnati this winter, which means Raisel Iglesias will have some competition for the Reds’ closer spot. (That doesn’t even include guys like Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani, who will also get some looks.)
The Giants brought on closer Mark Melancon to pitch their ninth innings, and he’ll love working in AT&T Park for half the season. He’s still a top-five Fantasy reliever no matter how you look at it.
— Paul Sporer (@sporer) December 22, 2016
Rich Hill, who finished up 2016 with the Dodgers, re-signed with them, and the 37-year-old should fit nicely behind ace Clayton Kershaw in the rotation. He won 12 games in 20 starts with a 2.12 ERA last year, but the lefty’s age (37) makes him a risky pick, better left for the late middle rounds.
Wade Davis will work in the back of the bullpen for the Cubs this season, going from the 2015 World Series champs to the 2016 World Series champs.
Aroldis Chapman won a World Series with the Cubs after a partial season, and he returns to close games for the Yankees in 2017. This season, though, he’ll start the year as the closer rather than on suspension. Expect him to be the first closer off your draft boards once again!
Arizona signed up-and-down closer Fernando Rodney to pitch the ninth (probably), even though the soon-to-be 40-year-old was super inconsistent last season.
The Marlins picked up SP Edinson Volquez from the Royals, and he should receive a nice Fantasy boost moving the National League and into Marlins Park. He could make a nice SP5 sleeper in mixed leagues.
Rookies & Prospects
SP Lucas Giolito, a former top prospect for the Nationals, went to the White Sox in the Eaton trade. He’ll probably start at Triple-A, but the 22-year-old right-hander will probably be the first pitcher called up to replace an injured/disappointing starter by May.
The White Sox also picked up 2B Yoan Moncada and RHP Michael Kopech from Boston in the Sale deal. Moncada will probably be a late-round pick in your draft, despite likely not joining the majors until midseason.
Charlie Tilson, who tore his hamstring in his MLB debut last August, will be taking over at center field with the ChiSox and he’ll have a great chance of batting leadoff, too.
The Red Sox should start the season with their top prospect, LF Andrew Benintendi, hitting second behind Dustin Pedroia, and in front of Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. Not a bad spot! That automatically makes him a top-35 Fantasy outfielder and a decent pick near Round 10.
Now you should have a pretty good grasp on what went down this past offseason.
Did our recap of the 2017 Fantasy Baseball changes get you back up to speed? Stay tuned for a look at the upcoming positions from a Fantasy perspective, as we get into our 2017 Fantasy rankings.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.