November 8, 2018
By Andrew Cox
With the World Series coming and going and the subsequent celebration for The Boston Red Sox and their fans (me included), hot stove season is in full swing.
You know the drill – it’s GM Meetings, winter meetings and much more behind the scenes. But what the fans look forward to most are the rumors. Because of Twitter and the internet being a beautiful thing in general, there are a plethora of ways fans can read about where free agents may end up. However, this article is not going to be like that. This article will be all about highlighting the players who are being forgotten about and the impacts they will have on daily fantasy sports for next year.
The Big Guns – We all know the big names and if you don’t you’re either living under a rock or don’t care enough about the sport. You have two major franchise-changing players who enter free agency for the first time in Bryce Harper (25) and Manny Machado (26). Clayton Kershaw (30) would have been in this discussion but he re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are coming off back-to-back World Series losses. But let’s be honest with ourselves here. Did anyone really think he was going to leave L.A.?
I know I didn’t.
Harper, a franchise player who is loved in The Nation’s Capitol and pretty much nowhere else, and Machado, who went from a historically terrible Baltimore Orioles to the Dodgers and couldn’t keep his spikes to himself, will both get contracts likely to be within the $200-$400 million dollar range. Congrats but GOOD LUCK.
But we all know about them, so let’s look at a few other names that I believe can provide great value for teams that are chasing the Red Sox for the 2019 World Series title.
The Forgotten Ones – There are superstars, and then there are role players who you sometimes wonder how they aren’t considered stars, but that’s how sports work.
Leading off my forgotten ones list is Nathan Eovaldi. There are a lot of guys that the Red Sox acquired in 2018 who you can look at and say “they don’t win the World Series without him,” and Eovaldi was one of them. Eovaldi, a 28-year-old flame-throwing starting pitcher was a guy who bounced around the majors before coming to the Red Sox in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. When Boston acquired him, I, like many, didn’t expect him to be as good as he was. He was brought in to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he wound up being so much more than that. In his first two starts with the Red Sox, he went seven and eight innings respectively, giving up no runs, seven hits and struck out nine batters. While there were a few rough starts mixed in with utter brilliance during the regular season, his dominance in the postseason is something that should give a lot of teams in the market for a starting pitcher every reason in the world to take a look at him. With that in mind, I firmly believe he will earn more than the $2 million he made last year and sign somewhere to be a front-end starter. But given how impactful he was in Boston, it would be tough to see him go.
Two other names I think fans are sleeping on are Charlie Morton, Andrew McCutchen and DJ LeMahieu. Let’s start with Morton. Minus a lackluster start in the ALCS against the Red Sox, he was lights out all year. The righty went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA and while he is 35 years old, I believe he could go to a team on the fringe of competing for a World Series such as the Braves or Phillies. The Yankees or Red Sox may take a look at him as well. Despite his age, I believe you can’t overlook him.
Next is McCutchen, the former National League MVP. He was beloved in Pittsburgh and I am still rather confused as to how it ended there, but never mind that. He had a decent season in a scaled-back role last year split between the Giants and the Yankees, who acquired him before the trading deadline. At 32 years old, “Cutch,” as they call him, still brings a lot to the table. Even though 2018 was one of the worst statistical year of his career (.368/.424./.792), he’s a leader in the clubhouse and a guy who is still only five years removed from an MVP award. Some people may think he’s not that MVP caliber player anymore, which is a fair argument, but I believe he can still bring some speed on the bases and in the outfield and can still hit around 20 home runs. Don’t rule out a return to the Yankees, but tell me it wouldn’t be a bittersweet scenario if he went to another Pennsylvania team in the Phillies. Or what about some of the Pirates biggest rivals like the Cubs or Cardinals? Nonetheless, he will be a value signing for a contender in what I think is a scarce outfield group.
The last player I want to highlight on this list is second baseman DJ LeMahieu of the Colorado Rockies. The 2016 National League batting champion became a big-time contributor to a Rockies team that has either come close to or made the playoffs the last couple of years. LeMahieu is a guy that is definitely under the radar but brings a lot of value to any team looking for a second baseman. LeMahieu may fit better with a team that is contending, but there are some rebuilding teams like the Tigers or Twins who could use him. He is a career .298 and is only 30 years old, so he still has some good baseball left in him.
Outlook – These three players are obviously not the only players who might fly under the radar this offseason. But when it comes time to assess these signings after the 2019 season, fans will look back and say “ya know, that Andrew guy knows what he’s talking about. Those dudes really worked out.” The 2018 free agent class is a talented group. Even if your team doesn’t sign one of the big guns, these players may be good fallback options.
Daily Fantasy Sports Impact – We all know how fantasy sports rule the world we live in and they have increasingly taken over my life as well. As a contributor to StatementGames.com, a daily fantasy sports website that is much different from your 10-team Yahoo! League, each day is different and exciting. These players will be heavily featured in our MLB tournaments next season, and everyone has a fair shot to use them in hopes they produce for you.