Although the Hot Stove has been simmering at a low temperature thus far, a flurry of free-agent activity is likely on the horizon. And while all signings will have some fantasy implications, a few moves will be especially relevant for 2018 drafts. Fantasy owners who are already thinking ahead to
Although the Hot Stove has been simmering at a low temperature thus far, a flurry of free-agent activity is likely on the horizon. And while all signings will have some fantasy implications, a few moves will be especially relevant for 2018 drafts. Fantasy owners who are already thinking ahead to next season will be wise to keep a close eye on the following five players.
• Hot Stove Tracker
Jonathan Lucroy, catcher: Lucroy will surely present fantasy owners with one of their toughest 2018 draft decisions. After all, he was an elite fantasy asset in '16 (24 homers, 81 RBIs, .855 OPS) before producing just six homers, 40 RBIs and a .716 OPS last season. However, the Rockies have already expressed interest in the retaining the 31-year-old, and the result of that pursuit may decide whether or not Lucroy -- who posted a .367/.485/.532 slash line at Coors Field last year -- will dent shallow-league lineups next season.
Eduardo Nunez, 2B/3B/OF: Speed is likely to be in short supply during 2018 drafts, as Nunez is one of just eight players who have compiled at least 60 swipes since the outset of '16. And among those eight speedsters, just two (Jose Altuve, Jonathan Villar) have hit more homers than Nunez (28) across the past two years. But while his versatile fielding skills elevate his fantasy value, Nunez could also find a free-agent suitor who envisions him in a utility role. Owners who wish to make Nunez their '18 stolen-base foundation will need to know that his new club has slated him for at least 550 plate appearances.
J.D. Martinez, outfielder: Based on recent history, Martinez is an elite power hitter who needed just 119 games to compile 45 homers and 104 RBIs last season. But fantasy owners with a longer memory will note that the slugger went into 2017 having produced just one season with at least 30 homers or 80 RBIs. While Martinez will definitely be a high draft pick next year, his value would skyrocket by re-signing with the D-backs or joining another team with a homer-happy venue.
Jacob Arrieta, starter: Regarded as a mixed-league ace as recently as 2016, Arrieta will head into next season as an unstable asset. The right-hander rarely worked deep into games last year (168 1/3 innings across 30 starts) while logging a 4.16 Fielding Independent Pitching mark and struggling to induce grounders and limit round-trippers at the same rate as during his previous campaigns with the Cubs. If he were to move to a less-desirable fantasy situation, Arrieta may no longer be regarded as a rotation staple in shallow leagues.
Mike Minor, reliever: Few free agents have an outcome range as wide as Minor, who excelled as a reliever last season (2.55 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.2 K/9 rate) and was an outstanding starter (3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) during his previous injury-free season in 2013. The southpaw is a late-round lottery ticket with the Rangers slating him for a rotation spot after agreeing to a deal.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.