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Fantasy roundup: Key free-agent signings

MLB.com @FredZinkieMLB

The second half of January will be anything but dormant this winter, as several big-name free agents remain on the open market. Multiple clubs made notable signings in recent days, and smart fantasy owners will want to keep pace with the ever-changing values of key players.

Upton heads to Motown
Having ripped 82 roundtrippers across the past three seasons despite dealing with pitcher-friendly home parks in Atlanta and San Diego, Justin Upton should have no problem topping the 25-homer mark at Comerica Park. Known as a streaky slugger with a propensity for whiffs, the 28-year-old is likely to have a neutral effect on a mixed-league team's batting average. Two factors will likely determine whether Upton is a second-tier or third-tier outfielder in 2016. First, he could likely compile counting stats at a greater rate if he is afforded a lineup spot adjacent to Miguel Cabrera. Second, he will need to get the green lights on the basepaths with enough regularity to exceed 15 swipes for the sixth time in eight seasons.

The second half of January will be anything but dormant this winter, as several big-name free agents remain on the open market. Multiple clubs made notable signings in recent days, and smart fantasy owners will want to keep pace with the ever-changing values of key players.

Upton heads to Motown
Having ripped 82 roundtrippers across the past three seasons despite dealing with pitcher-friendly home parks in Atlanta and San Diego, Justin Upton should have no problem topping the 25-homer mark at Comerica Park. Known as a streaky slugger with a propensity for whiffs, the 28-year-old is likely to have a neutral effect on a mixed-league team's batting average. Two factors will likely determine whether Upton is a second-tier or third-tier outfielder in 2016. First, he could likely compile counting stats at a greater rate if he is afforded a lineup spot adjacent to Miguel Cabrera. Second, he will need to get the green lights on the basepaths with enough regularity to exceed 15 swipes for the sixth time in eight seasons.

Hot Stove Tracker

Davis sticks with O's
Arguably the most powerful player in baseball, Chris Davis has ripped more than 45 dingers twice in the past three seasons. To put the slugger's pop in perspective, no other Major Leaguer has posted a 45-homer campaign since the outset of 2011. Set to stay at hitter-friendly Camden Yards, the native Texan is the favorite to lead the American League in homers in '16. Unlikely to post a helpful batting average, the career .255 hitter cannot be considered in the first round of mixed-league drafts. But Davis' difference-making power numbers make him a viable second-round selection.

As much as prodigious power makes Davis a game-changer in fantasy baseball, he also transforms the outlook of the Orioles' lineup. Having a superstar slugger in the heart of the batting order will give Adam Jones a better chance to rebound from a slightly disappointing 2015 season, and Davis' presence should also help Manny Machado's quest to match last year's breakout performance.

Video: Zinkie on Davis signing with O's, fantasy impact

Padres nab Ramirez
Alexei Ramirez's status as a mixed-league asset is in question after he experienced an across-the-board production dip in 2015 that included a career-low batting average (.249) and on-base percentage (.285). By moving from offense-inducing U.S. Cellular Field to pitcher-friendly Petco Park, Ramirez -- who has averaged 10 homers across the past four seasons -- is unlikely to provide notable power in '16.

With the potential to occupy a premium lineup spot and receive the green light on the basepaths, the 34-year-old could make up for a meager home run total by racking up stolen bases. On a San Diego squad that will likely need to manufacture runs, the native Cuban could stay on the mixed-league radar by reaching the 20-steal mark for the fourth time in five campaigns.

Kennedy joins defending champs
Despite a solid 8.7 K/9 rate since the outset of 2012, Ian Kennedy has struggled to be a mixed-league rotation fixture across the past four seasons due to a 4.19 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. At first glance, the outlook may seem bleak for an inconsistent starter who is on the move to from the Senior Circuit to the offensively potent AL. But a closer look reveals the potential for a beneficial situation that enables Kennedy to be a mixed-league asset. The defending World Series champions should give the right-hander outstanding defensive support, and an elite Royals relief corps could help him to post a strong win total. Long balls sometimes give Kennedy trouble (lifetime 1.1 HR/9 rate), and he should not only benefit from pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium, but also from pitching in a division that arguably possesses just one hitter-friendly venue (U.S. Cellular Field).

The Royals' rotation will be require close attention from fantasy owners during Spring Training. Kennedy, Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura should occupy three rotation spots, with Kris Medlen, Chris Young, Danny Duffy and Dillon Gee competing for the final two openings. Those who ultimately fill out the Royals' starting quintet will deserve attention in deep mixed formats.

Video: MLB Tonight on recent deals for Davis, Kennedy

Rodney to compete for saves in San Diego
The ninth-inning gig is readily available in San Diego, and Fernando Rodney should join Kevin Quackenbush and Jon Edwards in a wide-open competition this spring. While he is unlikely to deliver helpful ratios (3.63 ERA, 1.36 WHIP since the outset of 2013), the 38-year-old will warrant a roster spot in deep mixed formats if he can secure the stopper's role. Having compiled 133 saves from 2012-14, Rodney has proven that he can handle the pressure of the final frame.

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.

Chris Davis, Justin Upton