The past seven days gave fantasy owners few attention-worthy transactions. But the break in the action gives us a chance to also analyze the recent work of MLB Pipeline and the top fantasy prospects for the coming campaign.
Cespedes to take extended bite out of Big Apple
Yoenis Cespedes was sensational in 2015, posting career-best marks in homers (35), RBIs (105) and runs scored (101) while batting .291 between the Tigers and Mets. Looking ahead, the Cuban must continue to supply 30-homer pop to maximize his value, as he lacks the plate discipline to reach base at a high rate. But considering that he logged a personal-low fly-ball rate (37.9) and a career-high HR/FB rate (18.6) last season, the 30-year-old is a candidate for power regression in '16. Still, as the centerpiece of the Mets' lineup, Cespedes is a solid second outfielder for mixed-league squads.
The most interesting aspect of this signing is the inevitable trickle-down effect. Cespedes will be a lineup regular, as will Curtis Granderson. The Mets will likely use Cespedes in center field on most days, which will maintain a spot in left field for prized prospect Michael Conforto. Plus defender Juan Lagares and versatile veteran Alejandro De Aza will give the club a talented pair of reserve outfielders. Lagares and De Aza will now fall off the mixed-league radar, and Conforto's value could also take a slight hit. The lefty batter rarely faced same-sided hurlers in his debut season, and Lagares has traditionally done his best work against southpaws.
Arroyo picks Nats over Reds
It is rare to have multiple teams compete for the services of a 39-year-old starter who is coming off Tommy John surgery, but Bronson Arroyo has a strong track record of 200-inning stability. In the end, the right-hander wisely opted to join the suitor with a competitive team and a pitcher-friendly home park. Arroyo will now battle with Tanner Roark for the Nationals' fifth-starter spot, but in reality, the battle will likely depend entirely on Arroyo's effectiveness in Spring Training. The Nats showed last season that they are fine with using Roark in the bullpen if they can form a starting staff without him. With a lifetime 5.8 K/9 rate, Arroyo lacks to the upside to garner mixed-league attention. Those in National League-only formats will want to use a late-round pick on the native Floridian if he fares well in March.
Pipeline rolls out top-10 lists
MLB Pipeline is the most-trusted source for prospect information. Prospects have made a massive impact in recent seasons, and owners who do not learn about the next generation of productive players are at a major disadvantage. In recent days, Pipeline has released its top-10 prospect list for each position. This process will culminate with the release of the Top 100 prospects for 2016 on Friday, which will include a one-hour special on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET.
I will leave the detailed analysis of these prospects to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. But there are some prospects who have piqued my interest because they have a relatively clear path to a prominent role in the Majors.
Tyler Glasnow, starter, Pirates: The Bucs currently have Ryan Vogelsong penciled in as their No. 5 starter. Vogelsong is 38 years old, and he has posted a 4.63 ERA since the outset of 2013. Even if Pittsburgh's rotation stays healthy, Glasnow could be needed in the rotation by the All-Star break.
Jose Berrios, starter, Twins: Minnesota has several rotation options, but the club lacks a starter with high-end potential. After a surprisingly strong 2015 season, the Twins have hopes of competing for a postseason spot. Berrios could give the team a major spark at some point in the first half.
Jose Peraza, second baseman, Reds: Throughout the offseason, the Reds seemed to have great interest in acquiring Peraza, and they umtimately got him from the Dodgers in a three-team trade with Los Angeles and the White Sox. My guess is that they will put him in a prominent role as soon as the opportunity arises. Because he can hit for average and steal bases, Peraza can make an immediate mixed-league impact as a leadoff hitter.
A.J. Reed, first baseman, Astros: With Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez, we saw last season that the Astros are not afraid to promote their talented youngsters. Jon Singleton may get the initial chance to win the first-base job, but he has hit .171 across his initial 357 big league at-bats. Reed could join mixed-league lineups before the All-Star break.
Joey Gallo, third baseman, Rangers: Gallo has shown that he can play outfield or third base, and there are many moving pieces on the Rangers' roster. If any of Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland or Shin-Soo Choo were to need a disabled-list stint, Gallo could slide into a regular role.
J.P. Crawford, shortstop, Phillies: The rebuilding Phillies are currently using Freddy Galvis (lifetime .282 on-base percentage) as a stopgap option at shortstop. I expect Crawford to arrive in the Majors by midseason, as he joins Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff as the club's next generation of core players.