Fantasy Baseball: These players switched teams in the MLB offseason — here's why they could benefit
For the first time in a few years, the MLB offseason ran a normal course, with a large volume of signings and trades spread out across a three-month period. And while many players switched squads during the winter months, a few found new homes that leave them primed for greater fantasy success this year.
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Let’s take a look at nine men who could benefit from fresh surroundings.
Daulton Varsho (C/OF, Toronto Blue Jays)
Fantasy catchers who play a different position with their real-life teams are often terrific assets due to their ability to accumulate plate appearances at a rate that cannot be matched by those who work solely as backstops. Such is the case with Varsho, who will be a full-time outfielder on a Toronto team that already has Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk to handle catching duties. The 26-year-old should also benefit from joining a Blue Jays lineup that outscored Arizona by 73 runs in 2022.
Brandon Drury (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Angels)
Drury is coming off a career year (.813 OPS), but his effectiveness waned after he was traded from Cincinnati to San Diego, and his performance at the Reds' hitter-friendly park was much better than his cumulative work at other stadiums. Still, Drury managed to sign with a team that has plenty of available playing time, and his new home park was among the top five in park factors for hitters last year. For the cost of a late pick (current ADP: 177), managers could take a chance on Drury repeating his 2022 success.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS, Boston Red Sox)
Mondesi played in a total of 50 games the past two seasons, and his lengthy injury history will cause many fantasy managers to cross him off their draft lists before the selection process begins. And I won’t even try to convince you that the 27-year-old is going to finally stay healthy this year. But Mondesi has always been excellent on a per-game basis, and he could be better than ever now that he has upgrades in both home ballpark and lineup support.
My plan for Mondesi in Yahoo leagues is simple — draft him in the late rounds (ADP: 211) and keep him in my active lineup until he suffers his first major injury, at which point I will ship him to waivers. He could lead the majors in steals during the initial months of the campaign.
Wil Myers (1B/OF, Cincinnati Reds)
Although many fantasy managers would incorrectly guess Coors Field, Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati is the best venue for accumulating home runs. And after spending the entirety of his 10-year career playing for teams with power-suppressing venues, Myers will now get his chance to produce an embellished homer total. Those who avoid the 32-year-old on the basis of him playing just 77 games last year should know that he appeared in more than 90% of his team’s games in each season from 2019 to '21.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Chicago White Sox)
Benintendi (5 HR in 2022) could make major improvements in the home run category, as he spent most of the past two seasons in one of the toughest parks (Kauffman Stadium) to rip round-trippers. Now set to play half his games at homer-happy Guaranteed Rate Field, the 28-year-old could produce 20 long balls for the first time since 2017.
Zach Eflin (SP, Tampa Bay Rays)
Eflin showed flashes of promise during seven seasons with the Phillies, but he rarely achieved the level of consistency that is needed to dent mixed-league fantasy rosters. A strong case can be made that the right-hander was let down by his teammates, as his FIP in each of the past three seasons was roughly half a run lower than his ERA. Now part of a Rays organization that is renowned for getting the most out of its pitchers, Eflin could produce sub-3.50 ERA and a WHIP below 1.20.
Noah Syndergaard (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Syndergaard is not the same pitcher we watched during his heyday from 2015 to '18. He no longer misses bats at the same rate, and he would have warranted little fantasy attention if he had signed with any team other than the Dodgers. Fantasy managers are well aware of the Dodgers' terrific track record in helping hurlers reclaim their careers, as was evidenced in the outstanding stats posted by Tyler Anderson (2.57 ERA) and Andrew Heaney (3.10 ERA) last year. I will happily use a late-round pick on the possibility that Syndergaard (current ADP: 243) becomes the latest Los Angeles reclamation project.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP, Texas Rangers)
After making 32 starts in 2021, Eovaldi returned to his injury-prone ways when he started just 20 games last year. Although the right-hander’s durability will be the biggest key to his fantasy value this year, he should also benefit from getting away from hitter-friendly Fenway Park and instead making his home outings in Texas’ neutral venue. Across a four-year span from 2019 to '22, Eovaldi’s road ERA was nearly half a run lower than his home mark.
Carlos Estevez (RP, Los Angeles Angels)
With a lifetime 4.59 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, Estevez is going to be virtually free (current ADP: 253) in 2023 fantasy drafts. But the 30-year-old could thrive now that he no longer calls Coors Field home, as his career 5.57 ERA in Colorado is more than two runs higher than his 3.51 road mark. Estevez is also in prime position to pick up saves, as his new team has one of the worst relief corps in baseball and has not yet named a closer.