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Dominic Smith and Eric Hosmer: Buying and Selling the Latest Offseason News for Fantasy Baseball

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Even though the Winter Meetings are now behind us, there’s still plenty of offseason left when it comes to baseball news and rumors – especially with a number of the offseason’s top free agents still without a team. And that’s all without mentioning potential trades as there hasn’t been an overabundance of deals made so far. The reports and rumors of free agent interest and trade interest, combined with actual free agent signings and trades, will continue to have significant ramifications for fantasy managers ahead of drafts next spring.

The aim of this column is to provide you with the latest fantasy analysis on both rumors and reports, as well as official signings and trades, and how it pertains to redraft fantasy baseball leagues next spring. Moves, or rumors and reports, tabbed as “Buying” are obviously good moves or potentially good moves from a fantasy standpoint. Moves or potential moves and reported interest that are filed under “Selling?” Not so great.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the news with some free agency news, specifically free agency news that pertains to two first basemen.

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Buying For Fantasy Baseball

Dominic Smith Reportedly Signing With The Nationals

Per a tweet from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on Tuesday, Smith is reportedly joining the Washington Nationals. Nightengale tweeted the following:

“Dominic Smith is signing with the #Nats on a one-year deal, pending physical.”

Smith is coming off a down season at the plate in 2022 but could be in for a bounce-back campaign in 2023.

He hit just .194 last season for the division-rival New York Mets in 152 plate appearances while also logging a .276 on-base percentage. He didn’t log a home run or a stolen base. However, Smith found much more success at the Triple-A level, batting .284 with a .367 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, and four stolen bases in 248 plate appearances.

That type of production is nothing new for the former Met at the Major League level. Smith hit .282 with a .355 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and a 7.5% barrel rate in 197 plate appearances during the 2019 campaign. He followed that up with a .316 average, a .377 on-base percentage, and 10 home runs in 199 plate appearances in 2020, seeing his barrel rate spike to 13.3%.

They’re small sample sizes to be sure, and while his production has waned since then, the veteran has maintained similar hard-hit, strikeout, and walk rates since those campaigns.

Dominic Smith Since 2020

  • 2020: 46.7% hard-hit rate, 22.6% strikeout rate, 7.0 BB%
  • 2021: 40.7% hard-hit rate, 22.7% strikeout rate, 6.5 BB%
  • 2022: 46.5% shard-hit rate, 24.3% strikeout rate, 7.9% BB%

And while his barrel rate has never been particularly high, outside of the 2020 season, Smith’s barrel rate has stayed in the same range the past few seasons despite the struggles at the plate.

Dominic Smith’s Barrel Rate By Season:

  • 2017: 8.4%
  • 2018: 6.3%
  • 2019 7.5%
  • 2020: 13.3%
  • 2021: 6.5%
  • 2022: 7.1%

Elsewhere, the first baseman has registered more than 200 plate appearances in a season just once in his Major League career. Provided he can rebound at the plate, there’s plenty of fantasy upside here with a full season’s worth of plate appearances.

Capable of playing first base and left field, Smith should have no trouble seeing consistent plate appearances with the Nationals, even with Joey Meneses on the roster, Lane Thomas occupying an outfield spot, and Robert Hassell III nearing the Majors.

And while the Nationals lineup shouldn’t be confused at all with one of the league’s elite, Smith could potentially be hitting near the top of it for most of the season. Much like Sean Murphy in Oakland last season, the 27-year-old could see an uptick in RBI opportunities provided he hits in the top half of Washington’s batting order.


(Potentially) Selling For Fantasy Baseball

Eric Hosmer Reportedly Being “Close To A Deal” With The Cubs

According to a tweet from The New York Post’s Jon Heyman on Tuesday afternoon, Eric Hosmer is reportedly “close to a deal” with the Cubs.

The Cubs aren’t hurting for first base options at the moment, not with Patrick Wisdom on hand as an in-house option and Cody Bellinger capable of playing the position.

But Hosmer’s potential fit with the Cubs doesn’t really have anything to do with the fantasy potential of either Wisdom or Bellinger. Wisdom can play more third base and the outfield corners and could see time at designated hitter, while Bellinger can play the outfield full-time.

It’s more about the fact that Hosmer could potentially block or impede prospect Matt Mervis’ path to the Majors this coming season. Unlike Wisdom and Bellinger, the veteran doesn’t have significant experience at another position and will likely only play at first base and at designated hitter. It’s certainly not ideal for fantasy managers who were looking to take a late-round flier on Mervis.

The 24-year-old rose from Advanced-A to Triple-A last season, batting .309 with a .379 on-base percentage, 36 home runs, and a pair of stolen bases in 512 plate appearances across three minor league levels. And while prospects shouldn’t be judged entirely on stat lines, it was hard to ignore the fantasy upside of the first baseman – whose power has a chance to translate in the Majors – this season as part of what could be a significantly improved Cubs lineup.

RBI and run-scoring opportunities may have been there early for Mervis regardless of where he hit, with Bellinger and Dansby Swanson joining the likes of Ian Happ, Christopher Morel, Seiya Suzuki, Nico Hoerner, and Wisdom in David Ross’ batting order.

Now, with Hosmer reportedly “close to a deal” with the Cubs, per Heyman’s tweet, it’s hard to see the prospect playing a significant role from Opening Day onwards, if the veteran does in fact join the National League Central club.

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