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Winter Meetings Recap - Fantasy Baseball Fallout

The MLB Winter Meetings are an exciting time. Fans can dream of their teams making a move that will see them becoming contenders. Some teams just use it to begin a phase of rebuilding. Regardless of each team's needs, there's usually no shortage of transactions that will impact players' fantasy outlook for the following season.

What started as a slow burner exploded into life as the week progressed. We ended up with a new star in pinstripes, the NL Champions boosting their rotation, and a new closer for the AL East winners.

What we lacked in quantity was made up for in quality, so here's a look at all the fantasy-relevant moves we saw occur at the Winter Meetings and their fantasy impact. Don't forget to follow @RotoBaller on X to keep up to date with all the offseason moves and help to get you ready for your drafts.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Day 1 - A Snoozefest on Broadway

Braves Get Things Going

As GMs began to arrive in Nashville, news broke that the Atlanta Braves had traded for outfielder Jarred Kelenic. In addition to Kelenic, the Mariners sent Marco Gonzales and Evan White to Atlanta, with Jackson Kowar and Cole Phillips moving the other way. This was a cash dump by the Mariners, with Kelenic being the only fantasy noteworthy player in this trade.

The former top-five prospect gets a change of scenery, which may help unlock that forgotten potential. Kelenic has a career .204/.283/.373 slash line in the majors, although he's coming off his best season when he hit .253/.327/.419.

Kelenic had better numbers against left-handed pitching (LHP) than RHP this year so he might not be just a platoon bat. This move offers a chance for the 24-year-old to resurrect his young career and he certainly gets a boost to his fantasy value by playing for the Braves.

Dodgers Get a New (Old) Reliever

The Dodgers re-signed Joe Kelly on a one-year deal. After having a 4.97 ERA with the White Sox last year, Kelly was traded to the Dodgers and put up a 1.74 ERA (10.1 IP). It was a reunion of sorts as Kelly pitched for the Dodgers for three seasons (between 2019 and 2021) where he had a 3.59 ERA in 105.1 IP.

It's unlikely Kelly will be the Dodgers' closer next year. But his 31.4% K%, 2.98 xFIP, and 3.01 SIERA over the last three years suggest he's certainly capable of having success in the later innings. In leagues that count holds, I'd be looking at Kelly as a late-round option in drafts.

Milwaukee Looks to the Future and the Past

The Brewers' top prospect, Jackson Chourio, signed a record-setting eight-year contract worth a guaranteed $82M. The deal suggests Chourio could make the Opening Day roster and he definitely should be on our radar for 2024.

In 2023, Chourio had 22 homers, 89 RBI, 84 runs, and 43 steals at Double-A while hitting .280/.336/.467 (122 games). He'll be 20 years old come Opening Day, so he still has time to develop significantly more power.

He currently has an ADP of ~223 but that will undoubtedly drop to under 200 over the coming months. Chourio has the upside to be a fantasy star immediately but Kelenic should act as a reminder that not all top prospects are great when they first make the majors. A Julio Rodriguez rookie season type year isn't unrealistic.

The Brewers also re-signed pitcher Wade Miley to a one-year deal. Miley had a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts (120.1 IP) this year. But a 16.1% K%, 4.85 xFIP, and 5.04 SIERA suggests his fantasy relevancy will be exclusively as a streaming option.

 

Day 2 - Downtown Heats Up

Yankees Boost Their Outfield - Part One

Day 2 of the Winter Meetings livened up when the Yankees traded for Alex Verdugo. Verdugo ticked many of the boxes the Yankees were looking for this offseason. A left-handed hitting outfielder who doesn't strike out a ton (15.4% K%) and can play solid defense. While he didn't have an outstanding season in 2023, Verdugo certainly fills a need for the Yankees.

Verdugo has averaged 146 games per year over the last three seasons, so he provides some consistency and resiliency often lacking in the Yankees outfield. Verdugo is expected to hit in the lower part of the lineup. But the Yankees' lineup should score more runs than the Red Sox and his fantasy value does get a slight boost.

A New Closer in Baltimore

With Felix Bautista expected to miss the entire 2024 season following Tommy John Surgery, the Orioles had a hole to fill in their bullpen. And they did it by signing veteran Craig Kimbrel to a one-year deal worth $13M.

Over the last three seasons, Kimbrel has registered 69 saves with a 3.10 ERA and 34.4% K% (188.2 IP). He's been one of the most consistent closers in recent times and is set to continue in that role for the Orioles.

Hopes that Yennier Cano and his 2.11 ERA would be the ninth-inning option in Baltimore were dashed. Cano will likely continue in the high-leverage role he performed so well in this year. Kimbrel hasn't shown signs of regression in his arsenal, so he makes a solid option for saves in 2024.

White Sox Sign Former Top Prospect

Erick Fedde is returning to the MLB following a successful year in Korea. The former first-round draft pick posted a 2.00 ERA (180.1 IP) en route to winning the Choi Dong-won Award, the KBO equivalent of the Cy Young Award.

In the two seasons before his move to the KBO, Fedde had a 5.64 ERA over 260.1 IP with the Nationals. Given Fedde had a 17.5% K% in the majors and a 29.5% K% in the KBO League, it's unrealistic to expect him to repeat his numbers from Korea.

Something may have clicked for Fedde, which he can translate into success in Chicago. He is worth taking a chance on in drafts to round off your rotation, but not someone you want to rely upon.

The Champs Bolster Their Bullpen

Despite winning their first World Series, the Rangers led the league in blown saves (33) during the regular season. Their 4.77 ERA from the bullpen was the seventh-worst. While the signing of Kirby Yates might not seem like much, he may come out of spring training as the Rangers' closer.

Yates had a 3.28 ERA in 61 appearances (60.1 IP) for the Braves in 2023. His 31.5% K% ranked in the 94th percentile, although his 14.6% BB% was in the second percentile. He'd be one of the most volatile closers if he did get the role but one worth taking a chance on late in drafts.

Injuries limited Yates to 11.1 IP in the three years before 2023. Prior to 2020, Yates had a 7.8% BB%. If he can get back close to that with a full year of health under his belt, don't bet against Yates winding up as the best option to close games in the Rangers' bullpen.

 

Day 3 - A Music City Finale to Remember

NL Champs Gear Up For a Repeat

As the Winter Meetings were coming to a close, the Diamondbacks made a big move that barely registered. Given the rumors about the Yankees making a splash were intensifying, Eduardo Rodriguez signing a four-year deal worth $80M almost went unnoticed. Rodriguez managed to cash in following his best season in the majors.

After adding Eugenio Suarez in November, it's clear that the Diamondbacks are looking to build on last year's success. Rodriguez should certainly help with that. In 26 starts (152.2 IP), he had a 13-9 W-L record, 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 143 Ks. There were some red flags with Rodriguez, however.

Rodriguez's 23.0% K% only ranked in the 46th percentile. His 4.06 xFIP and 4.26 SIERA suggest his ERA was fortunate, especially given Rodriguez has a career 4.03 ERA with a 4.08 xFIP and 4.12 SIERA. And he's moving from one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks to a much more neutral one.

Yankees Boost Their Outfield - Part Two

After months of rumor and speculation, Juan Soto finally wound up in pinstripes. We already have a full article on the fantasy impact, which can you read here. Needless to say, this was by far the biggest move in the Winter Meetings.

Soto moves to one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks. He could hit in front of Aaron Judge and easily wind up as the leading run-scorer in baseball next year. Michael King gets a clearer route to remaining as a starter, a role he impressed in during 2023.

Trent Grisham looks like being a fourth outfielder for the Yankees. It wouldn't take much for Grisham to see more regular playing time. Despite only having a .191 batting average over the last two seasons, Grisham has a .300 OBP. He should also benefit from playing at Yankee Stadium.

The phrase "saving the best 'til last" definitely seemed to fit this year's Winter Meetings.



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