Offseason Analysis: 13 Most Impactful Moves

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Updated: January 12, 2015
Betances

This offseason has seen trades and free-agent signings at a break-neck pace, highlighted by a rabid winter meetings that saw a flurry of trades involving star players.

RotoAce continues its offseason analysis by sorting through the madness from a fantasy perspective. We’ve assembled a list of the most impactful moves with an emphasis on players seeing the biggest change in situations via opportunity or ballpark factors:

13. A.J. Burnett

The aging pitcher signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Pittsburgh, where he flourished in 2012-13 (26-21, 3.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 391 K, 393.1 IP) before struggling in Philadelphia (8-18, 4.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 190 K, 213.2 IP). Heading back to PNC Park under the expert tutelage of virtuoso pitching coach Ray Searage, Burnett’s value surges.

12. Brandon McCarthy

If the right-hander can pitch to a 2.89 ERA with an 82-13 K-BB ratio in 14 starts with the Yankees last season (including a 2.20 ERA in seven starts at Yankee Stadium), just think what he could do in Dodger Stadium. The poor luck that plagued McCarthy in Arizona before the trade (.345 BABIP) helped keep his season ERA at 4.05, which could help keep him undervalued in L.A.

11. Adam LaRoche

The power-hitting first baseman moves from one of the hardest ballparks to homer in (29th in 2014, 26th in 2013) to one of the easier (13th in 2014, 7th in 2013). LaRoche is 35 years old, so he could be undervalued because of an age bias.

10. Koji Uehara

The Red Sox brought back their closer despite his losing the job amidst a late-season swoon. Boston will need to monitor closely Uehara’s workload so he doesn’t wear down again, but the 39-year-old was spectacular the past two seasons (1.76 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 181-17 K-BB, 138.2 IP) and should be able to resume being a first-tier closer.

9. Yasmany Tomas

The latest Cuban import signed a six-year, $68.5 million deal with Arizona, where the slugger should flourish in Chase Field (7th easiest park to homer in in 2014).

8. Chase Headley

The third baseman put up a .769 OPS in 58 games with the Yankees after managing just a .651 OPS in 77 games with the Padres last season. Yankee Stadium was the easiest park to homer in last season while Petco Park ranked 24th, so Headley has a chance to approach his 2012 breakout season.

7. Pablo Sandoval

The portly third sacker is moving from San Francisco (25th in runs in 2014) to Boston (5th in runs), so Panda could see a power surge after averaging just 14 homers over the past three seasons. The tricky part here is that Sandoval has better career numbers in San Francisco’s spacious AT&T Park, so we’ll see if the change of scenery is as big as it would appear on the surface.

6. Michael Cuddyer

The veteran will be 36 years old by Opening Day and he’s moving from far-and-away the easiest ballpark to score runs in (Coors Field) to the 28th easiest (Citi Field), so this move should severely stunt Cuddyer’s value.

5. Padres

San Diego completely retooled its outfield, trading for three star sluggers in Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers. We all know how tough Petco Park can be to generate offense, but each of these hitters is coming from ballparks in the lower half in runs scored in 2014. We moved each of the trio down just a skosh, but it may be overstated just how much playing in San Diego will affect this bunch.

4. Jason Heyward

The Cardinals-Braves blockbuster not only included what should be a favorable move ballpark-wise for Heyward and Shelby Miller (Busch Stadium ranked 4th in runs scored while Turner Field ranked 24th in 2014) but led to Atlanta signing Nick Markakis, whose value drops changing leagues and moving away from the bandbox at Camden Yards.

3. Nelson Cruz

The Mariners lured the 34-year-old slugger away from Baltimore, where he smashed 40 homers last season, with a four-year, $57 million deal. Safeco Field is notorious at killing offensive numbers, but Robinson Cano managed to do well enough last season to give Cruz fans hope for an encore to his MVP-caliber year.

2. Hanley Ramirez

The Red Sox signed Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million contract that gives the 31-year-old a chance to move from spacious Dodger Stadium to cozy Fenway Park. If Hanley can stay healthy in the middle of Boston’s potentially tremendous lineup he could be a top-five fantasy player this year.

1. Dellin Betances

With David Robertson signing with the White Sox, the Yankees’ closer job should fall to Betances, who was spectacular last season with a 1.40 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 90 innings. The signing of Andrew Miller clouds the picture a bit, but it is expected that Betances will ascend to the closer role and could be the best at the position.

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