Sometimes a player needs a change of scenery.
A new atmosphere can do wonders for a player. For example, look at Chris Davis. Davis was a fifth-round draft pick and never really lived up to his potential with the Rangers. He moved east and ended up hitting .270 with 33 home runs for the Orioles in 2012.
Players like these are sleepers in fantasy leagues. Davis wasn't the first and he won't be the last. Here's a closer look at nine players who can be sleepers if they change teams this free agency.
Stephen Drew, SS ... Possible Suitors — Boston Red Sox, Oakland A's
Drew has missed significant time the past two seasons, but he's the best shortstop in a weak market. When he was fully healthy in 2010, Drew hit .278 with 15 HR and 10 SB. He turned it around in Oakland last season, hitting 57 points better with the A's than when he was in Arizona.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors expects Drew to sign with the Sox. Fenway is a friendly park for hitters and that could be a perfect fit for Drew—as long as he stays healthy.
Scott Feldman, SP ... Possible Suitors—Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers
Feldman's 5.09 ERA last season is nothing to get excited about, but that number can be a little misleading. His FIP was 3.81, which is a huge difference compared to that bloated ERA. With a discrepancy like that, Feldman proved to be one of the unluckiest pitchers last year.
A move out of Texas could be good. Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore thinks that the O's might be interested in Feldman. Joe Saunders was just mediocre with the D-backs, but he was great in Charm City. Perhaps Feldman could follow those footsteps.
Scott Baker, SP ... Signed — Chicago Cubs
Baker missed all of the 2012 season because of Tommy John surgery. Since he didn't play last season, some might forget about him, but don't make that mistake. In 2011, Baker went 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA and an 8.22 K/9.
Yes, he's very injury-prone, but when he's healthy he's a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy. Wrigley isn't a pitcher's park, but at least it's the National League, where pitchers often put up better stats. Pitchers are rebounding very nicely from TJ, so it should hard to pass on Baker.
Jeremy Guthrie, SP ... Possible Suitors—Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals
Guthrie salvaged a decent 2012 campaign. He was awful in Colorado, going 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA, but he went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA for the Royals. That turnaround should draw attention for 2013.
This is a pitcher who was battle-tested in the AL East while he was with the O's. Both Tim Dierkes and Mike Axisa of MLB Trade Rumors predict that Guthrie will end up with the Pirates. PNC Park favors pitching and going from the AL to the NL usually helps a pitcher.
Kelly Johnson, 2B ... Possible Suitors—TBD
Johnson has struggled with the batting average the last two years, but he offers a combination of power and speed at a shallow position in second base. He's only 30 years old, so I don't think he's past his prime just yet. Johnson has the potential to hit better than .225, like he has the last two years.
The Blue Jays signed Maicer Izturis, so that means Johnson will definitely play for another team. There are teams that need a second baseman, and Johnson is capable of hitting .250 with 20 HR and 15 SB.
Joe Blanton, SP ... Possible Suitors—Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs
Like Feldman, Blanton is one of the unluckiest pitchers. He carried a 4.71 ERA during the 2012 season, but his 3.91 FIP suggests he could have had better numbers. Blanton is very inconsistent, but when he's on, he's lights out. Blanton is pretty durable, eclipsing the 190-inning plateau in six of the last eight years.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Blanton will sign with Minnesota and MLB.com's Corey Brock writes that the Padres are in need of starting pitching. These two teams would be perfect for Blanton. They have spacious fields and that would raise his stock.
Edwin Jackson, SP ... Possible Suitors—San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals
If Jackson signs with the Padres, then his fantasy stock will skyrocket more than anybody on this list. Corey Brock of MLB.com shows that this is real possibility. Padres GM Josh Byrnes was the general manager of the Diamondbacks when Jackson threw his no-hitter. E-Jax is a good pitcher with solid stuff; he misses bats and is good for around 200 innings.
The Padres need pitching and Jackson is a familiar face for Byrnes. If he ends up in San Diego, expect Jackson to put up very good numbers.
Jason Bay, OF ... Possible Suitors—Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox
To most, Bay is a has-been. After three dismal years in New York, the Mets are paying Bay to go away. I'm not ready to give up entirely on him though, despite his recent struggles. Look at players like Adam LaRoche and Andruw Jones. LaRoche hit .172 in 2011 and then had a massive 2012 campaign. Jones hit .158 in 2008 and then became a 15-20 HR guy.
A change could benefit Bay. Brendon Porath of SB Nation Cleveland points out that the Indians are on Bay's short list. That move would reunite Bay with his former manager, Terry Francona.
Brett Myers, SP ... Possible Suitors—Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies
Myers can pitch both in the rotation and out of the bullpen. Since he will most likely not close, his fantasy value relies on whether he'll transition back to a starter. It looks like he will.
According to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, the Twins have interest in making Myers a starter and he suggested his focus is on a team who wants him as a starter. Minnesota would be a nice home for Myers. It's a spacious park and there's no reason to think he couldn't post an ERA below 4.00.
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