With the baseball season right around the corner, the baseball hot stove is scolding hot. Teams that missed out on big free agent signings are still trying to make a splash via trades.
Some players could find themselves landing in a favorable situation, that opens the door for them to make some noise. Fantasy studs could be born next season with a change of scenery.
Jonathan Papelbon is one of the nastiest relievers in all of baseball. The glare in his eyes strikes fear into opposing batters. Daniel Bard is just as nasty and has even better stuff.
Bard posted a 1.93 ERA as the set-up man for Boston last season. Papelbon on the other hand, had an ERA just shy of four. With Papelbon signing a new one-year deal, Bard could see another year of his talent only being displayed in the eighth inning.
If thrust into a closer role with a new team, Bard could be fantasy gem.
Lars Anderson was supposed to be the future first baseman of the Boston Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez crushed that dream.
Even though Gonzalez is coming off surgery, he has staked his claim as the Sox's first basemen for years to come.
Anderson is a big boy. That is probably an understatement. The south pow is listed at 6'4" and he looks every inch of it. He has pop in his bat and can hit for average. He might not have made as big of a statement as he would have hoped in limited play last season, but that doesn't mean he can't be a fantastic every day player.
It doesn't seem as if he will see much playing time in Boston, but if he was shipped to a new team, Anderson has the potential to be a break-out star.
The Rays are turning into the Florida Marlins of 2003. After a fantastic season, they are moving toward a rebuilding year. With the loss of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano to free agency and the trade of Matt Garza to the Cubs, the Rays are looking to restock their farm system. Why not add James Shields to the casualty list?
Shields has fantastic, lights out stuff. He can pile up the K's as he racked up 187 in 2010, but has trouble keeping it in the yard. Shields served up 34 long balls last season. Put Shields in a pitcher's park and he is a Cy Young caliber pitcher.
If the Rays decide to completely turn to their youth next year, and Shields winds up in San Diego for instance, he will become a fantasy steal in a pitcher friendly ball park.
Kyle McClellan has closer stuff. Only problem is Ryan Franklin stands in his way.
Franklin is still the St. Louis Cardinals closer, for now, but he is on a short leash. When Franklin went down, Kyle stepped in and showed he is a capable closer. He posted a respectable K/9 at 7.4 in 2010.
Ryan Franklin still has the ninth inning job, but McClellan deserves a shot. If not in Cardinal red, then somewhere else. If he finds himself earning a closer role with another team this off-season, scoop him up with confidence.
Jesus Montero is the real deal. He has put his power on display in the minors and deserves a shot at becoming a full time catcher in the big leagues. Rated as the No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, this monster is ready to be unleashed on major league pitchers.
Montero slugged 21 home-runs in AAA last season, but still finds himself fighting for a starting gig. The Yankees went out and signed Russell Martin this off-season to fill the void left by now DH, Jorge Posada.
Montero has been the center piece of numerous trades put together by Brian Cashman as recently as the Cliff Lee sweepstakes before he landed in Texas.
The Yanks are still in need of a high-caliber starting pitcher and Montero could bring one in. If Jesus hangs up his pinstripes, he could become a lethal every day catcher.
Joakim Soria is one of the best closers in the game who is stuck on one of the worst teams in the league. In a constant rebuilding state, the Royals won't be relevant for quite some time. Especially after sending their ace Zach Greinke to the Brewers.
Soria managed to save 43 games on a team who won only 67 games in 2010. Imagine if he were on a team that could finish somewhere close to .500? He would be the best closer in the game.
He was willing to waive his no trade clause for the Yankees, which would have mutilated his fantasy worth as a set-up man.
If Joakim finds himself on a winning team, he is destined for even greater fantasy stardom.
It seems that Red Sox players dominate this list. This shows the depth of their farm system. Regardless, Ryan Kalish came in and put up decent numbers in his Red Sox debut. With injuries debilitating this team, Terry Francona had no choice, but to go to his minor league system and hope for the best. Kalish was a pleasant surprise.
Kalish only posted a .252 BA in 53 games at the big league level, but made a splash by hitting his first major league home run against the hated Yankees.
With Carl Crawford taking over in left, Ellsbury returning to center, and the aging JD Drew in right, Kalish finds himself back in AAA.
According to scouts, Kalish has average to above average power and has fantastic range in the outfield. With a glaring hole behind the dish in Boston, the Sox could move Kalish to land a formidable catcher. If this comes to fruition, Kalish could showcase his five-tool ability for a major league club.
Dustin Ackley is the next big thing. He is flying through the Mariners farm system and could be starting right now. It is mind boggling to me why he is still in the minors. He has the potential to be a star.
Ackley has the stats to back up the hype surrounding him. In the 2010 Arizona Fall League, Ackley posted a .424 BA in 20 games.
With the Mariners moving in the wrong direction, it is time to bring in the youth.
It is extremely unlikely that the Mariners will move their future star, but stranger things have happened.
If Ackley found himself on a major league diamond this spring, he will be a ROY candidate.
McCutchen is the lone bright spot on a perennial loser. The Pirates are bad and will be bad for years to come. McCutchen steals bases, eclipsing 30 last year, and finds a way to score runs, totaling 94 last season.
Imagine the type of lead off star he could be on a team that could surround him with a supporting cast? He would easily score over 100 runs and his batting average would hover around .300. No longer could pitchers pitch around him.
Pittsburgh has a habit or getting rid of their star players instead of paying them, so don't be surprised in if McCutchen jumps ship.
Bay posted staggering numbers for the Red Sox in 2009, reaping the benefits of playing in a hitter's park. In his final season in Boston, Bay launched 36 long-balls and knocked in 119 RBI's—all career highs. He soon inked a monstrous contract with the Mets and called the new Citi Field his home. He probably wish he reconsidered this.
Bay's 2010 campaign was cut short by a concussion, but he Citi Field was non too kind to the slugger. In 95 games, Bay him a whopping six homeruns. Yes six. Chalk this one up as another wonderful free agent signing by the Met's front office.
If Bay could some how end up in a new uniform, which is extremely unlikely, he could return to his slugger self in a more hitter friendly ball park. Maybe he could even just move down the street to the Bronx?
A move would be welcomed by Bay and fantasy owners alike.