The weekend saw two more notable players opt out for the 2020 season.
Lorenzo Cain is of course a major loss for the Brewers, given his defensive prowess and high-contact bat. What little his replacement, Ben Gamel, brings to the table offensively won't be of much impact in Fantasy, and he can go unclaimed in all but the deepest of leagues.
Yoenis Cespedes may seem like a great loss for the Mets — and certainly, there was hope he would recapture his power-hitting form after multiple leg surgeries the past two seasons — but his replacement may stand a better chance of making a worthwhile Fantasy contribution. In fact, by the account of some beat writers, Dominic Smith was the Mets' best hitter in summer camp.
Dominic Smith is having a hell of a summer camp. Just homered again to the batter's eye near the Home Run Apple, not far from where he crushed a ball the other night.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 21, 2020
The challenge for the Mets? Finding a way to get Smith at-bats since he won't be pinch-hitting for the pitcher.
Not such a challenge anymore, is it?
Worth noting: Smith hit .282 with 11 homers, and an .881 OPS in 177 at-bats as a part-time player last year. Also worth noting, seeing as he's a left-handed batter: He went 10 for 33 (.303) with two of those homers against lefties last year.
None of that's to say he'll be as good with full-time duty or will get to play against both lefties and righties, all of which remains to be seen. But the 25-year-old has an unexpected opportunity to capitalize on the talent that once made him the 11th overall pick in draft and presumed first baseman of the future until Pete Alonso entered the scene.
It's not necessarily a rush-out-and-add-him scenario, except maybe in leagues of 15 teams or more, but you'll want to keep track of Smith's progress.
We discussed all of this on today's Fantasy Baseball Today podcast. Follow all our podcasts and subscribe here.
PIT Pittsburgh • #50 • Age: 33
If you weren't impressed by Tyler Chatwood's first start, when he three-hit the Brewers over six innings, how about this latest one in which he recorded 11 strikeouts on 20 swinging strikes? He found his command in a bullpen role late last year and has a new pitch mix, playing his slider and cutter off each other to great effect.
TOR Toronto • #16 • Age: 32
Yusei Kikuchi also recorded 20 swinging strikes in his latest outing, and the transformation for him is even plainer to see. His average fastball velocity is up 3 mph from a year ago, when he was a prized signing out of Japan.
Ryan Pressly RP
HOU Houston • #55 • Age: 34
With Roberto Osuna landing on the IL with an elbow injury of unknown severity, Ryan Pressly becomes the likely candidate to replace him. He has had his own health issues this year, namely a sore elbow and cut thumb, but appears to be healthy now and certainly has closer-level talent.
SEA Seattle • #3 • Age: 28
A former top prospect in the Phillies organization, J.P. Crawford may finally be breaking through at age 25. His plate discipline has been incredible so far, and he has shown off some wheels with two triples and two steals. Shortstop may have been deep in the draft, but there won't be many new options emerging there on the waiver wire.
LAA L.A. Angels • #47 • Age: 27
Griffin Canning has looked as strong as ever coming back from his elbow injury in spring training, and while he did most of his damage last year with his slider, a curveball has been his biggest weapon this year, helping round out his arsenal. It's worth mentioning every time his name comes up that he had the same swinging-strike rate as Jack Flaherty last year.
HOU Houston • #53 • Age: 26
Cristian Javier didn't make a start over the weekend, so his place here is more of preemptive move with him lining up for two starts in Week 3 (Aug. 3-9). He's not an open-and-shut case, even after putting together a 1.74 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in the minors last year, but after the way he carved up the Dodgers first time out, you'll want to have beat the rush if he does it again.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #1 • Age: 26
We know recent call-up Nick Madrigal will hit for average given his incredible bat-to-ball skills, which he demonstrated with his four-hit game Sunday, but there isn't much in the way of power. It puts pressure on him to contribute as a base-stealer, which he did in the minors, and the mere possibility of him following through here makes him worth a flier in all 5x5 leagues.
SD San Diego • #1 • Age: 27
The potential for Trent Grisham was obvious after he hit .300 with 26 homers, a .407 on-base percentage and a 1.010 OPS in just 370 at-bats in the minors last year. But after a failed stint with the Brewers last year, we needed to see if his plate discipline would translate completely, if he'd have anything to contribute speed-wise, and if he'd get consistent playing time as a left-handed batter. With him checking all three of those boxes so far, he may be en route to Stud City.