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Offseason Extra: Newfound Fantasy riches?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Mariners became the story of the offseason with their moves at the winter meetings, complementing their signing of Cano with two low-cost, high-upside bats.

Of course, a move to Seattle is never good news for a hitter, but for Corey Hart, it's at least reassurance that someone still views him as an everyday player and trusts him to bounce back from the two knee surgeries that sidelined him in 2013. During his time with the Brewers, he was always better at home than on the road, but he was going to be a risky pick regardless of where he went. With playing time less of a concern, he's worth a late-round flier.

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No doubt, Logan Morrison was in need of a change of scenery, but again, the Mariners aren't the team for resuscitating hitters. Between Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Mike Zunino, they've had enough trouble developing their own. Morrison still has intriguing potential, but between his balky knee and stalled production, he has enough hurdles to overcome before you even factor in Safeco Field.

The Mariners weren't the only team making moves. The Yankees signed Carlos Beltran and re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, but in terms of Fantasy significance, those moves pale in comparison to their early signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, who both figures to hit more home runs at Yankee Stadium. The change in venue certainly shouldn't hurt Beltran, but whether or not you target the soon-to-be 37-year-old in the middle rounds is more a matter of whether or not you believe this is the year he finally slows down. If it is, it won't matter where he's playing.

The way the Athletics rotation comes together should be one of the more fascinating storylines in Fantasy, as it is every year. The signing of Scott Kazmir seemed to give them a clear cut starting five, with Tommy Milone around as an insurance policy, but with Drew Pomeranz in the mix, someone could end up getting the squeeze. It will most likely be Pomeranz to start out since he hasn't had as much success as Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily or A.J. Griffin to this point. But none of those four is particularly established, and Pomeranz was thought to have a higher ceiling than all of them before he had the misfortune of being traded to the Rockies. Even if he begins the year in the minors, he could make a surprising impact if the Athletics straighten him out.

Brett Anderson, meanwhile, now has the unfortunate task of taming Coors Field. So much for his sleeper appeal.

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Player News
Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr. showing off new swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:41 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is showing off his new swing this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Bradley started working out at the team's facility in November, and started hitting in January. He worked with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for a good portion of the offseason. "Jackie was dedicated," Rodriguez said. "He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about."

Manager John Farrell has noticed the change in Bradley's approach. "In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much," Farrell said. "I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with."

Bradley said his swing has been a "work in progress." While it doesn't appear Bradley has a starting role, his defense should make him a useful major-league asset.

The 24-year-old hit .198/.265/.266 over 384 at-bats last year. 

 


Molitor: Eduardo Escobar 'will be' important part of Twins in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:36 pm ET) Twins manager Paul Molitor marked infielder Eduardo Escobar as "an important part" of the team in 2014 and believes he will be the same this season, the Star Tribune reports.

"He was an important part of our team last year," Molitor said. "He will be this year, too."

Escobar delivered the best performance of his career in 2014, hitting .275/.315/.406 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 433 at-bats. However, he arrived at camp to learn he was in a competition for the shortstop role with last year's center fielder, Danny Santana. Breaking the news to Escobar was a delicate conversation for the manager.

"Obviously," Molitor said. "You’ve got a guy who came in and played every day for you last year, and then you’re thinking about doing something different. I’ve tried to explain it to him the best I could. His answers, at least for now, are, 'No problem. I understand.'"


Blue Jays' Daniel Norris performs well in first start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:30 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris tossed a strong start in his first spring appearance on Thursday.

Norris is competing for the fifth spot in the team's rotation, and got off to a nice start. Norris allowed one hit and one walk over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two during the outing. 

Norris said he was glad to be taking on a strong lineup his first time out, according to the Toronto Sun. "I liked the fact I was facing a good lineup. You have to bring your 'A' game" Norris said. While it wasn't a perfect outing, Norris was pleased with his stuff.

"I struggled a little with it (staying closed) in the first, but was much better in the second inning," said Norris. "Years back in spring training, I can remember my stuff not doing much."

The 21-year-old posted a 5.40 ERA over 6 2/3 innings in the majors last year. 


Pirates' Jeff Locke wants to remain with team if he doesn't start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:00 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke said he prefers to remain with the club even if he loses out on the fifth starter spot, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Locke is stuck in a battle with Vance Worley, but Worley is considered to have a leg up in the competition. Both players are out of options, and would be considered for the bullpen if they lose out on the rotation spot. While a trade is possible, Locke said he would rather remain in Pittsburgh.

"If it comes to them saying, 'Would you rather be a starting pitcher on (another) team or be a (reliever) on the Pirates?' this is where I'd want to be," Locke said. "This is where my loyalty sits. This is the team I want to win with. It's never going to be about anything more than that."

The 27-year-old Locke posted a 3.91 ERA over 131 1/3 innings last year. 


Orioles' Chris Davis goes yard on Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:51 pm ET) Orioles infielder Chris Davis crushed a home run on Thursday against the Blue Jays. 

Davis, who is coming off a poor season, is attempting to get back to his previous level of performance. His ability to hit for power has never been a question, and he proved that again on Thursday. With two men on, Davis took a fastball out to right center for a three-run shot in the third inning. 

Manager Buck Showalter said Davis' hard work has paid off thus far. "He's been working real hard," Showalter said. "Get a little return on it. Nothing wind-aided tonight, thick air. He had to square it up."

The 28-year-old Davis hit .196/.300/.404 over 450 at-bats last year. 


Rays' Alex Colome still not in camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:26 pm ET) Rays pitcher Alex Colome still hasn't reported to camp due to a visa issue, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Colome was a candidate for the fifth spot in the team's rotation, at least until Matt Moore was able to return from Tommy John surgery. He's been able to put in work at the club's facility in the Domincan Republic, and manager Kevin Cash doesn't want to rule him out just yet. 

"Colome is getting his work in. We know that. We’ve had communication on that," Cash said. "As I’ve said the whole time, we’d like to have him here. I don’t think it’s fair to punish a guy for being held up, so he’s still very much a factor."

Colome, 26, posted a 2.66 ERA over 23 2/3 innings last year. 


Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia 'I knew I was back to normal'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:21 pm ET) Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia is over last season's wrist injury, according to the Boston Herald

Pedroia got to prove that on Thursday, going 3 for 3 with a grand slam. Following the game, Pedroia told the media that his performance proves he's feeling good right now. "I knew I was back to normal in the offseason," he said. "Obviously I told you guys that, but you can only believe me if you see it. So there you go." 

The 31-year-old hit .278/.337/.376 over 551 at-bats last year. 


Mets' Juan Lagares taking it easy with his elbow
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:14 pm ET) Mets outfielder Juan Lagares is taking it easy with his elbow thus far, according to MLB.com.

Lagares missed the final two weeks of 2014 due to an elbow injury, but said he doing well now. "I feel great right now," Lagares said. "I feel 100 percent. I just want to take it easy -- not easy, but I don't want to throw everything I've got right now."

Lagares has had opportunities to throw out some base-runners this spring, but has erred on the side of caution. Manager Terry Collins said he's completely fine with that strategy. 

"He did it the right way and I'm real proud of him," Collins said. "He could have sent a message to everybody -- 'Look, I'm fine.' And he was smart enough to say, 'I'll worry about it in April.'"

Lagares, 25, hit .281/.321/.382 over 416 at-bats last year. 


Tolleson, Feliz, Scheppers likely to make Rangers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:09 pm ET) The Rangers are likely to put Shawn Tolleson, Neftali Feliz and Tanner Scheppers in the bullpen this season, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Manager Jeff Banister implied that all three players would make the team out of camp. That's not necessarily a surprise for Tolleson, who led the team in relief appearances last year, but both Feliz and Scheppers had been mentioned as fringe candidates thus far. 


Padres' Wil Myers hoping to prove the doubters wrong
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:43 pm ET) Padres outfielder Wil Myers is hoping he can prove the doubters wrong this season, according to MLB.com.

Myers not only has a lot to prove at the plate, but he also wants to show that he can handle his new defensive position. "Going into this year, I have a lot of doubters out there. I not only want to prove them wrong but prove to myself that I can play a good center field," Myers said.

He continued, "I've played a lot there in the minor leagues. And hearing everyone say, 'I don't think he can play center field,' is going to motivate me to play a great center field."

Manager Bud Black seems encouraged by Myers' defensive play thus far. "He's looking good, good angles, good routes, good hands, athletic," Black said. "His speed is fine. His strides look good tracking fly balls. He's an athletic guy. From what we've seen so far [it's been] all good."

The 24-year-old hit .222/.294/.320 over 325 at-bats last season. 


 
 
 
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