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Third base tiers for Draft Day 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For a position that features arguably the best hitter in the game, third base sure is lacking.

OK, so Miguel Cabrera will technically be playing first base in the majors this year, but where he played last year determines his eligibility in Fantasy.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiers are designed to deliver the most efficient draft possible by using player rankings to reveal the distribution of talent at each position. A new tier begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the one preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- SW

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Print Scott's tiers for Draft Day!

Thank goodness.

Just imagine some of the reaching that would go on if one more owner had a need at the position. Safe to say Matt Carpenter wouldn't make it to the end of Round 3.

You think I'm exaggerating? Whether they divide the position into tiers or not, most people realize by now that third base thins out pretty quickly, at least in terms of mixed league-caliber talent. It has no shortage of injury-risk sleepers and bottom-feeder breakout possibilities, but those make better bench options than starters in a standard 12-team league.

The Unmatched: Miguel Cabrera
The Elite: David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, Matt Carpenter, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Zimmerman
The Near-Elite: Martin Prado
The Next-Best Things: Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Manny Machado, Chase Headley
The Fallback Options: Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas
The Last Resorts: Will Middlebrooks, Nolan Arenado, David Freese, Todd Frazier, Chris Johnson, Matt Dominguez
The Leftovers: Cody Asche, Maikel Franco, Trevor Plouffe, Marcus Semien, Alberto Callaspo, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mark Reynolds, Matt Davidson

See what I mean by thinning out quickly? Two of the top three tiers are one player deep.

Granted, the first tier is an add-on designed to accentuate Cabrera's studliness (he outscored Adrian Beltre, quite often the second third baseman off the board, by about as many Head-to-Head points per game (1.13) as Beltre outscored Trevor Plouffe (1.15) last year, so pass him up at your own peril), but the third tier demonstrates how sudden the drop-off is. And considering half of The Elite -- Wright, Beltre and Longoria -- are typically gone by the end of Round 2, you have a small window to act.

So even though the second tier is large, I'm not so comfortable waiting on it. Going without would mean settling for a player not just one tier lower, but two, unless you time the Prado pick just right. With that in mind, I'm fine drafting one of Wright, Beltre and Longoria late in Round 2 unless a tier stands out at some other position (most likely, first or second base).

If that's too messy and you'd prefer to approach The Elite at third base like any tier at any other position, you may want to drop Donaldson and Zimmerman to The Near-Elite, joining Prado to create a distribution of four and three instead of six and one. The reason I don't is because it de-emphasizes Donaldson by putting him at the beginning of a tier instead of at the end. My ideal scenario is to land him in Round 5, believing him to be the best bang for the buck at the position after he performed about on the level of Beltre in Head-to-Head points leagues last year. Prado is more of a backup plan.

But drafts vary. You can't always anticipate three and four rounds ahead. Sometimes you're better off shoring up the shallow positions when you have the chance instead of holding out for the ideal scenario. Drafting Wright, Beltre or Longoria in Round 2 when you could potentially have Donaldson three rounds later is like drafting Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez in Round 1 when you could potentially have Jean Segura four rounds later. The right time to take them is the right time to take them. Going off script would mean trusting everyone else to stay on script, which is a dangerous way to build a Fantasy team.

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If for some reason, you miss your window on The Elite and don't like where you'd have to draft Prado, you're not exactly sunk at the position, but you shouldn't count on more than middle-round production there. Even with an improved lineup in Seattle, Seager doesn't have the potential for more than that, and for as much power as Alvarez offers, his contact issues prevent him from becoming anything more.

Machado could be the exception. He performed about on Seager's level in Head-to-Head points leagues last year, but he did it at age 21. He has a superstar pedigree and could conceivably become one of The Elite any given year. Right now, though, he's recovering from knee surgery, meaning he couldn't be the only third baseman you draft, and 22 isn't historically a prime age for a breakout. Better to assume Seager-like production from him.

Pass on all of them, and good luck to you. Ramirez and Sandoval have already achieved a certain level of production in the majors, but age (Ramirez), inconsistency (Sandoval) and injuries (both) give them long odds of sustaining it over a full season. Lawrie, Moustakas, Middlebrooks and Arenado have untapped potential but have given little indication they're on the verge of meeting it.

Third base is fairly deep in Last Resorts, which counts for something in AL- and NL-only leagues. Players like Freese, Frazier, Johnson and Dominguez have established themselves as nothing more than waiver fodder in mixed leagues, but in formats where 15-to-20-homer guys are fewer and farther between, they offer cheap alternatives at a position in high demand.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Red Sox, Padres complete Hanigan-for-Middlebrooks trade
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:07 pm ET) The Red Sox and Padres completed a trade Friday, with catcher Ryan Hanigan heading to Boston in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox announced.

Hanigan, 34, is signed for two more seasons with a team option for 2017. He hit .218/.318/.324 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 225 at-bats in 2014.

Middlebrooks, 26, is eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2015 season. He hit .191/.256/.265 with two home runs and 19 RBI in 215 at-bats in 2014.


Report: Giants get Class A hurlers for Marlins 3B McGehee
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:13 pm ET) The Giants are trading minor league right-handers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo for Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Both pitched at a Class A level last season and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.


Dodgers dump RHP Brian Wilson
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(9:24 pm ET) Three days after designating reliever Brian Wilson for assignment, the Dodgers have released him.

Wilson struggled in 2014 after a strong stint upon his arrival with Los Angeles in 2013. He finished the year with a 4.66 ERA and 29 walks in 48 1/3 innings.


Report: LHP Craig Breslow staying with Red Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9:06 pm ET) Left-hander reliever Craig Breslow is set to sign a one-year deal with the Red Sox for $2 million, per WEEI.com.

Breslow pitched for Boston the last two years, but collapsed in 2014 after compiling a 1.81 ERA the previous year. He finished with a 5.93 ERA and 73 hits in 54 1/3 innings.


Giants have acquired McGehee in deal with Marlins
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) The Giants and Marlins have agreed to a deal that has sent deposed starting third baseman Casey McGehee to San Francisco, per CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Giants pitchers Matt Duffy and Hunter Strickland are reportedly among the possibilities to be sent to Miami.


Mets P Syndergaard center of Tulowitzki talks with Rockies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Premier Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard is the centerpiece of trade talks involving Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, per CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman, who is further reporting that the teams are not close to finalizing a trade.

The pitching-rich Mets are dangling the 22-year-old Syndergaard, who struggled at the Triple-A level in 2014 with a 4.60 ERA and career-worst 1.48 WHIP. Syndergaard has fanned 474 in just 426 2/3 innings.


Bud Black reveals OF configuration for Padres in 2015
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(5:31 pm ET) Bud Black sees his revamped Padres outfield consisting of Justin Upton in left, Matt Kemp in right and Wil Myers in center, per The Associated Press.

The very active Padres will have an entirely new outfield in 2015.


Report: Cubs sign veteran C David Ross
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Catcher David Ross has signed a two-year contract with the Cubs for $5 million, sources have told Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal.

Ross, who was rumored to be headed to San Diego, has served as a backup throughout his career. His average has slipped in each of the last four seasons and dropped to .184 in 2014. It was his lowest mark in 10 years.


Padres pick up RHP Northcroft in Upton deal
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:54 pm ET) The Padres have announced that they have also received right-hander Aaron Northcraft in the deal with the Braves that landed them slugger Justin Upton.

The 24-year-old Northcraft has yet to make his major league debut.


Rays designate veteran RHP Brandon Gomes
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) The Rays have designated right-hander Brandon Gomes for assignment.

Gomes split last season between Tampa Bay and Triple-A Durham. He finished the year with a 2-2 mark and 3.71 ERA in 29 relief appearances.


 
 
 
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