Fantasy Implications: Valencia, Chavez, Morton, & Gurriel

The Hot Stove is underway and we’ve got you covered when moves happen. You will see Jeff Zimmerman and me alternating on the coverage of moves. His first piece on the Braves moves, Howie Kendrick, and Kendrys Morales can be found here and you can follow the Hot Stove Implications tag for all of the pieces throughout the winter.

Athletics trade Danny Valencia to Mariners for Paul Blackburn

Valencia is out here collecting teams like they’re Pokémon. The Mariners will be his seventh team since reaching the majors in 2010. He might finally get his first full season of work since 2011, too. Valencia has always raked lefties with a career .873 OPS and only once has he been below .822 (and he had just 56 PA that season).

He exploded against right-handers last year out of nowhere (.881 OPS in 229 PA) and this year came back to earth with a .742 in 373 PA. That actually works, though. The league OPS for righty v. righty was .725 so there’s even some wiggle room for Valencia, but if he maintains his 2016 level while still decimating lefties than he can be a full-time player for the Mariners. A couple scouts in Arizona were dubious on Dan Vogelbach’s readiness, who is currently penciled as Seattle’s 1B, at least against righties.

Speaking of Vogelbach, Blackburn actually came with him from the Cubs organization in the Mike Montgomery deal. He’s a command and control righty who charts on top 20 or 25 prospect lists, but isn’t a threat for top 10s. His scouting report is a bunch of 45s and 50s, a profile that could play a bit in Oakland’s spacious park, but doesn’t hold much fantasy value at present.

Angels sign Jesse Chavez

This one makes the piece because the Angels intend to use him as a starter. They signed the 33-year old to a $5.8 million dollar deal with some incentives. After logging 47 starts between 2014-15, he was a full time reliever last year with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Chavez has been a passable starter with a 3.95 ERA and 2.8 K:BB ratio in 276 innings. In both seasons, he started brilliantly before fading.

In the first halves of those seasons, he had a 3.26 ERA in 215.3 innings, but then it ballooned to 5.24 in 87.7 innings. He’s not a huge guy (listed 6’1, 170… so probably 5’11, 160 in actuality) which probably explains why he wears down deeper in the season. Maybe the Angels should consider massaging his workload in order to reach the finish line as a starter. He’ll almost certainly be the fifth start so that opens opportunities for skipped starts and longer breaks in the dog days.

Astros sign Charlie Morton

This totally fits if you know the Astros. They discovered the value in Collin McHugh tied to the spin rate in his curveball a few years back and have netted nearly 10 wins of value from the waiver pickup. McHugh is still the spin rate king on curveballs, but Morton was sixth in curves at a 2500 spin rate or better back in 2015 (Morton essentially missed all of this year, hence the rollback to ’15).

Morton was signed to a 2-year deal worth $14 mil guaranteed and then incentives that can boost it another $5 mil depending on his health. A torn hamstring ended his 2016 after just four starts. It was his ninth DL stint in nine seasons as a major leaguer. Morton has always been a groundball artist who relies on limiting walks and home runs to maintain success. Although, he saw his velocity spike in four starts last year and I’m kinda interested in seeing if there’s anything to it.

His 95 MPH sinker was far and away a career-best and he was missing bats at a tremendous clip: 27% K, 12% SwStr. And it didn’t cost him anything on the groundball rate, which jumped back up to the 63% career-high he showed back in 2013. Make no mistake, this is a $1-3 AL-only arm right now, but I’m keeping an eye on him to see if the velocity is there in Spring Training.

Blue Jays sign Lourdes Gurriel

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about this Gurriel. He’s the younger brother of Yulieski Gurriel and he signed a 7-year deal worth $22 mil. Beyond that, I have to defer to Eric Logenhagen, who wrote about him here.



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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. He is the purveyor of the SP Guide (on hiatus for '17). Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer, on Snapchat at psporer, and on Twitch at psporer24.

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