Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Chris Iannetta, Tyler Chatwood, Mitch Moreland, Ramon Hernandez

by Nicholas Minnix on December 1, 2011 @ 11:54:00 PDT


Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off.'s Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove surveys free agency, trades, salary arbitration and injuries that will affect your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. You're cleared for your MLB offseason program: The Arizona Fall League, Baseball Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft and more will shape your fantasy baseball rankings.

Colorado Rockies trade C Chris Iannetta to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for SP Tyler Chatwood

Texas Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland
Moreland dinged but still intriguing

The Halos have added some offensive firepower and on-base prowess behind the plate. Iannetta, who'll be 29 next year, has a career .357 OBP in the bigs on the strength of willingness to draw walks, although his spot in the eight hole is likely responsible for some part that 16.4 percent walk rate in 2011.

Iannetta has the goods to hit .250 and packs 20-homer punch. In his time in Denver, however, his home slash line (.262/.377/.492) was notably better than his road register (.208/.338/.369), which raises the concern that he won't hit enough to display the power.

Playing time shouldn't be a concern. Iannetta can opt out of his contract after next season, but he holds a great deal of appeal to new GM Jerry DiPoto. The backstop doesn't have the defensive acumen that manager Mike Scioscia overvalues in the likes of Jeff Mathis, but Mathis will be gone. Iannetta has the capacity and desire to improve his defense and would benefit from some guidance from Scioscia, at least.

The deal suggests that DiPoto isn't sold on Hank Conger. The club will have a year to evaluate, but Conger loses all fantasy baseball appeal except perhaps as a flier choice in very deep AL leagues. Iannetta has the upside to be a No. 1 mixed-league catcher but the downside to be a John Buck-like drag.

Chatwood, who'll be 22 next season, was probably more lucky than good in his first taste of the big leagues, but he gutted through 142 frames with a 4.75 ERA despite posting a 4.69 K/9 and a 4.50 BB/9. The Angels probably rushed him to the majors because of their needs more than his preparedness, but one of his greatest assets - his makeup - was on display for much of 2011.

Despite the low rate of strikeouts, the right-hander possesses an above-average fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 96 or 97. He seeks outs by avoiding fly balls and relying on his defense, which suits Colorado's philosophy. Early farm results suggest that he'll improve his K prowess, too.

All that considered, Chatwood isn't likely to have much fantasy value in 2012. He has virtually no experience above Double-A ball and would probably benefit from a long stretch in the minors. The additions in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal of Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, who are both closer to MLB-ready and more talented than Chatwood, give the Rockies license to avoid pushing Chatwood.

Texas Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland has surgery on right wrist

The Rangers stated that they intended to enter 2012 with Moreland as their starting first baseman. That apparently won't change even though the left-handed hitter went under the knife. The club expects him to be ready for its first spring exhibition, in early March.

Barring a setback, he'll be ready, but not at full strength. Moreland, 26, was justifiably a low-profile sleeper entering the 2011 season (.272/.334/.449 pre-break), but the wrist clearly nagged him enough in the second half to affect his performance at the plate (.241/.300/.367 post-break).

Moreland is above-average defensively, controls the strike zone well and has 25 jacks in 609 big-league at-bats, so he remains on the radar as an undervalued play. Bidders may not see much return on their investment until his wrist is at full strength, however, setting him up to be a possible trade target more than a draft-day one.

C Ramon Hernandez agrees to two-year deal with Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are bringing aboard the Cincinnati Reds' former backstop so that he can be a bridge to high-end prospect Wilin Rosario, as Jack Moore writes on Fangraphs. Colorado shouldn't lose much, if anything, in terms of run production now that they've swapped Iannetta to the Halos.

Hernandez makes contact more often than Iannetta does and should be a stable source of batting average in the Mile High City, where he'll remain a threat to hit double-digit ding dongs. Fantasy players can't count on more bombs, however, because the 35-year-old's power has faded and he's not dependable in the health department. He's a safe, cheap, low-end No. 2 mixed catcher.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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