Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Adam LaRoche, David Ortiz

by Nicholas Minnix on December 27, 2011 @ 18:26:53 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.

1B Adam LaRoche expected to enter 2012 as Washington Nationals' starter

About three weeks ago, skipper Davey Johnson informed the media that LaRoche was 100 percent recovered from June surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The Nats are believed to have some level of interest in Prince Fielder, so this could be either posturing in the wake of quiet market or an admission that the club is not a real threat for his services.

Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz
On draft boards, Papi too low?

Either way, Washington owes LaRoche, 32, $8 million for the 2012 season. It's a little surprising that the organization waited so long to shut him down, considering that they'd discovered the injury right before the season began after he'd been experiencing soreness for a few weeks. In his 177 plate appearances (.172/.288/.258), he was clearly a non-factor.

If he's indeed healthy, this bodes well for fantasy bargain hunters - those with realistic expectations, anyway. Undoubtedly, the procedure and layoff will have an effect on his performance, particularly in the power department. However, his instincts should kick in fairly quickly, making only home run output a real concern.

LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter, so that may also deter bidders who are wary of him coming off a serious injury. But he may also feel that there's incentive to prove that he's healthy, considering that he's a free agent after this coming season. He may prove to be a steady, low-cost NL producer or a perhaps end up as an end-game CI in deep mixed leagues.

DH David Ortiz accepts arbitration from Boston Red Sox

Big Papi gave in a few weeks ago. This was easily his best option, considering what he's likely to make in arbitration versus what other clubs seemed willing to offer him.

It's encouraging to see how much he cut down on his percentage of plate appearances that ended in strikeouts last season. His contact rate and other various indicators were quite uncharacteristic, however. Is the 36-year-old really transforming as a hitter, or was this an aberration, a period in which pitchers respected Ortiz a little too much again?

Roto players have shied away from securing full-time DHs at prices reflective of their level of production, likely because of the potential handicap they create with roster flexibility if those players don't produce. If that remains true, considering how good Papi's marks were in the past couple of years, he could easily be worth acquiring in 2012.

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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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