Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off. KFFL.com'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.
Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp's offseason: extension, NL MVP runner-up
An eight-year, $160 million deal can soften silver medal sadness, especially after the rewards of rededicating himself to the game. Is a repeat in store? The 27-year-old has enough natural pop for consistent 30-homer seasons, even if he still plays in an offense-suppressing home park that makes homers difficult for righty bats. First base coach Davey Lopes turned him loose on the base paths; Kemp should keep it up as long as he remains aggressive.
Hudson's back in business?
But what if he reaches base less often and sees a decline in swipe opps? Plus, his blossoming walk rate can't hide other tenuous batting average components: a basement-level contact percentage, continued K problems and, even with his abundant line drives, a bloated BABIP (.380). Nicholas Minnix noted that not much changed about Kemp's makeup besides his free passes.
Are you confident cash-strapped LA can provide enough bat support to buoy his RBIs and runs scored while preventing him from getting the Albert Pujols IBB treatment? Can he maintain discipline if he gets fewer pitches to hit?
Another 30-30 output is more bankable than a .300 clip. His BA regression could produce .290. It probably won't be as bad as 2010 (.249), but the floor isn't far from there. Is that worth your first-round faith?
Atlanta Braves SP Tim Hudson undergoes successful back surgery
For the last two years the 36-year-old grounder specialist has dealt with lingering back issues, including a battle with back stiffness that cost him a start in May. He was bothered during offseason work, and he had a herniated disc repaired Monday. Hudson could throw within six weeks and should be ready for spring training, per doctors.
GM Frank Wren hoped that, for Hudson, "this would be a post-career surgery, but the reality is [the pain] just got progressively worse." Though the statistically stable Hudson has plenty of time to get back into form, recovery from a sooner-than-expected back procedure for a pitcher with his mileage and, in many cases, limited fantasy profit is worth monitoring.
RP Jonathan Broxton attempting turnaround with Kansas City Royals
Maybe KC will move current stopper Joakim Soria to the rotation or shop him around. The Monarchs' more likely decree, however, is to make Broxton the Plan B for saves; they're building a 'pen fortress for their budding rotation, which could also include 2011 reliever Aaron Crow.
This one-year, low-risk rental could unearth long-buried booty a la Jeff Francoeur. Broxton has battled elbow issues, mechanical flaws and erratic velocity since summer 2010. His K/9 sunk last season as opponents treated him like a pitching machine. Brox's conditioning and late-innings mental fortitude remain under the microscope, but at least we can see how he responds to September arthroscopic surgery on his throwing elbow.
Bright sides: Health and a few tweaks could restore his heat and slider bite, and don't dismiss Soria's uncertain future, especially around next year's swap deadline. A single-universe and deep mixed saves stab might net you Broxton's vintage, dynamic K rate, if not KC's eventual stopper.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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