Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - AL

by Tim Heaney on December 16, 2009 @ 16:00:00 PDT


Also see: Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - NL

KFFL delivers the fantasy baseball spin on each Major League Baseball Hot Stove deal that matters in your fantasy baseball league. Check back for frequent updates to the Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove!


Jason Kendall, Kansas City Royals (signed)

The drop in Kendall's supporting cast makes him a low-end AL-only starter; KC will probably work in Brayan Pena and others, but Kendall will start. He hasn't shown power since 2001 or a decent average since '06, but he'll contribute occasionally productive numbers via the ample playing time he'll receive.

John Buck, Toronto Blue Jays (signed)

Buck was a hot item for several weeks last year. Tons of K's, but also ample power that will mean more if he can keep the starting job ahead of the next entry in this section. Buck is a low-end AL catcher and could be a valuable No. 2 option. Remember, J.P. Arencibia is lurking, potentially for this year.

Ramon Castro, Toronto Blue Jays (signed)

Castro is best served as a big-league backup, having only topped 200 at-bats in a season once. Like Buck, though, Castro packs some pop. He's worth a two-catcher mixed rental during his hot streaks and will serve this role better in ALs. Bump up Castro's big bat if he usurps Buck.

Travis D'Arnaud, Toronto Blue Jays (traded from Philadelphia Phillies)

Acquired in the Roy Halladay deal, D'Arnaud, 20, is a few years away from hitting the bigs. He clubbed 13 homers and drove in 71 runs in Single-A Lakewood last year. Keeper leaguers should keep an eye out, but Toronto has plentiful backstop youth, so his road may be blocked here.

SP Cliff Lee bounces to the Seattle Mariners
Mariners turn Lee-ward

Eliezer Alfonzo, Seattle Mariners (signed to minor league deal)

With Rob Johnson probably beginning the year as the starter and prospect Adam Moore working his way into that role, Alfonzo serves as depth and isn't worth fantasy consideration.

Corner infielders

Garrett Atkins, Baltimore Orioles (signed)

The O's are giving the downtrodden Atkins a one-year deal with a club option. He'll try to recover in another hitter-friendly park, but his power had experienced a frightening drop when playing at home in Coors Field. Positives: He showed power away from home before, anyway. He'll qualify at both corner infield spots in many leagues; he can fill the same role in AL-only and will be a cheap gamble in deep mixed setups.

Brett Wallace, Toronto Blue Jays (traded from Oakland Athletics)

Initial shoulder concerns held up his move to Toronto, but everything checked out OK. Wallace went .297-15-47 in 404 at-bats at Triple-A Sacramento last year. He'll have more value as a third baseman, but the defensively challenged Wallace may be moved to first base if they can trade Lyle Overbay. Boasting an above-average clip, hard contact and growing power, Wallace will probably earn a Spring Training spot. He'll be a popular AL-only commodity, but you may be able to grab him in the last few rounds or off the post-draft waiver wire in deep mixed leagues.

Middle infielders

Pedro Okuda, Seattle Mariners (signed)

This lefty shortstop (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) from Brazil reportedly has a line drive swing and plus speed. This 19-year-old probably won't be making an impact this coming season. Keep him up your sleeve for your deep sleeper discussions.


Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox (traded from Los Angeles Dodgers)

Pierre has escaped from Chavez Ravine Prison and gives the Sox a leadoff hitter, despite his infamous OBP history. His speed will keep him in this lineup; that's what they need. Pierre is a mixed gem if you can grab him as a No. 5 outfielder, but expect his value to climb as the draft season wears on now that he's a starter.

Mike Cameron, Boston Red Sox (signed)

Cameron, a near lock for 20 homers and 20 steals, receives a boost in his castmates and should see his runs total spike. If you draft him, you'll have to, as usual, deal with his high whiff totals and his uninspiring batting averages. He's a late-round No. 5 outfielder in deep mixed leagues.

Michael Taylor, Oakland Athletics (traded from Toronto Blue Jays)

Taylor, a Stanford product, struggled slightly in his jump to Triple-A last year but retains 30-homer and 20-steal potential. Many say he's major league-ready. The A's have a ton of outfielders but will likely give Taylor (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) a shot to win a starting gig out of Spring Training. He'll be an AL-only darling and upside bench material in deep mixed leagues, but how will he play out in this park?

Joey Gathright, Toronto Blue Jays (signed to minor league deal)

Don't expect him to perform anything more than his typical pinch-running and reserve duties. Keep the steals threat on your AL watch list.

Designated hitters

OF Juan Pierre joins the Chicago White Sox
Pale Hose cover Pierre's fleet feet

Hideki Matsui, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (signed)

Godzilla will supplant Vladimir Guerrero as the Halos' full-time DH. Even if they use the creaky Matsui in the outfield, it may not be enough to give him eligibility there in most leagues, which keeps a limit on his roto value. Either way, he's a valuable bat when healthy that can round out a deep mixed roster and retain ample worth in AL setups.

Starting pitchers

Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners (traded from Philadelphia Phillies)

Lee moves to a pitcher-friendly park and team that could compete for a playoff spot. Keep in mind, Lee threw 272 frames in '09 after posting a 126-inning increase to his '07 work last season. We know he has the talent to earn things on his own, but Lee's run support and wins total should take a hit, even if this Seattle squad becomes competitive. He's still a low-end No. 1 fantasy arm, even with the workload warning.

John Lackey, Boston Red Sox (signed)

Lackey has battled elbow injuries in each of his last two seasons but has maintained his high-level command. That command, however, has dipped in the last two seasons. His new home digs aren't as pitcher-friendly, but he'll have another above-average defensive infield and a more stacked lineup behind him. He's acceptable as a low-end No. 1 roto starter but would be a stronger asset as a No. 2, given his recent elbow concerns.

Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays (traded from Philadelphia Phillies)

Doug's son has grown up and moved past his Tommy John surgery. With improved mechanics, the 22-year-old spent his age-21 season at Single- and Double-A fanning a combined 150 hitters while going 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA in 158 innings. He should start next year at Triple-A and might be fast-tracked. Spring Training will probably help determine his ascension speed. AL owners will tuck him away. Mixed owners should keep him at their fingertips.

Relief pitchers

Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays (traded from Atlanta Braves)

Soriano's Tampa Bay contract was finalized last week, making his Rays commitment official. He'll likely serve as closer, but we know that Tampa doesn't mind changing things up in their bullpen; heck, at times he platooned in save chances with Mike Gonzalez in Atlanta last year. Despite his career-best numbers last year, the 30-year-old righty's injury history makes him a midrange or low-end No. 2 closer in mixed drafts. Don't bank on him too much.

Mike Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles (signed)

Gonzalez will reportedly start the season as closer for Baltimore; he saved 10 games in occasional closer duty for the Atlanta Braves last year. The O's will have Kam Mickolio and Jim Johnson at hand in case the injury-prone Gonzo struggles or is sidelined, but if you draft today, go with Gonzo as a low-end No. 2 or solid No. 3.

J.J. Putz, Chicago White Sox (signed)

Does this give the Sox room to trade Bobby Jenks? Well, for now, Putz will become their new Octavio Dotel, their late-inning setup righty used in conjunction with southpaw Matt Thornton. They aren't hinting at a change at the back end. Putz endured another injury-laden season: more elbow issues. Speculation abounds here in deep mixed and AL-only leagues, but Thornton's presence dims that optimism.

Boof Bonser, Boston Red Sox (traded from Minnesota Twins)

No room for him in this rotation unless some backend options break or are traded; he has K potential (7.28 MLB career) and will be useful if he can regain his control. He's a deep fishing option for AL managers, but there's no rush.

Also see: Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - NL

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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, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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