Opening Day is 70 Days Away, and I Still Have a Ton of Questions

Written by: Ray Butler

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Remember the extremely overcooked turkey that serves as the centerpiece of the Griswold family Christmas dinner in the infamous masterpiece National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? The 2017-2018 MLB offseason has been that well-done turkey (and no, don’t save the neck for me, Clark).

To call this offseason ‘sluggish’ would be overly kind. I’d be willing to wager that, a little more than two months away from first pitch, we know less about the intricacies of the upcoming season than any past season in recent memory. Let’s face it—it’s been boring.

As someone who considers themselves extremely passionate (my wife would prefer the term ‘obsessed’ or something much less flattering) about baseball and all facets of the sport (namely, fantasy baseball), I’ve spent the past few days compiling a list of unanswered questions that we’ll (likely) see answered over the course of the next two months. Each answer will serve as another piece of the puzzle as we continue searching for increased clarity of the landscape of the 2018 MLB season. Let’s dive in…

Is J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox as inevitable as it seems?

J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox currently seem like Season 3 Jim and Pam (I really hope you don’t need me to tell you that’s a reference from The Office). Will they or won’t they? When will J.D. find the yogurt gold medal from The Office Olympics in his quarterly numbers and realize he and the Red Sox were meant to be?

Really though, I get the sense that Martinez is the domino that needs to fall to really kick start the free agent and trade market. The prolific slugger has stated his willingness to prolong a potential signing until Spring Training if need be, and the Red Sox seem woefully short on the 5 year/$100 million offer that Buster Olney recently reported was made. Martinez’s contract could help dictate the value of fellow position-player free agents Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas (or perhaps vice versa), so let’s hope this waiting game comes to a close sooner rather than later.

Same street, different house: Where (and when) will Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta sign?

How differently would we view Yu Darvish’s free agency if he had pitched to his potential in last season’s World Series? Instead, with pitchers and catchers reporting less than a month from today (LET’S GO!!!), neither he nor Jake Arrieta seem terribly close to striking a deal. The duo’s collective future also goes hand-in-hand with the fate of Lance Lynn, who I consider an underrated arm that can really bolster a rotation. Whereas we likely know J.D. Martinez’s ultimate destination will be Boston, there seems to be very little idea in the industry where Darvish, Arrieta, or Lynn end up. There’s a good chance at least one of these three starting pitchers plays a large role in determining fantasy baseball championships in 2018.

So… are we just supposed to believe Carson Kelly is going to collect dust for three seasons?

MLB.com recently released their list of 10 catcher prospects for the 2018 season. Francisco “Ichiro” Mejia was the obvious headliner, but I was much more intrigued by their choice to list Carson Kelly second on the list. That means Kelly is viable from a fantasy standpoint, right? Well, that’s where the road gets a little more confusing. Yadier Molina is signed thru 2020, and with the veteran’s insistence in rarely taking a rest day, Kelly’s role (regardless of how good he is, and I think he’s pretty dang good) with the Cardinals for the foreseeable future is cloudy at best. From a developmental standpoint, it makes no sense for him to play once a week in the big leagues. From a fantasy standpoint, Kelly won’t do your team any good if he continues to gain experience in AAA Memphis. So, what’s the plan? If you’re a Carson Kelly fantasy owner, I’d try to move him to an unsuspecting league mate. Flaunt his high prospect ranking, whatever you need to do. If you choose to hold on to him, you’re likely hoping that the Cardinals trade the young backstop. That’s certainly a possibility as well, since St. Louis may need more bullpen help to make a playoff run down the stretch. Regardless, Kelly has somehow landed amongst the most polarizing prospects in all of baseball.

When will two young superstars return to the diamond?

If you’ve been following me for long on Twitter, you know that I’m a huge fan of both Julio Urias and Michael Conforto. I traded for both last season, and within a week of acquiring each of them, they went on the DL for the remainder of the season with freakish shoulder injuries. Both underwent major surgery and have been in the process of rehabilitation since. Recently, administrative figures for both the Dodgers and Mets stated that Conforto and Urias (respectively) could be back in action by the first of May. It’s an optimistic timeline, and if you’ve followed injuries for any amount of time, you know that it is sometimes wise to add a month to timelines when general managers give them. However, even if don’t see Urias and Conforto on the diamond until June (and my gut tells me we may not see Urias until July or better), it certainly appears that neither will miss the entirety of the 2018 season. And heck, simply seeing Urias deadlifting the other day on Twitter (the video was quite popular) was exciting to me.

Where will Christian Yelich end up?

Over the past 24+ hours, much has been made the of the Marlins’ reported attempt to land Ronald Acuna for Christian Yelich. Mostly, there’s been a lot of laughing. Now, of course I don’t think the Braves should trade Acuna for Yelich. I do, however, think Yelich would be a good fit in Atlanta. I could see that deal getting done for Christian Pache and a mid-tier pitching prospect. If the Braves were to somehow land Yelich and Lance Lynn, their window may begin sooner than most people think. Arizona is another logical fit for Yelich, and the move west would certainly increase Yelich’s fantasy value (if only from a power standpoint).

What’s the plan for Michael Chavis?

Don’t get it twisted, I still think Chavis needs more time in the minors before getting the call to Boston. My question is this: Once Chavis is ready, where does he fit with the Red Sox? I genuinely think Rafael Devers will play the majority of his career at third base. Boston recently resigned Mitch Moreland to a two year deal, and they also have Sam Travis to use in a platoon. J.D. Martinez (literally so much hinges on Martinez) figures to be the Sox main designated hitter, so that’s not much of an option for Chavis either. So where’s the fit? I wish I offered better insight here, but I don’t. Chavis is now the crowning gem of Boston’s system, so I’m sure he’d be a topic of conversation in any substantial move the Red Sox might make at the trade deadline. Much like Carson Kelly, Chavis fantasy owners are either trying to move Chavis to an opponent or hold and hope Chavis gets moved to an organization that has a clearer path to playing time.

One more note…..

Yes, I have begun to slowly piece together the first edition of my top 100 prospect list heading into the 2018 season. In the coming weeks, I will continue tirelessly researching, film studying, and networking with others in the prospect business in hopes of delivering the most thorough, well-researched list possible. I look forward to having you on board for the entirety of the upcoming MLB season.

Follow us on Twitter: @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of Redbird Rants

 

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