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Fantasy Baseball: Second Base Landscape

Cam looks at the latest unsigned MLB free agents and how it affects your Fantasy Baseball teams.

PEORIA, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the San Diego Padres fields ground balls at second base during infield drills during the daily workout at Peoria Sports Complex on February 16, 2024 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

It was just announced that Padres second year shortstop Xander Bogaerts is shifting to 2B, with Ha-seong Kim flipping to shortstop. Kim was already eligible at SS, 2B and 3B heading into this season, but this will be the first time Bogaerts has played 2B. For his owners it will increase his value after the first week of the season, giving him eligibility at both middle infield positions.

The move immediately improves and deepens the position, which suddenly has Mookie Betts sitting at the top. It is interesting that just a few seasons ago Betts and Bogaerts were Red Sox teammates with neither playing at second. Now each of them are, for different teams, and the Red Sox are fumbling at the position.

It is interesting that another second baseman just signed. Whit Merrifield has signed a one year, $8 million deal with the Phillies. It is both amazing and alarming that the Red Sox are seemingly out on all impactful free agents, where even $8 million is too much. The team is now sitting well under the luxury tax and in the middle of the pack in team payroll. 

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Merrifield still has a lot in the tank. He is a professional hitter with eligibility at both 2B and the OF. He’s a career .285 hitter who has had six consecutive double/double seasons. His leadership will fit perfectly in that Phillies locker room. The team went to the World Series in 2022, and were a game away from getting back there last year. This is the type of move GM Dave Dombrowski is known for, acquiring established veterans who’ll make an immediate impact.

From a fantasy perspective, having so many players still unsigned is a problem. Aside from Merrifield there are still key players who are homeless. The reigning NL Cy Young, Blake Snell, is without a team for instance. As is fellow lefty Jordan Montgomery. Power bat JD Martinez doesn’t know where he’s hanging his cleats yet.

Both owners and players, (as well as their agents), are at fault. But its just not good for the game. Last season the league made a concerted effort to change some rules to improve the product. This week commissioner Rob Manfred said that attendance surpassed 70 million in 2023, the first time it reached that number in over a decade. The rule changes achieved their desired result.

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May I suggest another rule change? Make the free agent “season” begin 48 hours after the World Series ends, and end on January 31st. Once the calendar turns to February 1st, free agency is over leaving unsigned players without a team or the ability to sign with a team until June 1st.

This should create enough of an incentive for teams, players and their agents to get something done by the end of January. Pitchers and catchers are in Florida and Arizona and its absurd that there are so many unsigned players. It’s tough for teams to get ready for the season, but more importantly it’s tough for fantasy teams…especially those in AL or NL-only leagues, who have these players and don’t know if they will be losing them. Anyone who had Merrifield in their AL-only league just lost them. February 16th is just too late to lose a player.

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