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Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer will start Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals on Saturday. He'll be opposed by veteran Adam Wainwright in this one. The 35-year-old Scherzer struggled in the wild-card win over the Brewers (three runs in five innings), but he predictably bounced back in the NLDS against the Dodgers, allowing one run while walking three and striking out 10 in eight innings after that. Scherzer will be a popular playoff DFS pick in Game 2 as he looks to continue his dominance in uncharted territory for him.
Free-agent starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who wasn't offered a qualifying offer from the Cubs, said he's open to a one-year deal this winter and wouldn't mind returning to the Phillies if it's in the cards. The 35-year-old left-hander is a free agent for the first time in his career after the final year of his seven-year, $158 million deal. Hamels has prioritized signing a one-year deal with a team that has postseason aspirations. He went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for Chicago last year. He was much better in 17 starts before he went on the injured list in June with a strained left oblique, going 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts after his injury. Hamels can certainly be effective in the right matchups this late in his career, but he's certainly not the high-end fantasy commodity he once was. Going back to Philly and their hitting-friendly environment might not be the best place for his fantasy value, though.
The New York Yankees and free-agent outfielder Brett Gardner are already talking about a deal to keep him in pinstripes. Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee and set career highs in home runs (28) and OPS (.829) during the 2019 season. He slashed .251/.325/.503 and also scored 86 runs, drove in 74 and stolen 10 bases in 491 at-bats. Gardner was a key outfielder for New York last year amid all their injuries. He can be an essential top-of-the-lineup table-setter for a powerful Yankees squad, but the only question is how much playing time he'd receive in 2020 if the rest of the team's outfielders are all healthy.
The Atlanta Braves have made free-agent starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner a priority this offseason and are planning to quickly communicate with the veteran left-hander, according to league sources. The Braves also discussed Bumgarner at last summer's trade deadline. Bumgarner had a career-high 3.90 ERA last season, but he also threw 207 innings and led the National League in starts and struck out nearly five times as many batters as he walked. His 5.29 road ERA could be a problem, and he also has a qualifying offer attached to him. The southpaw doesn't light up radar guns anymore, but he's adapted by throwing his curveball more and relying on his four-seamer. Sources close to Bumgarner say he won't give the Giants a hometown discount to return, so it seems more likely he'll be wearing a new uniform for the first time in his career in 2020.
Miami Marlins third baseman Martin Prado has told friends that he will likely retire this offseason. The 36-year-old played in just 104 games in 2019 and managed 94 games in 2017 and 2018 combined due to injuries. He hit a meager .233/.265/.294 with two home runs and 15 RBI for the Fish last season and wasn't even on the fantasy radar in deep mixed and NL-only leagues. In his 14-year career, Prado sports a solid .287 average, 100 home runs, 664 runs scored, 609 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 1,458 games. He was an All-Star back in 2010 with the Braves.
Free-agent infielder Howie Kendrick is drawing a lot of early interest on the free-agent market, most notably from the Rays and Marlins. He's from Florida but lives in the Phoenix area in the offseason. Coming off an extremely productive season and winning the World Series, Kendrick is likely looking for just a one-year deal on the open market. The 36-year-old utility infielder slashed .344/.395/.572 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI in 334 at-bats in 2019. Don't expect such lofty numbers again in 2020, but he can give you solid production in deep mixed leagues and can be an asset because of his multi-position eligibility. Landing with the Rays would make him more attractive from a fantasy standpoint.
The Boston Red Sox haven't engaged outfielder Mookie Betts in contract-extension talks yet this winter, according to chief executive officer Sam Kennedy. It'll be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with Betts as they attempt to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2020. Things became more difficult when outfielder J.D. Martinez chose not to opt out of his current deal. Betts is surely worth the money, but the BoSox will be looking to shed payroll this offseason. A trade could be possible. The 27-year-old hit .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs, 135 runs, 80 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 2019. He is one of the best players in baseball and will be in consideration for the top overall pick in fantasy.
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who is 36 years old, is already working out and plans to return for his 15th season in 2020. Martin has played for 10 postseason teams in his 14 years in the big leagues, but he's yet to win a World Series and remains hungry. The Dodgers will once again be a favorite to reach the World Series in 2020 despite getting knocked out in the divisional round by the eventual World Series winners in the Nationals. Martin hit just .220/.337/.330 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 209 at-bats last year, and he'll strictly be a backup in LA.
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright plans to return to the team in 2020, according to president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. The 38-year-old right-hander bounced back in 2019 to post better numbers than his three previous seasons, going 14-10 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 8.0 K/9 in 171 2/3 innings over 31 starts. He can still be an effective streaming option in deeper leagues if he sticks in the rotation next season, but Waino's upside has clearly diminished since his days as a perennial Cy Young contender. St. Louis has other rotation options at their disposal if Wainwright struggles.
The Philadelphia Phillies declined their 2020 option on starting pitcher Jason Vargas and will instead pay him a $2 million buyout to make him a free agent. The team also declined the options for relief pitchers Jared Hughes and Pat Neshek. Vargas went 7-9 with a 4.51 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in 149 2/3 innings in 29 starts and one relief outing for the Mets and Phillies in 2019. He made 18 starts with the Mets and 11 with Philly. He was less effective with the Phils, posting a 5.37 ERA later in the season. The soft-tossing left-hander doesn't have much left in his career and isn't a guarantee to land a starting gig on the open market.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will pick up their $11.5 million 2020 option on outfielder Starling Marte, according to sources. It was a no-brainer move after Marte set new career highs in home runs (23), RBI (82), runs (97), slugging percentage (.503) and OPS (.845). He also finished with a 2.9 Wins Above Replacement, which was tied with Josh Bell for third highest on the team. However, with Pittsburgh in a rebuilding phase, the team could look to trade Marte in the offseason or next year before the trading deadline under a new general manager. Marte contributes across the board for fantasy owners in all categories and will remain an early-round target in fantasy drafts next spring.
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