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Sports Data APIs for Individuals!
The Boston Red Sox are in active discussions with free-agent right-hander Garrett Richards, according to sources. Multiple teams have been talking to Richards as of Friday. The 32-year-old had a 4.03 ERA and averaged 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 14 appearances (10 starts) for the San Diego Padres in the shortened 2020 season. The former Angel had a rough 8.31 ERA in just three starts for the Padres in 2019 and has been held back by injuries for the majority of his 10-year career in the big leagues. Richards should provide some starting rotation depth for Boston, but he's only had over 26 starts in a season just once in his career (2015). You can do better in the late rounds in most mixed league drafts, especially if Richards were to land in the tough American League East.
Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Colin Moran is batting cleanup Thursday against the Atlanta Braves. Moran will look to stabilize himself and become the anchor in the middle of the Pirates' order in 2021 after they traded away Josh Bell during the offseason. Moran's strong suit comes against right-handed pitching as he slashed .252/.338/.512 with nine home runs in 2020. He makes for an interesting late-round selection given the position versatility he could provide fantasy players.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez may require season-ending surgery to repair his fractured ring finger according to Jon Heyman. If the surgery is required, there is a strong belief that Valdez could miss the entire 2021 campaign. This would be devastating news for Valdez and the Astros after he pitched so well in 2020 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts across 70 2/3 innings pitched. The Astros will continue to gather additional opinions before making any further statements.
The Toronto Blue Jays' top pitching prospect Nate Pearson suffered a Grade 1 groin strain in his last outing, according to General Manager Ross Atkins. The injury news is a tough blow for the Jays rotation which was already considered the weakest area on the team. Pearson missed time last year due to a flexor strain in his elbow. Although the timeline is not clear, the Blue Jays will need to consider alternatives, which could open up an opportunity for Anthony Kay or Thomas Hatch. Both of those young hurlers spent a good portion of 2020 in the majors while pitching out of the bullpen. The players were developed as starting pitchers and have No. 3/4 starter upsides.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain is battling a minor quadriceps injury early on during spring training, Robert Murray of FanSided.com reports. According to a source familiar with the team, Cain's injury is described as "tightness" and considered "very minor." The Brewers could bring Cain along slowly while he manages the injury, especially after he played just five games in 2020 before opting out of the season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Milwaukee signed free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley on Thursday, and his arrival could mean that Cain receives more frequent days off during his age-35 season.
Seattle Mariners infielder Shed Long Jr. (shin) is still not quite 100 percent after undergoing surgery on a stress fracture in his shin last September. Manager Scott Servais reported that Long will be out at least a few more days before seeing game action. Long had a frustrating season in 2020, struggling mightily to the tune of a .171 batting average. He enters the 2021 season trailing Dylan Moore in the competition to be the everyday second baseman, but every day he misses makes it more likely he'll fill a utility role. Long carries strong pedigree from his days as a prospect, but he is not a fantasy consideration to start the year.
Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Matt Manning provided two innings of shutout baseball against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Along with striking out one batter, the right-hander induced three ground-ball outs. He succeeded against multiple big-league hitters, including Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura. Manning spent 2019 in double-A but was injured with a strained forearm for a portion of the 2020 season at the alternate training site. If he can stay healthy, the former ninth-overall selection from the 2016 amateur draft should reach the majors in 2021. He has top-of-the-rotation upside due to his ability to miss bats and keep the ball in the park.
Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Alek Manoah struck out four Yankees batters in Wednesday's 4-1 loss. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 260 pounds, the right-hander was up to 97 mph and whiffed numerous big-league hitters including Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres. The former first-round pick from 2019 hasn't officially pitched above A-ball due to the pandemic but he spent last summer at Toronto's alternate training site and could see an accelerated time frame -- and a possible ETA is late 2021 or 2022. With the strong fastball, good breaking ball, and improving changeup, Manoah has No. 2/3 starter potential.
New York Mets outfielder/first baseman Dominic Smith will be making his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Nationals. Smith will be batting third as the Mets' designated hitter. In 2020, Smith broke out with a .316/.377/.616 slash line, 10 home runs, and 42 RBI. He finished tied for second in the National League with 32 extra-base hits and second overall in the majors with 21 doubles. With the NL unlikely to implement the designated hitter in 2021, Smith should see the bulk of his playing time in left field this season. Smith will also likely spell Pete Alonso at first base on Alonso's off days. Smith can potentially return 30-plus HR and 80-90 RBI (with some slight regression in batting average) over the course of a full season. Of course, there is some risk regarding his overall playing time. If Smith is forced to share time in left field with Brandon Nimmo during the season or is frequently removed for defensive purposes late in games, these counting stat projections would need to be adjusted slightly downward. As a result, managers rostering Smith should be aware of this playing time risk, despite the Mets' best efforts to keep his bat in the lineup on a regular basis.
Washington Nationals outfielder Victor Robles would be the team's ideal leadoff hitter, but his career .320 on-base percentage won't really cut it in such a role. Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long is looking for Robles to "progress and get better" to the point where he is capable of the "things that a good leadoff hitter is capable of," writes Matt Weyrich. Robles had a particularly rough 52 games last year when he hit .220/.293/.315 with an anemic .262 xwOBA. We may know early on in April how the Nationals feel about his progress based on where they put him in the lineup, but during draft season, Robles is no better than a late-round flyer in standard leagues.
Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI in Wednesday's 14-6 rout of the Minnesota Twins. Martinez has started the spring hot as he is now 4-for-8 with five total bases in his first three games. Martinez is coming off a down year where he slashed just .213/.291/.389 with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 211 at-bats. The hope is that he can return to the form that saw him hit 79 home runs across 2018-2019, and if so, his ADP of 81 could turn out to be a steal.