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2016 Fantasy Baseball: AL Central Roster Moves

The AL Central had perhaps the most interesting story of Spring Training when Adam Laroche decided to retire because Kenny Williams decided to bar him from bringing his son to the clubhouse every day. From here, the stories diverge. Williams says he just wanted Laroche to cut back while Laroche is claiming that his son was out and out barred from the clubhouse. He also says they had an agreement when he signed that his son would be able to come with him on Spring Training and on the road during the baseball season.

Granted, we will look at the fantasy baseball implications momentarily, but the human element here is staggering. On the one hand, none of us can bring our children to work with us every day. It simply isn’t practical. On the other hand, many of the White Sox openly spoke up for Laroche and his son and were openly critical of Williams. Rumors are circulating that some players privately complained. It certainly would explain why Williams suddenly made that decision. Otherwise, his interference really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s hard to make a definitive stand on the issue when so many facts are in dispute. Taking your child out of school so they can go to Spring Training with you seems unusual, but it seemed to work for the Laroches, and you have to admire someone that is willing to leave 13 million on the table to do what is best for his family. On the other hand, a clubhouse doesn’t always seem like the best place for a 14-year-old teenager.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox signed Austin Jackson very late in the offseason. He seemed destined to become a glorified fourth outfielder before the whole Laroche situation went down. So, if you are looking at the 2015 White Sox in comparison with the current version, you can essentially trade Jackson for Laroche. Such a switch doesn’t seem fair, but some people are quietly lauding Williams for finding a way to get rid of Laroche while also getting him to leave without his 13 million. When you count Jackson’s defensive value as a center fielder, the trade really is no contest. Jackson isn’t a brilliant player, but he approached two WAR last season.

In the grand switch, Adam Eaton will move to right field and Avisail Garcia will move to designated hitter. Garcia’s numbers weren’t brilliant last season, but they were far superior to Laroche’s numbers offensively. Meanwhile, he was gawdawful defensively, so the game of musical chairs appears to be helping the White Sox all the way around. It likely isn’t enough to win the division, but it could make them an interesting wild card candidate.

Verdict: The changes probably won’t have much of a fantasy impact as their numbers won’t change much.

Cleveland Indians

Injuries have ravaged the Indians outfield beyond recognition. Michael Brantley is clearly the best of the bunch, but he isn’t likely to make his debut until late April. Rajai Davis was signed to add depth and he will take over for him in left field for the time being. Abraham Almonte was suspended by the league, so little known Tyler Naquin will take over for him in center field. Between the two, Davis is probably the best fantasy option because he will give you 20 or more steals when healthy and playing regularly. Naquin was selected in the first round back in 2012, but his minor league numbers haven’t been tremendous. Still, he hit four home runs in Spring Training and took advantage of the opportunity.

The Indians had signed Will Venable during the offseason, but decided to let him go in favor of Marlon Byrd. Byrd has averaged 24 home runs a season the last three seasons, so it was a bit of a surprise that he was on the market so long. Lonnie Chisenhall will begin the season on the disabled list. Byrd may have gone undrafted in your league. He is a decent fourth or fifth outfielder in leagues that employ five outfielders.

Verdict: The entire outfield is an interesting group to watch in the early going.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals decided not to bring back Alex Rios this offseason in order to give Jarrod Dyson an opportunity to earn the job in right field. Dyson is just the kind of player that winds up being much more valuable in fantasy baseball than real baseball. Offensively, he is practically a zero, but if he ever got 500 plate appearances he would probably steal 40 or more bases. He seemed poised to do that this season and he still might, but he won’t be playing in early April.

Raymond Fuentes will take his spot for now. He won the job with a scorching spring that saw him hit nearly .400 with three home runs and a blistering .648 slugging percentage. There is always the chance that he could Wally Pipp Dyson out of the spot and send Dyson back to his previous role as a fourth or fifth outfielder. However, history is probably not on his side.

Verdict: Fuentes is a darkhorse that is good to keep an eye on in case he starts off hot.

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2016 Fantasy Baseball: NL Central Roster Moves

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