Looking at the changing MLB landscape over this past offseason, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Zack Greinke and David Price were the most prominent headliners among those free agents that ended up changing uniforms. But all things considered from a fantasy standpoint, it was mostly much ado about nothing as I'm not sure those player's will see a significant roto value shift one way or the other from their previous places of employment.
With that in mind, I decided to dive a little deeper into the offseason movement chart, unearthing four players that I think will greatly benefit from a change of scenery and could wind up being under-the-radar late steals on draft day:
Wei-Yin Chen, Mia - The 30-year-old former O's rotation member gets the obvious bum
p moving from the AL to NL. But in addition to putting the DH in his rear-view mirror, Chen also leaves behind the pitcher-punishing AL East, where three teams (Boston, NY Yankees and Toronto) all finished among the top 4 in MLB in runs scored last season. Chen heads to the NL East, where two of Miami's divisional opponents (Philly and Atlanta) finished among the bottom four in the league in runs. In fact, only one NL East team (Washington, 10th) finished among the upper half of the league in scoring.
Chen, coming off career-marks in K/9 rate (7.2, acceptable in IP-capped leagues), ERA (3.34) and WHIP (1.22), owns an ERA mark of above 4.00 versus each AL East team save Tampa Bay (3.79) over the past three seasons. Getting out of the AL East driving range and into the Senior Circuit could lead to another season of career-best fantasy marks. And that could prove to be very beneficial for fantasy owners as Chen is currently the No. 61 starter off the board in preseason drafts despite finishing No. 37 among fellow starters in the Y! game last season (and No. 47 in '14).
Daniel Murphy, WAS: Murphy is a natural born hitter, a player that has never posted worse than a .733 OPS in any season since he broke into the league in '08. But his home park of Citi Field has done him no favors over the past three seasons as his BA mark in home games during that span (.255) is nearly 60 points less than his road clip (.313) - and it should be noted his BA at Nationals Park since '13 (.310) lands right in line with his overall road mark. So the change of scenery looks like it could be a very positive development for Murphy, as is hitting somewhere in a close vicinity behind Bryce Harper, he of a league-high .460 OBP in '15.
Murphy doesn't run enough anymore to carry the upside of a top 30 bat (he ranked as the No. 26 overall offensive roto commodity in '13 when he swiped 23 bases). He's unlikely to reach even half of that SB total this season, but with the real potential to hit 15 HRs to go with something in the neighborhood of a .290 BA and 90/80 run production, Murphy, especially with three-position eligibility, looks awfully enticing with an ADP outside the top 150.
Gerardo Parra, Col - The significance of a hitter moving to Colorado can't be oversold. The Rockies have produced the league's top OPS in four of the past six seasons. Parra knows Coors Field well, having spent the majority of his career in the NL West with the Diamondbacks. Over the past three seasons, Parra owns an even .900 OPS at Coors Field. Last season, Parra finished as the No. 29 overall fantasy outfielder in the Y! game, finishing as one of just six players to hit at least 14 home runs, steal at least 14 bases, score at least 80 runs and bat .290 or better.
Set for a full-time gig in Colorado, a repeat of his career-best fantasy line of '15 is not at all far-fetched. He's currently going as the No. 56 overall outfielder in average Yahoo live drafts, and he should have no trouble outperforming that ADP.
Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM - This is player that shouldn't see a huge value swing because he's changing home venues, though Tropicana Field does suppress offense a bit more than Citi Field. Cabrera is just a generally overlooked shortstop in '16 drafts, thus far. After all, he was the No. 11 SS in the '15 Y! game, but he currently falls outside the top 20 at the position in Y! ADP - he's mostly going undrafted. Even if he reproduces his roto line from last season (.265, 15, 58, 66, 6), he'll easily outplay that ADP - and that '15 line is right at his career norms. At 30 years old (which is still touching the backend of his prime years), and coming off a '15 second half in which he delivered as a top 5 fantasy shortstop (.916 OPS), Cabrera makes for a nice late-round bargain - a likely much cheaper version of Jhonny Peralta.
Fun with Numbers (AKA, Fun with Baseball Reference's Play Index)
• Don't be suprised if SP Jordan Zimmerman struggles with the move from the NL to the AL. Over the past three seasons, Zimmermann owns a 15.8 K/9 rate vs. No. 9 hitters, sixth best among starters that have had at least 170 ABs against them in that span. He also owns a .418 OPS against No. 9 hitters over that period of time. Beware, the DH!
• Speaking of success against certain spots in the order, it might surprise you that M's Hisashi Iwakuma is the only SP in the span from '13-'15 to hold No. 3 hitters to an OPS of under .600 (min. 170 ABs). And Iwakuma's teammate Felix Hernandez, along with Clayton Kershaw, are the only SPs to limit cleanup hitters to a sub-.600 OPS in that span.
• Kershaw (56) and Hernandez (53) also rank 1-2 in Ultra Quality Starts (7+ IP, 2 ER or less) over the past three seasons. No. 3 on that list is Jon Lester (46). Lester, though, also had the dubious distinction of allowing the most stolen bases (44) among starters last season. His refusal to be bothered with baserunners led to a SB tally that was twice his previous career high (22), and no doubt contributed to his ERA (3.34) climbing nearly a run from his '14 mark (2.46).
More Fantasy Baseball analysis from Yahoo Sports