Here we go again. After being limited to just 23 games between the regular season and the playoffs last year, Yankees’ outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is considered questionable for Opening Day after being diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf Wednesday. According to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone, the 30-year-old slugger suffered the injury Tuesday while participating in outfield drills at the team’s spring training complex. He’ll be shut down for at least a couple of weeks, which puts his availability for the start of the regular season in serious jeopardy. Boone also told reporters Wednesday that Stanton would be “up against it a little bit” with regards to being ready for the team’s season opener versus the Orioles on March 26.
It's yet another physical setback for the high-priced middle-of-the-order masher, who endured an injury-plagued 2019 campaign. He suffered both a biceps strain and shoulder injury in early-April and had his ensuing rehab assignment scuttled by a calf strain. He returned to the Yankees’ lineup in mid-June for six games before a PCL sprain in his right knee put him back on the shelf until mid-September. He was snake-bitten by the injury bug one final time, battling through a nagging Grade 2 quad strain during the postseason.
“It’s disappointing because you want to get guys going and built up,” Boone told reporters Wednesday. “It’s just a little bump in the road and we’re equipped to handle it.”
It would be unfair to label the 29-year-old former National League MVP as injury prone, especially since he played in 317 of 324 games over a two-year span (2017-2018), but he’s an extremely risky fantasy proposition moving forward due to the seemingly omnipresent health issues. Per FanTrax average draft position data, Stanton was being selected as the 15th outfielder off the board (59th overall) in fantasy drafts this spring. Given his recent health issues, fantasy owners should’ve baked in at least some missed time into their overall projection, so this latest ailment shouldn’t cause his stock to crater completely. However, it’s difficult to justify taking him over other elite home run producers like Nelson Cruz, Matt Olson Jorge Soler and Joey Gallo, all of whom were being selected after him in most drafts this spring. He may possess a higher ceiling than almost any other power hitter in the game, but banking on 500 plate appearances is a risky proposition, especially considering how omnipresent power is in the current landscape.
It’s another brutal development for the Yankees, who just lost frontline starting pitcher Luis Severino to season-ending Tommy John surgery earlier this week. It may not be a lengthy absence, but Stanton’s injury could have some major ramifications on the Yankees’ roster decisions this spring. Perhaps the most notable development is that it creates a pathway to everyday at-bats at designated hitter for Miguel Andujar, who underwent season-ending surgery on a torn labrum in his right shoulder after just 12 games last season. Clearly, the 24-year-old’s fantasy stock should receive a modest boost if Stanton is sidelined for an extended stretch to begin the year. It also potentially opens the door for outfielder Clint Frazier to make the team’s Opening Day roster as an insurance policy behind starters Aaron Judge (who is currently dealing with right shoulder soreness), Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman.
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Brewers Bet On Peralta
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Brewers agreed to a long-term contract extension with right-hander Freddy Peralta on Wednesday. According to multiple reports, it’s a five-year, $15.5 million deal, which includes a pair of club options that could push the total value of the agreement up to $30 million. The 23-year-old oscillated between the Brewers’ starting rotation and bullpen, compiling an uninspiring 5.29 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 115/37 K/BB ratio across 85 innings of work in 39 appearances (eight starts) last year. As evidenced by his lofty strikeout total, Peralta misses plenty of bats (11.63 K/9 in 163 1/3 career major-league innings) but he’s battled persistent control issues and also struggled to keep the ball in the yard. Despite possessing a ton of raw talent, the results haven’t been spectacular. However, that could change quickly. It may seem hyperbolic, but fantasy owners need to start paying attention to Peralta this spring.
According to a report from MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy earlier this month, “Peralta spent the winter in the Dominican Republic, resurrecting the slider he’d strayed from in recent seasons, including the past two years in the big leagues when he pitched predominantly with four-seam fastballs, curveballs and the occasional changeup. He added a slider to that mix at the urging of the Brewers, beginning with meetings at the team’s Dominican training complex with former pitcher Carlos Villanueva, who is now a special assistant to the GM for player development.”
Based on his stellar winter ball performance -- 1.35 ERA with a 34/3 K/BB ratio across 20 innings of work -- the slider has the potential to dramatically improve his results moving forward. If he transforms from essentially a one-pitch (fastball-only) flamethrower into a dynamic three-pitch guy, he could blossom into a viable mixed-league asset virtually overnight. Peralta projects to open the 2020 campaign as a multi-inning reliever, but he could transition into the starting rotation at some point. He’s worthy of a late-round lottery ticket in deeper mixed leagues moving forward.
American League Quick Hits: Justin Verlander has been scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start on Thursday due to groin discomfort. Astros manager Dusty Baker hinted at this being a precautionary measure while also noting that Verlander will throw a simulated game instead to stay on track for Opening Day … Chris Sale (elbow, illness) threw a successful bullpen session Wednesday in Red Sox camp … Angels RHP Julio Teheran (hamstring) is aiming to make his Cactus League debut on Sunday or Monday. The 29-year-old veteran was scratched from a scheduled start Wednesday versus the Dodgers after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring Tuesday while running, but he’s expected to throw a bullpen session Friday … Emmanuel Clase was sent for an MRI on his right lat on Tuesday after experiencing discomfort on Monday … Salvador Perez (elbow) is expected to make his first Cactus League start at catcher on Thursday … Rafael Devers (paternity) is set to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday … Brad Peacock (neck) is aiming to resume throwing off a mound early next week … Clint Frazier doubled, walked twice and scored two runs in the Yankees’ win over the Nationals … Jose Urquidy allowed two runs over 1 1/3 innings in a Grapefruit League start against the Cardinals. Myles Straw homered twice in that contest … Michael Chavis finished 2-for-2 with a homer and a walk in the Red Sox’ win over the Pirates … Blake Snell pitched a perfect inning versus the Twins in his Grapefruit League debut.
National League Quick Hits: According to Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, an MRI taken Wednesday on J.D. Davis’ left shoulder showed “no new structural damage.” Mets manager Luis Rojas said that Brandon Nimmo's cardiac screening tests on Wednesday were “precautionary.” … Freddie Freeman (elbow) is expected to return to Grapefruit League action next week. He experienced a bit of inflammation in his surgically-repaired right elbow earlier this week, but it doesn't seem to be a huge concern at the moment … Mike Soroka (groin) is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday against the Yankees … Joc Pederson (hip, side) has not yet been cleared to resume hitting … Eugenio Suarez (shoulder) still has no timetable for when he'll be able to play in Cactus League games … Dinelson Lamet will make his Cactus League debut on Saturday against the Reds … Javier Baez launched his first homer of the spring in the Cubs’ win over a Royals’ split-squad … Sonny Gray registered three strikeouts over two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut against the Mariners … Josh Lindblom recorded three strikeouts over two scoreless frames in a Cactus League start against the Giants … Chris Paddack recorded three strikeouts over two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut against the Indians. Wil Myers went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in that contest … Kwang-Hyun Kim struck out three in two perfect innings in a Grapefruit League outing against the Marlins … Mitch Keller gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings in a Grapefruit League start versus the Red Sox … Jose Quintana (illness) threw another bullpen session on Wednesday in Cubs camp … Matt Carpenter was a late scratch from the Cardinals’ Grapefruit League lineup on Wednesday due to back tightness, but expects to return to Grapefruit League action on Saturday … Tommy Pham (elbow, side) remains sidelined from Cactus League action due to soreness … Dustin May (side) hasn't thrown off a mound since the first day of Dodgers camp.