Lock up your catchers early.
No, seriously. That's not fantasy advice. Find your team's catcher, and lock him away somewhere safe.
That may be the only way to avoid a fate similar to that of Salvador Perez, who will likely undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a damaged right ulnar collateral ligament discovered late last week. Perez will travel to Los Angeles on Tuesday to receive a second opinion from esteemed Dr. Neal ElAttrache, but all signs point to this being a lost year for the 28-year-old.
“If I can play through it, I will,” Perez said Saturday.
The more likely course is surgery, which will sideline Perez until 2020. That leaves little in the way of catching help for the Royals, with Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria presently in line to share duties post-dish. Neither is a starting-caliber catcher in the major leagues, let alone capable enough to replace Perez's 27 homers and 80 RBI in each of the past two seasons.
That sentiment rings equally as true for fantasy leagues, where Perez was considered one of the best options in the fantasy wasteland known as catcher. Perez was considered by some to be the third-best catching option and was at least a top-10 player at his position.
It remains to be seen whether the Royals make a move to improve their standing behind the plate -- they certainly won't make any judgments until after Perez receives his second opinion Tuesday -- but fantasy owners don't have such luxury. For those who have already drafted, pivoting to a passable option will be a necessity in the coming weeks.
For those in shallower leagues, that might be someone like youngsters Danny Jansen or Francisco Mejia. In two-catcher leagues, guys like Tucker Barnhart, Jorge Alfaro and Omar Narvaez could fill in. For those going even deeper, a Kurt Suzuki or Carson Kelly might be available.
Kershaw 'In A Good Place'
Things are trending better for the team in Dodger blue.
Clayton Kershaw, whose health early in camp has been among the biggest headlines around baseball, played catch on Sunday and seems to be moving in the right direction in recent days.
“Kershaw is going to play catch today, stretch it out, ramp up the intensity. He feels good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said earlier Sunday. “Ever since last Monday, with some of the rest we’ve built in, he’s in a good place.”
Kershaw sparked fear in the hearts of Dodgers fans and fantasy owners when he was shut down after he "didn't feel great" during a throwing session last Monday. But that rest seems to have helped, according to Roberts, and Kershaw will keep moving ahead with his program in hopes he's past whatever ailed him.
Heaney Taking It Easy
The Angels are one of those teams that seems to have had inordinate bad luck in recent years when it comes to pitching, but their most recent setback doesn't have many within the organization concerned, at least outwardly.
Andrew Heaney had his scheduled spring start pushed back due to left elbow inflammation and while he's taking it slow, the move was largely precautionary, Heaney said.
“I just said something and they were like, let’s get this out now,” Heaney said. “They were pretty immediate with their determination.
Heaney even threw long toss both Saturday and Sunday and participated in all pitcher fielding practice drills, suggesting he's not being kept in bubble wrap by Angels doctors. Barring any further setbacks, this should be water under the bridge for the southpaw, who carries some nice fantasy upside, going forward.
Nats Chasing Kimbrel?
The Nationals' pursuit of free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel may have reached its threshold -- its luxury tax threshold, that is.
The two sides are interested in coming to an agreement, with ESPN's Keith Law saying Sunday they are "further down the road" than many believed, but a potential snag exists in the luxury tax threshold, which MASN's Pete Kerzel reports Nats owners are unwilling to exceed for the third consecutive year.
Though purely speculative at this point, it's worth noting what a potential Kimbrel-to-the-Nationals deal would do to the current roles in the Nats' bullpen. Shifting to a setup role would be Sean Doolittle, who's currently the 10th reliever coming off the board by NFBC ADP. Kyle Barraclough, who would likely be next in line should Doolittle falter, would be pushed even further from the ninth inning in that scenario.
It's hard to see a Kimbrel landing spot that makes a ton more sense as we move further into March. Any team could benefit from having him in tow, but few contenders don't have established closers or a group of players in which they feel confident at the back end of games.
As always, we'll just have to wait and see how this one shakes out.
Quick Hits: Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters on Sunday that Bryce Harper is likely to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday. Kapler also mentioned that he expects Harper to DH in the game. The 26-year-old is getting a late start to the season after signing his monster 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia on Friday. It shouldn't take him long to get into game shape, and he should be hitting homers and drawing walks for the Phillies from the jump ... Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) is expected to resume playing catch Monday. Foltynewicz was scratched from a scheduled Grapefruit League outing last Friday because of a sore pitching elbow, but he's made nice progress since then. While he's no longer expected to be ready to take the ball on Opening Day for the Braves, the right-hander should have enough time to join the rotation during the first week of the regular season, provided that he progresses without any setbacks ... Kenley Jansen tossed a hitless inning in his Cactus League debut Sunday against the Rangers. The first batter he faced reached on a fielding error by minor league infielder Omar Estevez, but Jansen rallied for two quick lineouts and a strikeout. The 31-year-old had a relatively disappointing 2018 season and needed heart surgery this winter, but he still carries as much fantasy upside as any closer on the board ... Dansby Swanson (wrist) is expected back in the Braves' lineup Tuesday. Swanson had to be scratched from Friday's lineup due to soreness in his surgically-repaired left wrist, but evidently the Braves feel it was only a minor setback. It will be the shortstop's Grapefruit League debut ... Luke Farrell was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of his jaw after being struck with a line drive in the ninth inning of Saturday's game against the Giants. Farrell was released from hospital after undergoing a CT scan and X-rays after the incident. The 27-year-old will visit with a specialist on Monday. Farrell was claimed off waivers from the Angels in January, and is competing for a spot in the bullpen for Texas. We should find out more on his status going forward after the visit with the specialist.