I was thinking this morning about how putting the finishing touches on a deep-league fantasy roster is kind of like packing for a trip. You know you need your essentials, like your basic wardrobe and shoes (or a few solid starters and a stud third baseman), and a whole slew of extra trip-specific items (or a closer or two and some infielders and outfielders). But there’s also a handful of things that you may or may not need and have just enough room in your suitcase for some but not all of them. If you forget your toothbrush or your Dramamine, you’ll probably be able to pick them up, albeit at inflated prices, at your hotel gift shop. Unless you’re on a desert island or out-in-the-woods, poorly stocked Airbnb… in which case you’re probably out of luck and your enjoyment level on your trip will take a hit because you tossed that extra pair of socks you won’t need into your bag instead of your phone charger. The deeper the league, the closer we get to the stuck-in-the-woods vacation scenario, so why not throw as many potentially useful items into your baggage as you can before your vacation starts? Even if they sit there unused for the whole trip, or you need to jettison them to make room for more pressing needs, it didn’t cost much to feel prepared. And if you’re faced with a screaming headache and can’t sleep the second night of your trip, think how happy you’ll be that you remembered to throw that tiny bottle of extra strength Excedrin PM into your backpack.
All of the following guys are true deep-league options, with ADPs starting at 575, according to the last two weeks of NFBC ADP. Will any of them provide as much help as a painkiller in the middle of the night? Maybe not, but like the four seconds it took to throw that pill bottle in your bag, at least it won’t cost you much to find out, and why not head into the season as prepared as you can be to navigate the inevitable myriad of injuries, playing time surprises, and disappointing performances that we’ll all have to face once the 2023 season is up and running. (Note: I’m listing both the player’s overall ranking, followed by his ADP, since ADP gets so wonky this late in a draft with many players only being selected in a few of the 181 leagues this data encompasses).
Kyle Farmer (Overall player ranking #420/ADP #575). I’m starting to get the feeling that Farmer may play more for the Twins than expected, which I guess is fueled by the vague news we’ve been getting that more than one of their presumed regulars will begin the season not completely healthy. (Ironically, I think Correa is about the only guy we haven’t gotten an injury report of some kind on). Maybe Farmer will become one of those true utility players who manage to amass a surprisingly large number of at bats by season’s end by spelling a different guy each day even when everyone is healthy, and this late in a deep league a player who qualifies at 3B and SS, has some pop, and won’t hurt you in average feels like a decent pick.
Mike Moustakas (#432/ADP 590). I guess the Rockies had more excuse to Rocky this year after the Brendan Rogers injury, but they seem to out-do themselves each year for most Rocky move ever when it comes to signing a possibly washed-up veteran who is suddenly in line for at least semi-regular at bats in Coors Field. I haven’t drafted Moustakas yet, but I also haven’t had my deepest NL-only league drafts yet, so I guess I could see it happening if I’m desperate for a very late power flier.
Tommy Pham (#433/592). Pham I have drafted, in a deep draft and hold league, though I’m trying to remember why I thought it was a good idea at the time. I guess it was because he was good at fantasy stats once, and is on a team that has a solid offense but injury-prone outfielders, where he’s competing with the likes of Darin Ruf for at bats. I’m not holding my breath that Pham is of much use this season even in a deep league, but if Nimmo starts the season on the IL I guess there’s a chance of catching lightning in a bottle here if you need an OF injury replacement yourself.
Dominic Smith (#476/ ADP 631). As lost at the plate as Smith looked last year, it’s hard to take even an ultra-late chance on him… but there may not be many better ‘change of scenery’ candidates to improve in 2023. He’ll get a fresh start with the Nationals, and should get plenty of playing time and a fairly long leash to establish himself as their first baseman for the time being (against right handers, at least). He’s had a solid spring, and turns out battling Corey Dickerson for a spot in the upper half of a lineup is easier than going against Pete Alonso – we’ll see if he can take advantage of the opportunity.
Robbie Grossman (#481/ADP 635). Grossman’s had to gain some steam to make it up inside the top 500, which has happened after he signed with the Rangers, and then when manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Grossman would be their main left fielder rather than being part of a platoon. Seems like a questionable decision for Texas, but let’s not forget that Grossman is only two years removed from a 20/20 (actually a 23/20) season with the A’s. It’s rather hard to imagine that happening again, but it’s easier to imagine Grossman providing at least a little deep-league value around pick 500.
David Peralta (#501/ADP 655). A big ADP bump from signing with the Dodgers never materialized for Peralta, which isn’t too surprising I suppose as he fits firmly into the ‘way more potential value in real baseball than fantasy’ mold. I really don’t know what to make of the Dodgers’ offseason and am starting to wonder if they’ll continue to be the offensive powerhouse we’ve gotten used to the last few years. If nothing else, though, they’ll still have a superstar top third of the lineup with Betts, Freeman, and Will Smith, so if Peralta is on the strong side of a platoon hitting a few spots after that, I think he could provide some very deep league value.
Kyle Lewis (#539/ADP 682). Lewis is 27 now, and I have to say I was more than a little surprised to see him jettisoned from the Mariners (to the D-Backs), thinking that he’d be part of the big picture in Seattle if and when he ever got healthy. Honestly, like many things in 2020, the fact that Lewis was the Rookie of the Year had completely escaped my memory, to the point where I had to look it up to make sure. Arizona wasn’t an ideal landing spot in that they already have a crowded outfield/DH depth chart, but Lewis is basically free even in very deep leagues so I can’t see any reason not to take a shot on him given that he’s one of the few picks this late in a draft that actually could involve some upside.
Mickey Moniak (#793/747). I’m not necessarily expecting much, but the vicinity of pick 750 feels a little too low for a post-hype prospect who has had a great spring and looks likely to be on the Angels’ opening day roster. If I recall correctly, we were at just this place with Moniak last year at this time, when an injury derailed his season before it even began. Speaking of post-hype prospects, Moniak and Jo Adell have both looked good in spring training, so it makes sense to monitor the situation in deeper/AL-only leagues. For now, why not use a late AL-only bench spot on Moniak given the other players available at the same price (Brian Serven, anyone?), in case he winds up with playing time and is able to carry his spring success into the season?
Mike Brosseau (#701/ADP 741). He’s had an excellent spring training (hitting well over .400 with 5 homers as I write this) and even without one likely would have made the Brewers opening day roster due to his versatility. He appeared at first, third, and short last year and should see quite a few at bats against lefties even as a utility player… with 13 homers (and 4 steals) in 81 games/306 ABs in 2022, he may not be the worst option given his price outside the top 700 if you need an NL-only injury fill-in or late bench depth.