MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued baseball’s first-ever penalty for a player involved in a domestic violence incident, as Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman was suspended 30 games, which he accepted without appeal. Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend, then locked himself in his garage and fired as many as eight bullets from a handgun. However, no charges were filed against Chapman and there were no witnesses to the incident.
The suspension means that Andrew Miller will begin the season as the closer for the New York Yankees, which slightly elevates his Fantasy value. Chapman’s value takes a slight hit with the loss of 30 games and the potential saves of the first month or so of play. Chapman has been listed as a Top 3 closer in most mixed league rankings, while Miller was outside the Top 20. The suspension drops Chapman a couple of notches but he remains a Top 5 closer due to his strikeout ability. Miller moves just inside the Top 20, but he remains most valuable in leagues that count Holds as a category. Since Miller also has elite strikeout ability, he’s worth drafting for that first month of saves if you can get him at the right price or with a late pick in your draft.
The most important aspect of the Chapman suspension is that it brings a little more clarity to the potential ban that Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes may get. His case is vastly different from Chapman’s in that he’s actually been charged with a crime and faces a trial scheduled for April 4. In addition, Reyes’ wife sought treatment at a hospital after he allegedly assaulted her.
Reyes is currently on paid leave until his trial begins, and Manfred has indicated that he will not issue a suspension until the trial is over and the investigation by his office is complete. However, if Chapman received 30 games with no charges, no trial and no injury to his alleged victim, then Reyes is almost certain to face at least a 100-game ban. It is also not inconceivable that Reyes could be suspended for the balance of the 2016 season, a penalty similar to the 162-game ban served by Alex Rodriguez for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
Up to this point, Reyes was worth an end game pick in drafts, especially in NL-only formats, as his bat should play well in Coors Field and he still offers decent speed when healthy. Now, a potential suspension of 100 or more games makes drafting him almost foolish. You’re better off leaving him on the waiver wire and letting someone else waste a roster spot for the better part of two-thirds of the season or more.
In the meantime, there is a four-way competition underway for the shortstop position for the Rockies. While some believe that one-time uber-prospect Trevor Story is a virtual lock for the job, others aren’t quite so sure. One thing is certain; Story hasn’t continued to develop at the plate as the Rockies had hoped, so more minor league work is warranted. Christhian Adames, a 24-year-old prospect who put up a .311/.362/.438 line in Triple-A last season has better contact skills and has already developed into a better power hitter than Story. One scenario has Adames starting the season at shortstop with Story heading back to Triple-A for additional seasoning and perhaps getting a call up at midseason.
The Rockies also have utility players Daniel Descalso and Rafael Ynoa, both with experience at shortstop and vying for a chance to play every day. Descalso is a career .238/.309/.339 hitter and doesn’t offer much in terms of power or speed. He’s not worth drafting except in the very deepest of NL-only formats, and then only if he clearly has the starting shortstop job to himself, which is not very likely. Ynoa looked terrific during a 71 PA cameo in 2014 during which he slashed .343/.380/.463. Unfortunately, he hasn’t come close to that kind of production since then, even in the minors. At his best, he’s a speed merchant with no pop in his bat. However, he hasn’t shown his speed much in 200 PA at the major league level. Ynoa isn’t worth a draft pick even if he’s given the shortstop job.
So, that leaves us with Story and Adames. If you’re drafting right now, it’s best to avoid the Rockies’ shortstop situation altogether. You certainly want nothing to do with Reyes, and neither Story nor Adames has the pedigree to be worth anything more than an end game flier if you can afford to waste a roster spot. If you are drafting closer to the beginning of the season, this position battle certainly bears watching. Adames can hit for power and Story could easily take a step forward in development with a major league job on the line. Owning any Rockies player in Fantasy almost always pans out in one way or another, so if either Adames or Story wins the job outright, a late round pick just might be worthwhile.