Proving that no position is too deep in Fantasy baseball, Brett Lawrie is the latest third basemen who will start the season on the disabled list. He suffered a strained rib muscle and left intercostal muscle during a World Baseball Classic scrimmage in early March. The Blue Jays announced on Monday he would begin the season on the disabled list.
Fellow third basemen Chase Headley (broken thumb) and David Wright (strained intercostal muscle) also suffered WBC injuries. Hanley Ramirez, who has Fantasy eligibility at both 3B and SS, also suffered a thumb injury in WBC action; he will miss almost two months to start the season. Wright is the only one who appears he will now be ready for the beginning of the season.
Lawrie had just started to play catch last week, and hoped to get into spring training games early this week. His DL stint should not be viewed as a setback necessarily, but an acknowledgement that he’ll need time to get back into baseball shape. We would not expect a legthy absence, though an early-season slump when he returns wouldn’t surprise us.
Lawrie has an Average Draft Position of 74 this spring in National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues, the eighth third baseman off the board. Owners clearly have been hesitant to draft him and we would expect his ADP to fall now, to perhaps around 90. He will be an ideal pick for a Corner Infield spot, giving an owner good depth at the hot corner, with plenty of first baseman to choose from as well.
Last season, the 23-year-old Lawrie hit .273 for Toronto with 11 HRs and 48 RBI in his first full season. Given the Blue Jays’ wholesale changes in the off-season — and this injury — Lawrie should enjoy a low-pressure season with tempered expectations. While we wouldn’t expect a breakout season, we know that if he’s healthy, he brings great potential for value.
While Lawrie is hurt, we would expect the 28-year-old Emilio Bonifacio to inherit at-bats. It’s likely Bonifacio would play 2B while Maicer Izturis slides over to third, where he played 30 games last season. Bonifacio has 50 SB potential if he plays every day. With a formidable OF of Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion plus Jose Bautista at DH, Bonifacio might have to make his living on the IF this season. He played CF in 51 of his 64 games a season ago. Last season he hit .258 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 30 SBs in 244 ABs.
Bonifacio is the 58th OF being drafted, on average, according to NFBC. His ADP is 217, about where he belongs considering he will not see IF eligibility right away in many leagues. If your league rules qualify him at 2B, or have a low games-played qualifying number, you should move him up your draft sheets, but do not reach or overbid for him. He will provide some roster flexibility for you and should be a nice player to plug in on your starters’ days off.