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Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Dunedin, Fla.--The Toronto Blue Jays want everyone to know it is not just the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and everyone else in the AL East.  On the fringe of contention for the last five years or so, the Blue Jays front office certainly earns a medal for trying hard this offseason as they went out and signed a slew of modestly-priced veteran players to plug some leaks around the roster.  Whether it will result in the Jays making the AL East a three-team race in another matter but for now, let's check in on some of the fantasy baseball-related matter circling here around camp.

1.  Can Josh Donaldson be trusted again as a top-tier third baseman?  The former AL MVP was the epitome of what a first-round pick in fantasy baseball should look like over from both in 2015 and 2016 when he clubbed 41 and 37 home runs respectively and filled the other columns outside of steals.  Well, 2017 was a bit of a different story as Donaldson dealt with an injury-plagued first half that resulted in a major dip in numbers (.261. 9 homers) and then went nuclear in the second half (.276, 24 homers) to remind us all how talented he is.  Donaldson is aging a bit as he turned 32 last December and his K/9 spiked to 22.4 which was a bit disturbing.  Still, the power remains immense and a run back toward 40 homers with full health is a decent bet.  However, there is cause for caution here as playing third base is rough on the body and we could be seeing some erosion now from Donaldson as a result.

2.  Roberto Osuna remains a top-tier closer.  While on the surface it may look like the Blue Jays stopper had a bad season, the fact of the matter is that Roberto Osuna remains a good as it gets in terms of ninth-inning arms going forward.  Yes, there was a slew of blown save and his ERA spiked to 3.38 (up from 2.68 the year prior) but the advanced metrics all show a top-of-the-line arm.  For one thing, Osuna's K/9 shot way up to a dominant 11.67 and both his control (1.27 BB/9) and home runs (0.42 HR/9) were stellar.  Instead, just chalk up the ERA rise to some bad luck and buy back fully here for 2018.

3.  Boy, that rotation looks underrated.  Yes, it does as the Blue Jays welcome back Aaron Sanchez from a blister-ruined 2017 and also are fronted by ace Marcus Stroman.  Throw in decent support chips J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada and the Jays have some toys to work with.  In terms of fantasy baseball, however, the story changes some as Stroman is really the only one you want to chase here and even he lacks the K's to be more than a low-end SP arm.  Estrada and Happ are both aging and Sanchez had one of the luckiest "good" seasons in recent memory in 2016 before it all went wrong health-wise last year.  Throw in the brutal ballpark and you don't want to be owning many Jays hurlers.

4.  The rest of the roster looks pretty rough.  That is an understatement as Troy Tulowitzki, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, and Kendrys Morales are all aging and fading veterans you want to avoid Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, and Devon Travis are all about fading potential.

5.  What about Yangervis Solarte?  Sure Solarte remains a decent stick and always carries some useful eligibility but you really can do a whole lot better there.


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