MLB Transactions

Sunday, January 15
The Los Angeles Dodgers and right-handed reliever Yency Almonte avoided arbitration after agreeing to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. The 28-year-old signed with the Dodgers on a minor-league deal before 2022 but missed roughly two months due to elbow inflammation. Although, his 2022 campaign may have been his best performance yet. He spent four seasons with the Rockies and compiled a 5.30 ERA through four seasons. It appears that a change of scenery has flipped the script. Almonte posted a 1.02 ERA with a 3.17 FIP across 33 appearances. If Almonte can mirror his 2022 campaign and stay healthy, he should undoubtedly be considered for deep-league formats.
The New York Mets and reliever Drew Smith avoided arbitration after agreeing to a one-year, $1.3 million deal. The 29-year-old has effectively contributed to Buck Showalter's bullpen despite missing some time in 2022. He suffered a back and finger injury and hasn't been too healthy since joining the pros in 2018. Although Smith still commenced 44 appearances and posted a 3.33 ERA with 53 punchouts. He compiled a 28.3% strikeout rate while holding opponents to a .221 average. Smith is primarily used in middle-inning situations and collected 14 holds across 46 innings. He should be on the radar for leagues that account for holds.
The New York Yankees and catcher Kyle Higashioka agreed to a one-year, $1.46 million deal to avoid salary arbitration. The 32-year-old has one more year of arbitration before entering free agency. His workload may have been reduced when the Yankees acquired Jose Trevino, but Higashioka will still get considerable reps behind the plate. This past season, he made 248 plate appearances and molded a .227/.264/.389 slash line and matched his career-high 10 HRs. The veteran may not be the most efficient player at the plate. However, his defensive attributes allow him to keep his job. He ranked in the 71st percentile for framing in 2022, which is quite impressive for a backup catcher. Although, his fantasy value is likely insignificant with Trevino as the Yankees' primary catcher.
The Cleveland Guardians and reliever James Karinchak avoided salary arbitration after inking a one-year, $1.5 million deal. Known to have one of the most sophisticated routines in the game, Karinchak has established himself as one of the most dependable Cleveland arms. He dealt with a shoulder strain this past season which sidelined him for a considerable amount of time, but he still managed to make an impact. Through 38 appearances, Karinchak molded a 2.08 ERA with 62 strikeouts and a 38.8% strikeout rate. He continues to work his way up in the Guardians clubhouse and is vying to increase his workload this coming season. If he can stay healthy, Karinchak is expected to be in a high-leverage role for the Guardians and could see a few save chances behind star closer Emmanuel Clase.
Catcher Jose Trevino and the New York Yankees agreed to a one-year, $2.36 million deal to avoid salary arbitration. Trevino serves as the starting catcher in the Bronx, with Kyle Higashioka serving as the backup. Trevino was named to his first all-star game in 2022 after displaying an impressive bat and immaculate defense. He slashed .248/.283/.388 with a .671 OPS and 11 HRs. The 30-year-old was most productive with runners in scoring position and amassed a .901 OPS with a 159 wRC+. Trevino was additionally awarded the Gold Glove award, which is only the beginning of his hardware display. The Texas native continues to impress the Yankees' management and is vying for some more reps behind the plate in 2023.
The Chicago Cubs and first baseman Trey Mancini agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with an option year for 2025. Mancini will bank seven million a year and could earn more with escalators and incentives. The 30-year-old was hauled to the Astros in a three-team deal that included Christian Vazquez to Houston. Mancini slashed .268/.347/.404 across 401 plate appearances with the Orioles before encountering some struggles in Houston. He didn't make much of an impact for the reigning champs after amassing just a .622 OPS. Despite the signing of Eric Hosmer, it appears that Mancini was brought in to address the lefty-righty split. Mancini should get some outfield reps and can also DH when Hosmer occupies first base.
The Kansas City Royals and starting pitcher Kris Bubic agreed to a one-year, $2.2 million deal to avoid salary arbitration. The southpaw made 28 starts for the Royals this past season and posted a career-high 5.58 ERA across 129 frames. Bubic struck out 110 batters and whipped up a 4.78 FIP. The 25-year-old has had better years as a starter, and the Royals can only hope that Bubic can move past this roadblock in his career. He is relatively young for a starter which gives him time to alter any flaws in his game. The Royals do not have the most dependable rotation, but Bubic is undoubtedly a vital component of the rotation. However, he will not provide anything significant from a fantasy standpoint and is mainly an option in deep-league formats.
The Toronto Blue Jays and infielder Santiago Espinal agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million deal to avoid salary arbitration. The 28-year-old has established himself as a vital component of the Blue Jays organization as a utility infielder. He spent the bulk of 2022 at second base but also saw some reps at shortstop and third. His bat has become a weapon after slashing .267/.322/.370 with a .692 OPS that earned him an all-star spot. Although the Blue Jays acquired Whit Merrifield last season, Merrifield had no issue getting some outfield reps. If Espinal can match the numbers he posted this past season, he should be a solid fantasy option with position eligibility at second, shortstop, and third base in 2023.
The Los Angeles Angels and first baseman Jared Walsh (shoulder) avoided salary arbitration after inking a one-year, $2.65 million deal. Walsh was sidelined for the last month of the season after undergoing a thoracic outlet surgery. He is expected to be ready for the 2023 season and shouldn't miss any time. Across 454 plate appearances, the 29-year-old posted a .215/.269/.374 slash line with 44 RBI and 15 HRs. His .642 OPS was nothing close to what he displayed in the two previous years, but his health certainly impeded his success. If the first baseman can stay healthy in 2023, the Angels are hoping that Walsh can tap into his raw power that was on display in 2021 when he hit 29 homers.
The Baltimore Orioles and right-hander Dillon Tate agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal to avoid salary arbitration. The 28-year-old represented one of the most revered bullpens in 2022 after the Orioles combined for a 3.49 bullpen ERA. Following a shaky 2021 season, Tate returned as a completely different player in 2022. He reduced his ERA to 3.05 while making 67 appearances across 73 2/3 innings. His role has primarily been as a late-inning reliever, and he has been solid in high-leverage situations, racking up five saves and 16 holds in 2022. If he can maintain his productivity levels, Tate will receive a similar workload to what he had in 2022. Most importantly, his fantasy value was boosted after his impressive performance, and he should be on the fantasy radar in league formats that account for holds.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and pitcher Dustin May agreed to a one-year, $1.675 million contract to avoid salary arbitration. His career has been plagued with injuries, but a healthy Dustin May is not a pitcher you want to face in the batter's box. He has made just 11 starts over the past two seasons, but the Dodgers hope to get him healthy for 2023. May made his season debut in August after recovering from Tommy John surgery. In his six starts in 2022, the 25-year-old displayed a 4.50 ERA along with 29 strikeouts and a 4.38 FIP. If May can stay healthy for the bulk of 2023, he will be included in the Dodgers' five-man rotation consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Noah Syndergaard. If everything goes right for the right-hander, he should be a reliable contributor in the fantasy world.
The New York Mets and pitcher Elieser Hernandez agreed to a one-year, $1.6 million deal to avoid salary arbitration. Hernandez will begin a new chapter with the Mets in 2023 after spending five seasons in Miami. The 27-year-old split his 2022 season as a starter and middle-inning reliever. He posted a 6.35 ERA across 62 1/3 innings and 60 punchouts. Hernandez was not the most effective pitcher in 2022, although we have seen success in previous years. With a change of scenery in Citi Field, Hernandez may have an opportunity to turn the tables. However, he is mainly on the fantasy radar in deep-league league formats.
The New York Yankees and right-hander Michael King avoided arbitration after agreeing to a one-year, $1.3 million deal. King is recovering from a fractured elbow back in July and hopes to return in 2023. He is lauded as one of the biggest weapons out of the Yankees bullpen, and his return is quite impactful for the club. Before suffering a fractured elbow, King made 34 bullpen appearances and posted a 2.29 ERA with 66 strikeouts and a 2.23 FIP. He maintained a career-high 33.2% strikeout rate while holding opponents to a .191 average. Assuming that the 27-year-old is ready for 2023, the Yankees expect King to pick up where he left off. King will make an impact in the fantasy world, especially in league formats that account for holds.
Left-hander Lucas Luetge and the Atlanta Braves avoided arbitration after agreeing to a one-year, $1.55 million deal. Luetge was waived by the Yankees during the offseason and traded to the Braves a few weeks ago. The 35-year-old made quite an impact for the Yankees in 2022 after molding a 2.67 ERA across 50 appearances. He whiffed 60 batters with a 23.9% strikeout rate. Along with Wandy Peralta, Luetge was the only lefty arm out of the Yankees bullpen. He provided consecutive sub-three ERA's in the two years that he spent in the Bronx, and the southpaw will likely display similar numbers in Atlanta. Luetge will make a fantasy impact if you are looking for a dependable bullpen arm.
Reliever Josh Staumont and the Kansas City Royals avoided salary arbitration after agreeing to a one-year, $1.25 million deal. The 29-year-old has two seasons left of arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2026. Staumont could not access his true, dependable form this past season after a promising 2021 season. In 2022, Staumont displayed a whopping 6.45 ERA across 37 2/3 frames. Although just a year prior, in 2021, the right-hander molded a 2.88 ERA across 64 appearances. However, the 29-year-old landed on the injured list twice this past year, which may have been the cause of his struggles. The Royals hope to tap into Staumont's success and shape him into his true form. Staumont is expected to be used in a high-leverage role for the Royals in 2023.