Now that the top three free agent hitters have all been signed to long-term deals, it is time to analyse what type of impact the change in scenery will have on their fantasy baseball numbers. The three left-handed bats (Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano and Shin-Soo Choo) all want to have career years to justify their contracts, but can they meet expectations?
Ellsbury battled some injuries a season ago, but he was healthy enough to help lead the Boston Red Sox to the World Series. Fantasy baseball owners were still able to enjoy a .298 average from him and 52 stolen bases, but his power disappeared a little bit. That should change a little now that he is playing half of his games in Yankee Stadium. Health is the biggest issue for him here, but if he can stay on the field, his fantasy baseball numbers will be near career highs.
The Yankees were able to pay Ellsbury because they didn’t spend money on second baseman Robinson Cano. After being the main cog in the lineup for New York all last season, he will be switching coasts to play for the Seattle Mariners. A lackluster lineup surrounding him (even after improvements) and a bigger stadium could hurt his power numbers a little bit. Fortunately, Cano is a good enough line drive hitter that his numbers shouldn’t dive too much.
Finally, Choo goes from one good situation to another, as he signed a deal with the Texas Rangers. He put up nice numbers in Cincinnati in 2013, sporting an on-base percentage of .423 and slugging 21 home runs. He won’t have to play centerfield in Arlington, and he gets to hit in a stacked lineup in a hitter friendly ballpark. Expect some of his best career numbers this upcoming season as long as everyone else lives up to expectations. Some should worry slightly about his age and injury history, but he is still a top flight fantasy baseball option.