Fantasy Baseball Updates: Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Clayton Kershaw, more impacting rankings, drafts | Fantasy
As we rapidly approach opening day, two former fantasy studs (Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel) remain unsigned free agents, and key contributors such top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, and 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani face uncertain timetables as they rehab from injuries. All are affecting fantasy baseball rankings and leaving draft cheat sheets in flux leading up to drafts. We’re here to help with the latest news and updates.
We’ll continue to provide the latest news throughout spring training and update our rankings. You can also follow along with us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy for more fantasy advice.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2019 cheat sheet
What team will Craig Kimbrel sign with?
Ken Rosenthal dropped extremely concerning news for fantasy baseball owners this week when he wrote Kimbrel could wait until after the amateur draft in June to sign, thus not subjecting teams to the qualifying offer draft pick penalty that would be assessed if an organization signs him now. While the Rays and Cubs are reportedly interested in Kimbrel as of this week, it’s hard to shake the feeling Kimbrel might be content to sit out a while longer.
So, how should prospective fantasy owners react? We think Kimbrel is a top-three closer once he’s on a team, so it’s a matter of having the roster flexibility to stash him if necessary. He’s too good to be removed from your draft board altogether.
Will Dallas Keuchel sign before opening day?
All has been quiet on the Keuchel front since Ken Rosenthal reported on March 7 that the Astros had made short-term offers to the lefthander, who has been seeking a long-term deal.
While it’s difficult to know whether he’ll be signed before opening day, it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll miss time. In that case, he is obviously not worth targeting in the first 15 rounds of almost any format but could still provide value late in rounds. He’s considered fully healthy and posted a 3.74 ERA last season. At 31, he probably still has some more above-average production in him.
When will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. get called up?
Vlad Jr. was diagnosed with a strained left oblique on March 10 and will miss about three weeks. It is considered a Grade 1 strain.
After months of concern over possible service time manipulation which would have kept him in the minor leagues for a least a few weeks to give the Blue Jays an extra year of team control, it now appears he will definitely not be out through mid-April and likely a little later. Because fantasy owners were already expecting to not have him on opening day, this news should not move the needle much. Still, the injury is worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
Clayton Kershaw injury update
Kershaw (shoulder) is expected to throw a bullpen session Thursday after throwing 20 pitches on Monday without setbacks.
Pitcher injuries are always scary, but considering Kershaw’s recent history with them, this is a pretty big red flag. He missed significant time due to back ailments since 2016. We advise caution with the lefty, who would be entering the downswing of his career even at full health. He’s No. 77 in our Top 300 rankings.
Shohei Ohtani injury news
Big news on Ohtani came March 9, when he threw a baseball for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was just a light toss, but it puts him on track to return as a hitter in early May. He will not pitch in 2019.
Ohtani wowed the league with 22 home runs and 10 steals as a rookie. Even though he’ll likely miss at least a month, he should again be a strong fantasy option, though he’ll only be eligible at UTIL for most, if not all, of the season.