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Draft Indians’ Francisco Lindor Before His Price Rises

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is making progress in his return from a calf injury, and if all goes right, he may be back just in time for Opening Day.

Francisco Lindor Coming to Cleveland?

Well, if Francisco Lindor is ready for Opening Day, it’d technically be to face the Twins in Minneapolis, not Cleveland, but who’s keeping track anyway? The good news is there’s a chance the star shortstop will receive at-bats as the 2019 season commences.

According to Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes, Lindor’s calf has shown enough improvement to play in a minor league game Wednesday. He will be restricted to lighter stuff — jogging to first base after at-bats, and having his defensive movements “controlled” — but these are positive steps. On February 8, the team announced Lindor would miss 7-9 weeks, and we’re now around five weeks. Opening Day would mark the seven-week juncture, so it’s reasonable to think he could suit up at that time.

Lindor’s injury has polarized the fantasy baseball community, causing his ADP to fluctuate a bit. He was the consensus No. 4 player on all sites heading in to draft season, but that’s dropped almost everywhere.

Lindor is now the 10th player overall in NFBC drafts, and has been the 14th player off the board since his injury was reported on Feb. 8. And as of Wednesday, Lindor had an ADP of 11 on ESPN and an ADP of 18 on Yahoo!. Only on Fantrax has he remained at his initial No. 4 status (because owners here aren’t swayed by measly injury reports!).

Now, for those of you still drafting, and that’s a lot of you, don’t let Francisco Lindor slip too far before you nab him. Taking him fourth overall is a bit ambitious, since there’s always the risk of aggravation, as anyone who owned Josh Donaldson the last two years can attest to. It’s also unlikely he repeats 2018’s numbers whether he is healthy or not. But given the previously mentioned ADP data, selecting him near the middle-to-bottom of the first round could prove to be a major steal.

Hoynes’ update seems to focus on building up Lindor’s running intensity and lateral movement, so I’m guessing he may still miss the first week or two of the season. However, that’s not long enough to drop him too much in value, as we’ve seen players like Mike Trout and Ronald Acuna miss several weeks and still churn out elite fantasy value.

Strop Me, Strop Me

“Say you’re a winner but man you’re just a sinner now”

— from Billy Squier’s 1981 hit, “The Stroke”

Pedro Strop has been a popular sleeper for saves in fantasy baseball drafts, but much like Mr. Squier, Strop’s owners have gone from winner to sinner after the Chicago Cubs reliever suffered a right hamstring injury early this week.

Last year, the Cubs signed Brandon Morrow to a two-year, $21 million deal, and as he often does, the right-hander got hurt, missing the final 69 games of the season. Strop then stepped in and wrangled the closer role, notching 11 saves with a 2.11 ERA and .158 BAA over 21 appearances down the stretch.

It’s March and Morrow is still recovering from elbow surgery, making Strop the front-runner for saves heading into 2019, but he injured his right hamstring on Tuesday, putting his role for Opening Day in doubt. Now, to Strop’s credit, he says he’ll be fine, in fact, he says he’ll be “100%” by Opening Day, but these things tend to linger. Manager Joe Maddon is also a fickle one when it comes to assigning permanent roles. Even a healthy Strop may have ceded some opportunities to Steve Cishek or Carl Edwards Jr., so an injury makes things even more fluid.

Fantasy baseball owners who already own Pedro Strop may want to add Cishek and/or Edwards Jr. just in case (I have Cishek ranked ahead of CEJ). If you’re still drafting and there’s no new updates, I might drop Strop slightly, just to be on the cautious side, but this doesn’t sound like something that’ll keep him out long, especially since we still have two weeks left of spring training.

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