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Spring Training 2024: Grapefruit League Report (3/13)

It’s crunch time, folks. Opening Day is fast approaching, and Spring Training news keeps pumping at a high volume. Injuries and roster cuts have dominated the headlines this week, but the Grapefruit League Report has you covered with everything you need to know for fantasy. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s go!

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Grapefruit League News and Notes

Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF), AJ Smith-Shawver (SP)

The fantasy baseball world nearly ground to a halt after Ronald Acuna Jr. was diagnosed with an irritated right knee early last week. However, everything is getting back to normal for the superstar. Acuna participated in another round of batting practice and is waiting to be cleared for Grapefruit League action. Over the weekend, skipper Brian Snitker told reporters that he doesn’t expect Acuna to slow down on the basepaths. If you were able to get Acuna for a discount last week, congratulations! He should be locked and loaded as the 1.1 pick in drafts moving forward.

AJ Smith-Shawver will get some seasoning in Triple-A to start the season. His spring was a mixed bag as he posted a bloated 8.22 ERA across 7.2 innings. However, that also came with a 28.9% strikeout rate. Smith-Shawver should be Atlanta’s first call when an injury strikes the rotation.

Baltimore Orioles

Cedric Mullins (OF)

Cedric Mullins has been shelved with a hamstring issue for the last week, but he should return to action on Thursday. Watch for any setbacks, as much of Mullins’ fantasy value comes from his legs.

Boston Red Sox

Lucas Giolito (SP), Kenley Jansen (RP), Chris Martin (RP), Vaughn Grissom (SS)

Lucas Giolito underwent surgery for his partially torn UCL and will miss the 2024 season. Boston’s starting five on Opening Day should be Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck, and Garrett Whitlock. But keep tabs on Cooper Criswell, who’s been having a solid spring and is likely the next man up for Boston.

Kenley Jansen is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday. The veteran reliever has been delayed with right lat soreness this spring. Assuming there’s no hiccups, Jansen should open the season as the Red Sox’s closer.

Saves handcuff Chris Martin is dealing with groin tightness. It’s likely a minor issue, as Martin is already playing catch and expects to be ready for Opening Day. But keep tabs.

Vaughn Grissom has not appeared in a spring game due to a combination of hamstring and groin issues. While the groin injury is not considered a long-term issue, Grissom is all but certain not to be ready for Opening Day. Emmanuel Valdez will be the primary fill-in at the keystone in the interim.

Miami Marlins

Edward Cabrera (SP), Max Meyer (SP)

Edward Cabrera has been diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement and is considered day-to-day. Cabrera dealt with shoulder issues last season, so this is less-than-ideal news with the start of the season around the corner. Ryan Weathers has looked good this spring and will likely occupy the fifth spot in the rotation if Cabrera is sidelined.

Max Meyer will start the season in Triple-A Jacksonville. Meyer pitched well this spring, throwing seven scoreless innings with five strikeouts and one walk. However, the Marlins’ starters can’t seem to shake shoulder injuries, so don’t be surprised if Meyer is called up sooner rather than later. He’s worth a spec add when the time comes.

New York Mets

Edwin Diaz (RP), Brandon Nimmo (OF)

Sound the trumpets! Edwin Diaz made his Grapefruit League debut on Monday after missing all of last season with a torn patellar tendon. Diaz looked excellent, striking out the side and getting seven whiffs on 14 pitches. Diaz is back and you should draft him with confidence.

President of Baseball Operations David Stearns has discussed the possibility of Brandon Nimmo moving to the middle of the order after Nimmo popped a career-high 24 homers last season. Nimmo has been the Mets’ leadoff hitter for the past two seasons, racking up a combined 191 runs scored. The move would ding Nimmo’s run totals in favor of more RBI. It’s an interesting option that fantasy managers should keep tabs on.

New York Yankees

Gerrit Cole (SP), Aaron Judge (OF)

Gerrit Cole is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. He’s been having trouble rebounding from his throwing sessions this spring and underwent an MRI on his pitching elbow on Monday. He’ll also undergo more tests on Tuesday. None of this sounds good, and it’s a blow to Yankees fans and fantasy managers alike. Fade Cole in drafts until we have further information.

Aaron Judge is dealing with an abdominal muscle injury that will likely sideline him through the end of the week. He underwent an MRI on Monday, and while it came back clean, manager Aaron Boone said that Judge was feeling “kind of beat up” and that the Yankees will give him some rest. Judge expects to be ready for Opening Day, but this is obviously something fantasy managers need to keep tabs on. While Judge brings a lot to the fantasy table, he also comes with a fair amount of risk for a first-round pick. Draft accordingly.

Pittsburgh Pirates

David Bednar (RP), Henry Davis (OF)

David Bednar played catch for consecutive days and continues to work his way through lat tightness. There’s still no timetable for Bednar’s return, and his draft cost has dropped a couple of rounds. He’s currently going around pick 100 in the latest NFBC OCs, which is a fair price point. If you take a shot on Bednar, just be sure to pair him with Aroldis Chapman.

Henry Davis has been making some noise this spring. He’s taking advantage of playing time behind the dish while Yasmani Grandal is dealing with plantar fasciitis. Davis is slashing .292/.333/.792 with four homers and nine RBI in nine games, making a push for the Opening Day roster. Davis will see time in the outfield and behind the plate this season, making him a not-so-secret cheat code in two-catcher leagues this draft season.

St. Louis Cardinals

Sonny Gray (SP), Tommy Edman (2B/SS/OF)

Sonny Gray continues to work his way through a mild hamstring strain. He threw a light bullpen session on Monday and should ramp up to a longer session later in the week. He’s likely still a no-go for Opening Day, but barring a setback, it doesn’t sound like Gray will miss much time.

Tommy Edman‘s nagging wrist pain is due to inflammation rather than a structural issue, which is good news. However, Edman still isn’t cleared to face live pitching, and there’s no timetable for his return. A month-long absence is possible. Stay tuned.

Tampa Bay Rays

Josh Lowe (OF), Junior Caminero (3B), Taj Bradley (SP)

Josh Lowe is about a week away from returning to game action. He’s been sidelined with right hip inflammation since late February but is looking to return this Sunday or Monday. It’s something to monitor, as any delay puts Lowe’s readiness for Opening Day in question.

The Rays optioned Junior Caminero to Triple-A on Monday. The move isn’t surprising, as Tampa Bay’s infield is jammed up right now. However, Caminero should power his way back into the majors later this season.

Taj Bradley was scratched from Tuesday’s start and will get an MRI on his right pectoral. While skipper Kevin Cash indicated he’s optimistic it’s not a serious injury, this could easily delay the start of Bradley’s season. Additionally, Bradley has only logged three innings of work this spring, further raising concerns about his readiness. Look for updates in the next few days.

Toronto Blue Jays

Kevin Gausman (SP), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B)

Kevin Gausman continues to make progress while working through his shoulder fatigue. He threw a couple of bullpen sessions, with the next stop being live batting practice or game action. Assuming all goes well, Gausman should be on track for Opening Day.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been dinged up recently. Last week, he missed a couple of games with a jammed finger, and now a bruised knee is keeping him out of the lineup. There’s likely nothing to see here, just the Blue Jays being cautious with their young star.

Washington Nationals

Eddie Rosario (OF), Joey Meneses (UT)

Eddie Rosario signed a one-year minor league contract with the Nationals last week and is the favorite to land the starting left field job. Rosario slashed .255/.305/.450 with 21 homers and a .195 ISO across 516 plate appearances with Atlanta last season. He should be a productive strong-side platoon bat for the Nationals and is a solid reserve pick in five-outfielder leagues.

Joey Meneses will play most of his time at DH this season, similar to his 2023 season. Meneses logged 131 games at DH and 19 games at first base last year, failing to gain first base eligibilty by just one game. That could be a taller task this season, with Joey Gallo cemented as the Nationals’ starting first baseman. If you’re drafting Meneses thinking he’ll gain first base eligibility sooner rather than later, I’d pump the breaks.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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