5 Players Trending up This Offseason

Signings and roster moves have some players on the rise this winter.

One of the key determinants of fantasy value is opportunity. The top-tier players have superb skillsets that, assuming health, make them a virtual guarantee for 150 games or 30 starts per season. But when spring training comes around, most players will find themselves in battles for roster spots or playing time. It can be difficult to keep up with the volume of roster moves during the MLB offseason, but each one has a ripple effect that changes the outlook for countless other players. With that in mind, here are three hitters and two pitchers whose fantasy stock is on the rise this offseason.




Tyler O’Neill (BOS, OF)


O’Neill’s arrow is pointing up thanks to an improved playing time outlook. The Cardinals sent him to the Red Sox in December, making O’Neill a member of one of the least crowded outfields in the league. In St. Louis, O’Neill had to fight for at-bats with Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson, and Dylan Carlson. He also seemed to fall out of favor with manager Oli Marmol early in 2023 on the way to another disappointing fantasy campaign (72 G, 9 HR, 5 SB).

In Boston, assuming the Sox opt not to bring back Adam Duvall, O’Neill will receive the lion’s share of at-bats in left field. He will also be playing half his games in Fenway Park, which has been the third-friendliest ballpark in terms of both hits and runs in the last three years according to Statcast park factors. This combination of increased playing time and a good offensive environment allows him to bounce back and be a five-category contributor like he was in 2021 (89 R, 34 HR, 80 RBI, 15 SB, .286 AVG). After two injury-prone seasons in a row, owners should be careful not to invest too much in O’Neill, but he is worth a flier around pick 250 due to his high ceiling.


Jarred Kelenic (ATL, OF)


Kelenic finds himself in his third MLB organization after the Mariners sent him to Atlanta along with Marco Gonzales and Evan White in a December cost-cutting move. I expect Kelenic to continue to be a platoon player in Atlanta, but he will now be doing so in a historically potent offense, giving him the chance to put up strong counting stats in a part-time role. Kelenic also figures to have a long runway if he scuffles given Atlanta’s lack of depth and preference to play their starters every day; their current projected outfield bats are Forrest Wall and Leury García.

Strikeouts will always be an issue for Kelenic (30.7% career K%), but he is a well-rounded fantasy contributor and makes enough quality contact not to be a total AVG drain. Kelenic’s detractors may argue that his .359 BABIP last season overstates his ability to maintain a palatable AVG, but his PL xBABIP of .347 (98th percentile) last season indicates that when he did put the ball in play, he was doing damage. There’s no reason to expect this to change this season, especially with a better home park. Truist Park ranks 7th in Statcast’s park factors while T-Mobile Field is dead last.


Luis Urías (SEA, 2B/3B)


This is a deep-league play only, as Urías was utterly dreadful last season. He got injured on Opening Day, and it only got worse from there. Urias hit .198 with three home runs and zero stolen bases in 52 games between Milwaukee and Boston. The Mariners acquired Urías from the Red Sox and then dealt their former starting third baseman, Eugenio Suárez, to the Diamondbacks. The Mariners also just dealt utility infielder José Caballero to the Rays for outfielder/first baseman Luke Raley Jr., further thinning out their depth on the dirt.

This has paved the way for Urías to be the M’s full-time third baseman, and he should maintain second baseman eligibility in most league formats (39 games in ’23). While Urias’ overall offensive production tanked last year, his strikeout (23.2% in ’23 vs. 21.6% career) and walk (11.9% in ’23 vs. 23.2% career) numbers stayed largely in line with his career rates. The clear path toward everyday ABs makes Urias a useful option for deep-league drafters seeking positional flexibility, volume, and pop toward the end of their drafts (around pick 500).




Louie Varland (MIN, SP)


Varland had a brief moment in the sun last year, as he posted a 3.51 ERA with a 39:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first seven starts (41 IP). The wheels fell off shortly after that, and he finished the season with a 4.63 ERA, losing his rotation spot in the process. Despite this rough second half, Varland still showed a lot of improvement from his debut in ’22. For one, he threw significantly harder in 2023 (95.3 average 4-seam velocity compared to 93.8 in ’22). This velocity increase helped Varland’s fastball play up, and the pitch posted a 5.33 PLV (94th percentile) and 2.85 PLA (a PLV-based ERA metric) in ’23. Varland also demonstrated an increased ability to miss bats, as his strikeout rate ballooned from 19.8% to 25.1% (75th percentile) and his swinging-strike rate went from 10.2% to 13.9% (84th percentile). Varland still struggles with hard contact (career 1.91 HR/9), but he leaned more on his cutter last year (32% usage, 5.20 PLV), which should help keep hitters from sitting on the fastball.

This offseason, the Twins have been content to let Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, and Tyler Mahle walk, putting Varland in a great position to nail down a rotation spot in Spring Training. Even if the Twins go out and make a signing, Varland still has a good chance to beat out Chris Paddack and Simeon Woods-Richardson for the 5th rotation spot. He’s thrown roughly 300 innings over the last two seasons between all levels, so there should be no workload concerns. Varland is durable and showed a lot of skills growth that isn’t obvious by his results, making him one of my favorite sleepers for 2023. He is worth a pick in any league, and deep-league drafters shouldn’t be afraid to draft him before pick 250 to help stock up on mid-tier arms.


Logan Allen (CLE, SP)


Similarly to Varland, Allen is a tweener prospect arm with a clear path to a rotation spot on a solid team. The Guardians have made a couple of minor moves to eliminate Allen’s primary competitors for the last spot in their rotation. First, they DFA’d (and then traded) Cal Quantrill. Then, once highly-touted prospect Cody Morris was sent to the Yankees. The Guardians have signed Ben Lively and Jaime Barría, but they figure to serve as long-relief help and injury insurance for their young arms and the fragile Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber.

Allen showed well in his MLB debut in ’23, posting a 3.81 ERA in 125 1/3 innings, though it did come with a 1.40 WHIP. This poor WHIP might drive some drafters away from Allen, but there’s good reason to expect it to fall. Allen’s hit luck last season was an astounding +40, meaning he allowed 40 more hits than he should’ve based on his pitch execution as measured by PLV. This put him in the third percentile of all SP. Allen’s ability to post a respectable ERA despite such bad luck is notable and shows that he has a strong repertoire, which features three pitches that had PLVs of 5.20 or higher (slider, cutter, four-seamer). I also anticipate some growth in Allen’s strikeout rate this season. He struck out only 22.2% of batters last season despite recording rates over 30% at all but one level in the minors. His middling fastball velocity (91.7 in ’23) means he will likely never be an elite strikeout guy, but there is still room for growth in that area as he enters his age-25 season with a team known for strong pitching development.

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald is a Staff Writer for Pitcher List's fantasy team. He is an alum of Vassar College, where he pitched on the baseball team and studied economics and political science. Patrick is an avid O's fan and head-to-head fantasy baseball player (roto remains a work in progress).

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