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Stock watch: Austin Meadows up, Cavan Biggio down and more fantasy baseball market movers

We’ve had a week’s worth of spring training games, which means we have some legitimate movers on the fantasy baseball stock charts. Few movements this spring, and none in this edition of the Stock Watch, will be based on statistics. We’re looking more for health, lineup placement, playing time indications, new pitches, or other meaningful developments along those lines before we move a player up or down.

Stock Up

Austin Meadows, OF, Rays

Meadows has lived atop the Rays lineup this spring, which is far more important than any results he has produced (though those have been good, too). Kevin Cash has slotted Meadows into the leadoff spot against lefties, as well, so it’s safe to say he’s the team’s every-day leadoff man, no matter the handedness of the opposing pitcher. I was out on Meadows last year because I thought his ADP was too high based on one strong season. I am totally in on him because the pendulum has swung much too far in the opposite direction based on a 38-game season in which he battled COVID-19. His status as the team’s regular leadoff man should help push him up draft boards.

Aaron Hicks, OF, Yankees

Hicks’ value received a boon from manager Aaron Boone when he announced that the outfielder will be the team’s No. 3 hitter to start the season. That will slot him right in the middle of one of the most dangerous quartets of hitters in the league — DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge on one side, and Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit on the other. Hicks will have plenty of RBI and run-scoring opportunities, so long as he can hold down the three-spot.

Tyler Glasnow, SP, Rays

If you’ve been following along with my 2020 Vision Series, you know that I’m a sucker for a change in pitch mix or repertoire. Glasnow got me excited with his first start of the spring, debuting a slider/cutter that could become a fixture for him this season. No one has ever doubted Glasnow’s fastball or curve, but he’s still on the hunt for a third reliable pitch. He used his changeup 3.5% of the time in 2019 and 4.7% of the time last year, but it still looks like nothing more than a show pitch. The new slider/cutter can be not only that third reliable pitch, but also a breaker he goes to on days where he doesn’t quite have the right touch for his curve. What’s more, it could keep hitters off the curve on days that he does have it.

Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Diamondbacks

Kole Calhoun is set to undergo surgery for a torn meniscus, and that will almost certainly cost him some time in the regular season. There’s no obvious one-for-one replacement for him in the Arizona outfield, but Varsho would be a whole lot more interesting from a fantasy perspective than, say, Pavin Smith or Josh VanMeter. Varsho looked the part of a future star at the Double-A level in 2019, hitting .301/.378/.520 with 18 homers in 452 plate appearances. Varsho’s not going to push Carson Kelly aside behind the plate, but if he can get consistent at-bats by adding a regular outfield job to his plate, he could add some much-needed life at the always-shallow catcher position.

Stock Down

Lorenzo Cain; Avisaíl García, OFs, Brewers

The Brewers signed Jackie Bradley Jr. on Thursday, taking advantage of a soft market to add one of the best defensive outfielders in the league on an absurdly affordable deal. The Brewers now have four outfielders for three spots, and Christian Yelich isn’t going to sacrifice any playing time. Cain and García are both going to cede at-bats to Bradley, who’s likely to be second among Brewers outfielders in plate appearances. Cain is in his age-35 season, opted out last year, and hit .260/.325/.372 in 2019. García, meanwhile, had a terrible first season with the Brewers in 2020, slashing .238/.333/.326 with two homers in 207 plate appearances. They’re both entirely off my draft board.

Cavan Biggio, 2B/3B/OF, Blue Jays

When the Blue Jays inked George Springer to a massive free agent deal this offseason, it was a near-lock that Biggio wouldn’t be leading off much, if at all, this season. When they signed Marcus Semien a few weeks later, a spot in the top half of the order was truly in peril. Those fears were realized during the first week of spring training when the Blue Jays trotted out a lineup that looked a whole lot like an opening day lineup, and had Biggio in the six spot.
The new additions led the way, with Bo Bichette third, Lourdes Gurriel fourth and Vlad Guerrero Jr. fifth. On Sunday, in a game where Springer, Bichette, Gurriel and Guerrero didn’t play, Biggio still hit just fifth. Biggio’s not getting in front of Springer, Bichette, Gurriel or Guerrero anytime soon, so his only hope for hitting in the top half of the order early in the year is for Charlie Montoyo to decide to flip him with Semien. Biggio has the on-base profile to make that happen, but I’m not betting on it.

Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Royals

Like Biggio, Mondesi is facing an uphill lineup spot battle, something that seemed possible when the Royals traded for Andrew Benintendi. When the Royals have used something resembling a regular season lineup, they’ve featured a batting order top five of Whit Merrifield, Benintendi, Salvador Pérez, Carlos Santana and Jorge Soler. Mondesi made his spring debut on Friday and hit second, but Benintendi wasn’t in the lineup. Mondesi could easily be slotted in the sixth spot in the order on opening day, and we know that his on-base issues could push him even further down the lineup. The steals will be there, but will anything else?

Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF, Mets

This is a light downgrade, but a downgrade nonetheless. No one should avoid a guy with a career slash line of .319/.383/.501 across 1,024 plate appearances who’s going to be part of what could be one of the best offenses in the league. Still, the only time we’ve seen Luis Rojas deploy a lineup this spring with most of his regulars, Brandon Nimmo led off and Francisco Lindor hit second, with McNeil hitting fifth. We know that Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso are going to hit in the middle of the order, and all Dom Smith did last year was hit .316/.377/.616 with a .412 wOBA. A Nimmo-Lindor top two could push McNeil down to sixth in the lineup. We’d still prefer to see Rojas go Nimmo-McNeil at the top with Lindor hitting third, but we don’t get a say in the Mets lineup construction. This bears monitoring over the next few weeks.

(Top photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

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