MLB In Full Bloom 1/21/2014

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It's Tuesday in the MLB Full Bloom Hot Stove and we're another day closer to spring training. I find that my excitement level growing with pitchers and catchers report in just 25 days. I have two fantasy drafts that I have already begun to prepare - one AL-Only League and an NL-Only League. Both are rotisserie  leagues as I like the challenge over 162 games. I'm not a fan of mixed leagues or head-to-head leagues. I find mixed leagues to be easier with the depth of the talent pools. Head-to-head leagues are weekly match-ups and while some like a new start each week, I like the strategies that are needed to win rotisserie leagues. It's imperative that those of us that compete in "only leagues" to know each and every player in the free agent pool as they all factor into the equation on some level. Fantasy baseball drafts are closer than you think and it's never too early to begin your research.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers are in the "early stages" with discussions for a contract extension. Ramirez can become a free agent after the 2014 season, but the Dodgers seem committed to locking him up before Opening Day. At 30 years old, Ramirez posted impressive offensive numbers in 2013 with a .345 batting average with 20 home runs. Ramirez should be a top 10 fantasy pick in all fantasy formats.
  • Lyle Overbay and the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to spring training. Overbay had two successful seasons with the Brewers from 2004-05 and set the club record for doubles in a season. He has traveled around the league since then and spent last season with the Yankees in a backup role. Overbay will compete with Mark Reynolds, who also signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training this offseason, for the first base position.
  • Logan Forsythe is receiving alot of interest in trade discussions from several teams this week. The Padres second baseman was reportedly linked to the Yankees last week, but it appears they are not the only ones. Forsythe batted just .214 over 75 games last season while battling plantar fasciitis, but he hit a much better .273 in 2012. Forsythe can play second base, third base, and shortstop so that versatility is appealing to several teams.
  • Derek Jeter (ankle) participated in on-field activities for the first time this offseason on Monday. Jeter began weight training back in November and now made a big step in recovery by taking the field. His work Monday included hitting off a tee and fielded a large amount of ground balls. He should be ready for spring training.
  • Kolten Wong is expected to start the season as the Cardinals second baseman. Wong is arguably the top second base prospect in all of baseball, and the Cardinals thought highly enough of him to include Wong on the 2013 postseason roster. He will get every chance to keep his job this year. The Cardinals did sign Mark Ellis, providing the team with some insurance in case Wong isn't quite ready.
  • Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago reported that he is hearing from industry sources that the Cubs "will outbid the field on money and years" for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka's signing deadline is January 24 at 5:00 p.m. ET, which is this Friday evening.  The White Sox, Diamondbacks, Yankees and Dodgers are the other confirmed bidders for Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings last season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
  • Once Masahiro Tanaka signs on Friday, I expect the remaining top free agents to sign rather quickly. The big names still on the board are Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett, Matt Garza, and Bronson Arroyo. Burnett could be leaning towards retirement and there are reports on Garza that an injury could be playing a part for him finding a new home. With 25 days left for these pitchers to report, things will move quickly and we should see action this coming weekend.