How Blake Snell's move to Giants impacts his fantasy value

ByEric Karabell ESPN logo
Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Defending NL Cy Young Award winnerBlake Snellmercifully found a team to pitch for, as the veteran left-hander and the San Francisco Giants agreed on Monday to what may be a two-year contract, but it may also be just for one season due to an opt-out clause. Regardless, fantasy baseball managers concerned about investing in Snell on the premise that he was not employed on the eve of the season can rest easy, asat least that issue is taken care of.

What concerns some fantasy analysts and potential investors is that Snell is coming off an utterly fantastic, historic season that he would have had a difficult time repeating even had he remained in the comfortable employ of the San Diego Padres. As I outlined in my annual Do Not Draft column, Snell was dominant for the final four months of the 2023 season, but also quite fortunate, as his 2.25 ERA hardly matched his 3.43 FIP. Plus, his volume is normally problematic, at best.

Snell has delivered two fantastic seasons in his eight-year career, also winning the AL Cy Young award with 21 wins and a 1.89 ERA for the 2018 Tampa Bay Raysbut, prior to that season as well as in between, he was a bastion of inefficiency and underachievement, failing to throw enough innings to qualify for the league's ERA title in literally every other season. We have seen the highly skilled Snell at his apex and yes, it is awesome. We have also seen him frustrate fantasy managers to no end, reaching 130 innings only in those two magnificent campaigns.

With a full spring training, Snell would have been a risk for fantasy managers at a certain level in drafts, both of the snake and salary cap variety. Even with the long wait in securing a contract, Snell is still the No. 20 starting pitcher in ESPN average live drafts, and he is rostered in 98.8% of ESPN standard leagues. It seems there was hardly a discount in ESPN ADP, and his stock will rise over the following weeks. One could argue both that Snell could be a top-five pitcher if he dominates againand that investing within the first 10 rounds is quite perilous.

The Giants start their season next week (coincidentally versus the Padres), and Snell will not be on the active roster. He is presumably healthy, but baseball has spring training for a reason, and Snell missed it. Perhaps he debuts in April, but that remains optimistic. Fantasy managers should prepare for this scenario, but also be realistic about likely statistical outcomes. Few starting pitchers offer this much upside and downside at the same time. So, do you feel lucky?