Is it time to panic over Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s injury?


The Toronto Blue Jays had already made it quite clear that awesome prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was not going to make the club out of spring training, using carefully worded and occasionally silly statements that made little sense in reality so they could avoid stating that the real reason was service time. As a result, the weekend news that the talented slugger will miss at least three weeks with an oblique strain should not drastically affect his draft day value. If you think Guerrero is going to be an immediate star -- like, say, 99 percent of us do -- then be prepared to spend a top-50 selection on the Hall of Famer's son.

The injury could put a modest dent in expected big league playing time, however, and that we cannot ignore. ESPN Fantasy originally projected 550 plate appearances for Guerrero, and it's fair to shed another 50 off that in case the promotion slips into May, but make no mistake, Guerrero will hit and the Blue Jays will promote him sooner rather than later. A Grade 1 oblique strain is the least serious and offers a three-week timetable, but overall, it might not tamper with Guerrero's Triple-A at-bats so much. We might still see him facing the Athletics and Angels in April, which is why I will dock him perhaps a round in my rankings but not more. This is not a big deal.

One could easily make the case that Guerrero is currently Toronto's best player, even sans a big league plate appearance, but a few weeks of Triple-A playing time -- well, a few weeks of avoiding big league service time -- was pending in order to add another year of club control much later. Blame the organization all you like, but everyone does it because baseball's arcane system permits it.

However, missing two weeks is minor considering the season is six months. Kris Bryant carried the Chicago Cubs and fantasy managers in 2015. I think Guerrero's major league debut would have been around April 15. Now it probably comes a few weeks later. Do not overthink this, unless you think durability is going to be an issue. After all, Guerrero missed time in the minors last season with a knee injury.

Those in dynasty/keeper leagues should ignore the Guerrero injury for value purposes. His stardom seems guaranteed, even if he plays less than expected this season. In a redraft format, sure, he will not be debuting in the majors on April 15. It might not even be in April. Just do not let him slip too far in your draft, because he's going to hit a lot.

Frankly, the more serious injury suffered by a top prospect this weekend was to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Jo Adell, who sprained an ankle and strained a hamstring in Sunday's game. Adell is not on the immediate radar for fantasy managers because he had barely played in Double-A and was thus unlikely to debut in the majors this season, at least until September. The toolsy Adell could miss perhaps three months, and this curtails development time, but he remains a dynasty league gem, so do not waver in long-term-thinking formats.

Other news

Good for outfielder Adam Jones in finding one-year work with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it sure seems like many are missing the obvious point here: Jones was barely replacement player level for the 2018 Baltimore Orioles, offering a 0.2 bWAR and 0.5 fWAR. That is not good. In relative comparison, he looked better for fantasy managers, ranking as the No. 45 outfielder on the Player Rater, thanks mostly to a safe .281 batting average over myriad at-bats, with few walks. The 15 home runs and 7 stolen bases are hardly special. Jones is simply not a valuable player in real life or fantasy.

In addition, Jones' work in center field was really below average, which is why Arizona is an odd fit, even with raw Ketel Marte learning the position. The corner outfield spots are set, though durability is hardly a guarantee with Steven Souza Jr. Marte can play second base and push Wilmer Flores to first base or the bench, in theory, but it would be a shame if the promising Marte loses playing time due to this popular signing. Jones is one of the nicest fellows around, but all the incessant whining about him deserving X amount of money and playing time needs context; there were 344 players with a better bWAR in 2018. Jones is 33. He is not likely to improve. Make Jones your fifth fantasy outfielder at best.

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has returned to major league baseball after time spent away due to concerning off-field issues. Kang hit his fourth spring home run on Sunday and it looks like he could overtake average Colin Moran as a starter. Kang hit 36 home runs over 837 plate appearances for the 2015-16 Pirates, and on a team lacking power and not getting it with Moran, this seems like an obvious decision.

Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager hurt his left wrist on a diving defensive play Friday and could miss significant time. Seager is outside the top 20 at his position in ESPN average live drafts, and if the diagnosis costs him April, feel free to look elsewhere. Seager hit .222 last season. The Mariners could move Ryon Healy to third base, but you can do better in a standard mixed format.

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is mildly scaring fantasy managers as he misses game after game with side soreness, but it's only March 11 and the team says this is not a big deal. Until it is. For now, if you think Altuve is a borderline first-round pick, do not alter that. But if we're still discussing this in one week, then you must.