Dye to the Cubs? Works for fantasy owners

Updated: January 19, 2010, 4:13 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
Johnny Damon isn't the only interesting free-agent outfielder still looking for work. For the first four months last season, Jermaine Dye was a valuable fantasy baseball resource, with 23 home runs, 63 RBIs and a good-enough .281 batting average entering August. Nothing wrong with those stats. Sure, you might be sour on him because of his final two months (four home runs in 45 games, .184 batting average), but don't dismiss his overall accomplishments. The White Sox decided to move on without Dye, and he remains unemployed in mid-January. But according to ESPNChicago.com, there's a mutual interest from the Chicago Cubs and the outfielder with 325 career home runs. Hey, it's about time!

Players like Dye are often underrated in fantasy baseball circles, because fantasy owners tend to overrate young players -- see Chris Davis, for example -- or players with the potential to hit for power and steal a base. I'm with you on seeking youth and multi-faceted options, but often it means safe, consistent power hitters such as Dye are ignored. As recently as 2006, he smacked 44 home runs with 120 RBIs and a .315 batting average. Even last season, Dye finished with more than 25 home runs for the fifth consecutive season. Dye joined 20 other right-handed hitters in the group of those who hit 20 or more home runs against right-handed pitching in 2009. I don't think he's done yet at age 36, and the Cubs seem like a really good fit, both for their team and for yours, depending on what round you can steal him in.

For now, there is no official deal with the Cubs, and the team is cautioning him against expecting regular playing time, thinking he can be a backup at corner outfield and first base. Fair enough. However, there's serious opportunities for Dye if he performs similarly to what he did most of 2009; he might be in line to take over regularly in right field. To wit: