Tzu-Wei Lin: Red Sox Prospect #51?

I compile our weekly list of major league transactions involving all players that have appeared on our team top 50 lists. One of the transactions from this past week involved Tzu-Wei Lin:

Boston Red Sox selected the contract of SS Tzu-Wei Lin from Portland Sea Dogs.

The transaction makes sense. The Red Sox have a revolving door at third base. And, Lin would need to be added to the 40-man roster this upcoming offseason, or instead risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.

But, somewhat surprising to me, Lin was not included on our Red Sox top 50 list.

You may be wondering why I care so much, since there are a number of players involved in MLB transactions each week that do not make our top 50 lists. Well, as with most things with fantasy baseball participants, it matters because he is on my team.

Not only that, but I traded for him this past week!

And if you are wondering what type of league exists where I would actively target Tzu-Wei Lin, it has 28-teams, adheres as closely as possible to all MLB transaction/roster rules (including expectation to roster at least 22 but target 25 active MLB players), and allows teams to roster over 200 minor league players. And teams have a salary cap, making any player who can reasonably contribute at an inexpensive cost at least marginally valuable.

The deal was nothing major (taking on future contracts in exchange for active, low ceiling/floor MLB players and 3 flyer prospects, including Lin). But, I think Lin could be in the midst of a breakout that warrants attention. Keep in mind that when you don’t appear on a team’s top 50 list (note: he was also not on soxprospects top 60 as late as May this year, but has now been included at #41), breakout means that you might now be in their top 20-30; that is still a far cry from future productive major league player.

 So, why the love for Lin now?

Lin has some international free agent pedigree, signing for just north of $2 million in 2012. However, he has largely been seen as a defensive specialist with little contribution offensively.

That all seems to have changed this year, albeit with a small sample size and during a third year at the level.

Eric Longenhagen summarized the major points: increase in ISO, change in batted ball profile (more flyballs, less ground balls), and adjustments to his footwork. Lin has always had good control of the plate (mid-teen BB and K rates). He also includes video comparisons of Lin’s swing change. Well worth the click over!

Couple the new, while maintaining the positives of the old, offensive approach with his ever present defensive versatility, perhaps we now have a solid bench player. Or an upside of a Holt-like (or Holt-lite) player who plays 100 games across a number of positions.

 For the Red Sox and myself, I hope Lin can provide some stability for an everchanging hot corner. And perhaps with more offensive upside than Marrero.

For many leagues, it is safe to ignore Lin, particularly in re-draft. And even in shallow keeper leagues. But, if you are in a much deeper dynasty league, then Lin is someone to put on your radar.

Featured Image Credit: Bryan Green | Flickr

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