Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Thursday 6/16/16

With top prospect Willson Contreras set to join the Chicago Cubs, how should we be handling him in season-long fantasy baseball?

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In an ideal world, we'd be able to just jump all up over this puppy and snatch him right away. Unfortunately, this is very much less than an ideal situation, which complicates things. There are still circumstances, though, in which Willson Contreras should be on your rosters immediately.

First, we have to take a second to bow at the feet of this young man because he is on another level right now. In 240 plate appearances at Triple-A prior to his promotion, Contreras had a .353/.442/.593 slash with a .450 wOBA. If that doesn't getcha blood pumping, seek help immediately. He was spewing grossness in a way not many can in the high minors.

The best part about Contreras' time in Triple-A is that he excelled in all of the most quickly-stabilizing stats. He had a 13.3% strikeout rate, 11.7% walk rate, and .240 isolated slugging, a truly elite combo that's indicative of his being more than just a small-sample savant. He didn't have the same power in Double-A last year, but the walk and strikeout numbers were in line with his rates then, so you're fully justified in getting excited about his promotion.

If you're like me and feeling a bit hot and bothered, fret not; here comes the fire extinguisher.

Why you gotta do us like this, Theo Epstein? What have we done to you?

A third-string catcher isn't going to do a whole lot for you in the fantasy sense. You need volume, and no matter how good he is, he wouldn't bring you enough to compensate for the lack of plate appearances. It doesn't mean there's no reason for hope, though.

If he could wiggle his way into starts in the outfield, that would be a completely different story. There isn't necessarily a bunch of time to be had out there right now with Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., Kris Bryant, Chris Coghlan, and Ben Zobrist all able to bop out there on a given day. But, if Contreras is good enough, you know the Cubs are going to find a way to get him time, and they're not bringing a top prospect up just to sit on the bench. That's why Contreras does have viability right now.

If your league has any sort of keepers, and Contreras isn't owned, I beg you to stop reading this and pick him up. Now! Go! I'm in a 10-team league with only two bench spots -- potentially the worst possible situation for Contreras -- but it has two catchers and keepers, so I absolutely would have picked him up. He was already off the wire then, but he shouldn't be in any league where you may be able to use him next season.

Another situation in which he's immediately fantasy relevant is a league with a bit of a deeper bench. If you've got a spot that you've been holding in order to play the best matchups offensively, then it's probably okay to dump that player in favor of Contreras in order to capture the upside he possesses if he becomes an every-day player.

Things get a bit more complicated in leagues with free-agency acquisition budgets. Again, if it's a keeper league, I'd go pretty hard. But if not, I wouldn't blow all of your money in order to add him simply because the floor is low if his role never expands. Chances are, one of your league mates will go hard on Contreras, and it may not actually end up being worth the cost. It could pay off big, but there's also a significant chance that never ends up happening.

Overall, I'd say it's worth it to add Contreras if the opportunity cost isn't too unbearable. Yeah, his situation sucks right now, but there are reasons for us to believe he can break free of those constraints. You'll be inheriting risk, but who doesn't want this on their roster?

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