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Waiver Wire Report: Keep your bench fluid

Waiver Wire Report LogoSomeone once asked me where I look for the players that are featured here on the waiver wire. More often than not, I look no further than my own watch list in my home league. My watch list is full of players that I would love to or would consider owning; it is constantly changing and being updated, and I almost always have a flexible spot or two on my bench that I can play musical chairs with.

I have those open spots basically due to my draft style. Once the draft passes round 15, I throw out the rule book and start throwing darts. I don’t draft guys like Melky Cabrera for their safe numbers, and I don’t settle for the Ervin Santana’s of the world for potential stable ratios at the back-end of my rotation. I aim for guys with upside; the guys who haven’t done it as opposed to the ones with some sort of track record. I drafted Michael Taylor in round 18. He didn’t work out, but the power/speed potential was there so I threw a dart.

Some see this as reckless and irresponsible as there are a number of solid worthy players still on the board at this time, but I don’t see it that way. Every year there are dozens of players who go undrafted that start the year off hot, but most owners hesitate on picking them up due to the fact they don’t have anyone they deem as droppable. I don’t have that issue as I can just jettison one of those later picks I wasn’t too attached to anyway.

Then there are the veterans who were drafted early and got off to a slow start. I sit patiently and wait as I know there will be a few mistakes made that I can take advantage of (I’m loving Jay Bruce, Julio Teheran and Kyle Hendricks right now). Finally there are the rookies. Not just the name brand  guys like Julio Urais and Jameson Taillon, but the lesser named prospects that quietly get promoted and end up performing better than anyone would have ever expected. A portion of these players you’ll pick up off waivers have the potential to be much better than those guys taken in the mid to late rounds, and if you cash in on just a few of them it is well worth the risk.

The bottom third of my roster is fluid. It’s a risky way to play, but it allows me to take advantage of players most owners don’t have the room for. As the year goes on some of those fluid spots become occupied by permanent residence, but once one of those semi-permanent fixtures begins to wear out their welcome (this week it’s Jeremy Hellickson) I quickly find another wanting recipient to take their place (welcome to my team Chase Anderson).

The waiver wire is your friend, and if you draft like I do it becomes an extension of your current roster. I wouldn’t have it any other way.





Tim Anderson (White Sox): This is one of those name brand prospect I spoke of in the introduction. Anderson hit .316 over 557 at bats in Double-A and .304 over 247 at bats in Triple-A. The walk rate under five percent needs a lot of work, and while the strikeout percentage which hovered in the low 20’s is high, he maintained that constant in the minors without losing any batting average.

In addition to the batting average, Anderson has some speed, with 94 steals over 1,372 at bats. He stole 49 bases just last season and had 11 prior to his promotion. With the AL Central wide open the Sox will need to take advantage of every asset, and recently designated Jimmy Rollins was not one of them. Anderson is up to play, and his average and speed can help in two categories – run and RBI value will be determined by where he finally settles in the batting order.
Available in 67% of CBS, 72% of Y! and 88% of ESPN leagues

Robbie Grossman (Twins): The knock on Grossman when he was in Houston is that he could not maintain any level of consistency over prolonged exposure at the major league level. If you’re looking for a long-term investment then I can see avoiding Grossman, but nobody is asking you to put a ring on his finger. He’s hitting now, and right now is all that matters.

Grossman has hit the ground running in Minnesota, hitting for average (with no discernible splits), flashing some power,  and maintaining a high walk rate and manageable strikeout rate. Most importantly, his bat has forced him into a full-time role. His track record along with a .391 BABIP say regression is coming, but until it arrives, I suggest you take full advantage of his hitting.
Available in 87% of CBS, 97% of Y! and 88% of ESPN leagues

Dae-Ho Lee (Mariners): Let’s be honest here. When the Mariners signed Adam Lind, nobody gave a second thought to Lee. Lind was given the obligatory nod at first base, but other than a few hot weeks towards the end of May he really hasn’t done much. Lee didn’t differentiate himself much in the few at bats he was given early on, but he is now heating up and making a case for more playing time over the Lind.

Over the past two weeks Lee is batting .400 with four home runs and 11 RBIs with seven runs scored. He’s not going to hit .400 from here on out, but he’s more than capable of hitting between .280 and .300, which is what he averaged in his four years in Japan. Lee is hitting lefties and righties equally, as well as home and away so there is no need to platoon him.  He also hit 24 or more home runs in three of his four seasons in Japan, along with a 60 or more walks in three of four seasons and just one year with a strikeout total over 100 (he had 109 last season).

Lee was successful in Korea, carried that success over to Japan, and if given the chance I think he could make a decent impact here in the states. If the Mariners want to keep pace with the Rangers in the AL West, they’re going to need to put their best foot forward – that starts with giving Lee more of a chance. Power is hard to come by on waivers, even more so with a solid batting average. I say roll the dice now before the playing time increases, otherwise you may miss your chance.
Available in 84% of CBS, 95% of Y! and 93% of ESPN leagues

Tyler Naquin (Indians): The Indians needed someone when Marlon Byrd was suspended, so they gave Naquin a shot. He really wasn’t doing much in Triple-A prior to being called up, hitting just .286 with a home run and stolen base. His minor league career has been *yawn* mediocre at best. He occasionally flashed a nice average and a little speed, but overall *yawn* nothing impressive. Funny thing is, and I’ve said this a number of times; it those lesser known names with an unimpressive track record that make the most noise sometimes.

Since being recalled in June Naquin is batting .350 with four home runs and seven RBIs. That’s way beyond his pay scale, and with a strikeout percentage over 30 and a .460 BABIP he is due for a major correction. Before it happens though, and if you need outfield assistance right now, pick up Naquin and ride this one out. You may only get a few weeks of top quality production, but at least this hot streak buys you some time to find a more permanent solution in your outfield.
Available in 89% of CBS, 94% of Y! and 95% of ESPN leagues

Peter O’Brien (Diamondbacks): He doesn’t walk much, and his strikeout could be a major deterrent for fantasy owners, but O’Brien has power. He hit 34 home runs in 2014 across two levels and two teams. Last year he hit 27 – one of those being his first in the majors, and this year he already has 17 over 212 at bats. He was also batting .330 prior to getting the call, and while I love the player I would be remiss in my duties if I did not point out that he put up those numbers in the Pacific Coast League. A good number of players have hit well in the PCL, but then failed to meet those lofty expectation in the major league.

The two questions we have in front of us are:

  1. Can he hit well enough in the majors to make his power worth rostering in fantasy.
  2. Will the D’backs give him enough.

The second question has been answered, but it remains to be seen if management will live up to their word. They say O’Brien is up to play, and that means regular at bats. But if he doesn’t hit in his first few games will they start benching/platooning him, because that would take away the needed consistency to gain any kind of momentum. The playing time worries are real. The strikeouts are a  major concern. But the power; that can be a real difference maker in fantasy if everything clicks. He’s worth the bench spot just to find out.
Available in 86% of CBS, 92% of Y! and 96% of ESPN leagues




Tommy Joseph (Phillies): Ryan Howard was officially notified he is no longer the starting first baseman. The writing was on the wall, but now it’s out in the open and we can move on to Joseph. In just 65 at bats Joseph is hitting .323 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs. As a fantasy owner, if I were in need of a corner infielder, utility guy, or even a starting first baseman; those are the type of numbers I would be looking for. He’s hitting home and away, and while he is hitting righties well, he is crushing lefties. All small sample sizes, but you can’t argue with the results so far.

While Joseph is a popular pickup right now, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before getting attached to his early numbers. His walk rate is non-existent at 2.9 percent and under five percent since 2014. The 26.1 percent strikeout rate is much higher than it has been the past few years, and is what we saw in his early years when he struggled with batting average in the low minors. The fly ball percentage (46.9), HR/FB ratio (30.4), hard hit rate (44.9), and ISO (.354) are all way to high and far beyond anything he has shown in the past. Finally his contact percentage (74.6) is low, and when you factor in the high swing percentage (52.3) plus all the other factors it spells trouble.

I love what Joseph is doing right now, but fantasy owners need to realize that the good times could come crashing down. He hit .262 in Double-A and .241 in Triple-A; he’s not a .300 hitter. Pick him up and plug him in now without hesitation. I’m just warning you in advance not to get too attached as Joseph isn’t as good as he appears to be right now.
Available in 51% of CBS, 88% of Y! and 93% of ESPN leagues

Chase Anderson (Brewers): Over his last three starts, Anderson has not issued a walk, has given up just one home runs, and has allowed only two earned runs. Granted those games were against the A’s, Phillies and Reds who are on the low-end of the offensive spectrum, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the results entirely. His walk rate has gone from 3.15 percent in 2014 to 2.36 last year to 2.17 this season. His strikeout rate is not great, but it is above 7.0 which is serviceable. The FIP and xFIP have been trending down each month, so while his final line says his ERA should be between 4.50 and 5.00, the monthly trend says an ERA in the mid to high threes is very possible.

Maybe Anderson isn’t as good as he has been the past few games, and it is entirely possible he will turn out to be nothing more than a matchup pitcher for the rest of the season. His minor league numbers and pedigree suggest he is better than what we’ve seen to date so it is possible he is turning the corner and fantasy owners are dismissing the improvements based upon the quality of his opponents.

If you think he’s only a matchup pitcher, it may interest you to know that Anderson faces the Giants on Monday in San Francisco, and the Giants rank 29th in batting average and OBP in June. Following that he gets the Dodgers in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers rank 28th in OBP and dead last in batting average for June. After that he gets the Nationals and then another game against the Dodgers, so three strong starts against weaker offensive teams. That deserves a short-term add in my world.
Available in 81% of CBS, 93% of Y! and 96% of ESPN leagues

Carlos Estevez (Rockies): Jake McGee is sidelined with knee inflammation, so Estevez will take over the closer role in Colorado. This is a move for saves and strikeouts, so if you’re worried about your ratios you may want to look elsewhere or wait for another closer to go down. Estevez should be able to maintain a double-digit strikeout rate with his 96+ MPH fastball. However, he does have trouble with controlling it at times – hence the 4.66 BB/9. Combine the walks with a 46 percent fly ball ratio and 36 percent hard hit rate and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Now there is some reason for hope as last year in the minors his BB/9 was below 2.50 and his fly ball rate was much lower so it’s possible he can improve, but I don’t see things changing overnight which means you’ll be crossing your fingers early on. Outside of the occasional blowup, Estevez will get you some saves if saves are what you seek. Just double-check to see if Will Harris is available first as he is a much better f/a choice by the outside chance he is available in your league.
Available in 94% of CBS, 89% of Y! and 99.9% of ESPN leagues

Wilson Contreras (Cubs): This is a future stash, and it could be a beneficial one for those final few months of the season. Contreras is batting .349 with 9 home runs and 40 RBIs over 186 at bats in Triple-A. Last season in Double-A he hit .333 so the high average is not just a one year fluke. He has produced a walk to strikeout ratio of almost 1/1 dating back to last season – this year he has a 12.2 percent walk rate compared to a 13.6 percent strikeout rate. The only reason he is still in the minors is the Cubs want to give him as much time behind the plate to improve his signal calling and defense.

David Ross is a good catcher, but he offers very little offensively and is in the final year of his contract. Miguel Montero is an even better signal caller, but he is hitting .208 with just two home runs. I would not be surprised if Ross is traded or even outright released to make room for Contreras in the coming months. I’m not a big fan of catcher prospects, but Contreras is one of the few I’ll make an exception for. This is a must stash for two-catcher leagues.
Available in 82% of CBS, 92% of Y! and 97% of ESPN leagues



Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations

I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations so I will monitor my hits and misses from the previous weeks and adjust the players accordingly.

Graduated

This is the last week Eduardo Nunez will appear here. His ownership level has reached a point to where he should be owned in all competitive leagues.

Continue to add

  • Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Adams, Jonathan Schoop, Adam Duvall, Michael Saunders, Jake Lamb, Mekly Cabrera, Mike Napoli, Mark Reynolds, Joe Mauer, Matt Andriese, Bartolo Colon, C.C. Sabathia, Matt Shoemaker, Matt Bush and Kevin Gausman (zero wins and all).
  • Wilmer Flores hit ,478 this past week (11-23), but with only one run and RBI. He needs counting stats or he’s just an empty average.
  • Logan Morrison is still hitting for power, but that seems to be the end of that hot batting average.
  • Trayce Thompson had a minor setback, but seems to be getting back on track and has earned the trust of management.
  • Tim Lincecum and Jose Reyes are still both interesting stashes if you have an extra bench spot.

Stash Minor league players to stash prior to their promotion

  • Alex Reyes, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Trea Turner, Blake Snell, Alex Bregman

HoldDo not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible

  • Brandon Guyer should only be stashed if you have room on your DL.
  • Jeremy Hellickson has had a few rough starts. Hold if you wire is thin, but feel free to drop if there are better options available.
  • Trevor Bauer finally had a game with less than three earned runs. It could be the start of something – that or his was just due.
  • Devon Travis hit just .043 over the past week. There’s talent here, but I might have jumped the guy listing him as an immediate add.
  • I’m not even going to list Melvin Upton here anymore. He is what he is: a volatile commodity whose value will fluctuate from week to week, and you should always be on the lookout for a more stable option.

Drop ’em

  • The Hot streak is over for Adam Lind. I can’t even recommend holding him for a week just to see. The same goes for Franklin Gutierrez, Chase Utley and Aaron Hill who are back to part-time roles.
  • Corey Dickerson seemed to be on the verge of something, but it was just a passing phase as he has only one multi-hit game this month. Be ready to pounce though if the average ever does come around.
  • Derek Dietrich can probably be dropped in most leagues. Sad given his eligibility.
  • Mike Minor and Hyun-Jin Ryu don’t look like they’ll have much value this year, but if you have an open DL slot to hold them in, it can’t hurt to hang on for now.

 

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Jim Finch
The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball. You can also find me at FanRagSports.com

2 comments on “Waiver Wire Report: Keep your bench fluid

  1. Hi Jim,

    Loved this article. I try very hard to have 2-3 fluid streaming spots for exactly what you’re saying. Do have 2 questions for you- one related and one not.

    1- in my home keeper league I have opportunity to really add depth to my team but it might hurt that flexibility. Is it worth losing that flexibility to have guys like stroman and sonny gray as the backend options in your rotation?

    2- this is straight forward. I have a $10 lucroy and might get a $20 posey in this deal. It’s points league so lucroy has actually been better. You still expect that trade to at least be a wash on the posey side, correct? Just don’t want to hurt my odds for this year. Care a little less about the money. The guy can’t keep posey again so saving $10 and getting that huge C advantage might be a good sweetener for him.

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

    Best,

    Mike

    • Posey and Lucroy may be putting up somewhat equal points in your league now, but you know there are always 2-3 new guys each year that put up similar numbers, but Posey does it Every year. May be a wash this year, but you’ll have those same points next year.

      As for the first part: while I like to have those fluid parts, if I can get something a little more concrete I’d do it. Odds are one of those lower end stable pieces will go cold in another month and you’ll have an open spot again. I love Stroman for a keeper league and would easily take him over a streamer in a keeper league – redraft leagues I’d leave him. I’d rather stream than have Gray though.

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