The major league trade deadline has passed, and unless your league has custom settings the fantasy trade deadline has passed as well. That means the only way from here on out to improve your team is through waivers. And, that also means teams will starting to bring up their new toys to see what they can do and offer for the future. While the waiver wire may look somewhat barren now, it will soon be a glow with potential that could give you that final push towards the playoffs – and an eventual championship.
Every promotion has a potential fantasy impact. Remember though, those unblemished players are not the only available source of talent. You have veterans out there right now who either are producing, or could start doing so, over the next six to seven weeks. There are players that were drafted and dropped after disappointing that could finish strong. Those final lines you see next to a players name mean nothing; it’s what players do from here on out that will make or break your team. Carlos Martinez put up a 2.85 ERA and 1.16 WHIP before the break, but since then he has a 5.10 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
Don’t get caught up in seasonal totals. Check your players constantly; look at daily and weekly totals, and then compare it to players available on waivers. Your fantasy championship may depend on it.
Aaron Judge (Team)
Available in 61% of CBS, 81% of Y! and 95% of ESPN leagues
The fantasy world is all a clamor at the promotion of Aaron Judge. He did not disappoint, either, hitting a home run in his very first at bat. Judge put himself on the map big time in June where he hit .343 with 9 home runs, 25 RBIs and 30 (yes, 30) runs scored. What nobody likes to talk about or mention is that Judge hit .183 in May and .160 in limited at bats in July. Prior to his promotion he was hitting .270 with 19 home runs, 65 RBIs and 62 runs scored, but close to half of that production came in one month.
Now I’m not knocking Judge, and based on the fact that he is listed here I’m not advising you avoid him. Judge should be scooped up wherever possible. Just keep in mind that while his bottom line looks good, there were struggles along the way. Judge could start off hot and continue being so through the remainder of the season. However, if you see him start to struggle, keep an eye on his day-to-day and week-to-week production, and bail out if you see signs of trouble (as blasphemous as that may sound).
Gary Sanchez (Yankees)
Available in 58% of CBS, 79% of Y! and 90% of ESPN leagues
Prior to last nights game, Sanchez was batting .357 in August and is now the primary catcher for the Yankees. The batting average is unlike anything we’ve seen or come to expect and it will not last, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy it for now. He also hit his first home run on Wednesday; he had 10 home runs in Triple-A this year over 284 at bats along with a .282 average. Much like Sandy Leon in Boston, Sanchez is enjoying anonymity. Once pitchers start getting a better look at him – well, we’ll see what happens. For now, if you’re catcher is under-performing and you need a boost, Sanchez could prove to be a better than average option.
Tyler Austin (Yankees)
Available in 99% of ESPN and 92% CBS and Y! and leagues
Austin isn’t a prized prospect; he does not have a glowing pedigree, and he certainly hasn’t done much of his minor league career to make fantasy owners believe he could be anything special. That is until this year, specifically June. That is when he received a promotion to Triple-A, which was a surprise considering he only hit .260 with four home runs and eight stolen bases over 177 at bats in Double-A. He hit just .265 over 976 at bats in Double-A and hit just 21 home runs. However in Triple-A this year he hit .323 with 13 home runs, 49 RBIs and 57 runs scored over 201 at bats.
There’s no question that Austin is hot (both the player and the Capital), and just like Judge he did hit a home run in his first at bat. It’s always wise to ride the hot hand, especially when you’re fighting for a playoff spot. But just like Judge, monitor his production closely and keep a backup on standby.
Yoan Moncada (Red Sox)
Available in 60% of CBS, 91% of Y! and 93% of ESPN leagues
If you’re planning on being in the playoffs, or play in a keeper league, then Moncada should be on your radar (and your team). This year in High-A he batted .307 with 25 doubles, four home runs, and 36 stolen bases over 228 at bats. He was promoted to Double-A and is currently hitting .287 with 6 doubles, 9 home runs and 8 stolen bases over 143 at bats. The walk rate came down some with the move to Double-A (9.9% compared to 15.8%), and the strikeout rate entered dangerous territory (29.8% up from 21.1%), but the ISO improved (from .189 to .273) – in a pitchers league no less. Since Pedroia isn’t going anywhere, Moncada started at third base the other night in order to increase his versatility and likelihood of a promotion. He could be lightning in a bottle in September if he gets the call. If not, he becomes an intriguing stash pick at draft time in redraft leagues. Onward and upward!
Jorge Polanco (Twins)
Available in 88% of CBS, 93% of Y! and 92% of ESPN leagues
Second base, third base, shortstop; wherever the Twins what him to play is where he’ll go. Over the past two weeks Polanco is batting .377 with 6 RBIs, 8 runs scored and a stolen base. His ISO this year in Triple-A was .181, much higher than we’ve come to expect. I would not expect a lot of power here, but he could contribute a handful of home runs between now and September 30. He knows how to draw walks, which when combined with his new contact ability could vault him higher than 6th in the lineup. Finally he doesn’t have a lot of speed, but he does run well so don’t rule out a handful of stolen bases. Overall Polanco is a hot bat that can fill in at multiple positions. That’s what you want in a bench bat to cover off days/injuries, and he moves up in the lineup he could make a worthy starter or MI player.
Keon Broxton (Brewers)
Available in 90% of CBS and 95% of Y! and ESPN leagues
In July Broxton batted .286 over 21 at bats, and that has resulted in additional playing time. So far in August he is batting .391 with a home runs and four stolen bases in 23 at bats. I know some will look at the small sample size and write it off, but maybe I can convince you otherwise. First off, I realize he has a 38.1% strikeout rate. What you may not realize is that Broxton has an O-Swing% of 21 – he rarely chases pitches outside the zone. He also has a 15.9% walk rate; because he doesn’t chase he has built up a walk rate that rivals Joey Votto. He has 30 stolen bases for the season; he has had multiple 20+ steal seasons in the past. Finally his contact rate is 80%; an average number, but quite useful for a player that takes most of his cuts inside the zone.
Broxton will strike out a lot, but he will also make good contact when he doesn’t, draw walks which will contribute to his stolen base chances, and he also has enough pop to reach double-digits in home runs. He is a cheap power/speed guy that most will overlook. He is not someone you can depend on to play daily, but if he continues to hit the playing time issue will iron itself out.
Luke Weaver (Cardinals)
Available in 74% of CBS, 79% of Y! and 88% of ESPN leagues
Last season in High-A Weaver posted a 1.62 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 105.1 innings (19 starts). His strikeout numbers were lower than expected (7.52 K/9), but he did show incredible control (1.62 BB/9 – right in line with his final two years in college. This year in Double-A he posted a 1.40 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over 77 innings (12 starts). The strikeout total shot up (10.29 K/9) and the walks remained in elite territory (1.17 BB/9). I know some of you were hoping Alex Reyes would earn a shot at the rotation, but it is now clear why Weaver was given the nod.
His first start was decent enough; maybe a few more walks and a few less strikeouts that expected, but it was against the Cubs so not bad considering. His next start is Saturday against the Phillies followed by a matchup with Oakland. Act now because he won’t be available for long, and you’ll have zero chance of getting him if he throws a gem the next time out.
Ender Inciarte (Braves)
Available in 78% of ESPN and 74% of CBS and Y! leagues
Atlanta is finally showing signs of life, and Inciarte is one of the main beneficiaries. He’s batting .353 this month. The 13 runs scored over 55 at bats ties his highest monthly total, and he has cut his strikeouts in half. He has not attempted a stolen base yet this month, but he does have 11 on the season and had 21 last year. There also is the matter of the improvements against lefties – .276 compared to .227 last year. Inciarte make a solid fourth outfielder right now, and because of the team he is on most fantasy owners will overlook or dismiss him.
Jorge Soler (Cubs)
Available in 66% of CBS, 70% of Y! and 81% of ESPN leagues
Soler returned from the DL and has announced his presence with authority. It’s only seven games (22 at bats), but he is batting .409 with three home runs, seven RBIs and five runs scored. This is in line with what he was doing in June prior to going out with an injury so it is not like the production came out of nowhere. Soler was batting cleanup on Friday, but was not in the lineup Saturday or Sunday. Playing time will be an issue, with Ben Zobrist playing the swing man, occupying second base on night Soler plays and the outfield when Javier Baez is in the lineup. Soler is not someone to own in leagues with weekly rosters, but for those with daily moves he could make an interesting bench player. If he stumbles at all, though, I would drop him; the Cubs have way too many options so his leash will be short.
While I have no intention of officially recommending them, there are a number of veterans who have been hot over the past two weeks that you may want to give some short-term consideration to if they are available. Remember this is crunch time so every point counts.
Nick Markakis: Batting .326 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Until now he has been useless, but with the Braves hitting we are seeing a bump in counting stats.
Denard Span: Batting .306 with one home run, three stolen bases, and seven each for runs and RBIs. Span is an older version of Inciarte, so if you missed out on him you have a similar opportunity here.
Brandon Phillips: Batting .422 with two home runs, 11 RBIs, three stolen bases and nine runs scored. He did leave Sunday’s game with a bruised knee so check on his status before jumping.
Brandon Moss:Batting .265 with three home runs, nine RBIs and eight runs scored. Moss either hits for a decent average or he doesn’t; he’s hitting this month.
Erick Aybar: Batting .340 with one home run, one stolen base, seven RBIs and six runs scored. He could be a decent middle infield play depending on the size of your league.
Ryan Howard: Batting .500 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and six runs scored. He only has 20 at bats and will never be in the lineup versus lefties, but against righties he could be a cheap source of power off the bench.
Joe Mauer: Batting .396 with one home runs, nine RBIs and 10 runs scored. Not ideal numbers for a first baseman, but perfectly acceptable for a corner infield or utility spot.
Chris Carter: Batting .220 with three home runs, seven RBIs and six runs scored. For the season Carter has 66 RBIs (12th among first baseman) and 27 home runs (4th among first baseman, tied for 10th in the majors). If you can take the batting average hit, Adam Dunn Jr. is your man.
Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations, so I will keep track my hits
and misses from the previous weeks and monitor their progress until they either graduate (over 50% ownership on all three sites) or are listed as drops (sometimes you’ve just got to cut a man loose).
This is the last week Brad Miller and David Dahl will appear here. Their ownership level has reached a point to where they should be owned in all competitive leagues. Last Call!
Continue to add (stats are for August)
- Pedro Alvarez: .370 with 5 home runs and 9 RBIs
- Travis Jankowski: .400 with 7 stolen bases and 13 runs scored
- Devon Travis: .358 with 3 home runs, 8 RBIs and 7 runs scored
- Andrew Benintendi: .379 with 5 runs, 5 RBIs and 1 stolen base
- Alex Dickerson: .297 with 5 runs, 5 RBIs, 1 home run and 1 stolen base
- Sandy Leon: .387 with 3 home runs, 5 RBIs and 7 runs scored
- Eddie Rosario: .354 with 3 home runs, 8 RBIs and 8 runs scored
- Aaron Altherr: .265 with 2 home runs, 11 RBIs and 7 runs scored
- Yangervis Solarte: .275 with 2 home runs, 9 RBIs and 9 runs scored
- Cheslor Cuthbert: .333 with 1 home run, 4 RBIs and 6 runs scored
- Jayson Werth: .286 with 3 home runs, 6 RBIs and 9 runs scord
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet if possible
- Didi Gregorius is still contributing decent numbers for a shortstop, but he is batting just .229 in August.
- Alex Bregman hit .267 last week. Was he just due for a good week or was it a sign of things to come? He better figure things out quick with Yulieski Gurriel on the way.
- I’m losing faith that Josh Bell will be up again this season. Hold him if you own him (if you can).
- Jose Reyes has begun his rehab assignment.
- Javier Baez had his first home run of the month Friday and went 2-5. That brings his August average up to .167. I’m not dropping him, but I’m worried.
- Justin Bour is now expected to be out until September. Drop him if you need the DL room, and don’t get your hopes up if you continue to stash him.
- Scott Schebler celebrated my recommendation last week by going hittless. He’s worth monitoring for the stretch run, but no need to own him now.
- Ryon Healy is batting .212 in August – time to find a better option if you haven’t already.
- David Freese pre-all-star: .291 with 10 home runs. Post-all-star: .250 with one home run.
- Jedd Gyorko has one home runs, two RBIs and a .161 average this month.
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