It is never too early to start looking at the waiver wire. The smart fantasy owners have already taken stock of what is available and are well aware of which late draft picks represent the weakest links on their squad.
“But my team is perfect – All my late draft picks are full of upside, potential, and are worth more than any of those guys left on waivers”
Yea, there are owners that actually believe this line of crap. These are the same owners that will ride those potential upside picks well into the latter part of May, even though they are tanking and everyone one else dropped them and moved on. Occasionally one of those slumpers will eventually right the ship, and that owners will beat their chest making sure to give all the doubters a big fat “I told you so”.
I understand their logic; you don’t want to overreact to a slow start, and you don’t want to drop a potentially good player for someone having nothing more than a hot April. Playing devil’s advocate – what if it is more than a hot April? Looking back at your past teams, how many of those players taken in the final five or so rounds were actually on your team when July rolled around? Patience is a virtue, but the early bird gets the worm.
Hernan Perez (Brewers)
Available in 56% of CBS, 53% of Y! and 85% of ESPN leagues
45 combined home runs and stolen bases means very little without a pedigree and starting job. That is why Perez is available. He did everything he could this spring to earn a job, batting .300 with three home runs, four for five in stolen base attempts, and just six strikeouts.
Given the questions surrounding some of his teammates I’m sure there will be plenty of at bats for Perez – maybe even a regular position down the line. He qualifies at third base and outfield everywhere, and his second base eligibility is a bonus if you are in a Yahoo league.
David Peralta (Diamondbacks)
Available in 63% of CBS, 56% of Y! and 78% of ESPN leagues
Remember at the start of 2016 when Peralta was considered a sleeper? He hit .312 with 17 homers and 9 stolen bases over 462 at bats, and Ender Inciarte was shipped out of town making room in the outfield. Just like some of the players listed below, one little injury and we’ve moved on to the new and shiny toys.
This spring Peralta hit .322 (19 for 59) with three home and two steals. That should be enough to impress the new management and give him regular at bats. There is 20/10 potential here, and there is enough talent throughout the top-6 that run and RBI totals should be above average. At the very least he is worth a bench spot in any 12-team league.
Yuli Gurriel (Astros)
Available in 59% of CBS, 60% of Y! and 50% of ESPN leagues
It was a dogfight between A.J. Reed and Gurriel for the first base job. His .344 spring average (21 for 61) with six doubles and two home runs eventually won hearts and minds, but apparently not all fantasy owners got the memo. I know, he’s new to the league and there are questions about his upside. Well, the draft is over which means you can now gamble on him for free. You can beat that price. I don’t know if he is starting third base material, but there is definitely corner infield potential.
Pablo Sandoval (Red Sox)
Available in 55% of CBS, 65% of Y! and 68% of ESPN leagues
I’ll skip the weight comments and injury discussion. I’ll even overlook the lower ownership despite the strong spring numbers. In case you missed it, Sandoval hit .338 (22 for 65) with seven doubles and five home runs. Yoan Moncada and Travis Shaw were both shipped out of town meaning zero competition. I highly doubt the Big Panda can keep up this pace all year, but he is hot and hitting now and fantasy owners need to take full advantage of that.
Corey Dickerson (Rays)
Available in 66% of CBS, 67% of Y! and 76% of ESPN leagues
Last year was the nightmare scenario many of us imagined. At least the 24 home runs eased some of the pain. Dickerson appeared to turn things around in July (.294) and September (.307), and he has been on fire this spring batting .379 (22 for 58) with four home runs. The Rays plan to bat him leadoff to start against righties which means plenty of runs. Even a drop down to the two-hole would increase the RBI numbers. Again, he’s worth a bench spot at the very least.
Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Available in 38% of CBS, 71% of Y! and 68% of ESPN leagues
Even though he has won the starting right field job, owners seem to be taking a wait and see approach. His audition last year was horrid so some are not buying into his .33 spring average. Guess what, I’m not buying it either. I’m not a Judge fan and believe the batting average will bottom out. But even I would take full advantage of Judge if he were available on waivers in my league. One hot month on your bench can get you twice the value in return from the resident Yankees fan in your league (every league has That guy).
C.J. Cron (Angels)
Available in 71% of Y! and 50% of CBS and ESPN leagues
It takes a while for Mike Scioscia to warm up to players, and last year he was starting to consider Cron a veteran regular. An injury cut short would could have been a breakout year. Cron is now healthy and has some solid spring numbers under his belt: .267 batting average (22 for 74) with four doubles, four home runs and three steals. With Luis Valbuena starting the season on the DL, new comer Jefry Marte can slide over to third leaving Cron to handle the first base duties on his own. I expect at least 20 home runs and would not be surprised if he cracked 25 plus.
Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets)
Available in 22% of CBS, 74% of Y! and 67% of ESPN leagues
A memo was sent out telling fantasy owners that Cabrera was a hot add and solid draft target. Apparently it was only posted on CBS. Cabrera hit .280 with 23 home runs in 2016, and he continued that hot hitting in spring training by batting .340 (18 for 53) with three home runs and only seven strikeouts. You’re basically looking at Aledmys Diaz with a slightly lower batting average. Put aside whatever past bias you may have for Cabrera and pick him up. You’ll get top-12 shortstop production here for free.
Travis Shaw (Brewers)
Available in 60% of CBS, 76% of Y! and 89% of ESPN leagues
Statistically he took a step back in 2016, but the experience he gained is invaluable. Now he gets to take that experience to a new team with a clear path to playing time. Shaw hit .351 this spring (20 for 57) with four doubles, five home runs, and a stolen base. The Brewers are in rebuild mode so he will get every opportunity to succeed. Shaw can also play first base should the Eric Thames experiment crash and Hernan Perez continue to swing a hot bat. He is not a .300 hitter, but .275 with 25 home run upside is right there with C.J. Cron. That’s corner infield territory.
Mitch Haniger (Mariners)
Available in 45% of CBS, 84% of Y! and 81% of ESPN leagues
Either CBS gets all the memos for hot players, or those that play on ESPN and Yahoo don’t pay attention to spring numbers – either that or they don’t put any stock into them. For those that missed the press release, Haniger hit .385 (30 for 78) with 11 doubles, two home runs, three stolen bases, and 13 strikeouts. He will be an everyday player in the Mariners outfield. The issue here is that Haniger is good, but he is not that good. I expect regression, and it is entirely possible that the bottom falls out and he is outrighted to Triple-A down the road. For now, he is hot, hitting, and should be owned in far more leagues than he is.
Tyler Saladino (White Sox)
Available in 89% of CBS, 85% of Y! and 96% of ESPN leagues
All Hail Yoan Moncada! That is an article for another time. To start the season we need to turn our attention to his teammate Saladino. He made quite the impression in 2016, batting .282 with 14 doubles, eight home runs and 11 steals. Like Hernan Perez above, most are skeptical and are taking a wait and see approach.
Lost in this are the spring numbers; a .365 average (19 for 62) with three doubles, four home runs, and a stolen base. On top of the pretty numbers, Saladino qualifies for second base, shortstop, and even third base on some sites. That makes for a terrific bench player; someone who can cover both middle infield spots freeing up a bench spot for other needs.
Chris Owings (Diamondbacks)
Available in 43% of CBS, 90% of Y! and 91% of ESPN leagues
If you’re like me you are scratching your head wondering why Ketel Marte is in the minors while Nick Ahmed backs things up at short. In other news, Chris Owings is now the starting shortstop for the D’Backs. A .277 batting average with five home runs and 21 steals put him in the mix, and a blistering spring (.345 with two home runs and three steals) sealed the deal.
If Owings can maintain a high batting average there is middle infield value here, and batting toward the top of the lineup versus lefties sure doesn’t hurt things. I’m not sold on the long-term value for Owings, but until the bat cools off fantasy owners need to take advantage.
Ben Revere (Angels)
Available in 90% of CBS, 97% of Y! and 91% of ESPN leagues
If you slump for a year you go to the trash heap. Revere batted .294 or higher from 2012 to 2015. During that time he stole at least 31 bases in three of four years – he has 22 during his injury shortened 2013 season, putting him on pace for his third 40 stolen base season. He also scored over 70 runs in each of those years, and was on pace to do so in 2013 as well. Let’s put last year behind us and look towards a new beginning with the Angles.
This spring of 56 at bats Revere hit .411 with eight walks, five stolen bases, and nine runs scored. Imagine the run scoring opportunities hitting in front of Pujols and Trout all year. Given his ability to get on base I can easily see 30 plus steals. Overall you’re looking at potential top-10 numbers in three of the five basic scoring categories. Any need a fourth outfielder?
There are plenty of other hitters out there on waivers, but I am only one man and it is a long season. If here is someone not listed here you think is worthy, let others know in the comment section below.
What – No Pitchers?!?! Since a majority of the starting pitchers only have 15 or so spring innings I don’t feel confident recommending any of them for public consumption.
There are a few I like such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Foltynewicz, Luis Severino, Daniel Norris and Robert Gsellman to name a few. Any one of them are worth holding over keeping an open spot for streaming purposes. We will get to pitchers int he coming weeks as they get in some much-needed work. Until then, keep an eye on the waiver wire and throw some darts of your own.
Need more waiver wire recommendations and free agent pick-ups, check out Fantasy Rundown daily for that and more.