Welcome to week-2 of the waiver wire report. Each week I will dig through the f/a pool to find the best potential free agents on waivers (under 50% ownership on ESPN and Yahoo). Some are good for a quick boost, others could be good long-term additions, and there will be a few speculative adds thrown in there as well.
OF Preston Tucker
Tucker wasn’t a consideration on draft day, but his early performance does put him into the waiver wire conversation. Through Friday he was batting .429 (9 for 21) with two home runs and eight RBI. The 27-year-old was unimpressive in his last two major league stints and his minor league average was, well… average. He does have a little pop in his bat (.209 minor league ISO, .193 in majors), posted a K% below 20 the past two years (something he struggled with at the higher levels), and while the walk rate is mediocre, it was close to double-digits in the minors. The average will come down, but if he can maintain a .270 without losing the power he is a viable 4th outfielder.
- Honorable Mention to teammate Nick Markakis who is batting .320 with one home runs. Markakis is more of an injury replacement than long-term solution, but he does, and is, hitting for average and producing now. He is capable of holding down your 4th OF slot until someone better comes along.
2B/SS/OF Chris Owings
I did not expect to see Owings under 50%, let alone 31% on Yahoo. The multi-eligible spark plug is also batting .429 (9 for 21) with a home run and stolen base. Surprisingly he has more runs than RBI; batting 5th you’d expect the opposite. Last year’s 12/12 power/speed numbers apparently did not impress anyone, even if he did that in just 97 games. The only knock on Owings is he struggled on the road last year, but other than that what’s not to love. If he is available, especially in leagues that use a MI slot, Owings is a must own right now.
- Honorable Mention to teammate Nick Ahmed who is hitting .471 (8 for 17). Ahmed does not have enough power or speed to be fantasy relevant so ignore the hot batting average start.
OF Kevin Pillar
Probably the only member of the Toronto outfield who will find his name on the lineup card daily. Last year Pillar joined the 15/15 club and spent a good portion of the year batting first – a place he has yet to see in 2018. The low walks will keep him towards the bottom which limits run potential, and combined with a career .264 average the RBI numbers as well. That being said, he does just enough to warrant being own more, especially now with a .320 April average along with a home run and three steals. Expect his ownership to rise in the coming weeks so the window is closing.
2B Cesar Hernandez
It appears the Scott Kingery threat has lit a fire under the ass of Hernandez. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh; he did bat .294 in both 2016 and 2017 – fairly equal against lefties and righties – so it’s not like he was a bad hitter. And he has stolen at least 15 bases for three years straight. Plus he’s still leading off so expect another 80 plus runs scored. Not to mention his bat does have some pop so we could see 10 home runs. There is nothing wrong with Hernandez; he is just underrated and underappreciated. This season is no different with a .304 start paired with a home run and a couple steals. At the very least he deserves a bench spot on your team.
SS Aledmys Diaz
There were high hopes for Diaz heading into 2017. He was coming off a .300 season with 17 homers in 400 at bats and found himself ranked in the top-10. Come the end of June he was back in Triple-A and was basically a forgotten man heading into this season. Now with a fresh start in Toronto he is looking to reclaim his name. After an unimpressive spring Diaz is batting .313 with a pair of home runs. He doesn’t strike out much, can post a solid walk rate and average, and with Tulowitzki out until at least the all-star break he has plenty of time to impress – hopefully enough to move up in the lineup.
RP Jacob Barnes
The dreaded committee word was used in Milwaukee so no permanent replacement for Corey Knebel. Those looking to speculate on saves might want to roll the dice on Barnes. He bounced between the bullpen and a starting role in the minors, but really began to excel once being moved exclusively to the pen. His walk rate went down (though returned in 2017), strikeouts went up, the fly ball rate fell (a bonus for his home park), his fastball velocity increased – basically all the things you want out of a reliever. Jeremy Jeffress does have some closing experience; he saved 24 games for the Brewers in 2016, so Barnes is far from a lock. Even so, this is where I’d put my money short-term.
SP Eduardo Rodriguez and Brandon Finnegan
Both pitchers are currently on the DL and widely available, for a number of reasons. Escobar did not ive up to expectations last year, but his underlying metrics suggest he could have done better. Finnegan was hyped as a sleeper going into 2017, but surgery derailed things so now all owners remember is a guy with an ERA around 4.00 who walks too many batters. Both are a gamble, but if you have an extra roster spot just to see what they will do out of the gate it might be worth it.
Escobar is slated to start Sunday against the Rays while Finnegan has a minor league outing scheduled for Monday. They are beck-end starters, but could move up to mid-level if things go well.
SS/3B Eduardo Escobar
To be honest I’m really not sure what to make of Escobar. He had a career year at age 28, launching 21 home runs after totaling just 27 over 1,497 major league bat bats. The doubles in 2016/2017 were half of what he produced in 2014/2015, and the batting average, while better last year, was still lower than expected. His spot in the batting order, split between 5th and 6th, hasn’t changed from last year so the team obviously sees something I don’t. For what it’s worth he’s batting .438 with a home run and also qualifies for 2B on Yahoo. Can he hit another 20 homers?
2B/3B Yolmer Sanchez
This is more of a desperation play to me, but there’s no disputing that Sanchez is off to a hot start. He is 8 for 20 at the plate with a home run and stolen base, and is currently the everyday third baseman with Matt Davidson seeing time exclusively at DH. Sanchez has little chance of moving up in the order, will only steal a handful of bases, will be lucky to reach double-digit power, and is basically keeping the seat warm at third for Davidson. The only reason I am listing him is because some hot starts last week or even the entire month of April.
This is the last week Chris Iannetta, Tim Anderson and Hunter Strickland will appear here. Their ownership rate is over 50% and they should be owned in all competitive leagues. If they are still available in your league – Last Call!
Continue to ADD
- Yonder Alonso, Joe Panik, Brian Anderson
- Amed Rosario isn’t getting full-time at bats yet, but he’s hitting well enough that his time will come.
- Minor League Stash: Kyle Tucker (al he needs is an opening).
HOLD (not good enough to add but maybe too good to drop)
- I still believe Ryan McMahon is an add for his upside, but his limited playing time makes him worthless right now. Let your bench depth dictate things here.
- Neil Walker and Brandon Drury have not be lighting up the scoreboard, but they do show signs of solid ownership potential. Of the two I say Walker is the drop if there is a better waiver option.
- Lewis Brinson has big upside, but if early struggles persist you may have no choice but to cut bait.
- I’ll admit to being a Kole Calhoun homer and still believe the lowered right field wall will produce extra homers. That said, a few more weeks of this average and even I may give up.
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