So its official, Anthony Rendon is out for at least a month with a sprained knee. I say at least a month because these things can be tricky with healing time varying from person to person. Not what fantasy owners want to hear concerning one of their top picks; potentially your first round pick depending on the size of your league or eagerness over his upside.
Those of us who have drafted are now left with a decision. Do we make a trade to replace our fallen star or do we hobble along with whatever is available on waivers? You could attempt some type of trade, but I wouldn’t go looking to acquire a big name. Since you’re only looking for a part-time fix, aim for players like Nick Castellanos, Aramis Ramirez or Chase Headley; odds are they were drafted as a backup (if at all) and will not cost you much. If you planned on starting Rendon at second base you could consider a trade, but with all the talent at second base this year you might be able to find a suitable replacement on waivers; especially in leagues that don’t use a MI slot.
Outside of a trade, here are a few players for second and third base that might be available to you on waivers. Most of them were lightly drafted and could provide a quick (and cheap) fix for the short-term, but don’t rule out the possibility of them becoming long-term fixtures on your team.
Luis Valbuena (Astros): With Matt Dominguez optioned to AAA, Valbuena has the third base job all to himself. He had somewhat of a breakout last year batting .249 with 16 home runs. There were struggles against lefties and his month to month splits were night and day (.269 and higher or .232 and lower). So far this spring Valbuena is batting .405 and that spring average could carry over into April. You may only get a few home runs and the counting stats may be low, but it should get you through the first month. This is where I put my money, but Valbuena will cover the MI slot for me – not third.
Available in 92% of Yahoo and 98% of ESPN leagues
Casey McGehee (Giants): Big Panda’s replacement won’t offer you any power or speed, but he will hit for average and drive in a good number of runs batting in the middle of the lineup. McGehee batted .289 or higher for the first four months and while he fell off the final few months the average never dipped below .250. He also finished inside the top 10 for RBIs and could repeat that feat with a much better supporting cast than in Miami. So far this spring McGehee is batting .302; an average he should be able to maintain. If you can live without the power, this is a safe choice that will help in 2 categories and contribute some runs as well.
Available in 88% of Yahoo and 98% of ESPN leagues
Lonnie Chisenhall (Indians): McGehee may offer batting average stability, but Chisenhall offers upside and more power. Last season the former first rounder had a mini-breakout; batting over .300 for the first 3 months. He worked on some things in the off-season and the Indians are impressed so far. This spring Chisenhall has an empty .326 average. More than likely he will be hitting 6th or 7th so the runs will be limited, but there should be some RBI opportunities. I would prefer either of the options above, but if they are not available you could do worse.
Available in 81% of Yahoo and 95% of ESPN leagues
Will Middlebrooks (Padres): Boston shipped him off to San Diego, but a change of scenery might be just what Middlebrooks needed. He is currently batting .333 with 2 home runs, 8 RBIs and 10 runs scored; primarily batting 5th behind Justin Upton. Middlebrooks has power, the batting average was what held him back the past two years. I don’t expect him to maintain a high average, but if he can keep it above .275 for the first month and continue to hit for power, this could be the sneakiest pick of all – and someone to consider in deeper leagues if the above players are gone.
Available in 98% of Yahoo and 99% of ESPN leagues
Marcus Semien (A’s): The lost man in the Jeff Samardzija trade was on a lot of sleeper lists coming into the year, and the former White Sox second baseman will see every day at bats at shortstop for the A’s. I wrote about Semien and his 15/15 potential back in December so I won’t go into much detail here. So far this spring he is batting .283 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs, in a prime spot in the lineup none the less. Semien could be mixed league relevant before long so his multi-eligibility will come in handy once Rendon does return. This may be a sort term fix, but Semien could be a long-term solution for injuries through the year or possibly a replacement for your current shortstop. I added Valbuena, but if Semien were available I would have placed my money here.
Available in 74% of Yahoo and 85% of ESPN leagues
Jace Peterson (Braves): I was going to quote top gun here, but the need for speed reference is getting played out. It does apply here though as Peterson stole 51 bases in 2012 and 42 in 2013. The total was down to 18 last year, but don’t take the down year as a sign he can’t run, he is 3 for 3 so far this spring. Jace holds a .287 minor league average, but he hit above .300 from A+ on and is currently batting .352 this spring. That hitting display parlayed into a job with the braves; something he didn’t have when most of us drafted. While pitchers may eventually adjust and give him a dose of reality, it will not immediately happen so this looks like a safe own for the month of April. Runs, Steals and average, something the Braves and fantasy owners need.
Available in 94% of Yahoo and 98% of ESPN leagues
Micah Johnson (White Sox): Take everything I said about Jace Peterson and apply it here. Johnson stole 84 bases over 3 levels in 2013 but that slipped to just 22 last year; just like Peterson though Micah has 3 this spring. Johnson holds a .297 minor league average and his .327 spring average won him a job at second. Honestly you can’t go wrong with either Johnson or Peterson, but I might go with Johnson just for the fact he could score more runs in that lineup; ownership levels seem to agree with me on that.
Available in 82% of Yahoo and 93% of ESPN leagues
Nick Castellanos (Tigers): While the young slugger is owned in 65% or more leagues on ESPN, he’s available in 68% of Yahoo leagues. While Castellanos may only be an average slugger, a third baseman capable of hitting close to 20 home runs with an acceptable average in a strong lineup should be owned more. If you lost Rendon in a Yahoo league, check here first (if you haven’t already).
Chase Headley (Yankees): Just like Castellanos on Yahoo, Headley is under-owned on ESPN and he is available in 66% of leagues. CBS states his average fly ball travelled more than 20 feet farther than in either of the last two seasons. Last season after he was traded to the Yankees he almost matched his home run total from San Diego in 88 less at bats. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Headley could hit 20 home runs. So far this spring he is batting .327 with 3 home runs in 49 at bats. I can’t personally recommend Headley – I’m a staunch Headley hater – but I am man enough to acknowledge the potential others have pointed out.
I’m sure there are a few more recommendations I could make, but recommending Headley has sucked the life out of me. Be sure to check back weekly for more waiver wire goodies.