Late July/early August is probably one of the best times to get a better than average chance of scoring a trade in your favor. It’s getting close to the point in the season where owners will be in a do or die situation on making the playoffs. It’s even better if you are in a keeper league, where even the worst teams can still make moves that won’t automatically get vetoed. Andy Germani covered players to target for dynasty leagues the other day. For those in redraft leagues, here are some players to consider acquiring if you can afford it, like taking risks, or have no choice but to take a risk.
Christian Yelich – Yelich has been in every way, underwhelming from what owners and draft expectations pegged him for this year. He is not doing that bad if you look closely; he’s just not building counting stats anywhere near the rate owners had hoped for. He also started very slow in April and May which hurt his numbers and owners confidence in him, so it’s not surprising to see him more available in leagues than I would have expected. His average is up to .265 (which should rise a bit more), the OBP has climbed into the .340 range and his peripherals indicate he should be in good shape the rest of the way. One might think of Giancarlo Stanton being out of the line up as a bad thing for his counting stats, but teams often find ways to fill in gaps when players are gone. This seems like the perfect chance for Yelich to step up and fill in some of that void in the Marlins lineup. With any luck, he should prove to be a good source of runs and steal close to 10 stolen bases.
Matt Carpenter – I hinted last week at Carpenter being a potential buy low candidate and want to reiterate that fact again this week. I do not expect his early season power to return to any similar form in the second half; he’s never really been known for his power so it was surprising to see him start off the first couple of months as a 4 category player. He should still be counted on to hit a few more home runs the rest of the way out though; I’m thinking he’s good for about five more. The reason he should be seen as a decent buy low candidate is because I believe the above normal numbers he put up in April and early May in contrast to his dreadful last two months, will skew owners perceptions of what they should be expecting. This combined with a better than usual third base pool this year, might bring Carpenters value down lower than it should be. Take advantage of any sellers looking to move on for less than a top 100 players in return. I’m betting there will be a few owners out there. He is still going to be putting up a healthy amount of runs with a high average and on base percentage. He has already proven over the past 2 seasons that he is capable of scoring 100+ runs while hitting at least .275 and his OBP has yet to drop below .360 over a full season. All of these are above average numbers, and while he may not score 100 runs this year, he will do his best to make up for tough times.
Yasiel Puig – Puig has had an injury filled season so far, and when he does play he has not been putting up numbers anywhere near what owners were expecting. So far Puig has been a disappointment for anyone who has invested. Now is as good a time as any to think about inquiring on what it might cost to acquire his services for the rest of the season. One way to approach this is to offer your own buy low candidate in return for Puig. For instance, offering Carpenter or Yelich in exchange for Puig might be a possible route to take. Another is the obvious route of picking a clear cut sell high candidate that you think wont sustain his numbers, like maybe Brett Gardner.
I would go for the first deal personally, but that’s because I prefer to trade under-performers on both sides only because I would hate to accidentally trade away a 2013 Chris Davis that exceeded everyone’s expectations. Although it’s not as likely Puig matches his previous two years in home runs (16 and 19, currently at 6), it is entirely possible for Puig to bring his AVG and OBP up a full 30 points each while contributing some decent counting stats. I would also hope him playing in a shortened first half might have left him with a bit more in the tank.
Jose Abreu – Compared to last season, Abreu is having a down year when he surprised the league and anyone who follows baseball. This year, Abreu has been putting up numbers more along the lines of what we expected from him in 2014. When you think about it that way, he isn’t doing all that bad, but he is not putting up the numbers people expected from a low 1st round-high 2nd round pick. I’m not saying he isn’t capable of living up to what people paid for him in March; we’ve all seen that he is. Maybe it is asking too much to expect Abreu to sustain last years elite playing level. He is a top 25 player playing like a top 50 batter at best. Try offering someone who is playing better than expected like J.D. Martinez, a one dimensional player like Hamilton or an elite name whose numbers you can somewhat replace like Buster Posey. If Abreu continues hitting the way he is you really won’t lose your trade, but if he goes on a tear he could easily outperform whoever you traded to acquire him.
Joc Pederson – To me Pederson is technically a buy low candidate based on him slowing down in June and hitting a wall in July, but he is still exceeding what everyone had expected from him this year. His average has slumped and I don’t think that anyone expected his home run pace to continue the way it started, but I definitely don’t think his current depressed numbers are a fair representation of his abilities. His power should pick back up along with his batting average; an overall OBP above .350 says he is still seeing the ball well and he lowered his strikeout total in July. Cameron Maybin sounds like an excellent example of who to trade away to land Pederson; maybe not the player himself, but the line he has put up so far.
Anthony Rendon – Rendon has been a huge disappointment this year, but through no fault of his own as injuries do not discriminate. We know he can play at a high level; while he has missed most of the first half he is still the same player owners selected in the second round of fantasy drafts. Expecting that kind of return at this point is unrealistic, and in games played so far this season he was hitting well so some owners might be hesitant to trade him. If you find someone willing to talk, I would certainly get him. Actually the best time to get him would have been when he was on the DL, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. You might be able to get Rendon at a discount depending on the owner, but don’t be afraid to pay more. One idea: if you have Dee Gordon, I would go for a clean swap. I like Gordon, but unless you are in a keeper league where his trade value is much higher, I think I would rather have Rendon at this point. I see no reason why Rendon will not continue his 5 category ways that he showed us last year, although it may be a few weeks before the steals kick in.
Players I’m Not buying low on
Ian Desmond – I personally feel Desmond was greatly overrated coming into the season. Unless you are a rookie, I can’t stand players with a low OBP (.312 lifetime) that are putting up decent to high numbers otherwise. They are usually inconsistent, and will at some point regress to match their low OBP – batting average and all. Even if it’s regressing for only one year, it’s not worth the risk to me. My luck would be the year I draft them is when they regress to reflect their OBP. As a general rule of thumb, I look for consistency in AVG and OBP, if for no other reason than it is much easier to identify when someone is regressing. A 20/20 Desmond is not in the cards this year. His former teammate Steve Souza is the newer version of Ian Desmond.
Robinson Cano – I’ve brought up Cano before as someone to sell or avoid and nothing’s changed for me here. He hit his first multi-homer game it forever a few weeks back, and has had 3 more since that time. The problem is, that 2 home run game was in Yankee stadium, where hitting is more friendly and Cano is certainly more familiar and comfortable playing. I’m not buying this being a turning point for him in the power department. If I own him, I’m taking full advantage of his 5 home runs over the last few weeks and selling him to the first person to send me a decent offer and cutting my losses. I’m not buying low unless it’s for next to nothing given the number of other potential second base options available in trade or even on waivers.
Ryan Zimmerman – There are way too many other third basemen out there this year worth my time to even begin to consider paying anything for Zimmerman. Between the injuries and inconsistent play, there is too much downside to gamble on. If someone dropped him in your league I might stash him on my bench in case he has that big month he is famous for delivering once a year, but that’s about it.
Corey Dickerson – I can find plenty of other outfield options in so many other places that will offer the same or more than a less than %100 Dickerson could hope to offer.
Starlin Castro – Three years ago Castro was seen as a 300 hitter who stole bases and some pop. What is it going to take to convince people he has lost his stolen base potential for good and his average will continue to be a crap-shoot. People talked about his bounceback season in 2014, but his numbers last year were no better than Erick Aybar. I’ve been over Castro since 2013 – you should be too.
Need more trade targets, DFS picks, waiver options, prospect news, and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.