Welcome to week-6 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. Be sure to check out the previously recommended section as there are a number of under-owned players that should still be available in your league.
- Jorge Soler
Has the 26-year-old finally arrived? The former Cubs top prospect is making some noise in Kansas City batting .312 with 9 doubles and 4 home runs. Three of those home runs came in the past week anbd he has hit safely in the past eight games with five of those being multi-hit outings. Both his walk (16.5%) and strikeout (24.3%) rates are major league bests and he’s hitting the ball harder than ever (42.4% hard, .226 ISO), On the downside: the contact rate has not improved (67.2%) and his BABIP screams regression (.403). This is a short-term addition; keep an eye on his average and bail at the first sign of trouble.
- Franchy Cordero
An unknown outfielder with a .262 outfielder is not going to generate a lot of buzz on the waiver wire Over the past two weeks Cordero has batted .278 and two of his six home runs have come in the past seven days – at Petco. Outside of his time at Class-A Cordero was a solid hitter with a nice blend of power and speed (3 SB this year). He produced a 20/16 HR/SB season last year between Triple-A and the majors and went 11/23 between two lower level stops in 2016. The current strikeout rate is suspect (33.8%) and has been an issue throughout his career, and his current contact rate is poor. But like a number of players who profile that way he is crushing the ball (48.9% hard, .274 ISO) which is working for him now, and batting anywhere in the top-5 spots will generate some nice counting stats.
- Denard Span
This is less of a recommendation and more of a reminder what a solid OF4 Span can be. HE is only hitting .253 on the season but has batted .282 over the past two weeks. He has never hit below .264 and has hit at least .272 in four of the past five seasons. He has also scored at least 72 runs in each of his last three full seasons and recorded double-digit home runs and steals in the last two. This year he has added RBIs to his game totaling 22 – half last years total already. Span is not exciting, he possesses zero upside, but he is solid and overall reliable. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Speaking of solid and reliable, Gordon was the poster child for these two words not too long ago. Like Span he was good for an average in the neighborhood of .265 with 15-20 homers, strong run totals and above average RBI totals. Two years with an abysmal batting average has erased all that. Gordon is currently hitting .303 and has a pair of home runs and five multi-hit games over the past seven days. A career best K% (16.9%) and hard hit rate (40.7%) are partly responsible, as is a career best contact rate (83.1% – first time above 80%). He is chasing pitches outside the zone – again – at a career low (18.3%), although all that patience hasn’t shown up in the walk column (2.8%). Given the drop in ISO and fly balls it may be a stretch to assume a 20 home runs season, but he could put up a Melky Cabrera type year with 15 homers, an average above .280 and 140 or so runs + RBI – maybe more with a move up in the order.
- C.J. Cron
Each week I will recycle one previously recommended player who has yet to get the credit he deserves for his accomplishment – at least as far as ownership levels. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but Cron is now up to 7 home runs – 5 in the past two weeks, along with 19 RBI. I’ve come to accept he will never be more than a .265-ish hitter, but the underlying metrics and track record tell us that average will not go much lower. Both his ISO and hard hit rate are major league highs, and combined with his fly ball rate we could see a career high 25 home runs. It might also interest you to know that Cron currently ranks as a top-20 CI option on both Yahoo and ESPN.
- Matt Adams
Adams is available due to playing time issues (61 at bats). However, he has now started four straight games and has multi-hit games in four of his last six starts. For the season he is batting .295 with 6 home runs, 15 RBI and 12 runs scored. The average is not BABIP induced, his walk rate is in the double-digits, and both the ISO and hard hit rates are strong which should help support his higher than average line drive rate. If Ryan Zimmerman can’t get his average over .200 I can see Adams pushing him aside more often. Adams is more for those with daily lineups – for now.
- Jesus Aguilar
This was someone I kept an eye on last year but he never got enough at bats to warrant a roster spot. It is the same story this year, but he has now drawn a start in three consecutive contests. In the minors Aguilar show good plate skills and discipline with solid but not strong or elite power. Last year he received his first extended look, and while the contact was poor and he was striking out way too much, there were some positive aspects to his game. This year the strikeouts are down, the contact rate is now above average, and the ISO, hard hit rate and fly ball percentage suggest more power is on the way. With Eric Thames on the shelf Aguilar now has a chance to make an impression with his team and fantasy owners alike. Add him to your watch list.
Replacing Corey Seager.
This is not an easy task and one you will not likely do through the waiver wire. If you accept this fact there are a number of solid options than may be able to hold down the fort without turning your stomach. Marcus Semien is over 50% ownership, but he is still available in a good number of leagues. That would be my first stop. Eduardo Escobar falls into the same category and would be my 1B to Semien’s 1A. Given both were probably waiver claims you may be able to get one in trade for less than it would cost you to trade for a brand name option.
Dansby Swanson has a slightly lower ownership level and is probably the next best option. He has a little power and speed, is hitting for average, and while his counting stats are nothing great they are not bad considering the overall package. Nick Ahmed isn’t my favorite option, mostly due to the lower batting average, but he is playing every day and showing a little more power this year. Odds are if you roster him you will still be looking on a weekly basis for someone better.
Daniel Robertson and Adeiny Hechavarria are two hot streamer options batting over .300 with a pair of home runs over the past two weeks. I don’t have much faith in either keeping up a high level of production, but they are decent stopgap considerations. If none of the above players are available you’ll need to bite the bullet and stream the best available option and hope a more permanent solution eventually presents itself – good luck with that.
Replacing Johnny Cueto
Fantasy owners were fully aware Cueto was not going to keep up his level of production, but they were expecting some regression and not another lost season. While this injury does sting, it is not as bad as losing Seager given the difference in ADP. Cueto fell to the mid round or later so he was a luxury and surprise for owners and not an expected ace for their rotation. That doesn’t ease the pain, but it does put things into perspective. I still stand behind two of my previous recommendations, Nick Pivetta (despite last nights starat) and Tyson Ross, and think both should be owned. If neither are available then it’s time to go fishing.
Junior Guerra with his Cueto like ERA and WHIP under 1.00 is a scary but potentially solid pick. He still walks a few too many for me, has a BABIP is too low (.232), the FIP (2.78) and xFIP (4.79) can’t agree on how far he will regress, and I really don’t care for the 1/1 GR/FB%. ON the plus side, he is walking a few less, the strikeout rate is above average (8.48 K/9), there’s lots of soft contact (25.5%), and he is showing the second lowest contact rate of his major league career. Granted he did get blown up last night, but a few outings like this are expected – he is a waiver pickup after all.
Tyler Anderson now has high-quality starts (2 runs or less) in four of his last five, and the one non-quality start was one run over 4.2 innings. Yes, Colorado pitchers are scary, but he held the Cubs to one run at home and is generating some nice strikeout numbers. Teammate Chad Betts also has high-quality starts in three of his last four, but all were on the road and with fewer strikeouts. Sean Newcomb has been very solid since his first game, is posting great strikeout numbers, has lower his walks from past seasons, increased his ground balls, spiked his soft contact rate, and lowered his overall contact%. I’d place him right below Ross and tied with Pivetta.
You can always throw a dart at new comers like Matt Koch or Nick Kingham, or maybe a retread like Trevor Cahill. Drew Pomeranz may even be available, but there is still some rust to shake off there. And for those that want a second half stash or two, Jimmy Nelson and Anthony DeSclafani should both be back some time in July if you have room on your DL (it is unlikely you’ll DL Cueto). If there doesn’t appear to be anyone that looks like a long-term solution just play the streaming game until someone comes along.
This is the last week Kevin Pillar and Eduardo Escobar 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
- Tyson Ross, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta, Leonys Martin, Mark Canha, Kurt Suzuki, Jeimer Candelario, Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis and Jacoby Jones should all be owned right now.
- Michael Taylor is a solid add if you can absorb the low batting average.
- David Dahl continues to push for playing time which is bad news for Gerardo Parra owners. Some of the above are better now, but Dahl is the better long-term addition.
- Bartolo Colon threw another stream worthy start on Friday. Yes he gave up four runs, but over seven innings with a 0.71 WHIP (0.86 for the season).
HOLD (not good enough to add but maybe too good to drop)
- Mac Williamson hit the DL the day I recommended him. He is only a hold if you have the DL room.
- Brandon Drury (on rehab assignment) is still a DL stash, but playing time will dictate his future upon return.
- Colin Moran and Brian Anderson do just enough to trick you into thinking they are heating up. I will not say drop either, but if there is a better option available then make the switch. The same can be said about Stephen Piscotty – I give him a shorter leash since outfield is deep in talent.
- Curtis Granderson was chugging along nicely in his part-time role. This recent slump combined with his track record is a sign to bail out.
- Preston Tucker lost his starting role.
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