2018 Waiver Wire Report: Week 19

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 – CBS and Fantrax are higher due to more keeper leagues). 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.

* please forgive any typos. It was a long day/night full of adult beverages – most of you have been there 🙂

  • Mark Trumbo

It seems each week Hunter Denson’s stock watch article touches on a player that needs some extra press. This week it’s Trumbo. Over the past 14 days Trumbo is 16 for 44 (.364 – .393 in August) with four home runs and 22 runs+RBI. He holds a .265 average for the season so it’s not like he fell off a cliff, but with just 12 home runs prior to this outbreak and lackluster run and RBI totals I can see why owners bailed.

Trumbo can be streaky – even during his 47 home run campaign in 2016 he had several months with a subpar batting average, but the power he showed more than made up for it. He’s showing that power right now and it would be in your best interest to take advantage.

  • Nick Ahmed

I kept avoiding the Ahmed recommendation, partly due to personal bias and also due to the fact he has struggled against righties this year (.225). I will finally give him his due after batting .302 in July with 4 home runs, 20 RBI and 14 runs scored. He has carried things over into August with a .286 average and a pair of home runs. Ahmed is hitting the ball harder than ever (39.2%) and is chasing less outside the zone leading to a career best walk rate (7.2%). The hard hit rate has dropped in August as have the fly balls, but the LD% remains over 26% (in every month but June) so the average and counting stats should still be solid enough.

It’s possible (OK, most likely) we missed the best of Ahmed in July, but if he continue to hit for average he could make a solid MI option and maybe come close to his July totals.

  • Hunter Renfroe

Manuel Margot isn’t the only hot bat in San Diego. Renfroe has hit safely in his past seven games (not counting last night) with four consecutive multi-hit games. Over the past two weeks he is batting .300 with 5 home runs and 12 RBI – he had only 7 homers and 27 RBI prior to this outburst. Granted a large chuck of this damage came in Milwaukee so you could chalk things up to the venue and luck. The big issue with Renfroe was his inability to hit righties, but he is hitting 40 points better than last year so he is making progress (.202 compared to .243).

I would still rather have Margot if he’s available. That being said, Renfroe is hot right now and may be worth a flyer as he has hit better at home this year.

  • Franmil Reyes

Another hot Padres player? Franmil was batting .221 with just six home runs over when he was demoted. He was recalled earlier this week and responded with 3 home runs, 5 RBI and 6 runs scored in his first four games. Maybe he just needed some incentive? There isn’t much of a minor league resume here, but he was having a career year in Triple-A batting .324 with 16 home runs and 102 runs+RBI over 210 at bats.

Like Renfroe, maybe you can chalk things up to the venue. This is a short-term add as Reyes will probably be sent back down when Wil Myers returns.

  • Eduardo Nunez

Everyone’s favorite preseason sleeper has done little at the plate this year; 6 home runs with 6 steals and a .264 batting average is hardly worth rostering. Nunez has five multi-hit games in his last 10 starts and is batting .360 over the past two weeks along with 2 steals and 7 each for runs and RBI. He hasn’t had a home run since July 3rd, but let’s face it, you were drafting him for his batting average, speed, and multiple eligibility. He’s giving that to you now, just in time for your playoff run.

The batted ball profile and plate discipline numbers are almost a mirror image to last year hinting he is still the same player. Maybe this little hot streak is all that was needed to jump-start things?

Shohei Ohtani (YAHOO SPECIAL)

Yea, Yahoo decided to split Ohtani into two players – brilliant idea (insert sarcasm). For the season he has held his own with a .273 batting average, 12 home runs, 30+ in each runs and RBI, and he has even stolen a handful of bags. The reason he is still out there in Yahoo is playing time. He totaled just 64 at bats in July – less than 60 in each of the other three months – and his batting average cratered in July .203. With Mike Trout headed to the DL we should start to see a lot more of Ohtani in the coming weeks, and the Japanese import has done his best Trout impersonation this month going 8 for 20 with 3 home runs, 3 steals and 7 RBI.

Outside of a hard hit rate over 40% and walk rate just over 10% there is nothing impressive in his underlying metrics. He also doesn’t qualify for a position so it’s a utility slot or nothing. That doesn’t work for some owners, but if you have a rotating door at utility you may want to roll the dice here.

  • Adam Frazier

Last year’s surprise waiver wire darling had a rough start to the season, earning him multiple demotions to Triple-A where he didn’t fare much better. He is now looking to make up for lost time, batting .436 over the past two weeks (bumping his average up to .288) with a home run and 7 RBI.

He is still getting the occasional day off which gives him a little less value in weekly formats, but for those with daily moves in the need of a middle infielder or reserve outfielder, Frazer might be worth a look.

  • Denard Span

Span is one of those boring veterans we often overlook. The past two season’s he reached double-digits in home runs and steals and averaged 71 runs with a .269 average. This year the average is up a tic (.277) and has been even better since the move to Seattle (.308). Over the last two weeks he has hit .378 with a home run, a stolen base, and 6 each in runs and RBI. He is currently riding a seven game hitting streak and seems to settling in behind Mitch Haniger in the two-hole most nights.

Span will not win you your league and at his age has zero upside, but he does have a safe floor, comes with little risk when he is hitting (which he is), and he can hold down your OF4 slot if you are nursing some injuries.

  • Austin Jackson

Full disclosure: I have zero faith in Jackson. His track record shows little power, even less speed, and you should count yourself lucky if he is hitting at or above his league average of .276. Like Span with his move to Seattle, Jackson has been a man on a mission since arriving in New York. Since joining the Mets he is batting .472 (17 for 36) with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 9 RBI. He is also striking out by the boatload (33.8%), but he has cut that down a bit since the move.

Jackson has shown flashes of usefulness in the past – last year’s time with Cleveland is one example. Can he keep this up? My vote is no, but he is hitting now which makes him an option in leagues with little waiver wire options.

  • Tyler White

He has proved he can hit in Triple-A. Now the question is can White maintain the same level of production in the majors. He didn’t make a lasting impression in 2016, and while he did better in 2017 the sample size was small. This year he was sporadic at best in his first go around and was sent down. Since coming back up at the end of July White appears to have brought his A-Game. He is hitting .333 in that span with 3 home runs, 6 RBI and 7 runs scored. The contact rate is up to 80% and both the fly ball and hard hit rate are moving up, but the new-found approach seems to costing him a few more walks and have increased his strikeout total.

White showed 25 home runs pop with a .300 average in Triple-A the last few years. His hot streak is intriguing and something to take advantage of, but you need to keep a close eye on him. If he fades again the soon to be 28-year-old could earn that Quad-A tag.

Steven Souza

Fun Fact: Souza has a hit in all but three games he has started since the all-star break. You wouldn’t know it by his .254 batting average, but he hit .294 in July and is batting .304 in August. He also had 14 RBI in July and has 5 so far in August. Sadly he only scored 8 runs in July and has just 3 in August, but batting 5th the RBIs should only go up. Part of me is skeptical as he is batting .217 against righties and .200 at home making him a potential platoon player going forward. Then I look under the hood and see a career best contact and fly ball rate, a hard hit rate over 40%, and while the K% is still high at 26% it is a big improvement over what we’ve seen in the majors.

I have not seen him play this year so I cannot comment on any adjustments he may or may not have made. I do like what I see in the numbers, though, and think Souza can be a strong OF4, borderline OF3 the rest of the way.

On the Mound

  • Ryan Madson & Addison Reed

If you are looking for saves then start here, but keep in mind both pitchers come with some risk. Both have a strong track record as a solid reliever and both have closing experience, but Madson is having his worst season since 2006 – for Reed it’s 2012. Madson is now the closer in Washington thanks to a number of injuries (albeit with a short leash), and Reed is the leading candidate for a committee but is not guaranteed to get the job.

Walks have been Madson’s achilles heel (batters are not chasing as much), he’s had some bad BABIP luck, and the soft and hard contact are trending in the wrong direction (both still acceptable though, but you’d like better from a reliever). This month both his ERA and WHIP have been better (3.60 & 0.60) and he has not walked a batter. As for Reed, he started the year solid enough, but things fell apart in June and he never really recovered. A big reversal in his ground and fly ball coupled with a huge spike in hard hit rate are responsible, and the velocity is down one MPH on his fastball (and slider), but I don’t see that being the main factor.

Madson is probably the better option as both Kelvin Herrera and Sean Doolittle should be out until September. Reed has more long-term appeal because if he wins the job you’ll have a closer through the final month. He is the bigger risk, though, as he has shown no signs of improving.

  • Nick Pivetta

As a Pivetta owners I tend to overlook him and just assumed his ownership was higher than it is. A 4.51 ERA somewhat hides him on waivers, but with 147 strikeouts over 119 innings I would expect more people own him. He was solid in April and May (2.79 and 3.24 ERA), hit a major speed bump in June (7.71), and showed some improvement in July (5.40). We are now two starts into August and Pivetta has allowed two earned runs over 12 innings with 13 K’s with one walk. Some will say Pivetta is coming around, but I say there isn’t much different from the guy we saw earlier in the year to the one we are seeing now. He’s actually been getting better.

Pivetta’s contact rate ranks in the top-2 among qualified starters. His fly ball and hard hit rate rank in the middle of the pack, but his LD% ranks 12 right in front of Chris Sale. All that spells some bad luck to me, and his .339 BABIP, 3.47 FIP, and 3.14 xFIP agree. He is generating a lot of strikeouts (11.06 K/9 (9th), 29.1 K% (10th), 12.0 SwStr% (18th) and limiting free passes (2.48 BB/9 – between Nola and Berrios). That and the contact adds up to solid control. The ground ball rate was over 50% in July and August, the soft contact over 20%, and since the all-star break the hard hit rate is closing in on the 30% mark. That drop along with decreased fly balls has also lowered his HR/FB.

I would not put Pivetta on the same tier as teammate Aaron Nola, but there is enough there to make him a solid number two/three which means a number five/six fantasy starter. There will be the occasional bump in the road, but the positives will outweigh the negatives. Pivetta should be owned, especially in roto leagues.

Catcher Streaming Options

Isiah Kiner-Falefa only plays every other day, but he has multi-hit games in his last four starts and is batting .469 (15 for 32) over the last 14 days with a pair of home runs, 6 RBI and 7 runs scored. His infield eligibility is an added bonus.  Austin Hedges has been the second most valuable catcher over the last 14 days, batting .343 with three home runs, 6 RBI, 7 runs, and his second stolen base. He and Falefa are also close on at bats so you can basically flip a coin if both are out there.

This is probably your last chance to roster Francisco Cervelli who is batting .357 in August and is two home runs short of tying his 2015 through 2017 HR total. Mitch Garver is an interesting player to watch and roster under the right circumstances. He hit .281 in April, .288 in June, and .316 in July. He has struggled to produce at home, but on the road (.287) and against righties (.296) he is crushing it. Stream him for road games – the team will take care of that pesky lefty/righty thing.

For those looking to maybe add Mike Zunino, think again. Those 3 home runs this past week were in Texas and he had only 6 prior to that coupled with a batting average below .200. He’s not heating up. Owners that streamed Russell Martin the last few weeks may want to start looking – it appears his hotness is cooling. The same goes for Jonathan Lucroy who put on a hitting display the first few days of August and followed that up with a bunch of O’fers.

Previous Recommendations

Graduated

This is the last week Dereck Rodriguez, Mallex Smith and Clay Buchholz will appear here. Their ownership rate is over 50% and should be owned in all competitive leagues. If they are still available in your league – Last Call!

Continue to ADD

  • Maneul Margot, Carlos Rodon, Nick Williams, Mike Fiers, Aledmys Diaz, Randal, Grichuk, Derek Holland and Mike Minor should all be owned right now.
  • Trevor Richards came with .1 innings of a quality start and is still generating a lot of K’s. Don’t let the ERA and WHIP sway you.
  • C.J. Cron and Johan Carmargo are in a mini-slump right now, but I still think both are adds and will battle through this.

HOLD (not good enough to add but maybe too good to drop)

  • It looks like the league is catching up to the changes Kyle Gibson made earlier. He starts today at Detroit – add or drop accordingly depending on how he does.
  • Trey Mancini started the week off slow but heated back up. Monitor his production closely.
  • Joc Pederson continues to make the most of every plate appearance, adding two home runs since last weeks edition.
  • Michael Conforto is starting to heat up, but hasn’t had a HR or RBI since July 27.

DROP

  • Stephen Piscotty is now on a two-week slide. He is a drop in 12-team leagues, but I might give him another week in larger leagues.

 

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Jim Finch

Written by 

The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball. You can also find me at FanRagSports.com

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