Fantasy baseball trade prospects are a lot like office cupcakes. Being overzealous can backfire, but so can waiting. It's all about timing. Deals don't wait, cupcakes don't last. Strike quickly or go hungry.
On to the trading desk:
• OF Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs: Soriano is perpetually on the MLB trading block; if he's on the fantasy block as well, owners should pounce. While the veteran outfielder's power numbers are a bit below his career averages (seven homers through 60 games), his batting average and run production stats are in line with his career norms (.267 and 27 RBI on the season). Even more tantalizing: Soriano has already stolen more bases this season (eight) than he has since 2009. Many overlook Soriano because he is no longer a superstar, but he can still contribute to a fantasy squad.
• RP Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies: Rafael Betancourt hit the DL with a groin injury at the beginning of June, opening the doors for Brothers. However, that door may not shut even when Betancourt returns. Brothers has been nearly untouchable this season, surrendering one earned run in 28.2 innings. Only 25 years old and long considered the heir apparent to Betancourt, Brothers is worth investing in now.
• 3B Chase Headley, San Diego Padres: One of these lines doesn't fit: 12 homers, 64 RBI; 11 homers, 58 RBI; 31 homers, 115 RBI. Those are Headley's power numbers from 2009, '10 and '12, the last three seasons in which he has played at least 156 games. This year, he's only delivered six homers and 20 RBI through 51 games, so the chances of him replicating last season's numbers appear slimmer by the day. Still, with last season still ringing in the ears of many owners, Headley has value. That lingering reputation is an asset owners should exploit while they still can, because last year was the exception, not the rule.
• SS Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs: There's no hiding the fact that Castro (and the Cubs) has not lived up to expectations this season. But while Castro has been disappointing, he hasn't Ike Davis-ed himself into an eventual trip to the minors. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he is considering giving Castro a few days off to work on his mechanics, and while that may scare fantasy owners, it's actually a promising development. Castro may not offer the full season numbers owners expected at draft time, but the upside is too much to cast aside for the lesser talent that would likely come in return.
• RP Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians: Fantasy owners draft players based on their athletic gifts, not their smarts. Despite his head-slapping marijuana arrest, Perez is still the best closer the Indians have at this time. Get in on the cheap pickings while Perez is still on the DL and his owners are writing him off while fearing a suspension that may not come. It's not like some dodgy Florida clinic had Perez's name written down on a piece of paper or anything...