July 19, 2010

With trade deadlines fast approaching in your fantasy leagues, the opportunity for acquiring under-the-radar talent is diminishing. Sure, you can desperately forage through the waiver-wire for scraps, but what do you do if all the tasty treats are stashed away on other owners' rosters?

The smart move then to help your team is to execute a savvy, season-alternating trade. You don't necessarily need a blockbuster deal centered on first-baseman Miguel Cabrera or starter Adam Wainwright. In fact, sometimes the secondary afterthoughts, aka "The Throw-Ins," end up being the major prizes.

Two cases in point: prior to the '82 season, the Philadelphia Phillies were looking to get rid of their aging and agitating shortstop Larry Bowa. They found a willing partner in the Chicago Cubs, and in exchange they received younger shortstop Ivan De Jesus. As part of the deal, the Phillies threw in an unknown utility infielder named Ryan Sandberg. Of course, neither team could have predicted Sandberg would become a Hall-of-Fame second baseman and one of the most beloved Cubs ever.

In '05, as part of a clearance sale, the Florida Marlins sent elite pitcher Josh Beckett to the Boston Red Sox for a group of top prospects that included shortstop Hanley Ramirez. To save money, the Marlins also threw in veteran third baseman Mike Lowell and his pricey contract. Both sides made out well as Ramirez developed into the game's top shortstop and Beckett helped the Sox win their second title of the decade. The biggest surprise though was Lowell, who solidified Boston's hot corner and was named the '07 World Series MVP.

To have similar trading fortunes, first figure out which players you want and can obtain subtly without much fuss. Here are seven potential throw-ins to get you started:

Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners -- The Rangers recently discarded him for annually-swapped starter Cliff Lee, and maybe you can get your hands on the smooth-first baseman, too. Smoak crushed minor-league pitching but he struggled out of the gate with Texas (.209 BA, .353 SLG in 235 AB). Through his first five games with Seattle, he already has two homers and he should keep his starting role the rest of the season.

Gordon Beckham, 2B/3B, White Sox -- Perhaps owners were too giddy about Beckham after his '09 rookie campaign (14 HR and 63 RBI in 378 AB), as many reached for him early in their drafts only to angrily watch him hit .216 with 3 HR and 22 RBI in the first half. If Beckham hasn't been dropped in your league, he probably has been benched indefinitely, so try grabbing him before anyone notices his recent surge (.500 BA, .800 SLG in 30 AB).

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians -- Choo was starting to pick things up before he landed on the 15-day DL with a thumb injury (5 HR in 10 games). Assuming he heals quickly, he has a history of mashing in the second-half (.614 SLG in '08; .500 SLG in '09). Also, if you're in Ohio, why not help the Indians sell tickets by purchasing the Choo Crew combo: a game ticket and Choo t-shirt for $30 according to the team's web site.

Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays -- One of the biggest fantasy disappointments so far this season, Lind went from being a monster in '09 (.305, 35 HR, 114 RBI, 562 SLG) to a scared kid in '10 (.216, 12 HR, 41 RBI, .371 SLG). On a positive note, he's in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak with three homers and 5 RBI. Chances are you can nab him for next to nothing.

Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds -- Volquez has been a forgotten man while recovering from Tommy John surgery and serving a 50-game drug suspension. That will likely change after folks catch wind of Saturday's "I'm back" performance, in which he struck out nine in six innings against Colorado to earn the win. Many are still wary of Volquez's injury, so pounce now and hopefully you'll be rewarded with his '08 version (17-6, 3.21 ERA, 206 K in 196 IP).

Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros -- A quick glance at Wandy's stats is reason enough to stay away (6-11, 4.97 ERA and 1.52 WHIP). However, he's had some back luck in the first half with a .335 BABIP and he's starting to turn a corner (3-1, 1.80 ERA, 9.0 K/9 in four recent starts). Rodriguez will struggle for wins on a low-scoring Astros team but he still can get you high strikeouts and a stellar ERA like the past two seasons.

Evan Meek, RP, Pirates -- As MLB's trade deadline nears, the demand for Meek will climb if Pittsburgh ships their current closer Octavio Dotel. In 42 relief appearances, Meek has a 1.07 ERA, 0.908 HIP and 8.5 K/9. Yes, his value is tied to Pirates victories, which are scarce, but even Dotel has 19 saves (and five blown ones) to his credit.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)