The MLB trade deadline is Tuesday, and that always opens up opportunity in the fantasy world. Specifically, a number of players who aren’t closers as you’re reading this likely will be by time the league closes for business, at least as far as non-waiver trades are concerned. Be sure to keep an eye on the trade-deadline action through Tuesday afternoon, and be ready to pounce on any newly minted closers.
Until then, these players should be capturing your attention on the waiver wire.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals
Zimmerman returned from the DL earlier this week. He has started three games since getting back on the active roster, going 4-for-13 with three doubles and two walks in those games. Zimmerman has hit fourth in all of his starts, suggesting he’ll be in that lucrative spot in the lineup for the long haul. He’s just a year removed from hitting .303/.358/.573 with 36 homers and 108 RBI, and while he was falling well short of that before going on the DL in May, it’s a good bet that the oblique was limiting his production through the first month of the season.
Shohei Ohtani, DH, Angels
Ohtani started the Angels’ first four games after the All-Star break, and is settling in as the team’s regular DH. He has gone 5-for-29 with a pair of homers since the break, and is now slashing .263/.342/.509 with nine homers and 12 doubles in 188 plate appearances. There is some risk that he’ll eventually get back on the mound, meaning he won’t be hitting as regularly, but that is likely still at least a month or six weeks from now, and is just as likely to not happen. If Ohtani came into this season as an everyday hitter, he would’ve been a top-50 pick. Grab him for free while you still can.
Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins
Bour’s an easy guy to like in any fantasy context, which is why it’s hard to understand why he’s so readily available. Yeah, the .231 batting average isn’t what you want to see, but, as we’ve discussed many times this year, that isn’t the drawback it once was with the decline in league-wide batting average. His OBP, meanwhile, is a category-juicing .352, and he has 16 homers and 48 RBI in 409 plate appearances. Bour is what he is, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He should have a home in nearly every fantasy league.
Steven Souza Jr., OF, Diamondbacks
It’s been a season of fits and starts for Souza. First, he spent the first six weeks of the year on the DL before making his Diamondbacks debut in early May. Less than three weeks later, he went back on the DL, where he’d spent the better part of the next two months. He return on July 5, just 10 days before the start of the All-Star break. He’s finally starting to get in a groove, going 10-for-23 in his last six games. Remember, Souza was very productive in his last year as a Ray, hitting .239/.351/.459 with 30 homers and 78 RBI. He can still be that player on a per-game basis, as he has showed early on in the second half. Given his injuries, it’s understandable that he’s as available as he is in fantasy leagues, but that will change in short order if he can stay on the field.
Jake Bauers, 1B, Rays
Bauers started to find his power stroke before the All-Star break, hitting a pair of homers in the Rays final series of the first half. He left the yard for the first time in the second half on Monday, and is slashing a healthy .245/.346/.472 with six homers and 15 doubles in 188 plate appearances. There was some concern about how the bat would play immediately upon his promotion, but he seems to be answering all those questions in the right ways as he begins his career. He definitely deserves some more looks of the fantasy community the rest of the season. Plus, including him here gives me an excuse to link to this clip from one of the finest sports movies of the 1990s.
Stephen Piscotty, OF, A’s
Piscotty has been on a tear the last two months, hitting .303/.382/.517 with four homers in June, and .291/.330/.628 with seven homers and 17 RBI in July. He’s now slashing .262/.322/.461 with 14 homers, 27 doubles and 50 RBI for the season, all while hitting in the middle of one of the league’s most dangerous lineups. Piscotty is a big reason why the A’s are making a charge for a Wild Card spot in the postseason, and it’s time for the fantasy community to take greater notice.
Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels
After spending April and May on pace to put together one of the worst single seasons by a position player in MLB history, Calhoun started to snap out of it in June by drastically changing his setup at the plate. Everything has clicked this month, during which he has hit .311/.361/.770 with nine homers, seven doubles and 20 RBI. The change was so drastic that we can point to it as the singular driver behind Calhoun’s success, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Vince Velasquez, SP, Phillies
Velasquez was lights out in his last start, tossing seven shutout innings, while striking out seven and allowing two hits in a win over the Padres. Velasquez has featured a brand of inconsistency that hasn’t quite reached maddening, but certainly has been frustrating, this season. Still, there has been far more good than bad, with a 4.05 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.19 WHIP and 118 strikeouts over 102 1/3 innings to his name. Velasquez should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Red Sox
The Rays dealt Eovaldi to the Red Sox earlier this week, sending him to a team that slightly increases his fantasy value, thanks to an increase in win expectancy. Eovaldi is having a fine season after missing the first two months of the year, pitching to a 4.26 ERA, 4.28 FIP and 0.98 WHIP with 53 strikeouts in 57 innings. He'll make his Boston debut on Sunday.