- The trade deadline opened doors to roles that have made new players relevant in fantasy baseball.
The trade deadline has come and gone and, as always, has created opportunities for traded players, as well as those left behind. The influence of trades made earlier this week is felt in this edition of the waiver wire, but there are plenty of players whose situations haven’t changed and are worth looks, as well.
Jonathan Villar, 2B/OF, Orioles
In terms of team success, Villar was one of the big losers of deadline day. He was sent to Baltimore in the deal that landed Jonathan Schoop in Milwaukee, going from a team firmly in the postseason hunt to one that’s on pace to lose 113 games. On a strictly individual basis, though, Villar will get to play a lot more with the Orioles than he was with the Brewers. He can be a real weapon in steals the rest of the season, and typically does a little of everything. He’s hitting .270/.322/.382 with six homers and 14 steals on the season.
Jake Bauers, 1B/OF, Rays
Bauers continues to adjust well to MLB pitching, hitting .242/.347/.500 with nine homers and 28 RBI in 213 plate appearances. Since we last checked in on him in last week’s waiver wire, he has gone 4-for-16 with three homers, three walks and five RBI. He’s going to play every day the rest of the season, and really belongs on a team in far more fantasy leagues.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Red Sox
After hitting .200/.289/.329 through the first three months of the season, Bradley finally turned it on in July, hitting .260/.333/.468 with two homers, eight doubles and 17 RBI in 87 plate appearances. Bradley’s always a bit of a risk, but his team context is great, and his glove will keep him in the everyday lineup. When he’s right, he’s giving his fantasy owners a little bit of everything. Given what he has done the last five weeks, he’s worth at least a short-term opportunity.
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Cardinals
Harrison Bader, OF Cardinals
The surprise trade of Tommy Pham to the Rays opens the door to regular playing time for both O’Neill and Bader. O’Neill had nothing left to prove at Triple-A Memphis after hitting .311/.388/.711 with 26 homers in 260 plate appearances. He already has three homers in 60 plate appearances with the Cardinals, and is slashing .309/.333/.491. Bader, meanwhile, is has decent pop and good speed, with six homers and 11 steals in 232 plate appearances. He’s hitting .273/.342/.407, and is in just his age-24 season. There’s enough to like about both of these players to give them a shot, especially O’Neill, who could be something special.
Jose Leclerc, RP, Rangers
With Keone Kela and Jake Diekman both shipped out of Texas before the trade deadline, Leclerc takes over as the Rangers’ closer. He has had an excellent season, pitching to a 2.27 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. He has worked mostly as a setup man, so he, too, has seen his fair share of high-leverage innings this season. If you’re in need of a closer, don’t be afraid of going all-in on Leclerc right now. He could be the last big one available this season.
Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox
Rodon was great again in his last trip to the mound, holding the Blue Jays to two runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. He has made four straight quality starts, pitching into the eighth inning in three of them. Rodon owns a 1.88 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 27 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings in that span. He’s starting to show signs of being the pitcher the White Sox thought he was when they took him with the third overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft, and is worth a look in all fantasy leagues. His next start is Saturday against the Rays.
Pedro Strop, RP, Cubs
Strop has been serving as the Cubs’ temporary closer with Brandon Morrow on the DL. He has converted four of five save opportunities, and the one he blew wasn’t a true opportunity. He entered that game with two outs in the sixth inning, and wouldn’t have been asked to close the game had he held the lead. Strop has been quietly effective for his entire Cubs tenure, and nothing has been different this season. He sports a 2.86 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 42 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets
Wheeler’s name was in the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline, but it’s not a surprise the Mets held onto him. He’s under team control through next season, and is giving the team real reason for optimism. Wheeler has a 4.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 116 strikeouts in 120 1/3 innings. Perhaps most importantly, he has made 20 starts for the first time since 2014, the only season in his career in which me made 30 starts. The Mets have been a laughingstock this season, but a lot of teams would like to go into next year with a trio of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Wheeler in the rotation. He’ll make his next start Saturday against the Braves.