- Our first look at the fantasy baseball waiver wire in 2019.
The 2019 MLB season isn’t even one full weekend old, but it isn’t too early to start making moves in your fantasy league. Welcome back to Waive Hello, our weekly column on players you should be adding from the waiver wire. Future columns will include more players and a longer intro devoted to our favorite player on the wire that week, but we do need to let the season breath a little bit before we’re able to go that far in depth. Still, there are already players who deserve more attention from the fantasy community.
All players have ownership rates of 40% or lower in at least two of Yahoo, ESPN or CBS leagues.
Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B, Rockies
McMahon won the second base job in Colorado, edging Garrett Hampson, one of the top prospects in the Rockies’ system. They both had strong springs and Hampson will get his time at second base, but it’s important that McMahon starts the season atop the depth chart. There are also paths to playing time in the outfield, should the team want to go that route, with neither Ian Desmond nor David Dahl sure things. No matter what, though, McMahon has immense upside and should be on more fantasy teams at the start of the season. He struggled in the majors last year but hit .290/.339/.531 with 11 homers and 15 doubles in 242 plate appearances at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Jung-ho Kang, 3B, Pirates
Kang hasn’t played a 100-game season in the majors since 2016 because of a serious leg injury and self-induced legal issues after being arrested multiple times for DUI. No player is a guarantee after that long a layoff, and it’s not like Kang was a superstar during his two full seasons with the Pirates. He did hit 36 homers and slug .483 in 837 plate appearances, though, and left the yard seven times this spring. Kang opens the season as Pittsburgh’s everyday third baseman and should hit in the middle of the order.
Kiké Hernandez, 2B/SS/OF, Dodgers
Hernandez will be the Dodgers’ default second baseman with Chris Taylor slotting as the utility man. Hernandez will likely still see time at multiple positions, but the fact that he will be Dave Roberts’ go-to guy at second is huge for his fantasy value. He racked up 462 plate appearances while playing every position on the field last year, hitting .256/.336/.470 with 21 homers, 17 doubles and 52 RBI. If he can hold onto the everyday second base gig, he should cruise past 500 plate appearances this season.
Jorge Soler, OF, Royals
Soler put together a decent 2017 season, hitting .265/.354/.466 with nine homers in 257 plate appearances, but had his season interrupted in mid-June by a fractured toe. He raked to the tune of a .281/.359/.614 slash line with five homers and four doubles this spring, and is expected to be the everyday cleanup man in Kansas City’s lineup. He qualifies in the outfield in fantasy leagues, but he’ll be a full-time DH this year, and that should hopefully make it easier for the oft-injured 27-year-old to stay on the field. He’s one of the purest post-hype prospects you can find this season, and is a worthy gamble no matter the size or parameters of your league.
Dereck Rodriguez, SP, Giants
Luis Severino, Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Andrew Heaney, Alex Wood and Carlos Martinez are already on the IL, just to name six. Chances are you could already use some pitching help, even if it’s just in the short term. Rodriguez had an impressive debut season, pitching to a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 89 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings. The strikeout upside is never going to be huge, but he can induce enough soft contact to remain on the fantasy radar all season.
Anibal Sanchez, SP, Nationals
Sanchez had a resurgent 2018, amassing a 2.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 135 strikeouts in 136 2/3 innings with the Braves. That earned him a two-year, $19-million deal with the Nationals in the offseason, where he’ll slot behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin in the rotation. Sanchez debuted a cutter in 2018, and it immediately became his most frequently used pitch. He achieved a 14.8% whiff rate with the offering, and had a 26.9% whiff rate with his changeup, the only other pitch in his arsenal with a usage rate north of 30%. Hitters will adjust to the new-look Sanchez, but the presence of those pitches makes him well worth a shot at the start of this season.
Corbin Burnes, SP, Brewers
Burnes had a successful 38-inning run as a reliever last year, totaling a 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts. The Brewers always planned on him being a starter in the long term, and after a strong spring he earned a spot in the rotation this season. He made 13 starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, finishing with a 4.96 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 69 innings. He was lights out a Double-A Biloxi as a 22-year-old in 2017, ending that year with a 2.10 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings.
Ryan Pressly, RP, Astros
Keone Kela, RP, Pirates
We devoted a couple of columns during spring training to the tactic of replacing a starter with two high-volume, high-strikeout, non-closer relievers. All year in this space, we’ll keep up a list of the relievers who fall into that group and belong on your radar. Pressly and Kela were drafted in plenty of leagues, even those that don’t use holds, but they are worth considering in all formats. Pressly was a dominant setup man last year, pitching to a 2.54 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 101 strikeouts in 71 innings. Kela, meanwhile, had a 3.29 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 52 frames.