- Assessing the fantasy baseball trade market, with looks at Andrew McCutchen, Jose Ramirez and more.
SI.com’s fantasy baseball Trade Winds will help you decide the direction in which you should be going with your fantasy team. Each week, we’ll look at the trade market, giving you buys, sells and holds across the fantasy baseball landscape.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Phillies
McCutchen is not the MVP candidate he once was, and his fantasy value isn’t as high as it was when he could be counted on to go .300/.400/.500 with 25 homers and 20 steals. However, Cutch still gets on base a lot, owning a .371 OBP through 178 plate appearances this season. As the Phillies’ leadoff hitter, his high OBP translates to significant run-scoring upside. He’s more palatable in OBP leagues, where his 16.9% walk rate makes him a greater asset.
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Red Sox
OK, so a quick anecdote. When I was covering the Yankees in 2017, I asked Michael Pineda who he thought was the best player on another team who didn’t get anywhere near the credit he deserved. Without hesitation, Pineda said Mitch Moreland. Once again this season, the Red Sox’ first baseman is undervalued. Maybe it has something to do with Boston’s slow start and the profile of other mashers in the lineup, but either way, he’s a great buy-low candidate. The 33-year-old first baseman already has 12 homers and 29 RBI in 135 plate appearances, and should continue to be a major contributor to the power categories.
Luke Weaver, SP, Diamondbacks
The Paul Goldschmidt trade is starting to look like a win for both the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks, largely because of what Luke Weaver has done so far with Arizona. The 25-year-old righthander was a highly touted prospect with the Cardinals after they selected him in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft. Weaver displayed flashes of brilliance in St. Louis, but now he’s putting it all together. Through eight starts and 45 1/3 innings, Weaver is 3-1 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 50 strikeouts against 10 walks. His 21.7-percentage-point spread between his strikeout and walk rates ranks 16th in the majors.
Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Indians
It’s time we stopped waiting for Jose Ramirez to recover from his awful start to the season. The longer his struggles continue, the harder it is to believe that he’s going to get hot and turn it around this season after two straight top-three AL MVP finishes. Ramirez’s final numbers from 2018, however, don’t show how much he slumped in the second half of the year, when he hit 218/.366/.427 in 279 plate appearances. Combine those numbers with his production through his first 40 games of this season and Ramirez’s prospects look much more bleak: 103 games, 451 plate appearances, .208/.337/.373, 13 homers, 46 RBI, 56 runs and 24 steals. He still has value as a base stealer, but that shouldn’t be enough to keep him around if you can get back a strong return.
Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles
This might seem ridiculous. You can’t sell without a buyer, and who’s going to buy a player who started the season on a historic hitless streak, right? Well, since Davis finally broke out of the worst funk in MLB history, he has slashed .290/.371/.581 with five homers and 15 RBI in his last 21 games. Combine that with a down year for first basemen from a fantasy perspective, and Davis might actually draw some interest on the trade market. Now, you’ll have to be realistic in your asking price. Davis isn’t, and shouldn’t, net you more than a No. 4 or 5 starter, a low-level closer, or another player commensurate in value. Still, the point here is that he has rehabilitated his game to the level that he’s now a trade candidate, and that, if you own him, you should strike while you can. The next slump likely isn’t too far off.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
Like McCutchen, Cabrera’s fantasy value cannot be evaluated in comparison to the player he was a few years ago. He’s not an MVP candidate; he’s not going to win the batting title or hit 30 home runs; he’s most certainly not going to pursue another Triple Crown. However, Cabrera is still capable of batting .300 and driving in 70 runs. He’s slashing .286/.350/.347 with one homer and 15 RBI in 163 plate appearances. His ceiling for homers is likely capped around 15, but there’s still value here in deeper leagues.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals
Nearly any other player who started the season batting .201 with four homers and nine RBI, would likely find himself in our Droppables column, but we’ve been here before with Matt Carpenter. Last season, his March/April numbers were dreadful—a .155/.305/.274 slash with two homers and 10 RBI. He turned that around and got himself in the MVP race the rest of the season. As bad as he’s been to start this year, his March/April was actually better than in 2018. His .328 on-base percentage over the first month of the season is encouraging because it shows he’s taking his walks and still seeing the ball well despite not getting many hits. With his positional flexibility and track record, there’s no reason to part with Carp just yet.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees
The biggest knock on Tanaka in fantasy is he gives up a lot of home runs, and that’s once again been the case this season. In nine starts, the 30-year-old has allowed eight homers, including at least one in each of his last seven starts. However, Tanaka does a good job of limiting the damage otherwise, thanks in large part to a manageable walk rate. That number is up to 6.6% this year, but is at 4.9% for his career, which prevents his high home-run rate from completing undoing the rest of his work. Even with his strikeout and walk rates trending in the wrong direction, the fantasy community should trust his track record.