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  • The players fantasy managers should be targeting on the waiver wire.
By Michael Beller
June 13, 2019

Logjams happen all the time in the majors, with more players worthy of significant time than there are spots on the field. Outfield is particularly susceptible to this problem, especially in the modern game where it’s easier than ever to bury a big hitter who is a less-than-ideal defender in a corner spot. Glove decently and carry a big stick, and there should be a spot for you in the lineup. You can almost hear Teddy Roosevelt himself Yet it doesn’t always work that way.

Such is the case in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates have five outfielders worthy of everyday spots. Starling Marte is a mainstay, but he’s the only guarantee. The team will rotate the other two spots among Gregory Polanco, Melky Cabrera, Bryan Reynolds and Corey Dickerson, who returned from the IL last weekend. Polanco is hitting .243/.304/.426, but the team has invested a ton of capital in him, and he still has a mammoth ceiling. Cabrera likely won’t be part of a contending Pittsburgh team given his age, but he’s hitting .328/.366/.450 in 192 plate appearances. Even if the Pirates are just showcasing him for a trade, he’s going to get plenty of run. It’s the last two players, however, we Waive Hello to in this week’s look at the fantasy baseball waiver wire.

Reynolds has appeared in this space the last two weeks, but his ownership rate remains stubbornly low. The 24-year-old has been a revelation for the Pirates, hitting .350/.404/.561 with five homers, 14 doubles and 23 RBI in 171 plate appearances. By Fangraphs’ WAR, he’s been the third-most valuable hitter on the team, trailing only Josh Bell and Marte, and he’s just 0.2 behind Marte despite 94 fewer trips to the plate. Clearly, the team needs to find a spot for him. Fantasy owners should, too, even with the return of Dickerson.

Dickerson has missed nearly the entire season to date, going to the IL with a strained right shoulder on April 4. He’s 5-for-26 in 30 plate appearances this year, and has started three of the team’s six games since returning. On paper, he seems the easiest guy to sit. He may not have much of a future in Pittsburgh, and injuries to front shoulders often sap hitters of their power. At the same time, Dickerson slashed .290/.327/.483 with 40 homers and 68 doubles over the last two seasons combined, and he could prove himself a valuable trade chip if the shoulder injury is truly in the rear-view mirror. The only way he can prove that is by playing.

Neither Reynolds nor Dickerson is going to play every day. However, both should get enough run, and have plenty of upside when they are out there, to warrant adding in all fantasy formats. The preference here is for Reynolds, whom the Pirates should be investing in for their future, but both have roles to play in the fantasy game.

With that, let’s find some other players to Waive Hello to in this week’s look at the waiver wire.

All players have ownership rates of 40% or lower in at least two of Yahoo, ESPN or CBS leagues.

Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins

Sano has six homers in 83 plate appearances since making his season debut on May 16, accumulating a .589 slugging percentage along the way. It’s clear that the 2019 MLB environment plays to his strengths, and that makes him a noteworthy player in all fantasy formats. He has spent most of his time hitting seventh this season, but that’s not as terrible a thing in a Twins’ offense that leads the league in runs as it would be in other lineups.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 2B/SS/OF, Blue Jays

Gurriel continues to hit everything in sight since returning from the IL, slashing .280/.342/.551 with six homers, nine doubles and 19 RBI in 117 plate appearances. He’s cooled off a bit in the power department in the most recent term, hitting two homers in his last 12 games, though he left the yard on Thursday and has raised his OBP 27 points in that same time.

Ramon Laureano, OF, A’s

Laureano had a monster game on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a grand slam and two steals. He now has nine homers and eight steals on the season, putting him on pace for 21 homers and 19 swipes, rounded to the nearest whole number. We’ve seen 37 20-20 seasons since 2014, and each of them came as part of a strong fantasy campaign. What’s more, most of the players who pulled off a 20-20 in the previous five years had staying power. Laureano’s glove helps keep him in the lineup—he has played all 69 of Oakland’s games this season—which only makes it more likely that he can join the 20-20 club.

Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels

Calhoun has been quietly valuable this season, hitting .238/.333/.485 with 14 homers, 40 runs and 36 RBI. He’s one of 32 players to hit all of those counting-stat thresholds, but is the only one in the group who remains widely available in fantasy leagues. He doesn’t have the ceiling of most, if not all, of those other players, but his counting-stat upside has become too great to ignore.

Jason Heyward, OF, Cubs

Heyward is in another hot stretch, slashing .333/.393/.549 with three homers and seven RBI over his last 14 starts. The good times won’t last forever—just look back to his first three weeks of May for proof of that—but good fantasy managers make smart use of roster churn. Heyward has proved himself worth starting this season when he’s swinging the bat well, making him someone to target in the short term.

Chris Taylor, 2B/SS/OF, Dodgers

Corey Seager hit the IL with a hamstring strain on Thursday, and he’s expected to be out for about six weeks. Taylor will be the Dodgers’ primary shortstop in Seager’s absence, and a regular spot in this particular lineup automatically confers upon him fantasy value. He’s hitting .220/.287/.390 with five homers, four steals and 23 RBI in 197 plate appearances this season.

Garrett Cooper, 1B/OF, Marlins

Cooper had a big game on Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with a homer, triple and four RBI. He’s on a six-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 8-for-21, and is hitting .386/.463/.649 with four homers, 13 RBI and eight walks against 12 strikeouts across his last 67 plate appearances. It’s not super flashy, but it’ll play in every fantasy format.

David Bote, 2B/3B, Cubs

Bote has flown completely under the radar in Chicago this season, despite the fact that he’s hitting .276/.352/.483 with eight homers and 32 RBI in 196 plate appearances. Players looking up at him on the wOBA leaderboard include Mookie Betts, Eugenio Suarez, Matt Chapman and Gleyber Torres. This is not to say that Bote is in the same figurative league as those players, but that he is clearly worth a shot in all fantasy leagues.


Pitchers

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Griffin Canning, SP, Angels

Canning turned in another strong outing in his last trip to the mound, holdling the mighty Dodgers to three runs on five hits, striking out five and walking none in six innings. The 23-year-old has a 3.65 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 47 strikeouts against 10 walks in 44 1/3 innings on the season. Forget about getting his ownership rate to a point where he’s no longer eligible for this column. He should be on teams in at least 80% of fantasy leagues.

Spencer Turnbull, SP, Tigers

Turnbull shut down the Royals in his most recent start, tossing six shutout innings while allowing four hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He’s been a generally reliable backend fantasy starter all year, amassing a 2.78 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings. He doesn’t have Canning’s ceiling, but he has too much easy value to be as widely available as he is across the fantasy landscape.

Framber Valdez, SP, Astros

Valdez made his first start of the season last weekend and was excellent, allowing the Orioles one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out seven without issuing a walk. The lone run came on a solo homer by Renato Nuñez, and every other hit was a single. Valdez should stick in the rotation for at least the time being, and possibly the foreseeable future, bringing with him a ton of fantasy upside in all formats. His next start is scheduled for Saturday against the Blue Jays.

Ty Buttrey, RP, Angels
Brandon Workman, RP, Red Sox
Sam Gaviglio, SP/RP, Blue Jays
Adam Ottavino, RP, Yankees
Amir Garrett, RP, Reds
Tommy Kahnle, RP, Yankees

As always, we close out the Waive Hello with a group of non-closer relievers worthy of attention in all fantasy leagues, even if they don’t save another game all season. Buttrey, Workman, Gaviglio, Ottavino, Garrett and Kahnle all rack up gaudy rates and strikeout numbers over a significant enough number of innings to generate fantasy value as setup men.

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