- The players fantasy managers should be targeting on the waiver wire.
One of the most overlooked class of players on the fantasy baseball waiver wire is the short-term add. Not every player is going to be Lucas Giolito, a waiver-wire darling who turns into one of the best pitchers in the league. Forget Giolito, not even every add can be Howie Kendrick, who hasn’t been a superstar but has made himself into a reliable fantasy player who should stick on rosters the rest of the season. Sometimes, you just need to find value for a few weeks, knowing the player you pick up won’t be in it for the long haul. With that in mind, Chris Taylor deserves a Waive Hello from the fantasy community this weekend.
Taylor would not be in this spot if Corey Seager weren’t on the IL with a strained hamstring. The initial timetable called for Seager to return just before or after the All-Star break, and his recovery is on track. That means that Taylor has about three weeks of utility remaining, unless Seager suffers a setback. Even if that holds true, Taylor can do enough in the next three weeks to help fantasy teams in the short term.
Taylor has started seven games at short since Seager went on the IL, going 10-for-25 with two homers, three doubles and seven RBI in that span. He’s drawn most of his starts at short hitting fifth or sixth, and while it would be nice to see him toward the top of the order, he does have enough pop to take advantage of the RBI upside presented by being in the middle or the order. The fantasy community can count on him drawing a start nearly every day until Seager returns, which should mean about 100 plate appearances in the Dodgers’ loaded lineup.
For the season, Taylor is hitting .241/.315/.437 with seven homers, 14 doubles, four steals and 30 RBI in 224 plate appearances, exposing the fact that he doesn’t have much, if any, long-term appeal. We don’t need him to, though, for him to pay off in most fantasy leagues. Taylor brings eligibility at second and in the outfield in addition to shortstop, giving him even more value across the fantasy baseball landscape. He’ll almost certainly be back on most waiver wires in a month or so, but, for now, he should be owned in all competitive leagues.
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.
Oscar Mercado, OF, Indians
Mercado has taken right to the majors, hitting .316/.371/.500 with four homers, seven doubles and six steals in 127 plate appearances. That’s far too few games to talk about pace, but indulge me for a second. The 24-year-old is on a 162-game pace for 19 homers and 29 steals to go with his gaudy rates. How he hasn’t been added in more leagues is beyond me.
Ramón Laureano, OF, A’s
Laureano has been swinging a powerful bat for most of June, hitting .268/.303/.535 with five homers and 17 RBI in his last 19 games. He’s spent most of the year in the bottom-third of Oakland’s order, but has hit fifth in each of the team’s last four games. No matter exactly where he is in the lineup, he’s worthy of a spot on a team in nearly all fantasy leagues.
Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates
How are we still doing this? How has Reynolds not yet climbed to an ownership rate that makes him ineligible for waiver wire columns? He’s hitting .362/.418/.571 with six homers, 15 doubles and 26 RBI in 194 plate appearances. What’s more, it’s not like this is the result of some recent hot streak. His triple slash marks have all been north of .330/.390/.570 since May 28. He also has a future in Pittsburgh, which can’t necessarily be said for Corey Dickerson or Melky Cabrera. In other words, he’s going to play every day. Get him now wherever you can.
Cavan Biggio, 2B/OF, Blue Jays
Biggio is striking out a ton, whiffing 24 times in 86 plate appearances, but his first month or so in the majors has had far more good than bad. He’s offsetting the strikeouts by drawing more than his fair share of walks, piling up 16 free passes for a 18.6% walk rate. He also has five homers and two steals, bringing some serious counting-stat upside to the Blue Jays and his fantasy teams. And he has either picked up, or will soon add, outfield eligibility in all leagues, as well.
Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Rays
The song remains the same with Kiermaier. If you can stomach his poor rates, his counting-stat production is attractive. The 29-year-old has eight homers, 13 steals, 34 runs and 32 RBI in 258 plate appearances this season.
Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels
The bet here is that this is the last time we see Calhoun in this space this season. He’s got 16 homers, 45 runs and 38 RBI in 299 plate appearances, while slashing .236/.332/.484. Sure, the batting average makes him a bit of a risk in those antiquated leagues that still use the stat, but his OBP isn’t a drag in right-thinking leagues. Any player with that sort of stat line should be able to find a home in most leagues.
Luis Urías, 2B, Padres
Urías is raking at Triple-A El Paso, slashing .342/.430/.676 with 17 homers, 15 doubles 41 RBI in 256 plate appearances. Offense in the Pacific Coast League is at video-game levels this season, but that doesn’t mean we should take anything away from what Urías has accomplished to this point. He should be with the Padres before long, starting up the middle alongside Fernando Tatís every day.
Jarrod Dyson, OF, Diamondbacks
Dyson’s widespread availability baffles me. The 34-year-old has 16 steals and an .349 OBP in 209 plate appearances this season. It’s rare to find a stolen base specialist who plays every day and won’t crush your OBP, but Dyson has been just that type of player all season. He provides easy, affordable speed and hits atop a lineup that’s ranked eighth in the majors in runs per game.
Ross Stripling, SP, Dodgers
Rich Hill went to the IL earlier this week with a forearm injury, which is almost never a good sign. Even if it is localized to the forearm, Hill is likely to be on the IL more than the minimum 10 days. Stripling will move back into the rotation, making him one of the most attractive players on the wire this weekend. If he pitched for any other team in the majors, he'd already be in the rotation, and is only in the bullpen because of the Dodgers' embarrassment of riches on the mound. Stripling made six starts earlier this year, pitching to a 2.65 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 32 strikeouts against 10 walks in 34 innings.
Framber Valdez, SP, Astros
Griffin Canning, SP, Angels
Zach Plesac, SP, Indians
We grouped these three together because they’re all in an ownership-rate gray area. All three are above the 40% threshold, but not to the point where we can assume they’re owned in all competitive leagues. With that said, all three should really be in, at the very least, the 60% ownership-rate neighborhood. Their pertinent stats are as follows.
Valdez: 3.61 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 39 strikeouts, 18 walks, 42 1/3 innings
Canning: 3.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 54 strikeouts, 10 walks, 50 1/3 innings
Plesac: 2.56 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 26 strikeouts, 10 walks, 31 2/3 innings
Adbert Alzolay, SP, Cubs
Alzolay got the call on Thursday, making his MLB debut as a piggyback to Tyler Chatwood. He was electric, shutting out the Mets for four innings before allowing a homer to Todd Frazier leading off the ninth. He departed after walking the next batter, ending his night with five strikeouts against two walks in his four-plus innings, earning the victory in the Cubs' 7-4 win. The 24-year-old is the Cubs’ top pitching prospect and has been excellent at Triple-A Iowa this season, pitching to a 3.38 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 46 strikeouts against six walks in 32 innings. Considering the aforementioned offensive environment in the Pacific Coast League, that’s borderline dominance. He could stick in the Cubs’ rotation while Kyle Hendricks is on the IL with a shoulder impingement.
Zac Gallen, SP, Marlins
Gallen made his MLB debut on Thursday, allowing the Cardinals one run on five hits in five innings, striking out six and walking two. He was absolutely dominant at Triple-A New Orleans before his promotion, pitching to a 1.77 ERA and 0.71 WHIP with 112 strikeouts against 17 walks in 91 1/3 innings. New Orleans plays in the Pacific Coast League this season, which has had an offensive spike equivalent to the effect of sending major leaguers back to high school. He's a priority add this weekend.
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
Scott Oberg, RP, Rockies
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, Kahnle and Oberg all rack up gaudy rates and strikeout numbers over a significant enough number of innings to generate fantasy value as setup men.