D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Oscar Freed

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Holy trade deadline, Batman. My plan was to hold this week's Waiver Wired back until just after Thursday's 4 p.m. ET deadline in order to include analysis on all of the latest deals, but I never expected this much activity. Almost too much to keep up with, to be honest. David Price to the Tigers in a blockbuster three-team trade with the Rays and Mariners. Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the A's for Yoenis Cespedes. John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals. Stephen Drew and Martin Prado to the Yankees. And that's just a few of them. Absolutely nuts.

Watching it all unfold on Twitter was dizzying and confusing at times, but it made for one heck of a fun day. One of the most fun baseball days I can remember in a long time. I'm going to have a full recap of today's events in Friday's edition of the Daily Dose, but let's get straight to this week's recommendations so you can quickly jump to the waiver wire if you haven't already.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day, $25,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link.

Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.   

MIXED LEAGUES

Oscar Taveras OF, Cardinals (Yahoo: 22 percent owned)

The big winner in the John Lackey deal, Taveras should get the majority of at-bats in right field for St. Louis now that Allen Craig has been traded to the Red Sox. The 22-year-old has only hit .208 with one home run and a .508 OPS over his first 101 plate appearances in the majors going into Thursday's action, but his playing time has been sporadic of late and the Craig deal is a huge vote of confidence for him. I could see him sitting against left-handed pitching, but that's something that most fantasy owners should be able to handle. I rarely mention the same player twice in the same month, but this is a unique situation and Taveras carries plenty of upside. Perhaps it will be 2015 before we see him truly tap into it, but he should be added where available now that he's finally free.

Jake Peavy SP, Giants (Yahoo: 43 percent owned)

Acquired from the Red Sox last weekend, Peavy allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings Sunday in his Giants' debut against the Dodgers. The 31-year-old right-hander now owns a disappointing 4.71 ERA and 105/48 K/BB ratio over 130 innings this season. Sure, he might not be the pitcher he once was, but I'm intrigued to see what he can do now that he's back in the National League for the first time since 2009. His biggest issue has been the home run ball -- he has allowed 20 this season, tied for third-most in the majors -- but moving to one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the game should help him. He's a fine pickup for the stretch run.

Angel Pagan OF, Giants (Yahoo: 45 percent owned)

Pagan has been sidelined since June 14 due to a back injury, but he's tentatively scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday and could be activated at some point during the team's upcoming 10-game roadtrip from August 1-August 10. The 33-year-old has been plenty productive when in the lineup this season, batting .307/.356/.411 with 17 extra-base hits (including three home runs), 11 stolen bases, and 37 runs scored over 63 games. His health situation makes him a bit of a risk, but he has the potential to be a useful five-category contributor the rest of the way. Stash him if you have a DL spot available.

A.J. Pierzynski C, Cardinals (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)

Looking for an insurance policy behind the plate with Yadier Molina likely sidelined for the rest of the regular season with a torn thumb ligament, the Cardinals signed Pierzynski over the weekend while cutting ties with George Kottaras. The 37-year-old is hitting just .257 with four homers and a .638 OPS over 75 games this season, so we're probably not talking about a huge upgrade over the Tony Cruz/Kottaras combo, but he has a lengthy track record going for him and isn't too far removed from putting up some productive numbers. I could see him being relevant in two-catcher mixed formats for the final two months.

Josh Reddick OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 26 percent owned)

Reddick has been very productive since his most recent stint on the disabled list, hitting .323 (10-for-31) with two homers, four doubles, four RBI, and seven runs scored over nine games. Perhaps most encouraging, he has only struck out twice. Quite a contrast from what we're used to from him. Of course, I don't have much faith in him keeping that up for a sustained period of time, but most fantasy owners should be willing to put up with a low batting average if he can provide a power boost. Here's hoping that he can stay on the field.

Bartolo Colon SP, Mets (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)

Colon hit a bit of a rough patch from late June into mid-July, but the veteran right-hander has allowed three runs in 15 innings over his last two starts to go along with an 11/2 K/BB ratio. His name has been bandied about in trade rumors in recent days, but he's still with the Mets as of press time and lines up for a start against the Giants this weekend at CitiField. You'll want to start him for that one, as he owns a 2.62 ERA over nine starts at home this season. By the way, there's still a chance the Mets could trade Colon in August.

Jedd Gyorko 2B/3B, Padres (Yahoo: 35 percent owned)

After missing two months with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Gyorko has returned with a bang by going 6-for-11 with one home run, one double, and five RBI over his first three games since coming off the disabled list. The 25-year-old still owns an ugly .181/.232/.302 batting line across 59 games this season, but don't forget that he 23 home runs and 63 RBI as a rookie last season. There's still some time for redemption. He's well worth a flier if you need some pop in your infield.

Brandon McCarthy SP, Yankees (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)

So far, so good for McCarthy in New York. The 31-year-old has been very effective since joining the Yankees, winning three out of his first four starts while posting a 2.55 ERA and 20/4 K/BB ratio over 24 2/3 innings. McCarthy has been an interesting case for most of this season, showing increased velocity and strikeouts, even though it didn't reflect in his ERA. In fact, his 2.95 xFIP is 10th among qualified starters in all of MLB. And while moving to the American League (and Yankee Stadium) is usually a bad thing, he's currently sporting a career-high ground ball rate. It's also worth noting that he's throwing his cutter again, which is something the Diamondbacks discouraged. His health will always be a concern, but he's suddenly quite interesting.

Justin Masterson SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 41 percent owned)

Like Peavy, Masterson is another pitcher I'm optimistic about after the move over to the National League. Acquired from the Indians for prospect outfielder James Ramsey, the 29-year-old right-hander has struggled to the tune of a 5.51 ERA through 19 starts this season while pitching through a knee injury. While his walks are way up this year -- 5.14 BB/9 compared to 3.54 BB/9 last year -- he's still averaging close to a strikeout per inning and his ground ball rate (58.5 percent) is right in line from what we've seen from him in the past. Assuming he's finally healthy, he could finish his walk year on a high note in St. Louis.

Hector Rondon RP, Cubs (Yahoo: 37 percent owned)

Rondon's job security received a healthy boost in recent days, as Neil Ramirez was first optioned to Triple-A Iowa before the move was voided and he eventually ended up on the disabled list with a sore right triceps muscle. Rondon had a really shaky June, but he has bounced back this month by posting a 2.25 ERA and 7/1 K/BB ratio over eight innings. This includes five consecutive scoreless appearances since his last blown save on July 11. The 26-year-old owns a fine 3.43 ERA and 43/13 K/BB ratio over 39 1/3 innings this season to go along with a 50 percent ground ball rate. Sure, the Cubs aren't very good, but there's no reason why he shouldn't be owned in the great majority of leagues at this point.

Will Venable OF, Padres (Yahoo: 14 percent owned)

It took you long enough, Will. After being a tremendous disappointment over the first three months of the season, Venable has begun to show his 2013 form this month by hitting .283 (17-for-60) with two homers, one double, one triple, and three stolen bases over 22 games this month. And that's not including Thursday. He has improved his batting average from .193 to .212 in the process. Baby steps. Most of this production has occurred after I finally dropped Venable in the Yahoo Friends and Family League. You're welcome, everybody. His power/speed combo was very useful in mixed leagues last season, so he could prove to be a very nice late value if he's finally on track. In deeper leagues, you can afford to take a chance on him.

Matt Lindstrom RP, White Sox (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)

Jacob Petricka is the closer-by-default for the White Sox with Zach Putnam on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, but keep an eye on Lindstrom in case Petricka has already been plucked off the waiver wire in your league. Sidelined for over two months following left ankle surgery, the 34-year-old right-hander is due to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Charlotte and may only need a handful of appearances before rejoining the big club. Petricka and Putnam have hardly run away with the closer role, so I wouldn't rule out Lindstrom getting another shot. Every save matters, so if you are in a super-competitive league, it might pay off to stash him in a DL spot.

Francisco Lindor SS, Indians (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)

Now that Asdrubal Cabrera has been traded to the Nationals, hopefully we're getting close to Lindor time in Cleveland. Known for his excellent defense at shortstop, the 20-year-old has compiled a .279/.362/.384 batting line over 327 games in the minors and has displayed plate discipline beyond his years. Lindor doesn't have a ton of pop and it might be another year or two before he really hits his stride offensively in the big leagues, but he's capable of holding his own and his plus-speed could come in handy right away in deeper mixed leagues. He has stolen at least 25 bases in three straight years in the minors. Keep an eye on him. I mentioned Nick Franklin in Waiver Wired last week with the trade deadline in mind, so he's also someone to monitor now that he's headed to the Rays in the Price deal.


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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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