D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Adding Aaron

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The moves don’t stop on July 31. We’ve already seen a couple of waiver trades of note since the calendar flipped to August, including Yonder Alonso to the Mariners and Jay Bruce to the Indians. Bruce is owned in most competitive formats, so there's nothing actionable there outside of AL-only formats, but Alonso is still available in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. I was prepared to include him among my recommendations for this week until I dug into the numbers a bit.

Alonso still owns a strong .262/.363/.515 batting line this year to go along with a career-high 22 homers, but he’s batting just .205 with five home runs and a .696 OPS over his last 35 games dating back to late June. While a lot was made out of his changed approach during the first half, Alonso has seen his fly ball rate collapse during this recent stretch. The patience has been there, but his strikeouts also continue to rise. Alonso might find himself in a better situation for offense after the trade, but it’s hard to advocate a pickup in standard formats based on the way he’s performing right now. There are too many power corner-infield types for him to really stand out.

 

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MIXED LEAGUES

Rhys Hoskins 1B, Phillies (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)

I first mentioned Hoskins as a possible stash just about a month ago and he’s finally set to make his make his major league debut. Tommy Joseph isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet, so the Phillies have been trying Hoskins in left field as a way to get him up to the majors and make sure he’ll get regular at-bats. I don’t love the plan from a real baseball perspective, but we’re mostly worried about the at-bats from a fantasy perspective. There’s reason to be excited about Hoskins, as he has followed up a breakout 2016 campaign by batting .284/.385/.581 with 29 homers over 115 games this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Mets prospect Dominic Smith (who I mentioned last week) should be up following the Jay Bruce trade, but I like Hoskins better for this year assuming the playing time will be there.

Randal Grichuk OF, Cardinals (Yahoo: 28 percent owned)

We’re going back-to-back with the surging Cardinals here. Grichuk is no stranger to Waiver Wired, but I’m including him here again now that the struggling Stephen Piscotty has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis. I still believe in Piscotty for the long-term, but it’s been an impossibly difficult year for him both on and off the field. As for Grichuk, he largely is who he is. With his poor approach at the plate, he owns a career .249 batting average and a .297 on-base percentage. However, he has some legitimate thump in his bat, which is backed up by things like hard-hit rate and average fly ball/line drive exit velocity. I don’t love that he’s been in the bottom-third of the order for St. Louis, but he’s the sort of guy who can go on a power tear over the course of a few days.  

Dexter Fowler OF, Cardinals (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)

Sticking in the Cardinals’ outfield, Fowler returned from the disabled list this week after missing a couple of weeks with a forearm strain. The 31-year-old struggled in July before going down with the injury, but he’s still getting on base plenty this season and has already surpassed his home run total from last year despite logging 204 fewer plate appearances. And while Fowler hasn’t run much this season, he’s also capable of swiping a few bags down the stretch. It doesn’t seem like Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has really settled on where to hit Fowler, but he’s a capable option for counting stats the rest of the way.

Reynaldo Lopez SP/RP, White Sox (Yahoo: 23 percent owned)

Yoan Moncada finally made his way to the majors last month and another name from Chicago’s prospect stockpile is poised to follow, as Lopez is scheduled to make his first start for the White Sox on Friday against the Royals. Acquired from the Nationals in the big Adam Eaton trade over the winter, the 23-year-old Lopez owns a 3.79 ERA and 131/49 K/BB ratio in 121 innings across 22 starts this season in Triple-A. His final couple of outings weren’t great, but he was on quite the run from late June through late July. It makes sense for the White Sox to try him in their rotation down the stretch, even with the questions about his control and his possible role for the long-term. Despite his size (6-feet, 185 pounds), he has a big arm and can miss bats.

Alex Avila C/1B, Cubs (Yahoo: 34 percent owned)

Avila appeared to lose most of his value after being traded to the Cubs along with Justin Wilson last week, but he’s back on the radar after Willson Contreras had to be helped off the field due to a hamstring injury on Wednesday. There’s nothing official yet, but Contreras is expected to require a stint on the disabled list, setting Avila up for the bulk of the starting duties behind the plate. While he’s faded since the start of July, the 30-year-old Avila has been sneaky good on the whole this year, batting .268/.387/.474 with 12 homers and 34 RBI across 81 games. Along with the on-base skills, he’s already hit his most homers since 2011. It’s no fluke, as he leads the majors in hard-hit percentage among players with at least 250 plate appearances. He’s a fine stopgap option behind the plate.

Jerad Eickhoff SP, Phillies (Yahoo: 38 percent owned)

Similar to Hoskins, Eickhoff found his place in Waiver Wired about a month ago. He’s reeled off a 3.94 ERA in five starts since, including two runs over 6 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and zero walks in Wednesday’s victory over the Braves. It was the first time since April 10 that he pitched into the seventh inning. Eickhoff has taken a big step back with his control this season, as he’s already walked 44 batters in 111 1/3 innings after walking 42 batters in 197 1/3 innings for all of last season, so he’s still not someone I’d trust every time out. But this is a good time to give him a try in mixed leagues again, as he lines up for starts against the weak-hitting Padres and Giants next week.

Cameron Maybin OF, Angels (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)

Maybin struggled miserably in July before going down with a Grade 1 sprain of the MCL in his right knee, but he was able to rejoin the Angels this week and he should continue to hit leadoff as long as he can stay healthy. That’s a good thing for fantasy owners, as Maybin has scored 50 runs in just 78 games this year. Speed is where Maybin really stands out. He’s fifth in the majors with 25 steals, which is a big deal in the context of the league in general right now. Only 26 players have even reached 15 steals so far this year.  

Aaron Hicks OF, Yankees (Yahoo: 37 percent owned)

Hey, remember this guy? After missing six weeks with a right oblique strain, Hicks has been activated from the disabled list just in time for the start of a big series against the Red Sox on Friday. The 27-year-old was enjoying a long-awaited breakout prior to the injury, putting up a .290/.398/.515 batting line with 10 homers, 37 RBI, seven steals, and 40 runs scored across 60 games. That’s a five-category monster right there. Despite the lengthy absence, Hicks has hit .333 (8-for-24) with a homer, a triple, and three doubles through seven minor league rehab games. He’s capable of being a difference-maker in all formats down the stretch.

Jeff Hoffman SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)

In searching for a streaming option this weekend, I settled on Hoffman against the Marlins in Miami. Hoffman doesn’t stand out on the surface, with a 5.03 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over 14 starts and one relief appearance, but not surprisingly he’s been a very different pitcher away from Coors Field. The 24-year-old rookie has a 3.65 ERA and 36/8 K/BB ratio in 37 innings on the road compared to a 6.15 ERA and 35/20 K/BB ratio in 45 1/3 innings at home. The Marlins have some talented hitters, including the major-league home run leader in Giancarlo Stanton, but I’ll take my chances with this matchup in most leagues. German Marquez (Yahoo: 47 percent owned), who I mentioned last week, is even more appealing.

Cesar Hernandez 2B, Phillies (Yahoo: 34 percent owned)

Hernandez has been on a nice little run since returning from the disabled list last month, batting .337/.431/.477 with eight extra-base hits (including one home run, six RBI, 16 runs scored, and six steals over 21 games. He almost has more walks (13) than strikeouts (14) during that time, so he’s again showing excellent patience at the top of the Phillies’ lineup. He’s currently riding a 13-game hitting streak, which has brought his batting average up to .293 for the year. Perhaps the most encouraging thing from a fantasy perspective is that he’s been more efficient stealing bases. That has been a huge issue for him in the past. Improving in that area could help make up for his lack of power.

Jeurys Familia RP, Mets (Yahoo: 38 percent owned)
Kyle Barraclough RP, Marlins (Yahoo: 12 percent owned)

I’m grouping Familia and Barraclough together here because they are both logical DL stashes if you are speculating on save chances down the stretch. Barraclough is closing in on a minor league rehab assignment as he makes his way back from a right shoulder impingement while Familia resumed throwing from a mound in recent days. Of course, the Marlins flipped A.J. Ramos to the Mets before the deadline and have been using Brad Ziegler out of the closer role since. He’s been fine so far and there’s a chance they could stick with him there, though Barraclough is probably the closer of the future there. The Mets don’t really have a reason to push Familia, but they’d likely want to see their new late-inning combo in action before the offseason.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

C.J. Cron 1B, Angels (Yahoo: 9 percent owned)

Cron was an intriguing guy for me in mixed leagues after he hit 16 homers with a career-high .792 OPS last season, but the Angels don’t seem to agree. He’s been jerked around a bit this year while batting .251/.302/.411 over 54 games, but there should be a clear path to playing time now that Yunel Escobar is expected to miss around 2-3 weeks with a Grade 1 strain of his right oblique. With Luis Valbuena covering third base, Cron has been locked in at first base in recent days and has even found himself in the middle of the lineup a couple of times.

Matt Chapman 3B, Athletics (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)

Chapman’s amazing defense at third base is his calling card, but his raw power is also worth paying attention to in deeper leagues. While 24-year-old has struck out in 31 percent of his plate appearances, he’s managed seven homers and a .791 OPS through his first 36 games in the majors. Chapman had 16 homers over 49 games in Triple-A this year and 36 homers over 135 games last year between Double- and Triple-A. I feel secure about the power output, as he puts a ton of balls in the air. Only Joey Gallo and Ryan Schimpf have a higher fly ball percentage among players with at least 140 plate appearances. Chapman will probably never hit for average without a change in approach, but hopefully he can hit enough homers to be worth using.


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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Email :D.J. Short



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