After preaching patience during the initial weeks of the season, I need to change my tune. In roughly one week, the MLB season will be one-third of the way to the finish line. And although the roughly 70 percent of games that remain as of today give fantasy managers plenty of time to make progress, we have entered a key phase of the season where tough decisions need to be made on each roster member. Here are some big names to acquire and a few overachievers to send packing.
Players to acquire
Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros)
Tucker can make a strong case to have been the unluckiest hitter in baseball up to this point. The talented youngster has produced plenty of hard contact (42 percent) while regularly using all fields, but all he has to show for his efforts is 7th lowest BABIP (.219) of any qualified player. Hitting just .219 with a lofty .302 xBA, Tucker has already started to turn things around (1.135 OPS since May 9) and his trade window is closing fast. In my eyes, the 24-year-old is worth a large trade return.
Francisco Lindor (SS, New York Mets)
The trade value of Lindor continues to drop, as the Mets star can’t seem to shake his early season slump. He has been marginally better in May, but his improvements are barely noticeable overall and many of his fantasy managers would be happy to move on for a modest return. One of the most popular players on the Yahoo Trade Market page, Lindor has recently been dealt for the likes of Zach Eflin or Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Those deals feel like big wins for the manager who is adding Lindor.
Aaron Nola (SP, Philadelphia Phillies)
With a 3.94 ERA, Nola looks more like a rotation filler than a staff ace. But there is nothing wrong with the right-hander, who continues to have one of the best K-BB percentages in baseball. Nola has experienced below average luck with his BABIP and strand rate, despite allowing small amount of hard contact and a reasonable average exit velocity. His xERA is nearly a full run below his actual mark, which paints an accurate picture of someone who is due to better days soon.
Eduardo Rodriguez (SP, Boston Red Sox)
Some managers may be ready to drop Rodriguez, who owns a 5.06 ERA. But the southpaw has logged an excellent 20.9 percent K-BB rate, and his xERA is 3.55. One of just three qualified pitchers with an xERA that is more than a full run lower than his actual mark. Rodriguez is also supported by a team with an outstanding lineup and solid closer. For a small trade return, the 28-year-old could provide plenty of wins and respectable ratios this summer.
Players to trade away
Carlos Carrasco (SP, New York Mets)
Carrasco can’t seem to shake his hamstring injury. The right-hander was initially expected to return in May but suffered a setback and now appears to be several weeks away from helping fantasy managers. Carrasco has plenty of upside for the second half, and he still carries some name value in trade talks, but something just doesn’t seem right here. My advice is to get someone useful for Carrasco and move on.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
I am ready to take advantage of the sky-high opinions on Winker. The outfielder is raking this year (1.096 OPS), but virtually all of his production has come against right-handers. The lefty slugger has produced just one long ball and four RBIs vs. same-sided hurlers, and it is hard for any player to maintain lofty status with such notable platoon splits. Winker has recently been traded in Yahoo leagues for the likes of Lucas Giolito, which is the kind of deal I would be looking for make right now.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants)
Crawford ranks among the league leaders with 11 homers but isn’t truly an elite power hitter. He has taken full advantage of favorable matchups, producing a couple homers at Coors Field, two more at Great American Ball Park and another pair against a meager Pirates pitching staff. The 34-year-old is already past half-way to his career high of 21 long balls, and his second-best lifetime total is just 14. Shrewd Yahoo managers have recently packaged the shortstop with another mid-level talent in order to upgrade to a star player.
Casey Mize (SP, Detroit Tigers)
Overall, I’m not buying into a Mize breakout. Although I believe this touted prospect will one day be an excellent Major League starter, he has produced secondary statistics that do not support his 3.42 ERA. Striking out just 18.7 percent of batters isn’t going to get the job done, especially when Mize is also logging a 9.3 percent walk rate. The 24-year-old owns the lowest strikeout rate of any of the top-30 qualified pitchers in ERA, which strongly suggests that he won’t stay on the ERA leaderboard for long.