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8 Players to Buy Low/Sell High (Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 25, 2019

Now is the time to pounce on Jose Abreu

It feels like the season started just yesterday, but we’re already about one month into the season, folks. Mainstays like Justin Verlander and Christian Yelich are performing exactly as we expected them to. However, rather surprising names like Tim Anderson and Matthew Boyd are practically right up there with them, and they’re far from the only shocking scorching hot starters we’ve seen so far.

Meanwhile, Jose Ramirez and Miles Mikolas are two players who came into the season with high expectations, only to come out flat. Which of these unexpected high performers are flukes fantasy owners should trade away, and what highly-touted underperformers make good buy-low targets? That’s precisely what we’ve asked our four featured experts to share their opinions on below.

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Q1. What one player are you trying to buy low and what type of player would you give up to get him?

Jose Abreu (1B/DH – CWS) 
“If you can still buy low on Abreu, I would highly recommend doing so before the window officially closes. Abreu’s .231/.311/.750 slash line may not inspire a ton of confidence, especially when coupled with his down year in 2018. However, there are plenty of positive signs indicating that a prolonged hot stretch will occur. In fact, it may already be happening. Abreu is 9-for-22 with four doubles, a home run, and nine RBIs over his last five games. More importantly, his batted ball profile has been solid so far this season. Abreu ranks in the top-12 among all qualified hitters in hard-hit percentage, barrels per batted ball event, and barrels per plate appearance. His career-high strikeout rate seems to be an anomaly when you consider that his contact rate is well within his established range and his chase percentage is at an all-time low. I believe he will once again return to his career baselines and approach 30 homers and a .300 batting average when all is said and done this season. Owners of hitters off to fast starts like Tim Anderson or Fernando Tatis Jr. should test the waters to see if they can pry Abreu away from an impatient owner.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Chris Sale (SP – BOS) 
“Hopefully it’s not too late after Tuesday’s performance, but I’d be targeting Sale. He’s improved in each start thus far, and there is reason to believe that continues. Early on, Sale was not only missing spots, but his velocity was far below what we expected. As April has progressed, he’s regained velocity, touching 97 MPH in his last start while striking out 10. He can still be more efficient with his approach, but expect the ace to keep grinding. If you can find a seller, a reasonable pre-season top-50 player might be able to land a trade, like James Paxton or Patrick Corbin for example.”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)

J.T. Realmuto (C/1B – PHI) 
“Realmuto hasn’t started off all that hot for the Phillies, but compared to other catchers, he is still having a strong season. You may be able to get him for a piece like Pete Alonso or Joc Pederson, and I’d do either in a heartbeat. Realmuto is likely to score and drive in a ton of runs near the heart of that great Phillies lineup, and with him playing half his games in a much better stadium this year, his stats should all come up over time.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE) 
“It’s exceedingly rare that you can acquire a consensus top-four fantasy player at a discount less than a month into the season, but that may be the case with Ramirez, who is hitting just .184 with two home runs even after a big performance on Wednesday. J-Ram’s BABIP and HR/FB rate are both among the lowest in baseball, even though he is producing the highest average exit velocity of his career. Meanwhile, despite his slump, he has quietly picked up five stolen bases, which is proof that he will again be a major factor on the basepaths this year. This is a player who was a top-10 hitter in standard 5×5 leagues in both 2017 and 2018, so if I could acquire him for a good player who is off to a great start — think Mitch Haniger, Anthony Rendon, Eddie Rosario, Marcell Ozuna, or George Springer — I would do it in a heartbeat.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Q2. What one player are you trying to sell high right now and who would you want in return?

Jake Arrieta (SP – PHI) 
“Arrieta currently ranks in the top 20 among starting pitchers in ESPN’s Player Rater. He has posted quality starts in all five outings and has three victories to go along with a 2.65 ERA. Some may point to these numbers and suggest the former Cy Young Award winner is back to his old form. However, there is plenty of cause for concern. Both his strikeout and walk rates are the worst he has posted in any season since his trade to the National League in 2013. Arrieta has also allowed a career-worst 37.5 percent hard-hit rate this season. An upcoming home game against the Marlins this weekend may provide savvy fantasy owners with enough bait to reel in the big fish in his or her league who believes Arrieta is back to being an upper-echelon pitcher. Those who have benefited from Arrieta’s seemingly solid start should look to package him in a deal for an underperforming ace, such as Corey Kluber, Aaron Nola, or Noah Syndergaard.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Joey Gallo (1B/OF – TEX) 
“Look, Gallo is absolutely hitting the bejesus out of the baseball right now, so it’s not like he’s just been lucky, but I can’t get on board with the notion that he’s suddenly a more well-rounded player. While he’s making a little more contact than he has in the past, Gallo remains near the bottom of the league in terms of both swings and misses and strikeouts, and as long as that is the case, he is going to ultimately be a major batting average liability. Interestingly, he has slightly lowered his launch angle and hit more ground balls so far this season, but even if that sticks, it will only help his batting average a little (and cost him some home runs in the process). Gallo’s impressive walk rate makes him a hold in OBP formats, but I’d love to ship him out for Khris Davis and another decent player in a standard 5×5 league.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS – CHC) 
“If you have Baez, now might be a good sell-high opportunity. Many were skeptical if he could repeat the great season he has in 2018. Amazingly, he’s started off even hotter. That said, his approach at the plate, while successful thus far, seems unsustainable. His K/BB ratio is poor at best, and his ability to make good contact on balls out of the strike zone is mystifying. It’s quite unlikely that he continues at his current pace, and I’d try to get as much as possible for him before he has a cold stretch. I’d be targeting struggling or recovering first- and second-round picks, such as Francisco Lindor or Trea Turner, if you have the flexibility to wait out the injury. In a dynasty format, I would even target elite prospects coupled with another player that could help this year.”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)

Max Fried (SP/RP – ATL) 
“With the way Fried’s season has started, you can bet that someone in your league will think his breakout is legitimate and that he is the next Blake Snell or Trevor Bauer. While he does have a strong future, we are talking about a top-40 rest of the season pitcher, not top 20. He doesn’t have anywhere near the same upside as Tyler Glasnow or Luis Castillo, who may both be top-10 fantasy pitchers in next season’s drafts. I’d offer him for Walker Buehler or Jack Flaherty.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for naming their trade candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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