Fantasy Baseball Depth Chart Review: Week 18
Welcome to another Depth Chart Review! I’ll break down all the major (and sometimes minor) transactions, injuries, and notable lineup changes around the league from Week 18, including some deep-dive analytics, to evaluate how they affect the fantasy baseball landscape.
Yankees place Gary Sánchez (left groin strain) on 10-day IL
Sanchez was hitting .229 with a .299 OBP before his injury, but he did have a .508 slugging percentage bolstered by 24 home runs. The low BABIP (.238) is due for positive regression, so Sanchez should still have his best baseball ahead of him once he returns. He has resumed running and hitting, but he is not expected to be ready when eligible this weekend. Consider him an obvious stash and hold on the IL for now.
Diamondbacks reinstate David Peralta from 10-day IL; option Ildemaro Vargas to Triple-A
Peralta has been the subject of trade rumors recently with Arizona on the fringes of the wild-card race. It’s been a disappointing year for the veteran outfielder from a power perspective, as he has only nine home runs after mashing 30 last season. Injuries continue to plague him, and he’s not a must-own outside of the deepest mixed or NL-only leagues.
Cubs activate Willson Contreras from 10-day IL; option Addison Russell to Triple-A
Russell can safely be dropped in all leagues. Contreras returns to continue his breakout campaign, hitting .279/.372/.543 with 19 home runs. Expect solid production moving forward, though the Cubs may rest him a bit more often through the dog days of August.
Rays place Blake Snell (loose bodies in left elbow) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/22
Snell’s injury is a devastating loss for his owners, as he had just begun to turn a corner after a mostly miserable season thus far. His surgery went well, and he’s still expected to return in September. That said, if you’re fighting to make the playoffs and are already battling injuries to your roster, you may not have the luxury of sitting on Snell that long. He’ll need time to build his stamina back up, so he may only provide one or two good starts the rest of the year, assuming he has put his mechanical woes behind him. Context will dictate whether you hold onto him or not.
Yankees place Brett Gardner (left knee inflammation) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/22; reinstate Cameron Maybin from IL
Many were hoping to see a Clint Frazier call-up, but the young outfielder will remain in the minors to work on his defense while trade rumors continue to surround him. Gardner has enjoyed a bit of power resurgence with the rabbit ball this season, hitting 15 home runs in 92 games after only 12 dingers in 140 games last season. Even at age 35, a 20/10 season is bankable whenever Gardner is healthy, making him an ideal fifth outfielder or starting option in AL-only leagues. Gardner’s injury isn’t considered serious, and he’s expected to return in a few days. Maybin has little re-draft value and has always been an injury risk himself.
Dodgers acquire Tyler White from the Astros for Andre Scrubb; place David Freese (left hamstring strain) on 10-day IL
White has tremendous power and a prodigious minor league track record. In 2017, he hit .300/.371/.528 with 23 home runs. He followed that up in 2018 by slashing .333/.444/.569 with a .440 wOBA in 70 games before earning a call-up. At the big league level, White hit a solid .276 with a .887 OPS in 66 games. Unfortunately, he has been unable to replicate that success in 2019, producing a pitiful .224/.319/.329 slash line. The lack of power is what’s most surprising. Perhaps a change of scenery will help the 28-year-old recapture his groove. Either way, White figures to be a situational role player and bat off the bench for Los Angeles, limiting his fantasy value for now.
Rangers place Joey Gallo (fractured right hamate bone) on 10-day IL
Gallo had been enjoying his finest season to date, hitting .253/.389/.598 when most expected him to hover closer to the Mendoza line. The 17.5% walk-rate is a career-high, but so is Gallo’s 38.4% K-rate. While a .368 BABIP ultimately may have played the biggest role in his .253 average, Statcast’s 51.9% hard-hit rate calls into question how much regression would have been in store. When you hit the ball hard, good things happen.
Sadly, the great debate about sustainability won’t be answered this year. Gallo is expected to miss at least a month and could return sometime in September. It’s anyone’s guess as to when and how productive he’ll still be when he comes back. How valuable is he if he hits .200 with a couple of bombs during the final few weeks? There’s a legitimate argument for dropping Gallo if you’re experiencing a roster crunch.
Dodgers recall Will Smith from Triple-A and option Austin Barnes to Triple-A
Smith got his shot and promptly drove in six runs in his first game back. After tallying 19 homers in Double-A last year, he hit 20 home runs in Triple-A this year to go along with a .269 average and .986 OPS. There’s genuine top-10 catcher upside or better here, and he’s worth an immediate add if you don’t already have a top option at the position.
Cubs acquire Derek Holland and cash from the Giants for cash; designate Tim Collins for assignment; place Daniel Descalso on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/24
Holland gives the Cubs a situational bullpen piece who can slide into the rotation if necessary. He might have some minimal value in NL-only leagues that value holds or as an occasional streamer if he draws a start. Otherwise, there’s very little fantasy value here.
Mets activate Zack Wheeler from IL
Will Wheeler be a Met by the end of Wednesday’s trade deadline? Is there intelligent life in the universe beyond our own? These are the essential questions of our time. An impending free agent, the Mets have the incentive to move Wheeler if the price is right. Since they are unlikely to threaten for a wild-card berth this season, the price shouldn’t have to be exorbitant, especially after his most recent IL stint and 4.71 ERA. The 9.92 K/9 and 3.97 SIERA, though, point to a better pitcher than the ERA suggests. Additionally, Wheeler’s 65.8 LOB% is the lowest of his career, so he’s been unlucky with runners on base. Regardless of whether he goes or stays, Wheeler represents a nice trade target in re-draft leagues after the deadline passes.
Diamondbacks select Yasmany Tomás from Triple-A; place Taylor Clarke on paternity list; transfer Luke Weaver to 60-day IL
You’re forgiven if “Yasmany Tomás” sounds vaguely familiar to you, as if a name uttered through the passage of time through the tunnel of a distant past. You know it. You once held it with a breath of promise, but you can no longer place it. Tomás made his first start since 2017 in a big-league game against the New York Yankees, serving as the designated hitter. Expect nothing moving forward. Be pleasantly surprised if there is something.
Brewers recall Travis Shaw from Triple-A
Shaw’s recall is notable only because Mike Moustakas has recently been the subject of trade rumors. He seemed to figure things out in Triple-A, hitting nine home runs and batting .286 with a 1.038 OPS. But since his recall, Shaw has gone 0-for-7 with two strikeouts and four infield flies. Shaw has been among the biggest busts in 2019, and there is little to suggest he’s worth adding now.
Cubs recall Ian Happ from Triple-A
The former first-round pick was hitting a middling .242 at Triple-A, but he posted a 1.129 OPS in the last month. It’s not clear if he will garner enough at-bats to warrant an add, and he still strikes out a ton. Put him on watch for now, and pay attention to the plate discipline. Since his call-up, Happ has walked five times and struck out four times in 15 plate appearances.
Braves reinstate Max Fried from 10-day IL; recall Adam Duvall from Triple-A; place Dansby Swanson (right foot contusion) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/24; place Nick Markakis (fractured left wrist) on 10-day IL
That’s a flurry of moves in Atlanta. Fried returns to the rotation when the Braves need him most as the deadline approaches. Al Melchior noted that Fried has allowed only 10 barrels all season, and he should be poised for a strong finish if he can stay healthy. Swanson is already having a career year, hitting .265 with 17 home runs and seven steals. He should return when eligible this weekend.
Markakis had been slashing .284 with nine home runs, but Freddie Freeman emphatically declared that Markakis can’t be replaced. Adam Duvall has tried, nonetheless, by going 9-for-17 with three home runs since his call-up. For what it’s worth, he hit 29 home runs with a .941 OPS at Triple-A and clubbed over 30 home runs in both 2016 and 2017 for Cincinnatti. He’s worth an add if you’re starved for power.
Dodgers recall Jaime Schultz from Triple-A and place Ross Stripling (right biceps tendinitis) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/25
Stripling’s injury doesn’t appear to be overly serious, but he will miss his scheduled start this weekend. The biceps tendinitis will likely force him to miss multiple starts. He’s worth holding in leagues where pitching is scarce in the hopes he can deliver like he did last year (3.02 ERA, 10.03 K/9).
Athletics acquire Jake Diekman from the Royals for Dairon Blanco and Ismael Aquino
Diekman has limited hard contact against left-handed hitters and sports a higher K/BB ratio against right-handed batters. He figures to work extensively at the back end of Oakland’s bullpen, and there’s an outside chance he will find himself in a few matchup-based save opportunities. If you need help in a saves+holds league, Diekman is a fine target.
Twins acquire Sergio Romo, Chris Vallimont, and PTBN from the Marlins for Lewin Diaz
Minnesota is going for it this year, but trading for Romo likely had more to do with creating matchup advantages against right-handed batters in higher-leverage situations than it did with the need to add a bonafide closer. That’s not to say Romo won’t inherit any save chances; just don’t bank on him becoming the primary option for the Twins.
White Sox reinstate Eloy Jiménez from 10-day IL and designate José Rondón for assignment
Jiménez has disappointed this season after all the hype that came with his call-up. He’s currently slashing .236/.298/.468 with 17 home runs, but a .266 BABIP has a lot to do with his struggles, as does a 28% K-rate from a hitter known for sound plate discipline and contact skills to match prodigious power. Multiple IL stints may be affecting his performance, as he simply isn’t hitting the ball with much authority (34.9% hard-hit rate). With the success some prospects have had straight out of the gate, it can be frustrating waiting on him. He remains too talented to abandon, however, so stay the course and bet on his skills.
Reds reinstate Alex Wood from 60-day IL, Kyle Farmer from 7-day concussion list; option Sal Romano to Triple-A and designate Ryan Lavarnway for assignment
Wood has shown the ability to be good at the MLB level. In his first start of the season, he went 4.2 IP, giving up seven hits and two earned runs to accompany one walk and four strikeouts. He could have solid value down the stretch as the Reds make a strong push despite being 6.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.
Mariners reinstate Hunter Strickland from 60-day IL; option Matt Carasiti to Triple-A; transfer Félix Hernández to 60-day IL
Those desperate for saves might want to speculate on Strickland. Roenis Elías has accumulated 13 saves, but the 4.40 ERA and 8.62 K/9 indicate a lack of overpowering or elite stuff. Strickland is no great talent himself, but he probably has the skill set best served to close out games for the Mariners the rest of the way.
Mets acquire Marcus Stroman and cash from the Blue Jays for Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson
The Mets seemed determined to corner the starting pitcher market, adding reinforcements that will help cover the potential loss of Wheeler and/or possibly Noah Syndergaard. The team insists it isn’t punting 2019 or 2020, and this addition seems to back that notion. It’s debatable whether New York should, in fact, initiate a full rebuild. The move to the National League should help Stroman’s fantasy value in what has been a career year in terms of ERA (2.96) for the perennial ground-ball pitcher.
Nationals place Max Scherzer (mild rhomboid strain) on 10-day IL, retroactive to 7/26
Scherzer has not enjoyed much fortune in the health department this season. He received a stem cell shot and will be shut down for a few days. There doesn’t seem to be a great amount of concern, and he could still make his next start.
Phillies acquire Jason Vargas, cash from the Mets for Austin Bossart
Vargas somehow won 18 games with a 4.16 ERA in 2017, which only goes to show how unpredictable owning Vargas can be. Outside of viewing him as a streaming option or NL-only back-end starter, there is little fantasy value here.
Blue Jays trade Eric Sogard to Rays for PTBNL; select contract of Bo Bichette from Triple-A
Bichette is MLB Pipeline’s eighth overall prospect. He hit .275 at Triple-A with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases. He makes for a perfect fill-in for anyone who lost Adalberto Mondesi at shortstop. Bichette will slot into Toronto’s replace in place of Sogard, who may have to settle for a super-utility role in Tamp Bay.
Indians acquire Yasiel Puig, Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, Victor Nova, and Scott Moss; Reds acquire Trevor Bauer; Padres get Taylor Trammell
So much for a quiet trade deadline. Bauer has actually struggled the most against feeble AL Central opponents, but the ballpark downgrade mitigates his move to the NL. Puig at least gets to join a suddenly strong Cleveland lineup, and Reyes could benefit from playing exclusively as a designated hitter. Trammell is having a down year in Double-A, but he’s still an intriguing prospect in dynasty formats because of his speed.