Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 14
With all the dedication paid to waiver-wire additions, we tend to lose sight of the other end of that equation. Unless storing someone on the injured list, every add comes with a drop. Midway through the season, managers will need to make some tough cuts.
The “it’s early” excuse no longer flies in July. While that’s not a call to drop Jose Ramirez, some brand-name veterans are running out of excuses. Before examining some widely available players to pick up, let’s look at some widely rostered players to dump in standard 10- to 12-team mixed leagues.
- J.A. Happ (SP – NYY): 70% Rostered
- Rick Porcello (SP – BOS): 64%
- Chris Archer (SP – PIT): 61%
- Alex Gordon (OF – KC): 60%
- Stephen Piscotty (OF – OAK): 50%
- Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA): 45%
- Jesus Aguilar (1B – MIL): 43%
- Billy Hamilton (OF – KC): 39%
In shallow Yahoo leagues with no corner/middle infielders, it’s time to part ways with former superstars Robinson Cano (47%) and Miguel Cabrera (45%). Some without adequate IL or bench spots (particularly in roto leagues) may also face the tough choice of releasing Luis Severino and/or Tyler Glasnow, both of whom are unlikely to return before late August.
Now let’s look at players to claim with a consensus rostered rate below 35%, as of Monday.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Sonny Gray (SP – CIN): 33%
What’s Gray still doing here? He has found new life away from the Yankees, twirling a 3.61 FIP and 3.63 xFIP with 91 strikeouts and a 54.6% ground-ball rate in 81.1 innings. Even his 3.94 ERA is playable in this pitching landscape, especially since he has only relinquished more than three runs (four each time) against the Braves and at Milwaukee. Gray is easily a top-50 starter to roster in all leagues.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF – BOS): 32%
Highlighted three weeks ago, Bradley continued to create separation from an atrocious start by batting .315/.419/.573 with five home runs and three stolen bases in June. He has a 139 wRC+ since the start of May — one point behind J.D. Martinez — after exiting April with a deplorable wRC+ of 7. The terrible beginning has also concealed a rise in walks (10.8%) and power, so jump back on board in any five-outfielder league.
Roenis Elias (RP – SEA): 31%
Hunter Strickland could reclaim Seattle’s closing gig when returning from a lat injury, but that’s no longer imminent after suffering a setback last month. In the meantime, Elias has compiled 10 saves with a 3.55 ERA and 35 strikeouts in as many innings. He had tossed eight straight hitless frames prior to Saturday, so he’s a worthy stopgap for anyone seeking cheap saves.
Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS): 28%
In six starts since returning from a hamstring strain, Sanchez has posted a 2.29 ERA, 32 strikeouts, and five walks in 35.1 innings. While vastly over-performing a 3.82 FIP and 9.4% swinging-strike rate over that span, he remains highly skilled in generating weak contact. Among pitchers with at least 150 batted-ball events, per Baseball Savant, only Kenta Maeda and Martin Perez have a lower average exit velocity against than Sanchez’s 85.4 mph. Saving the best part for last, he’s scheduled to close his first half against the Marlins.
Keston Hiura (2B – MIL): 27%
The Brewers righted a past wrong by recalling Hiura once again for a scuffling Travis Shaw. He went yard five times in 18 games before his demotion and batted .329/.407/.681 with 19 homers and seven steals in Triple-A. He picked up his sixth MLB long ball Monday night. Hiura is a high-impact prospect who can immediately contribute in every category on a potent offense. This time, the 22-year-old should stay in Milwaukee for a long haul. He should be rostered in a majority of leagues by the All-Star intermission.
Kevin Newman (SS – PIT): 22%
Hello, Newman. The 25-year-old shortstop will no longer slip under the radar following a 17-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. Routinely batting leadoff for Pittsburgh, he’s hitting .327/.372/.482 with five home runs and five steals, four of each in June. This is what I dreamed for Adam Frazier this preseason. While the power is a pleasant surprise, Newman — who stole 28 bases in Triple-A last year — should remain a menace on the basepaths. Although mostly a hot hand situation, he’s a steady source of average and speed in deeper mixed leagues.
Cavan Biggio (2B – TOR): 22%
A bunch of antsy investors likely discarded Biggio after he batted .146 through 14 games. Since then, he has gone .313 (20-for-64) with five homers and 19 RBIs in 18 games. His current .248 average will fare just fine when paired with an .837 OPS and above-average power and speed. The elite plate discipline makes him a worthy piece in all formats, but he’s a borderline stud in OBP and points leagues.
Michael Pineda (SP – MIN): 14%
After an IL stint caused by right knee tendinitis derailed a promising start, Pineda returned to post a 3.58 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in June. He issued four walks in five starts, leading to a 2.51 FIP. The volatility may never go away, but his 21% strikeout rate should return closer to his 24% career average. Despite the decline, he has continued to generate a strong 12.2% swinging-strike rate.
Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX): 12%
Perhaps possible buyers are concerned about Calhoun’s playing time with Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence also back in Texas’ lineup. He’ll sit a few games, but the 24-year-old has started 11 of 13 contests since returning from a quad strain, going 11-for-43 with four doubles and two homers. While he has also logged a dozen punchouts in that small sample, he’s showing the upside drafters drooled over in 2018 by batting .318/.357/.576 in 70 plate appearances. Given the excitement from this season’s first go-around, it’s a bit surprising to see him remain this widely available.
Dylan Cease (SP – CWS): 10%
The White Sox are promoting Cease to make his major league debut in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Tigers. At the least, the 23-year-old righty is an enticing streamer against an offense last in wRC+ (75), as of Monday night. Although his command is spotty, Cease has recorded an 11.4 K/9 throughout his minor league career. The White Sox have also indicated that he’ll stick around, so he’ll be a strong source of second-half strikeouts.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Manuel Margot (OF – SD): 8%
Hard to quit because of his speed and prospect pedigree, Margot may warrant one more chance. The 24-year-old effectively lost his starting spot by stumbling to a 34 wRC+ in May. While his 98 wRC+ in June remains below the average baseline of 100, he also drew encouraging 12.1% walk and 15.5% strikeout rates. He has 11 steals in limited time this season and has started each of San Diego’s last seven games in center field. Margot may never reach the lofty 15/30 heights envisioned after a promising debut, but he can still run when given the chance.
Dinelson Lamet (SP – SD): 5%
Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Lamet has registered 19 strikeouts in three Triple-A rehab starts spanning 15 innings. He also yielded eight runs, but that was the deal for the 26-year-old when healthy. Back in 2017, he tempted gamers with 139 strikeouts in 114.1 frames despite an uglier 4.57 ERA. Nearing a return to the Padres, he’s an interesting dart throw for the second half.
Eric Thames (1B/OF – MIL): 5%
Although not an everyday starter, Thames is batting .272/.385/.533 with 12 homers in 221 plate appearances. He should at least receive full reps against righties after notching a 190 wRC+ in June. He popped 31 homers with a 125 wRC+ when returning to the U.S. in 2017, so it’s a strange oversight that nobody is biting on the 32-year-old while Jesus Aguilar remains rostered in far too many leagues.
Elieser Hernandez (SP/RP – MIA): 4%
This could prove moot if a returning Caleb Smith sends him to the bullpen or minors, but Hernandez has holstered 26 strikeouts in 24.1 major league innings with a 1.11 WHIP and 14.2% swinging-strike rate. He’s interesting if still part of Miami’s rotation.
Hanser Alberto (2B/3B/SS – BAL): 3% Owned
Alberto has quietly morphed into a contact fiend in Baltimore, batting .315 with the third-lowest strikeout rate (9.0%) of all qualified hitters. It’s mostly empty average accompanied by just seven walks in a feeble lineup, but he has also chipped in four steals. Perhaps that tally rises if he continues to earn more time in the leadoff role. While he won’t clear the fences often, the 26-year-old has smacked five doubles and a triple in his last seven games.