Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 18
Before saying goodbye to July, Wednesday’s trade deadline promises to shake up the fantasy landscape with new roles and depth charts.
Managers especially need to look out for ninth-inning changes. The fun already began Sunday, when the Marlins traded Sergio Romo to the Twins. This move and another demotion started the hectic closer turnover early. Consider beating the competition to the punch by stashing some potential new closers before more deals develop.
Those living in the now can instead focus on the latest batch of hot hands, top promotions, and players seeing increased playing time. As usual, every player highlighted below has a consensus rostered rate (ESPN and Yahoo) under 35% as of Monday.
Priority Pickups – <35% Rostered
Travis d’Arnaud (C – TB): 35%
I’m cheating here, as d’Arnaud has already reached the 35% barometer. He’s too hot not to highlight once more, hitting .328/.416/.701 in July. He’s gone deep three more times since commencing the second half with a three-homer game against the Yankees. When hitters leave the Mets, they become stars. That’s just science.
Alex Wood (SP/RP – CIN): 32%
A long line of setbacks made it feel like Wood was never coming back. It took much longer than anticipated, but the 28-year-old southpaw finally made his Reds debut Sunday. He performed reasonably well given the long layaway, limiting the Rockies to two runs in 4.2 innings with four strikeouts. Never properly appreciated during his Dodgers days, Wood owns a career 3.30 ERA and 8.26 K/9. He could close the season as a solid depth piece in all mixed leagues if he stays healthy.
Jose Urquidy (SP – HOU): 29%
After getting shelled by the Angels in his second big league outing, Urquidy has dazzled in back-to-back starts for the Astros. The 24-year-old righty allowed one run in each turn, tallying 15 strikeouts to two walks against the Rangers and Cardinals. He now wields a 2.65 FIP and 49.1% ground-ball rate through 19 frames.
Digging into his arsenal, he could excel more by dialing back a dicey four-seam fastball in favor of a changeup and slider that have dominated in early work. Those two offerings and his curveball have each netted a swinging-strike percentage above 15.0. Perhaps he dissuades Houston from adding rotation help at the deadline and gets the chance to pitch for a title contender through September. He’s a high-priority add if still available.
Will Smith (C – LAD): 23%
It’s likely too late for Yahoo gamers to grab Smith, but he’s rostered in far fewer ESPN formats. The rookie catcher touched them all three times in just 29 plate appearances before being sent back to Triple-A. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer, and six RBIs in Saturday’s triumphant return. With Austin Barnes taking his place in the minors, the rookie will get the majority of reps for the NL’s premier lineup. Throw in an ongoing series at Coors, and he’s worth adding even in single-catcher leagues.
Bo Bichette (SS – TOR): 22%
Recalled Sunday evening, Bichette’s rostered rate might double by Tuesday. MLB.com’s No. 8 prospect hit .275/.333/.473 with eight homers and 15 steals in 56 Triple-A games prior to his promotion, and he should play every day after the Blue Jays moved Eric Sogard. Those who invested a high pick on teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. know the peril of trusting rookies, but there’s enough upside to bet on Bichette.
Reynaldo Lopez (SP – CWS): 22%
Recommending last week while covering my eyes and biting my nails, Lopez stockpiled 10 strikeouts in eight innings of two-run work against the Marlins last Wednesday. That gives him a 1.71 ERA and 25 punchouts in his last three turns spanning 21 innings. During that dominant stretch, he has notched a stellar 67.1% first-pitch strike rate and 16.8% swinging-strike rate. Those with high risk aversion can go double or nothing in a two-start week (both on the road) against the Mets and Phillies. The Phillies are likely the NL East opponent that will scare prospective buyers away, but they’re actually far lower on the wRC+ leaderboard.
Anthony Santander (OF – BAL): 21%
Santander, a career .270/.335/.440 hitter in the minors, is now batting .299/.342/.500 for the Orioles. That’s baseball for you. He already has four doubles and four home runs in 16 second-half contests, propelling him to hit third or fourth in each of the last five games. This is no more than a hot hand to ride, preferably in deeper five-outfielder formats.
Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL): 18%
McMahon is hitting .320 with four home runs and two steals this month. He’s playing nearly every day, and the Rockies host five more games at Coors this week. While the 24-year-old infielder hasn’t quite lived up to the hype, he’s slashing .301/.367/.503 at home.
Nick Anderson (RP – MIA): 12%
After sending Romo to Minnesota, the Marlins are expected to turn over their closer duties to Anderson. That is, unless, the 29-year-old righty is also moved this week. While the 3.92 ERA won’t excite those chasing saves, a 37.1% strikeout rate and 2.72 FIP make him a far more appealing ninth-inning option than Romo. Only seven qualified relievers top his 17.4% swinging-strike rate, so there’s immense upside despite Miami’s capped saves ceiling.
Asher Wojciechowski (SP/RP – BAL): 11%
Bad news for fantasy analysts and players everywhere: We’re going to have to learn how to spell Wojciechowski’s last name. Who am I kidding? I’m just going to copy and paste it every time. The 30-year-old righty followed a one-hit, 10-strikeout gem against Boston by yielding two runs in seven frames against the Angels. Six strikeouts aren’t too shabby against MLB’s toughest team to fan.
Thirty innings into this season, Woj — I gave up already — has amassed 37 strikeouts with a 16.3% swinging-strike rate. His slider has submitted a .166 wOBA. At least take him for a test drive Thursday against the Blue Jays, whose subpar lineup could lose more than Sogard after the trade deadline.
Seth Lugo (SP/RP – NYM): 11%
The Mets are reportedly entertaining offers for Edwin Diaz, and it’s gone beyond just doing their due diligence. Jeurys Familia has been a walking disaster all season, so Lugo would be — by far — the best remaining pitcher in their putrid bullpen. He has posted a 2.77 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 52 innings and has SP eligibility in most spots. Lugo picked up a save with Diaz unavailable Friday.
Deep League Targets – <10% Rostered
Gavin Lux (SS – LAD): 7%
FanGraphs must be glitching. There’s no Lux is possible hitting .474/.553/.918 in Triple-A, as of Monday. Checks Baseball-Reference and MLB.com … Wow, he is. The 21-year-old shortstop burst onto the scene by batting .321 with 15 homers and 13 steals last season. Including this season’s Double-A numbers, he has tallied 21 long balls and seven steals (all in Double-A).
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts played coy when asked about Lux’s arrival. He also shot down an imminent promotion to replace Enrique Hernandez, who joined Chris Taylor on the injured list. Don’t expect him to get traded either. Stashing Lux thus requires some patience, so keep your situation in mind. He could be a major difference-maker, however, if given the shot within the next few weeks.
Ian Happ (2B/OF – CHC): 6%
The Cubs recalled the long-forgotten Happ on Friday. While he batted a middling .243/.364/.432 in Triple-A, the Cubs grew tired of Addison Russell and swapped young disappointments. Hitless through 11 plate appearances, Happ has at least scored three runs off four walks. The 24-year-old has always brought a tremendous batting eye to the table, and he slugged .514 with 24 homers in 115 games as a rookie in 2017. Perhaps he can salvage some deep-league value, at least in OBP leagues, down the stretch.
Aaron Bummer (RP – CWS): 5%
Probably the best pre-deadline reliever stash, Bummer is the front-runner to assume Chicago’s closer role if the White Sox trade Alex Colome. Considering Colome is 30 years old and a free agent after the 2020 campaign, a move would certainly make sense. Yet to allow a run since July 7, Bummer boasts a 1.66 ERA in an otherwise bleak bullpen.
Yoshihisa Hirano (RP – ARI): 4%
Yoan Lopez (RP – ARI): 2%
The Diamondbacks are temporarily removing Greg Holland from the closer role. Arizona has other candidates (Hirano, Archie Bradley) for the job, but Lopez is likely first in line after recording a save Wednesday. His 2.66 ERA and 1.03 WHIP aren’t supported by a 17.5% K rate and 4.26 FIP, and the 26-year-old has relinquished three runs in two of his last five outings. He’s just for deep-league managers who need saves. Having last allowed a run on June 22, Hirano is a more interesting flier for those who can risk rostering a setup man.
Johan Camargo (3B/SS – ATL): 2%
Adam Duvall (OF – ATL): 2%
Camargo and Duvall have replaced Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis, respectively, in Atlanta’s lineup. Swanson could return from a right foot contusion when first eligible on Saturday, giving Camargo limited time to remind everyone of the player who posted a 115 wRC+ as the starting third baseman last year. Markakis, however, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist.
Duvall, who clubbed combined 64 homers in 2016 and 2017, went deep 29 times in 94 Triple-A contests and once more in Saturday’s return. He’s a cheap source of power in deep formats, but the Braves could turn back to Austin Riley and/or acquire reinforcements before the deadline. While Ender Inciarte has homered twice since returning to a starting role, he’s worth grabbing primarily for steals in the 66% of leagues where still available.