Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Ezequiel Tovar, Josh Donaldson, Hunter Greene (2022)
Well, we’ve finally made it: the final waiver wire of the 2022 season. Thanks for coming along for the ride. If you’re reading this, it almost certainly means you are still alive for a fantasy baseball championship — and it is my sincere hope that some of the names below can help push you over the top!
At this stage, we’re mostly looking for hot hitters, saves/steals specialists and starters who are in good form and lined up for favorable matchups. But it’s also never too late for a high-upside prospect to get the call to the Majors — and onto our fantasy rosters. As we often do, let’s begin there this week.
Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Friday.
FAABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets
Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL): 6% Rostered
It used to be that we wouldn’t see the first prospects called up until early summer, and the final round of prospects would get the call when rosters expanded on September 1. No longer. This year, we’ve seen a steady stream of prospects make their way to the Majors, both earlier and later than in years past. That pattern has continued right up to the very end of the season with Tovar’s promotion.
One of the fastest-rising prospects of 2022, Tovar was not considered a top-100 prospect by MLB Pipeline last season and is now ranked inside the top 30. He’s earned that meteoric rise by hitting .319 with 14 home runs and 17 stolen bases over just 71 games between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. Tovar recently celebrated his 21st birthday, and it’s fair to say his power is still developing. But he has solid contact skills and could be a valuable source of batting average and stolen bases from day one. He’s an immediate plug-and-play candidate for the Rockies’ final homestand at Coors Field this weekend.
First Triple-A jack for Ezequiel Tovar!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 17, 2022
Josh Donaldson (3B – NYY): 44% Rostered
Now 36, Donaldson has been on a steady decline since his last 30-HR season in 2019. But we don’t need to bet on Donaldson to regain his past form for an entire season; we just need one good week from him. What he did last week would certainly qualify: .360 AVG, six runs, two homers and six RBIs. Serving as the Yankees’ everyday cleanup hitter, Donaldson has scored a run in six straight games and should continue to be an excellent source of run and RBI production down the stretch.
JOSH DONALDSON WALKS IT OFF!! YANKEES CLINCH A PLAYOFF BERTH
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) September 23, 2022
Hunter Greene (SP – CIN): 46% Rostered
Greene has had his ups and downs this year, as is to be expected from a 23-year-old hurler in his first Major League season. He spent six weeks on the injured list with a shoulder strain in August and early September but has looked fantastic since returning, allowing two runs and six hits in 11 innings with 19 strikeouts and just three walks. He’s firmly back in the circle of trust and gets plum spots against the Pirates and Cubs to finish out the year.
Did I mention he throws gas?
Most 100+ mph pitches in a game (pitch-tracking era):
🔴 Hunter Greene: 42 and counting
Most 100+ mph strikeouts in a game:
🔴 Also, Hunter Greene: 8 and counting
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 18, 2022
Jose Leclerc (RP – TEX): 33% Rostered
If it was April or May, LeClerc’s roster rate would be close to 100 percent. But it’s September, so he is rostered in only one-third of Yahoo leagues.
LeClerc didn’t pick up his first save of 2022 until August 14, but he has all six of Texas’ saves since August 26. He looked like the Rangers’ long-term solution in the ninth inning before shoulder and elbow injuries sidetracked his career for two years. Clearly, Texas is giving him another audition for the gig and he’s passing with flying colors. He’s got a 2.96 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 10.25 K/9 rate on the year and should be one of the better closers in baseball the rest of the way.
Priority Pickups: <40% Rostered
Kolten Wong (2B – MIL): 37% Rostered
Wong has always been a somewhat under-appreciated player in fantasy, especially roto/categories leagues. He tends to miss a chunk of time each season, but when active, provides a nice mix of HRs and SBs with an average that won’t kill you. He also happens to be coming off of a three-HR game and has generally been swinging the bat well for two months, hitting .288 with nine homers and five steals in 55 games since July 15.
Harrison Bader (OF – NYY): 35% Rostered
Bader missed the better part of three months with plantar fasciitis in his foot and was shipped from the Cardinals to the Yankees in a controversial deadline deal while he was on the shelf. He hasn’t wasted any time making himself at home in New York, though, driving in six runs in his first three games in pinstripes. It’s hard to know exactly how much he will run coming off of the injury, but Bader has been a productive player when healthy, hitting .264 with 82 runs, 21 HRs, 77 RBIs and 24 SBs in 677 plate appearances since the start of the 2021 season. Like Donaldson, he should continue enjoying plenty of run-production opportunities with the Yankees.
Tony Kemp (2B,OF – OAK): 21% Rostered
I wrote about Kemp in last week’s waiver wire, and he’s gone right on raking, hitting .375 with five runs, a homer, five RBIs and two steals over the last seven days. He has settled in as the A’s regular leadoff man and has worked his way from deep league add to a player that should be strongly considered in 10- and 12-team leagues.
Rodolfo Castro (2B,3B,SS – PIT): 26% Rostered
Castro is another small-market middle infielder who has become an option in mixed leagues by swinging a hot stick. Eight of his 11 HRs have come in just the last month. In addition to the power, he also offers some stolen base potential, although he hasn’t been running much lately. His multi-position eligibility makes him an interesting Swiss army knife to have on your roster for the finals week, especially in daily lineup leagues.
Danny Jansen (C – TOR): 24% Rostered
While fellow Toronto catchers Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno have generated more excitement, Jansen has quietly put together an impressive offensive season. His .254 batting average is quite good for a catcher and he’s slugged 13 home runs in just 62 games — and 24 HRs in 132 games dating back to last season. He’s been in the lineup almost every day for Toronto of late and is a sneaky-strong option if you need to boost your home run tally.
Kyle Bradish (SP – BAL): 13% Rostered
If you just glance at Bradish’s season-long numbers, you won’t be particularly impressed: he’s got a 4.65 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 103 Ks in 110 1/3 innings. But over the last month, he’s posted a 1.64 ERA and 0.78 WHIP, capped off by a brilliant near-complete game against the Astros on Thursday (8 2/3 innings, 0 ERs, 2 Hs, 0 BBs, 10 Ks). Bradish regularly missed a lot of bats in the minors, and his peripherals for the season are a bit better than his surface stats. He’s been excellent in four of his last six starts, and his remaining starts against the Red Sox and Yankees aren’t so scary when you consider neither team will have anything to play for.
Kyle Bradish, 9th and 10th Ks. pic.twitter.com/qGJtSB15qB
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2022
Hayden Wesneski (SP – CHC): 21% Rostered
Wesneski’s numbers in the upper minors weren’t incredible, but they were pretty solid, and he has impressed over his first two starts with the Cubs. He allowed just one run on three hits in his seven-inning Major League debut against the Rockies and followed it up with 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball against the Pirates on Thursday. Between the two starts, he struck out 13 and walked just two. That’s good enough to make Wesneski a legitimate streaming option for his final two starts against Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Mitch Keller (SP – PIT): 18% Rostered
It’s been a long road to redemption for Keller, a former top prospect who posted an ERA north of 5.00 over his first 300 Major League innings. But the 26-year-old right-hander seems to be showing signs of finally putting it all together, posting a 2.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 9.0 K/9 in five starts dating back to August 30. He is approved for streaming with a home contest against the Reds next on the docket.
Domingo Acevedo (RP – OAK): 12% Rostered
Oakland is the last place people would think to look for saves, but lo and behold, Acevedo has picked up four of them in the Athletics’ last eight games. His 7.65 K/9 rate hardly screams shutdown closer — it’s about half the rate he struck batters out in Triple-A last year — but a handful of saves could make all the difference in a tight head-to-head fantasy playoff matchup.
Deep-League Targets: <10% Rostered
Oswaldo Cabrera (SS,OF – NYY): 8% Rostered
Cabrera is hitting just .225 over his first 31 Major League games, but he’s heated up in a big way of late, hitting .289 with 10 runs, three homers, 11 RBIs and a steal over the last 14 days. Seven of those runs and seven of the RBIs have come in just the last four games. Cabrera was also very productive at the minor league level, hitting 29 home runs and stealing 21 bases in 118 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year and hitting eight homers and stealing 10 bases in 47 Triple-A games this season. That category juice mixed with the Yankees’ formidable lineup is a compelling combination for fantasy purposes.
Nate Eaton (3B,OF – KC): 4% Rostered
If you’re looking for steals, give Eaton a look. He’s swiped five bases in his last six games and now has 33 SBs in 125 games between Double-A, Triple-A and Kansas City. Whether he’ll provide any power down the stretch is anyone’s guess — he hit 13 HRs in the minors but has only hit one long ball in 34 games since joining the Royals. And his .268 average is likely to drop if he continues to strike out in 30 percent of his plate appearances. But as we so often say around here, steals are steals!
Jose Siri (OF – TB): 7% Rostered
Speaking of high strikeout rates, “Hey Siri, how high is Jose Siri’s K rate?” Turns out it’s a whopping 32.7 percent. However, he’s struck out in only 24.7 percent of his plate appearances since August 25, which helps explain why he’s hitting .284 over that stretch. If he can provide even a .240-.250 average, Siri can chip in enough runs, homers and steals to be interesting for fantasy purposes.
Bryan De La Cruz (OF – MIA): 3% Rostered
De La Cruz is swinging a hot bat since rejoining the Marlins from Triple-A on September 7, hitting .316 with three homers and 12 RBIs. His overall numbers for the year remain subpar, but this isn’t the first stretch of decent games he’s put together at the Major League level. He also hit .296 with five homers and 19 RBIs over 219 plate appearances with the Marlins last season.
Alright, that’s it for this week — and this season! If you like what you see here, please subscribe to the Rest of Season Rankings podcast and check out my website, ROSrankings.com. I’m also always happy to talk about anything fantasy-related on Twitter @andrew_seifter.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.