This weekly waiver-wire watch column is designed to help you monitor and pick up players in the coming weeks. These are the players you’ll want to add now before becoming the hot waiver commodity in a week or two. Using underlying and advanced metrics, this “watchlist” will help you get ahead of the competition in your league and reap the rewards from your pickups later.
The players could be anyone from a prospect in an ideal situation close to the Majors, a reliever in a saves+holds league, or even a starter doing well with misleading surface-level stats like ERA. They might even be hitters with quality underlying stats. Or they could be none of those types of players and entirely different.
The point is that they’ll help you find success in your fantasy league while staying ahead of the curve against your league mates.
Here are waiver wire players to watch and dynasty fantasy baseball advice for this week.
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- Weekly Waiver Wire Advice
- Weekly Fantasy Baseball Content
- MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Watch List
Naylor was mentioned in this column as a dynasty addition earlier in the year, but considering how the season has played out, the catching prospect could be a significant contributor in redraft leagues this season.
The 23-year-old briefly made his Major League debut with a two-plate appearance cameo on May 21.
Other than that, he’s been crushing Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .258 batting average, a .402 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and nearly as many walks (46) as strikeouts (49). If you’re doing the math at home, those walk and strikeout numbers equate to a 19.2% walk rate and a 20.5% strikeout rate.
Meanwhile, in the Majors, Cleveland’s lineup has scored the third-fewest runs in the sport while also posting the third-lowest on-base percentage and the lowest wRC+ in the league.
Zeroing in the catcher position, Terry Francona’s catchers have combined for the worst collective fWAR in baseball (-0.7) and a negative wRC+, -11 to be exact. Unsurprisingly, that’s also the lowest mark in the league.
All told, it makes for an ideal time for Naylor to debut sooner rather than later. Considering how Cleveland’s lineup has struggled as a whole in 2023, it’s possible Naylor could start hitting in the middle of the order with more plate appearances and potential RBI opportunities soon after being recalled from the minors. Of course, that’s all speculative, mind you, but the upside is too significant to ignore here – especially for fantasy managers who’ve seen the likes of Tyler Stephenson and Shea Langeliers struggle early on.
The Los Angeles Angels have already seen one former top outfield prospect make an instant impact this season in Mickey Moniak. The former first-round pick is batting .327 with a .340 on-base percentage, four home runs, and a pair of stolen bases in 50 plate appearances in the Majors this season.
Jo Adell could very well be next.
The 24-year-old has thrived so far at the Triple-A level this season, batting .277 with a .363 on-base percentage, 18 home runs, and four stolen bases in 238 plate appearances for Los Angeles’ top minor league affiliate.
The power production is certainly encouraging, and while it’s not the best practice to look at players purely based on their minor-league production, Adell has cut down on his ground balls considerably.
Jo Adell Ground Ball Rates Since 2019:
- 2019 at Triple-A: 46.8%, 132 PA
- 2020 in MLB: 43.5%, 132 PA
- 2021 at Triple-A: 44.1%, 339 PA
- 2021 in MLB: 46.9%, 140 PA
- 2022 at Triple-A: 35.0%, 180 PA
- 2022 in MLB: 38.8%, 285 PA
- 2023 at Triple-A: 30.7%, 238 PA
On the surface, that wouldn’t leave much room for Adell to start, but Ward’s production has run decidedly hot and cold, with strong multi-week stretches followed by cold spells at the plate. Speaking of cold stretches, Renfroe hit just .235 with a .275 on-base percentage and a 73 wRC+ in May after a quality start in April. He’s also batting just .200 with a .246 on-base percentage and a .085 ISO away from Angels Stadium this season.
Overall, Angels outfielders finished decidedly middle of the pack in terms of wRC+ in the month of May, though much of that was due to Moniak and Trout.
Furthermore, Los Angeles is currently 31-30 with a +3 run differential, but they’re nine games back of the Texas Rangers in the division and five games back in the wild card. They’re at the point where they need to start making a move in the standings or risk getting buried in the division standings by Texas and the Houston Astros before July even starts.
Recalling Adell could certainly be one avenue to help the team, although that’s purely speculative.
Either way, whether it’s as a move to help the lineup or to replace an injured player, Adell won’t be in the minor leagues long if he continues to hit like this, though again, that’s all speculative.
Add Jo Adell now, well before the Angels recall him.
Dynasty Addition/Trade Target of the Week
Logan Gilbert enjoyed a quality sophomore season for the Seattle Mariners in 2022, pitching to a 3.20 ERA and a 3.46 FIP in 185.2 innings for the American League West club while adding 13 pitcher wins in the process to go along with 174 strikeouts and 49 walks.
It was a solid enough season for Gilbert, especially in terms of fantasy production, though it probably would’ve been better if he added a few more strikeouts.
Fast forward to 2023, and the right-hander has done just that in his third season in the Majors.
Gilbert is striking out 10.27 batters per nine frames this season, in large part thanks to a newfound ability to get batters to chase outside of the zone at a high rate.
Logan Gilbert Chase Rate By Season:
- 2021: 26.3% chase rate, 32nd percentile
- 2022: 25.8% chase rate, 12th percentile
- 2023: 33.7% chase rate, 89th percentile
Both the increased strikeouts and chase rates may have something to do with a slightly tweaked pitch arsenal. Gilbert is getting reasonably similar results in terms of whiff rate on both his four-seamer and slider, but his curveball is getting considerably more swing and misses this season (to go along with more vertical and horizontal movement), and he appears to have scrapped his changeup in favor of a new split-finger offering – per Statcast data – that’s been decidedly very good so far.
The 26-year-old’s curveball is posting a 33.8% whiff rate so far, up from 23.3% last season, and while it admittedly has a .340 xwOBA against it this year, batters have struggled to make contact at times.
Then there’s the split-finger offering.
Thrown 14% of the time, opposing hitters are batting just .109 with a .135 xBA, a .130 slugging percentage, a .184 xSLG, a .100 wOBA, and a .134 xwOBA against the pitch, managing just five total hits and only one extra-base hit.
Among all splitters in the league (minimum 10 plate appearances), it has the fifth-best run value (-5), the seventh-lowest hard-hit rate, and the 12th-highest put-away percentage in the league.
And that’s all without mentioning that the right-hander has cut down on his walks considerably.
The former 14th-overall pick’s walk rates were anywhere from good (6.4% in 2022) to very good (5.6% in 2021) in his first two Major League seasons. Now, this time around, his walk rate has been elite at a 4.3% metric that ranks in the 93rd percentile league-wide.
That Gilbert has upped his strikeouts (and overall swing-and-miss metrics) while cutting down on his walks are both significant positives moving forward where his long-term fantasy ceiling is concerned. That he did so while also adding a new pitch that’s quickly become elite only boosts his fantasy upside in the future.
All of this makes him an intriguing dynasty trade target, but perhaps helping his case even more so – at least for fantasy managers looking to acquire him – is that his 4.08 ERA is decidedly misleading. Gilbert’s 3.14 FIP and 3.03 xERA are a lot more indicative of how effective he’s been this year. If the fantasy manager in your league is concerned by the surface-level numbers, now’s the perfect time to try and swing a deal.