This week I will take a look at some players who you should try to target in trade negotiations. The two best times to trade for a player are at the end of a slump when his price has bottomed out, and just before he goes on a hot streak that shoots his trade value skyward. The players below can be expected to provide future production that exceeds their current trade value, so now is the time to get them while you can!
Wil Myers — 24 Runs, 4 Home Runs, 20 RBI, 1 Steal, .238 AVG (Rank among all hitters: Yahoo #130, CBS points #127, ESPN #140)
Going into last season Myers was a consensus top 5 prospect and he lived up to that billing by running away with the Rookie of the Year Award despite barely playing half a season in the major leagues. He put up an .831 OPS as a 22 year old in the AL East. Very impressive indeed. Coming into this season he was ranked on most lists as a top 40 hitter but he hasn’t lived up to that billing, putting up some pretty underwhelming stats so far this year. His stats are down across the board in all the fantasy categories. He is obviously suffering from the dreaded Sophomore Slump right? Not really, because most of his component stats and his batted ball profile look almost exactly the same as they did last year. His .362 BABIP from last year has predictably regressed to .305 and that does account for some of the drop off in production, but his strikeout, walk, ground ball and fly ball rates look exactly the same as last year. His line drive rate is down slightly and his infield fly ball rate is higher, but the biggest culprit is his HR/FB rate has fallen from 15.5% to only 8.7%. I expect that number to rise and those added home runs (and the Runs and RBI that go with them) will carry his fantasy numbers back up where they should be. Myers is still a very young player building up to his prime, and will be one of the best hitters in the league for several years. You won’t get a better opportunity to grab Myers. Go get him while his owner is worried about him.
Corey Kluber — 4-3 Record, 74 Ks, 3.43 ERA, 1.29 WHIP (Rank among Starting Pitchers: Yahoo #43, CBS points #20, ESPN #32)
Kluber’s fantasy stats look pretty good, but he is still ranked behind guys like Jason Hammel, Jonathon Niese, Aaron Harang, Phil Hughes, Wily Peralta, Tom Koehler, Alfredo Simon, Kyle Lohse and Mark Buehrle in most scoring systems on Yahoo, CBS and ESPN. Kluber is a far better pitcher than any of those hurlers and deserves to be ranked in the top 20 starting pitchers in baseball going forward. Many fantasy team owners put a good deal of stock in the ranking systems in their league. They shouldn’t do it, but we all know some people do it anyway. If you can snare Kluber by trading one (or two) of the pitchers listed above then do it! Kluber’s peripheral and component stats are off-the-charts good. Kluber’s 3.43 ERA is good enough to rank only 48th among qualified starters, but his 2.33 FIP is 3rd, his 2.72 xFIP is 7th and his 2.82 SIERA ranks 8th. And for my favorite pitching metric, K-BB%, his 21.1% ranks 8th. All of these stats combine to predict that his fantasy production is going to be stellar for the rest of the season and well into the future. Kluber remains an underappreciated fantasy ace but that is starting to change, so act quickly and do what it takes to get him on your team.
Homer Bailey — 3-3 Record, 46 Ks, 5.44 ERA, 1.58 WHIP (Rank among Starting Pitchers: Yahoo #317, CBS points #99, ESPN #150)
Bailey has been burned by the home run ball at almost twice his career rate even though he is allowing fewer fly balls than ever. He has improved his ground ball rate significantly this year. His velocity hasn’t dropped at all. His strikeout and walk rates are very close to his career averages. His xFIP and SIERA are nearly two full runs better than his ERA. His BABIP is .348 this season compared to .298 for his career prior to 2014. All of these are strong indications that Homer Bailey’s fortunes are about to turn for the better. Much better. Some people think Bailey’s huge new mega-contract has led to some complacency or lack of effort but I don’t think so. Looking at his pitch charts there is no degradation in terms of velocity, horizontal movement or vertical movement. There is no significant difference in his usage patterns either. Homer’s pitches are the same quality as in prior years. Moving forward, Bailey will be the same fantasy pitcher he has been throughout his career, which means he will not be anywhere near an ace pitcher but he will be a solid contributor to your team’s success. You should be able to get him for next to nothing right now. I say go for it.
Danny Salazar– 1-4 Record, 47 Ks, 5.53 ERA, 1.62 WHIP (Rank among Starting Pitchers: Yahoo #308, CBS points #141, ESPN #182)
Salazar’s surface stats were terrible and got his butt sent down to the minors last week. Salazar’s .369 BABIP shows he has been somewhat unlucky, but that only accounts for a small piece of his implosion this year. He has lost about 2 mph off each of his pitches compared to last year, and that is a worrisome issue, However there does not seem to be any injury concern coming from the Indians. Salazar’s K% although down from last year’s 30.8% is still a stellar 25.5%. His 10.4 K/9 is great. His walk rate has risen from 2.6 BB/9 to 3.76 and his HR/9 has risen from a sketchy 1.21 to a nasty 1.77. It seems his mechanics have lost their groove, with detrimental effects on his velocity, command and control. That is a bad combination that results in increased walks and home runs. The good news is that Salazar still misses a ton of bats and by all rights is healthy. He is only owned in 42% of Yahoo leagues and 49% of CBS leagues. Many of his owners have cut bait on him already, and those who haven’t would probably be happy to trade him off if they could get something decent in return. If you have the patience to give him some time to fix those mechanical issues in the minors you can expect Salazar to come back some day soon and become a very valuable fantasy asset once again. See if you can pry him away from his owner at a bargain basement cut-rate price.
Xander Bogaerts — 19 Runs, 3 Home Runs, 9 RBI, 1 Steal, .275 AVG (Rank among all hitters: Yahoo #161, CBS points #144, ESPN #162)
Bogaerts was ranked as the 2nd best prospect in baseball on pretty much every preseason list in the universe this Spring. The only guy ahead of him was Byron Buxton, who isn’t expected to reach the majors until next year at the earliest. So Xander was the ultimate fantasy prospect to own. But we are two months into the season now and Bogaerts hasn’t been the savior of anybody’s fantasy team so far. He is not this year’s Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig. He is not putting up MVP stats or even ROY stats as a 21 year old. The Red Sox have already signed Stephen Drew to take over at shortstop and move Bogaerts over to third base. That can’t be good, right? Most of us didn’t expect he would be an immediate superstar but a lot of his owners were secretly hoping he would play a lot better than he has so far. I think there are quite a few Bogaerts owners out there who are disappointed in their prized uber-elite future star right now, and many more of his owners are starting to worry just a bit. They are thinking, “Is this guy for real? Is he going to be a let down like former uber-elite prospects Desmond Jennings, Matt Wieters, Jurickson Profar and Colby Rasmus? Will he be a bust like Jesus Montero or Delmon Young? Maybe I should unload him while I can still get a good price?” I still have complete confidence that Bogaerts is going to be a star player for a long time, so I will be talking to his owners in my leagues to see if they might consider letting go of him for a lower price than they would have two months ago.
I have said many times that a prospect’s value is almost always highest right before he gets promoted to the big leagues, then it drops as he fails to immediately fulfill the lofty expectations his owners dreamed of. That is the trading sweet spot for savvy owners to swoop in and pick him up at a discount. Right now we are in the Xander Bogaerts trading sweet spot. The excitement level for Bogaerts built up for months and years as he sat on his owner’s bench teasing with stellar production versus minor league pitching. His owner waited a long time for his mancrush to arrive in Boston and dominate, thrusting his team to a fantasy championship. That moment finally arrived and….. nothing happened. His owners aren’t so excited anymore. Bogaerts hasn’t played any better than their old shortstop. Time to pounce!
You can see this same thing happening with Gregory Polanco as we speak. He has played so well this season that there is no way in Hell his owner is going to trade him right now. His trade cost is through the roof if there even is a price at all. The excitement is building to a crescendo as his impending promotion looms. He will get the call in a week or two, then he will most likely play like a rookie and his bubble will burst. Just like George Springer’s bubble swelled and then popped. Mookie Betts’ and Oscar Taveras’ bubbles will do the same. If you want them just wait for that sweet spot. If you already have them on your team, trade them when their trade value peaks just before their promotion. You can often get a proven star in exchange for your might-be-a-star prospect if you time it right.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. We will be happy to help you decide which players to add, drop or trade!