Welcome to this year’s first edition of Buy & Sell, which is always a fun time because we all try to preach patience but deep down we’re feeling “Everybody panic!”. Your favorite hitter goes 0-for-4 and he’s a bum that you’re about to put on the block. I’m going to assume that the past week or two you all have been living under a rock, or, like, working full-time jobs and haven’t noticed a lot about the offseason moves and their fallout. Speaking of fallout, my home league’s AL-only roster looks post-apocalyptic. Let’s get waiver wire spelunking, and remember to take some deep breaths and don’t forget your totem, a scroll of ancient paper that says “It’s APRIL!”.
I swear I wrote him here before his 5-hit game (I have screenshots), but even though I’m adding this in later, nobody will believe me. He completed spring training hitting .400 and not striking out once, which is rather incredible. He also as of Sunday has a 100% contact rate, which of course is mostly small sample fun but also that’s incredible. Like a Willians Astudillo that can also take a walk and is also fast. I already dropped Tommy Pham for him in one league and I’m not sorry. Why? Because he’s a solid bet to hit 10 HR and steal 15 SB, with plenty of runs in the #2 hole in Cleveland, and a batting average potentially over .290. The power is a bit of a question mark, but the bat is an exclamation point.
I had assumed he was owned and started in most leagues, then I look to ESPN and see his paltry 37% Own% and it’s time I tell the other 63% what’s up. Garver was underrated in his 2021 smaller sample, hitting .256/.358/517 with 13 HR in 256 AB. That may seem boring, but try to remember how he hit 31 HR in 2019 and how his 2020 fell off the rails, and you’ll see this as a very encouraging sign that he’s closer to the fantastic former than the lousy latter. Now in Texas, he has a much better shot at regular playing time, especially considering that not only is he a better bat than Jonah Heim, but also a better bat from the double Calhouns. If he can manage 500 PA, not only does that make him an elite catcher just from a playing time standpoint, but he can also rather easily hit .240-.260 with another 30 jacks that give him a high floor and high ceiling. Add in all leagues, especially OBP formats since he’s great at walks too.
While everyone was jumping for joy moving J-Rod and Tork up their draft boards, C.J. quietly made the roster while everyone was falling asleep to Abrams’ lullaby. Abrams is still as raw as sashimi at only 21 years old and has fewer than 200 PA above A ball (not high-A, either). But he does offer intriguing speed and stole 13 bags in Double-A last year in only 42 games. Currently, it seems he may be in a platoon, but if he can continue to make above-average contact he could be an Adalberto Mondesi-lite. He could also go back to the minors in a few weeks, but the star upside makes him well worth the gamble in 12-team batting average leagues.
He remains perhaps the last of my Bold Predictions-related players that haven’t either gotten hurt or looked laughably wrong in the early going. I feared the worst when I saw the Rockies inexplicably traded for Randal Grichuk, which crowds the corner outfield and DH space, and assumed the Rockies would make a corresponding inexplicable roster decision. However, it seems Joe has continued to be an everyday player and hit out of the leadoff spot, which is quite appealing for his fantasy value. He’s already hitting .300 with his first homer, and so far has been more aggressive swinging but with a higher contact rate. I still believe he can hit .290 with 20 HR and plenty of runs, and that’s worth starting in 12-team formats.
In Tampa Bay, Josh joins a long line of Lowes. Unlike the long line at Lowe’s, hopefully, Josh brings as many power drills and bags. Lowe had a phenomenal season at Triple-A hitting .291 with 22 HR and 26 SB across 470 PA in Triple-A. The Austin Meadows trade gave the 24-year-old a call-up and opportunity for Randy Arozarena-esque fantasy goodness, provided the Rays don’t “be the Rays” and platoon and mix and match him to death. This is why I consider Lowe too good for a 15-teamer but also probably only worth the plunge in deeper 12-teamers. He could be a 20-20 threat like Akil Baddoo was last year, except with better OBP. But like Baddoo, his swing-and-miss does give him volatility, making him ideal if you can stash or hold a player without being on your active roster until his role is clarified. If not, you may want to take the plunge anyway, since this could be your last chance for Lowe.
Some people may call me a monster for not suggesting him in shallower formats despite his amazing spring and great first week, but I also remember two weeks ago when nobody had even heard of the guy (well, aside from the M’s closer committee member). Castillo is the consolation prize for giant baseball wunderkind Oneil Cruz being sent to the minors to “work on defense”. But Casty also earned his shot, hitting .371 with 6 HRs in 38 ABs, although I’m mildly concerned about the 10 strikeouts. The 24-year-old had a strong campaign in the minors, hitting .279 with 19 HR and 9 SB but also with an excellent strikeout rate of around 12% with an acceptable 8% walk rate. While it’s way too early on to judge anything, it seems he could be the type to have a hot first few weeks before teams get the book on him. However, he has enough power, speed, and playing time opportunity to be well worth starting for now. Also note that while he may only qualify at 2B in your league, he played over 20 games at 2B, 3B, and SS in the minors, so he could quickly become quite versatile.
Will Smith may be canceled, but our catcher slot can still get Higgy Wit It. Spring training may seem mostly meaningless, but it’s worth something that he led all major leaguers in OPS with a mark of over 1.500 with 7 taters. Keep in mind a lot of the pitching is Double-A quality, and also that he had a big early-season power surge last year and then magically became a lifeless husk. But he’ll have more playing time opportunity with Gary Sánchez gone and Jose Trevino as his only competition, and his high barrel rate makes me optimistic he’ll have better luck and stamina this time around. He could be a bit Mike Zunino-esque, but I think he may hit .230 with 20-23 HRs which will be more valuable than many other catchers if you can stomach the low BA. And if he is Zunino-esque in just the bad ways, you can always cut him and move on to something else quickly.
Well, we already learned our favorite player to root for, because who doesn’t love to shout “BEER!”. He was arguably the biggest beneficiary of the NL DH, as his defense has been reported anywhere from “surprisingly bad” to “did a little leaguer drink a witch’s growth potion”? The former top prospect had a solid if unspectacular season last year hitting .287 with 17 HR in Triple-A, and the D-Backs have nothing to lose from letting the 25-year old get his reps in their depleted lineup. You can add him now to your deeper 18-team or NL-only league even if you didn’t draft Beer. I see what I did there.
I swear this isn’t satire, but if it is, I’ll call it “This S. Espinal Tap”. I more or less considered him a fluke last season, but he still did hit .311 despite his weak power. He reportedly added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, and in just 5 PA he already set a career-best Max exit velocity, with his 107 mph mark in 2022 considerably higher than his max eV of 104 mph all season in 2021. That’s a good sign, and I think I see the opportunity as well. The Jays without Marcus Semien are relying on Espinal and Cavan Biggio at the keystone; Biggio is the worse defender and frankly, I just don’t believe in his bat, as Statcast always said it was a mirage. With full-time reps, Espinal can probably hit .270-.280 with the possibility of 10 homers and a handful of stolen bases to go with 2B/3B eligibility, which is boring but helpful in an AL-only.
Hey, I just drafted you, and this is crazy, but the Yanks have DJ, so call me Gleybe. It could very well be a healthy or unhealthy dose of early April hysteria (and note that it’s earlier in “April” than the calendar says). But the fact is that DJ LeMahieu, not Torres, seems to be the current favorite for playing time. While that can easily flip flop with one or two big games, the reality is that he’s unlikely to surpass 600 PA and maybe not even 500 PA, barring injury with the current lineup construction. The bigger thing is that in a 10-team league, you just need someone who you can trust to play and not kill you with zeroes. Given we still don’t even know his power output if he does get the at-bats, I’d just rather take a more dependable bat likely to be around in a 10-team like Jean Segura or Jeremy Peña. In a 12-team league, you probably should try to bench him until the PT situation in Pinstripeville plays out a bit more, and maybe a trade gives him the fresh start he may need.
Look, I know this is the first week, and dropping a mid-round pick this early is taboo. I mean Baddoo. This may also seem like an overreaction, but let me explain before the Tiger claws come out. One of the things I liked about Baddoo was near-guaranteed playing time atop the lineup. With the trade for Austin Meadows, both were put out to pasture. He’s likely hitting 7th, which cuts into his run production as well as stolen base opportunities. In the early going, he seems to be in a platoon role, as he’s only played in 2 games the first week, and he’s gone 0 for 7. He’s naturally streaky so it’s concerning that he might not get the chance to find his rhythm. In another month or two, Riley Greene will likely be returning making the competition between outfielders even more fierce. Remember that while Baddoo’s stolen base prowess makes him a great fantasy player, his season last year eked out a 108 wRC+, which puts him at a disadvantage to the more OBP-focused Meadows and Robbie Grossman. He’s still not even 24 so I’m hoping for the best, but in a 12-team OBP, I’d cut him if Kwan or Pham (especially Kwan) are still available.
I know he loves the game, but this may be when he finally agrees to let the kids play. Spencer Torkelson’s deserving if a bit surprising, inclusion on the Opening Day roster pushes Miggy firmly to DH, which all along was for the best. Problem is, there are a lot of other hitters who could use that DH spot, including the hot-hitting and poor-fielding Eric Haase (at least on days when Barnhart is catching), not to mention recent acquisition (and mediocre defender) Austin Meadows, who will be clamoring for the spot when Greene returns (if he does make the MLB roster again). At this point, Miggy’s biggest asset was dependable volume, and while he’s played fine so far, I’d look to leave the concert before the last song.
I liked what Sosa did last year, but Paul DeJong was the coach’s favorite before the spring and even more after it. In early drafts, it’s possible you made the mistake I did and assume Sosa would play given DeJong’s horrible 2021, but Sosa has yet to register a single at-bat. I consider this less of a travesty than the lack of PT given to another Ed (Edward Olivares), who hit .500 with 3 HR and 2 SB in the Spring and got the gift of not being demoted only to rot on the bench. Why not add Gavin Sheets to the deep cut list; I love the bat but the A.J. Pollock acquisition seemed to doom him to a backup role despite Pollock and Yoán Moncada’s injuries. I could go on, but it will remind me of my terrible AL-only roster and I’m already in enough pain for being outbid on for Steven Kwan. It makes me Edmundo So sad.
Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)