Buy & Sell 7/24—Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Welcome back to the Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is the eye before the trade deadline storm! With so many teams completely throwing in the towel from the get-go, this should be an exciting or at least interesting time to see how the market plays out and how it messes with our rosters. Speaking of messes, I messed up in stopping short of calling Keston Hiura a 10-team must-add last week; he’s an all formats play. With just about 10 weeks remaining in the season, this could be where you have the make-or-break roster moves, so let’s get moving. Also, for this edition I’m using Yahoo ownership rates because nowadays ESPN leagues are for geezers and clowns.
Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland Athletics)
For owners who held tight through his early-season slump, he’s given you value galoreano. He’s had a hotter July than Stevie Wonder, hitting a blistering .411/.463/.911 with seven home runs, three stolen bases, 13 RBI, and 20 runs scored over 56 at-bats the past three weeks. That brings his total to a studly .282/.332/.514 with 20 home runs and 12 stolen bases (two caught stealing) over 362 at-bats, which if names were removed, you’d think would be the stats of a first- or second-rounder. Statcast is less convinced, saying his expected production is similar to 2018, with an identical 89.8 mph exit velocity, .262 xBA, and .450 xSLG. Still, even though he’s benefited mostly from luck rather than a true skills change lately, his stolen base success makes him a rare 30/20 threat, which makes him worth sticking through the downturns. Given his performance, it’s rather shocking that he’s still available in nearly a quarter of Yahoo leagues at just 76% owned. If you are so fortunate to be among the 24%, get him now in all 10-team formats (he’s less valuable in OBP but still worth an add), you may wind up in the Ramoney.
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B, Kansas City Royals)
If you’ve been sleeping on him since his return, pop a No-Doz and say Yes-Doz. He fell out of favor with impatient owners with some legit struggles upon returning, but he’s quietly returned to crushing, with a .391 average, two home runs, and six RBI this week, to bring his season line back up to .290/.372/.545 with 15 home runs in 328 plate appearances. Compared with other breakouts such as Renato Nunez, I prefer Dozier because of his ability to draw walks while maintaining a reasonable strikeout rate. While he may be still overperforming with his xSLG of .491 well below his .545 actual mark, I’m still buying. His 92 mph exit velocity still suggests 30-home run power and high-quality contact thanks to his excellent 93% Z-Contact rate. I may be one of his more bullish backers, but I believe he’s worth starting in all 12-team formats as well as most 10-teamers.
Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets)
I want to kick black and join Club Amed. Rosario got off to a slow start but lately has been en fuego, hitting .412/.459/.735 with two home runs over 34 at-bats the past two weeks to raise his season line to .274/.315/.444 with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 365 at-bats. The talented 23-year-old hasn’t made many strides with his contact ability but has hit the ball harder with a 90 mph exit velocity, up 3 mph from 2018. Paired with an increase in launch angle, Rosario still has a fair shot at a 20-20 season. His speed is still elite but a bit raw, and his ho-hum 69% success rate is preventing him from getting the perennial green light his owners hoped for. But thanks to the bat, he’s worth adding in 12-team average leagues in which he’s on the wire, despite shortstop being deeper than a conversation with Carl Sagan.
Nate Lowe (1B, Tampa Bay Rays)
Yes, I’m aware that I wrote up Lowe just two weeks ag, and that he hasn’t had a good week, but that’s why I’m buying all my shares where I still can. While his strikeout rate is a bit high, he makes up for it with power (15% barrel rate), patience (9% walk rate), and excellent exit velocity (91.5 mph). Much like Hiura, he makes such elite quality contact that even with a 25% strikeout rate, Statcast still gives him an xBA of .294 and xBA of .550. While I only recommended him as a 15-team play before, it seems the Rays believe in him enough to give him reps at the hot corner, which may come in handy now that Yandy Diaz is down. He’s still just 23% owned, and once he cements full playing time, he’ll prove to be a fine add in deeper 12-team formats for both average and OBP.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox)
His presence in the lineup was sorely mitched. He’s exactly the kind of boring profile who likely was cut without much of a second thought in a team’s roster crunch and now makes for a sneaky pickup. Although his .225 batting average was ugly, Statcast believes he deserved a more palatable .250 xBA. But what I like is all about the power. His 10.9% barrel rate is elite and even above Matt Olson, and it’s backed by a 97 mph FB/LD velocity and a career-best overall velocity of 92 mph. That’s why Statcast thinks his superb .542 slugging percentage was no fluke, and while it will likely regress some just as Moreland tends to fade in the second half, it’s still worth a gamble if he’s available here. And he very well may be at just 10% owned.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
His rap name should be Tyler the Run Creator. Over the month of July, he’s hit a surprisingly cromulent .323/.344/.565 with four home runs and a stolen base to bring his season line to an impressive .287/.313/.472 with five home runs and a stolen base in 108 at-bats. It’s easy to cast aspersions on this, especially with his laughable 4:42 BB/K over that span, but it’s worth noting that only 18 of those strikeouts came in his past 62 at-bats (29%) compared with 24 strikeouts in his first 46 at-bats (52%). He is yet to run much but still has amazing speed with a top 10 29.9 ft/sec that’s tied with Adalberto Mondesi. He’s still super raw but should get more reps in a lost Cards season. His upside makes him worth adding in both average-based 15-teamers, but his awful walk rate makes him only a power/speed category stream in 15-team OBP leagues.
Mark Canha (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics)
I know it’s hard to get excited because it seems he’s been around since before memes like I Canhaz cheezburger. But he’s stepped up his game with 16 taters in just 201 at-bats, with three coming this week, including two in one game. Not much in his power profile has changed, but he’s managed to keep it steady while becoming a WAY more patient hitter. His 19% strikeout rate is a career best by a small margin, but his 13% walk rate is nearly double his career rate. That’s no fluke as his chase rate has plummeted for the second consecutive year, from 38% in 2017 to 31% in 2018 and 23% in 2019. Now that one of his weaknesses has become a strength, he should get more reps in the moneyball lineup and is a sleeper source of OBP. Add in all 18-team leagues and snag as well in 15-team OBP leagues, as he’s still only 5% owned.
Matt Adams (1B/OF, Washington Nationals)
Much like his boring name, it’s nothing fancy but gets the job done. At this point, we know what kind of player Adams is: a perennial player tempest-tossed on waiver wires who repeatedly entices and then disappoints. That being said, I’m enticed, at least a bit. Although he’s striking out more than ever, it’s likely because of selling out for power with a career-best 15.7% barrel rate. He’s just 2% owned in Yahoo as he’s basically a poor man’s Canha, but he’s worth owning in 18-team formats and should be streamed for power in 15-team formats.
Joey Gallo (1B/OF, Texas Rangers)
Yes, this is bold, maybe alarmist, maybe stupid. But hear me out. I am not saying drop him outright, but if you trade him now, you can still probably get 90 to 95 cents on the dollar from his lofty first-half price. And if you do, I think you should take it. Why? In the month of July, Gallo has struck out 29 times in 55 plate appearances (48 at-bats), for a July strikeout rate of 60%. Yikes. Even for him that’s troubling, and it raises his strikeout rate to 38%. His xBA, which at one point sat near .300 in May, is down to .222. I hate to speculate, but I suspect it’s oblique-related. Oblique injuries aren’t a fantasy death sentence (Jonathan Schoop 2018 comes to mind), but such an extreme player who is also defensively stretched in center field just seems like it’s more likely to get worse than better. Try to trade in 10-team average leagues especially, but I’d even cut him if players such as Laureano, Olson, or Hiura are still available. You don’t want Gallo to leave you hanging.
Michael Chavis (2B/3B, Boston Red Sox)
For the past few months. it’s been hard to tell if Chavis is a regular or a lost fan who slipped into a uniform and stumbled onto to the field and the team just let him stick around. He’s hit just .179 with one home run over the past two weeks, and even with his nifty second base eligibility, he is getting surpassed by other hotter players left and right. He can still go further down, as he’s overperformed with a lousy xBA of .216 and xSLG of .395. With Eduardo Nunez gone and Dustin Pedroia an unofficial mascot, the Sox don’t have much choice but to run him out there for now, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them invest in a keystone veteran at the deadline (*cough* Howie Kendrick please *cough*). He should be cut in all 12-team formats and even on the chopping block in shallow 15-team formats.
Orlando Arcia (SS, Milwaukee Brewers)
It seems wrong to talk trash about a 24-year-old who seems to be on pace for career-bests in several categories. But I’m going to do it anyway. Arcia is posting a career-best walk rate (9%), barrel rate (5%), and exit velocity (87 mph), and yet that still doesn’t amount to anything usable with how deep shortstop is right now. While his 12 home runs and six stolen bases seem great, his slash line of .228/.291/.378 is rather poor, and his xBA of .219 and xSLG of .347 are downright horrid. While you may still bank on stolen bases for value, I doubt it with his four caught stealing (60% success rate) and below-average sprint speed of 26.4 ft/secm tied with catcher Mitch Garver and stone monument Steve Pearce. His defense will keep him in the lineup, but unless you just need at-bats in the worst way, you can drop Arcia in all 15-team formats if you can’t sell him for scraps first.
Dwight Smith Jr. (OF, Baltimore Orioles)
If you didn’t realize Smith Jr. even returned to the active roster, I don’t blame you. After a rip-roaring start to the season that left owners wondering if the good times were ever going to end, he’s turned into a complete pumpkin with a comatose .091/.161/.121 with no homers or stolen bases over 33 at-bats this month. While the season line of .234/.289/.412 with 11 home runs and four stolen bases isn’t terrible, it’s only going to get worse. And the O’s seem to have moved on, so don’t bother trading him. Cut in all 18-team leagues, but you could probably do better in your AL-only too.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)