Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where I return to Pitcher List a married man! But a wedding didn’t stop me from staying glued to the thrilling trade deadline, so this week’s theme is the post-deadline roster sleepers. A few unfortunate recent injuries also helped open the playing field for unheralded players that savvy owners can scoop with some big rewards. The tough part is there hasn’t been much time to see how playing time conflicts will shake out, but I’ll try to read the tea leaves as best I can while drinking coffee.
Eric Haase (C/OF, Detroit Tigers)
He’s clubbing the ball so hard, they get sent to the Haasepital. While most initially thought him as a Seby Zavala-esque fluke, it’s very clear now that he’s become, at least for this year, a top 5 offensive catcher in baseball. Watch, now Zavala is going to break out because I called him a fluke. His 18% Barrel% is top 4% in baseball, which allows his 30% K% to not be too much of a burden. Statcast mostly believes in his production, with a still excellent expected line of a .245 xBA and .508 SLG%. At some point he could struggle as pitchers learn to stop throwing him fastballs, as he’s hitting an insane .333 AVG with a .724 SLG% on the pitch, but I don’t expect his production to tail off too much. He should be the best power option at catcher above Zunino and Gary Sanchez, and arguably also the ho-hum Willson Contreras. And to think I originally only wrote him up back in May so I could say, “Do… do Haase… Do Haase mash?” Add in 10-team AVG formats.
Abraham Toro (2B/3B, Seattle Mariners)
As the opening track on Queens of The Stone Age says, “[In 10-team average formats] Gimme Toro, gimme some more.” It might seem weird to recommend suggesting as a 10-team add a guy who everyone was assuming would be a backup just a week ago. Just a hunch, but I think that hitting .429 this week with 4 consecutive games with a homer should change that. There’s just so many things to like in his profile, the first being his apparent power/speed combo, and is overall hitting .246 with 8 HR and 4 SB in just 130 PA. I’m confident that average will improve with his strong minor league track record for batting average and power, which he’s translated to the majors this year with a 16% K% backed by a strong 83% contact rate. Unfortunately, a lot of that contact is soft contact at 20%, which might be why Statcast thinks he’s been lucky with a .226 xBA and xSLG .378 xSLG. The switch-hitter in many ways reminds me of Ty France, and now for one more reason… he just gained 2B eligibility in many leagues. With how many disappointments have come from the second base pool this year, that versatility significantly boosts his value. He could be the kind of waiver wire find that can win a lot of leagues this year.
Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels)
If you’ve already jumped off the bandwagon, remember, Mike Trout struggled in his first major league debut. The takeaway? Jo Adell is Mike Trout—you heard it here first. All jokes and bad advice aside, Adell has certainly earned another chance (and then some) after hitting .289/.342/.592 with 23 HR and 8 SB in just 339 PA in Triple-A. Sounds like he could be a slight upgrade over Phil Gosselin. While some may point to the poor 29% K% in Triple-A (with a poor 7% BB%) to suggest he’ll struggle again, he can still be a fantasy asset with his explosive raw power even if the K rate is a hair above 30%. One must, of course, expect, given the failure of nearly every hyped rookie hitter, that he could fall flat on his face as well, but the power/speed upside he offers is simply so far superior to other options on the wire that he’s worth the risk. Add in all 12-team only leagues and is worth an upside spec add in 10-team formats where he can be stashed.
Jorge Soler (OF, Atlanta Braves)
I’d been wondering where his bat went, but Whoop, Soler it is. His recent heater may go unnoticed by the casual player as his season line remains a sub-par .200.296/375 with 13 HR. But he’s deserved better all season with a 13% Barrel balanced out by a decent 27% K% (for a power hitter). He may have been unlucky, as evidenced by his .238 xBA and .471 xSLG, as many of his deep flyballs died at the warning track. But he’s improved his launch angle to more of a line drive that works better with the new ball, leading him to hitting 3 multi-homer games last week and hitting .324/.432/.838 with 6 Homers and a 7/7 K/BB in 37 AB the past two weeks. He’s in a better hitter’s park and lineup at Atlanta, though it’s a rather strange fit with his poor defense. Still, he can easily pop off in the second half much like Gallo did last month, and I think Soler can hit above .260 from here on out, making him a wise pickup in 12-team leagues looking for more balanced power options.
Rafael Ortega (OF, Chicago Cubs)
While my younger brother who is turning 30 today is convinced his life is now over, Ortega is out to prove his big 3-0 is his big break. The journeyman has seemingly blossomed into a jack-of-all-trades table-setter with a .316 AVG, 6 HR, and 4 SB in 127 PA. While he’s been on a heater for batting average, hitting .429 in 49 AB the past 21 days, his power has popped off lately with 4 of his 6 homers coming this week. The Cubbies’ deadline trades open up plenty of room for him to take over as the leadoff hitter, where he should be a great source of runs. While this level is unlikely to last, especially on the power front, Statcast actually thinks he’s mostly earned his current batting average with a .304 xBA and .468 SLG. He’s intriguing enough to roll the dice on in all 15-teams and even a viable stream in 12-team AVG leagues.
Yadiel Hernandez (OF, Washington Nationals)
Big bats can come in small packages, and delivered late. Hernandez, a 33-year-old who only got his first taste of the majors last year, certainly has a strange story, but while his cup of coffee was mud, it’s hard not to be impressed by his seemingly out-of-nowhere line in 2019 in which he hit .323 with 33 HR and 7 SB in Triple-A. He kept that boomstick going hitting .288 with 5 HR in just 64 Triple-A ABs before earning the call, and he’s been even better for the Nats, hitting .304 with 4 HR and 2 SB in 113 AB. He’s had an impressive 45% Hard Hit% and Statcast believes in what he’s done so far with a .281 xBA and .496 xSLG. After Washington’s trades, he’s slotted into the cleanup spot, which skyrockets his already rising value. He’ll need to avoid his penchant for hitting groundballs to keep the power up, but he’s a fine add in all 15-team leagues, especially batting average formats.
Jonah Heim (C, Texas Rangers)
Will the real Texas catcher please stand up? Heim, my name is. He’s been on a power tear, and is now up to a solid line (for a catcher) of .227/.268/.424 with 8 HR in 184 PA. While that might not seem impressive, it could be with some better luck, as evidenced by his improved xBA of .257 and xSLG of .415 xSLG. He’s an odd player as a tall 6’4 who has lacked pop but made good contact with a 17% K%. But he’s added some power this year with a solid 8% Barrel and a 38% Hard%. He will still have to fight off Trevino and maybe Huff at some point for playing time, but he has enough youth, bat and defense to get the lions share of plate appearances. In a perfect world he could hit .260 with 15 HR, which makes him better than most catcher options. He makes a fine add in AL-only and two-catcher formats.
Andy Ibanez (2B/3B/OF, Texas Rangers)
Ibanez wanted to join the fray of little-known players making the most of their playing time. I was a fan of Ibanez as of a month ago when I noticed his intriguing combination of high contact rate and relatively high Max exit velocity (108 mph). But only now is he delivering on it. He’s hitting .333/.415/.611 over 36 ABs the past 2 weeks, but it’s easy to miss with his lousy season line of .227/.279/.461 with 3 HR in 119 ABs. While he doesn’t have a ton of power, his 91% Z-Contact% should allow him to make the most of his contact (13% K%) and have a high floor with batting average upside. Maybe that’s why with his The multi-position eligibility makes him a great utility bat in AL or 20-team formats, and can be a utility bench option in 12-team AVG leagues. I’m not punting him, in fact I have ANDY inscribed on the bottom on my cowboy/fantasy baseball boot.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)
Getting a good offensive day from him has been as tough as finding a needle in a Hayes stack. I was bullish on him entering the year given his prospect pedigree and big debut, but he has taken the Yandy Diaz approach of hitting everything into the ground, with an average launch angle of 4. While he still has similar hard-hit rates and K% of last year, the results have been poor, hitting .251 with 4 HR and 2 SB in 191 AB, and hitting .191 with no homers in 47 AB the past two weeks. Given that his production is below the players I recommended for 15-team leagues and close to the Deep League players, you may assume he’s been widely cut, but he’s still at 75% rostered. In all but Dynasty formats, he should be cut in 10-team formats and most 12-team formats.
Jarren Duran (OF, Boston Red Sox)
With how much he looked appealing but then ended up stinking, I might call him Jarren Durian. If you don’t know what that is…. Don’t find out first-hand. It seemed he could be one of the few rookie hitters to succeed, but his big debut has frozen since, as he’s just hit .150/.186/.300 with 1 HR in 40 AB since his call-up. He struck out in nearly half his at-bats, and he hasn’t even been drawing walks. The Red Sox likely will move him out of the lineup soon if he can’t turn his performance around, and he just seems too overmatched for me to have much optimism that he will. If you’re hungry like the wolf for production, cut Duran Duran in all 12-team formats and even 15-teams if you need batting average or OBP.
Josh Harrison (2B, Oakland Athletics)
Harrison was having a great season in Washington, but now Harrison gets to visit Billy Beane’s theme park, PlatoonWorld. For fantasy leaguers. Platoonworld is not a very fun place. It’s a shame neither him or Lowrie play shortstop anymore, as Andrus is the weak link in the lineup but neither can spell him defensively. He’s also moving to a park with plenty of foul territory, which may be a detriment for the contact-oriented hitter. When in the lineup he’s been hot, hitting .292 with 6 HR and 5 SB in 325 AB, but
Zack McKinstry (2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
McKinstry had his fifteen minutes of fame earlier this year, but has been ice cold at the dish, hitting just .071 in 28 AB over the past two weeks. Now that the Dodgers’ once again fortified their already unfair team with more talent, there’s really few opportunities for McKinstry to actually play. He had been out with an oblique strain, and I generally don’t trust players returning from that injury, as it often leads to diminished production as well as future injuries (See Adalberto). Even in deep leagues, you’re better off chasing playing time on the wire.
Congratulations, and welcome back!
Oh, and cut Laureano for Adell in 12-team OBP?
So disappointed not to see a “Hit ’em with the Heim” reference.