(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
Every Tuesday from now until the end of the season, we will be taking a look at players with under 15% ownership that should be on your radar in deep leagues. The majority of fantasy baseball leagues are mixed leagues with 10-12 teams, however we know many of you play in 18-20 team leagues and/or AL/NL only formats. This column is for you all.
The trade deadline is upon us, and that tends to open up playing time for multiple unheralded players. Below are a few players who stand to benefit from extra playing time down the stretch.
Francisco Arcia, C, LAA (8.9% owned)
After spending 11 years toiling in the minor leagues, Francisco Arcia was finally called up by the Angels after they traded away Martin Maldonado. All Arcia did in his first three games was hit two home runs and drive in 10, good for a .625 batting average and a 505 wRC+.
Obviously three games is a tiny sample, but it’s enough to potentially unseat incumbent Jose Briceno. Briceno is hitting .255 with five runs and four RBI this season, so Arcia has a good chance to become LA’s primary backstop. Worth noting: Arcia has never, ever hit more than five home runs in a single season, and isn’t likely to be a huge fantasy contributor down the stretch. However, for a team in need of a catcher he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Xavier Cedeno, RP, CWS (3.1% owned)
As of now, left-hander Jace Fry is the closer for the Chicago White Sox. His first outing after Joakim Soria was traded went well, but his second one was a disaster. Fry’s hold on the job is precarious to say the least. Meanwhile, veteran reliever Xavier Cedeno is boasting a 11.15 K/9 and a 1.17 ERA. Of course, this comes with a 5.87 BB/9 and a 3.87 SIERA, but it does mean that the White Sox could consider Cedeno for saves if Fry doesn’t get it done.
Yonny Chirinos, SP, TB (3.1% owned)
I’ll defer to our fearless leader, Nick Pollack, to tell you more about Yonny Chirinos on RotoGraphs. In summary, Chirinos has a nasty slider and splitter, and when he’s on he looks fantastic. His last start against the Orioles was not great, but Chirinos has high strikeout potential. He’s definitely volatile, but in deeper leagues I’m happily taking a chance on Chirinos, particularly against Chicago.
Nick Martini, OF, OAK (0.3% owned)
A’s outfielder Nick Martini reached base in 65 consecutive games while as a member of the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He slashed .308/.415/.436 down in Nashville, and has hit an extremely similar .306/.419/.472 in his 18 big league games. His performance has caught the attention of manager Bob Melvin, who played Martini in center field to get his bat in the lineup.
Presently, both Matthew Joyce and Chad Pinder are on the disabled list and Dustin Fowler is hitting just .180 in his last 17 games. Martini has a chance to step up and earn some meaningful playing time in a loaded Oakland lineup. In AL-only leagues, I’d be okay making him a speculative add.
Yefry Ramirez, SP, BAL (1.1% owned)
Ramirez has made five starts for the Orioles this season. In those five starts, he is boasting a 10.41 K/9, with a 4.24 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He’s had three five innings starts where he gave up a combined one earned run with a 13/3 K/BB ratio. Ramirez’s slider has been excellent this season, with a 37.7% o-swing rate and a 16.3% swinging strike rate. He’ll get every opportunity to stick in Baltimore’s patchwork rotation, and although wins may be hard to come by he can contribute strikeouts and perhaps the occasional quality start. For a guy available in 98.9% of leagues, that’s not bad.
Joey Rickard, OF, BAL (0.2% owned)
This one is purely speculative, as the 27-year-old Rickard is likely in line for a bigger role down the stretch. Adam Jones may be content staying in Baltimore, but Danny Valencia could be moved. Plus, Rickard has really stepped up in July, currently slashing .262/.340/.429 with a 10.6% walk rate. He’s likely only useful in OBP leagues, but he has the opportunity to be a cheap source of steals in the last few months, particularly if the Orioles are able to unload an outfielder today.