Am I the only one being hit hard by the injury bug right now? It seems like every time I look at one of my teams, I am shuffling more players onto the IL while trying to determine how to field a full lineup. I know this issue isn’t exclusive to me, and at this point in the season, everyone starts to see injuries piling up. This is why roster management and planning are so important throughout the entirety of the season.
Face it, no one wants to cut the player they invested heavily in on draft day or that sleeper who has yet to break out. However, injuries and underperformance combined with limited IL slots can force you to make tough decisions on who stays and who goes. Outside of having unlimited IL slots or super deep benches, one of the best ways to maintain roster flexibility is to have players with multi-positional eligibility.
What I’d like to do in this week’s Performance Report is highlight a couple of those multi-positional bats and look at whether they could be worthwhile trade targets. Some of these players’ eligibility will depend on what the requirements look like in your own league as they do vary slightly depending on what platform you play on or how your commissioner set things up. In previous weeks I already covered guys like Tommy Edman, Ryan McMahon, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, so we won’t be diving into them today. I will say these are all players I’d be happy to inquire about in trade talks.
The current New York Mets lineup is a shell of what it looked like at the start of the season. They currently have five players on the injured list who were penciled in as starters, and that’s not including Robinson Cano (suspended for the year) or Kevin Pillar (fourth outfielder). At first glance, the lineup looks like it’s just Francisco Lindor and then just a bunch of guys.
Amidst the rash of injuries, Jonathan Villar has gone from an offseason depth signing afterthought to batting leadoff for the Mets. Here’s the best part for you, he currently qualifies for 2B, 3B, and SS.
Some of us remember a time when Villar was one of the more sought-after power/speed threats in fantasy baseball. In 2016 he hit 19 HR and stole an astounding 62 bases. His performance last year was anything but noteworthy, which is likely why this offseason he struggled to sign and had to settle for a bench role. Villar’s batting average and power both took a huge dip in 2020 as he was hitting more balls on the ground and became overly aggressive at the plate. He was practically unrosterable.
Let’s flash forward to this year where I’d love to tell you he has figured things out, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. Villar is currently batting .216/.303/.393 with four HR and four stolen bases in 35 games played. This doesn’t sound like a lot to hang your hat on, but consider that all of Villar’s homers and thefts have come since he has had regular playing time due to the injuries. He is lifting the ball more than last season and it appears that he will continue to get the green light to run.
Speed is a hard commodity to come by, especially as the season drags on and injuries take their toll. For that reason alone, Villar becomes a much more interesting trade target. If I’m in a batting average league, then there is not nearly the amount of appeal here. In on-base leagues, I would definitely be looking to acquire Villar, particularly if I have holes to fill on my roster around the infield. If he can continue to find regular playing time, we could be looking at another 15-20 SB here.
Verdict: BUY – in OBP leagues
In one of the more exciting offseason trades, Francisco Lindor was dealt from Cleveland to the Mets in exchange for Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez, and other minor pieces. The buzz during spring training and even into the start of the season revolved around the playing time battle between Rosario and Giménez, with the latter having the inside track. Cleveland wanted to get both guys in the lineup, so they decided to work Rosario in as a centerfielder where they could.
This experiment seems to be coming to an end as the struggling Giménez has been sent to the minors and Rosario looks to have taken over primary duties back at his natural position of SS in recent days. While he may not have excelled in the OF, Rosario did accrue enough games to now qualify there for the game of fantasy, and that’s where the intrigue with him lies. Naturally, none of this means anything if his offense isn’t helpful.
Back in 2019 Rosario had all the looks of the next breakout player at the position in New York. He finished the season with 15 HR and 19 SB while slashing .287/.323/.432. I was one of those who bought in last season everywhere… I’m still in recovery from being burnt so badly. An initial glance at his triple-slash of .252/.272/.371 doesn’t tell the whole story of his 2020. Keep in mind it was already a shortened season, but in his 29 games through the end of August, he was only batting .206 with just one walk. You read that right, one walk. Last year he just didn’t look to have any parts of his offensive game going and contributed only four HR and a whopping zero SB throughout 46 games played.
I digress, we need to focus on what Rosario is doing this season. His batting line is actually uglier than last year at .216/.274/.320, but believe it or not there is room for optimism. Since switching over to his more natural defensive position and getting regular playing time, he has looked more comfortable at the plate. For his last 15 games, Rosario is batting .259 and chipped in three steals as well. The obvious downside is that he is clearly on one of the worst offenses in the league, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to looking for full-time at-bats.
Perhaps I am just a glutton for punishment, but I find myself buying back into Rosario. I buy into the narrative that he needed not only a change of scenery but also needed to find regular at-bats at his more natural defensive position in order to see better offensive results. There is really no way of knowing if we will see him work his way back towards his 2019 form this season, but there are some decent signs of progress and most importantly Rosario should be cheap to acquire. In dynasty and keeper league formats in particular I would be putting out offers on Rosario. The pedigree and ability are still there somewhere, we just need to right-size expectations. He could only be a MI or fifth OF for a lot of teams, but that’s very valuable with injuries the way they’ve been.
Verdict: BUY – in dynasty/keeper in particular
Let’s finish with some multi-positional quick hits
Frazier is perpetually overlooked and underrated because he plays for the Pirates. He qualifies at 2B and OF and has been batting leadoff. So far this season he has been crushing the ball to the tune of .339/.402/.471. A low strikeout rate and decent walk rate means that even when the regression monster comes (which it will) he will still be a very serviceable player deserving of being owned. There won’t be a lot of power or speed in the profile, but he will help as a guy who will pad your Runs and RBI enough to make a difference at the end of the season.
Could be a tough buy right now because of how well he is playing. If he goes through a cold streak, that’s when I’d look to send out an offer as the owner might be ready to move on.
Verdict: HOLD – watch for an opportunity to buy
If this is even possible, Castro is like a slightly less sexy version of the already unsexy Adam Frazier. You won’t get much power or speed, but what you will get is at-bats and positional flexibility at 2B and 3B. Castro is not a guy I would prioritize unless I was really desperate for at-bats or in a really deep league. All that to say, if you own him there might be a manager in your league who could use a player like Castro because of the dependability of his role. If you can find such an owner, offer him up and see if there is a trade to be made. In deep keeper/dynasty leagues, Castro is the type of player who might net you an interesting prospect or a younger player with a little more ceiling but an unclear role.
Photo by Mick Haupt/Unsplash | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)