Memorial Day weekend has historically been when large scale and more impactful decisions begin to get made in fantasy leagues. We all have that player who was drafted in the first 10 rounds, but who has been seriously underperforming to this point. Now it might finally be time for them to get thrown onto the waiver wire to create a much needed bench spot. If you play in a keeper/dynasty setting then perhaps it’s time to take a step back and honestly assess your place in the standings. It very well may be time to pack things in and look to next season, or to make a move or two to solidify your place towards the top.
To that point, today I wanted to focus on players I would be targeting to buy right now. One of the larger mistakes you can make in fantasy baseball is to wait for the negotiation to come to you. The reality is, you know your team better than anyone else in your league. That means you also know what your team needs.
A word of advice on trading, if you’d like to get a deal done then you you will need to come with more than just a “make me an offer” type of attitude. I have found the best and quickest trade negotiations happen when I take the extra minute to put myself in my trade partners shoes. In other words, don’t send a lowball offer because you are trying to “get the conversation started” and please don’t ask about a player then proceed to explain to your potential trade partner how bad they are. A tactic I like to use is to give the owner a group of players I like from their team and then ask who they like off of mine. You will find out very quickly where their interests lie and can form an offer from there.
Since these are all buys for me this week, there won’t be a final verdict like we usually see in the Performance Report. Rather, we will have trade offer starting points.
The Blue Jays are becoming an exciting offensive team with a lot of key players for fantasy. There is of course Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who has gone from everyone’s punching bag to one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Bo Bichette has also emerged as a power/speed threat and will be pushing before long to be in the conversation as the best at his position. We certainly can’t forget Marcus Semien leading off and manning the keystone for the Jays. He was an afterthought for so many this offseason but could be one of the better draft-day steals as on his way to hitting 25 HR and nabbing 20 steals.
In the midst of all of these exciting names is a player who has had an incredible season in his own right. Teoscar Hernández might not be as flashy or have the name recognition of some of his teammates, but don’t discount what he’s done so far. To this point he has slashed .319/.370/.504 with no real signs of major regression in any of his underlying metrics. Hernández has actually lowered his strikeout rate this year to 22.6% while still hitting the ball hard and barreling it up really well. He has power, decent speed and with the lineup around him you know the counting numbers will be there.
Just because Hernández plays in a lineup where he is overshadowed by a couple of guys does not mean he will be cheap. He is a very good player and will cost you something to acquire. If you needed the bat and had excess in other areas on your team, this is 100% the type of player to go grab. I would feel comfortable moving an SP2 for him or even a good closer if I felt good about my position within the saves category. This is again where it is important to put yourself in the mind of your trade partner. If they are thirsty for saves or pitching in general, then maybe you could get it done with Edwin Díaz or a guy like Pablo López.
Offer: SP2 or Top 5 closer
For anyone who hasn’t been following Hendriks this season, this might seem like an odd guy to point out. He looked almost superhuman in 2019 and 2020 with an average ERA under 1.80 and a 13.13 K/9. Hendriks was signed by the White Sox this offseason and became arguably the top closer for fantasy. I know you must be thinking that there isn’t much of a leap to recommend buying the top closer in fantasy, but hear me out here… Hendriks has not been the best closer in baseball. In fact, right now there are nine other closers with more saves on the season than Hendriks.
You may find that the Hendriks owner who paid a steep price on draft day, now views him as a good closer and not an elite one. To this point, he has 10 saves and a 2.37 ERA. There is nothing bad about these numbers at all, in fact, Hendriks hasn’t given up an earned run the entire month of May. Saves are such a fickle stat and there are so many variables that go into whether or not a save opportunity even arises. The value here is in the job security and the skills. Hendriks might not have top 5 closer numbers right now, but he plays on one of the best teams in baseball and his elite skills remain intact.
I am not usually the type to go trade for a closer, but this just seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up. Even if I had to pay a premium for Hendriks, the return should be well worth it. I would be totally fine moving a solid bat or pitcher for Hendriks if it meant making up ground in the saves category. If you got lucky on waivers and have offensive depth, that’s where I’d start. Perhaps a guy like Jared Walsh or Adolis García could get it done and maybe you could even get a smaller piece back in return.
Offer: Top 50 Bat or SP2
Here’s a name with a little less star power than the other guys we’ve mentioned so far. Urshela has actually been pretty mediocre this year, so he is not a buy-high type of player at all. He’s batting .270/.324/.415 with just five HR. It is very easy to look at those numbers and dismiss him, which is exactly why he’s a guy I’d be targeting to buy, especially in OBP leagues.
Looking at his statcast numbers, Urshela is actually hitting the ball just as hard as he has in recent years, but he is also making hard contact more often. So why hasn’t this translated to more home runs? Well, his launch angle is uncharacteristically down to 5.4% when it usually sits in the low to mid teens. Given his history, I’m willing to bet that the launch angle can and will get corrected resulting in more over the fence power instead of single and doubles power.
Let’s also consider that Urshela has been almost exclusively batting cleanup for the Yankees. Even with some of the injuries to their lineup, he has still managed to knock in 25 RBI. I like Urshela to have more opportunities for counting numbers as that offense gets healthy and right now he could be a bargain buy. While he won’t be cheap to acquire, I would be very comfortable making a solid offer if I needed a 3B, CI, or UT bat. Maybe if the other owner needs speed you could offer something like Jurickson Profar or if they could need innings and an SP4 like Yusei Kikuchi might entice them.
Offer: SP3/4 or OF4
Let’s hit a five other players (some I’ve mentioned previously) that I would absolutely be buying.
- Nick Solak: Cooled off a little over the last week but still a strong buy especially in dynasty formats. He’ll never be a superstar, but don’t discount him for that reason
- Jared Walsh: Late bloomer who the Angels didn’t have focus solely on hitting until recent years (hence the breakout). He is slowly showing that his breakout in 2020 is more real than a flash in the pan.
- Amed Rosario: Former top prospect traded this offseason and mostly forgotten about on a bad Cleveland team. Shown signs of life since getting full-time at-bats and has hit .280/.341/.400 in May with four steals.
- Kyle Hendricks: What a difference a month makes… April ERA was a stinky 7.54 and whispers of Hendricks demise grew louder and louder. Settled down with a May ERA of 2.67. Don’t buy him for the strikeouts, but he could come at a discount for anyone in need of pitching help.
- Germán Márquez: K/9 is back above a batter per inning and outside of getting smashed for eight runs at the beginning of May (in Coors) he has looked solid this year. He’s a good buy in dynasty for the hope that he should eventually see his way off the Rockies and into a better pitching environment. In redraft leagues, buy him but be wary of pitching him in Coors.
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