The All-Star break is fast approaching, which usually means the trade market is going to pick up as managers have a few extra days to assess their teams and plan for the rest of the season. This week I wanted to look in particular at some guys who are likely unowned or on the lower end of the ownership spectrum. They may even be available on waivers in your league. Some of them have hype building around them and some are a little more under the radar, but the important question of course is, should they be priority acquisition targets for your team?
I’d be lying if I told you I had a strong opinion on Harold Ramirez entering this year. Honestly, the guy wasn’t even on my radar and had almost entirely been erased from my internal rolodex of players. Can you blame me though? Ramirez was barely good enough to secure a mostly full-time role with a bad 2019 Marlins team where he hit .276/.312/.416 with eleven HR in 119 games played.
In the shortened 2020 season, Ramirez was knocked out for nearly a month when he contracted Covid. The rest of that season became a wash when he came back from Covid only to injure his hamstring and miss the remainder of the year. This past January, Ramirez was DFA’d by the Marlins and picked up by Cleveland where he got tossed into a a murky OF battle. You can see now how Ramirez had slipped out of my periphery.
Ramirez has forced his way into a starting role this year and in 50 games he’s hit .275/.324/.463 with six HR and a couple of stolen bases. I know this doesn’t look very impressive (which is probably why Ramirez isn’t more universally rostered in fantasy circles), but let’s just look at his play from the last month or so. Since June 1st he has slashed .308/.360/.526 with four HR, a 5.8% walk rate, and a 14% strike out rate. The components are here for maybe even a little more power if he can just work on his launch angle (3.9%). He is hitting the ball hard and is in the top 10% of the league in max exit velocity, hard hit percentage, and xBA.
As odd as it may sound, another thing working in Ramirez’ favor is the lack of quality options around him in Cleveland. I feel like I say this every week, but looking for even average players on bad teams can be a game changer for you. At bats are everything, especially as the season wears on, and Ramirez will have a longer leash in Cleveland than he would for a better team.
I don’t see him being a strong buy in OBP leagues (that doesn’t disqualify him), but in AVG leagues I would be actively and depending on my roster depth even aggressively looking to acquire Ramirez. I think the case can be made for him to be an OF4 type or possible better by years end.
Atlanta has had some promising young arms floating around the top of their minors the last few years. The results of the call-ups have been a mixed bag, but honestly, it’s hard to complain when you take a step back and realize that they have hit on some exciting arms. Ian Anderson and Max Fried look to be mainstays in that rotation for a while, and Huascar Ynoa also showed a lot of promise before hurting his hand earlier this year. While the recent re-injury news around Mike Soroka hurts, there looks to be another young arm looking to carve out a role in the rotation for the long haul.
Kyle Muller has three appearances (two of them being starts) under his belt and is in line to make another start today against the Marlins. Muller does not have the hype surrounding his call up that most other prospect pitchers have due in large part to the fact that he’d seemingly been jumped in most published prospect rankings by other pitchers in this organization. To this point, he is showing us he warrants another look.
The 6’7″ leftie, throws mid 90’s heat and has struck out 13 batters in 10 innings. His arsenal is varied enough to keep batters off balance, but the big question is going to be with his control. Muller has a BB/9 of 3.60 in his limited run in the majors, but his minor league track record has him giving free passes at a consistent 5+ BB/9. As with a lot of tall pitchers, the control can be one of the hardest things to find consistency with and so patience will be required. Nick recently broke down Muller’s most recent start here.
Everywhere he’s available, I’ve gone out and picked Muller up. He has the starter kit that I love in that he is a big projectable guy with nasty stuff. Yes, the control will be the wildcard, but at his price point he needs to be considered. Here’s hoping his Saturday start doesn’t make me look too bad!
The Padres rotation just lost Blake Snell and Dinelson Lamet (yes… again), which means there is once again room at the inn for Ryan Weathers. The former first round selection was a hot pickup earlier this season when he was called up. In the minors, Weathers looked like a pitcher who would keep the walks down while striking out just about a batter an inning. He has done a good job of keeping his walks down as well as limiting the home runs, but his 6.84 K/9 with just a 24.8% CSW leaves something to be desired. Although, when you consider this is the 21 year old’s first taste of the big leagues, then there is of course reason to be optimistic.
I do worry that Weathers is not quite as good as his 2.63 ERA and 1.11 WHIP indicate. A 4.72 xERA tells me that he has probably gotten a little lucky, but I also have a really hard time buying into young pitchers who don’t strike guys out. Long term I am a fan of Weathers and I think he will continue to grow. It seems like the Padres really want him to work out as a starter and the rash of injuries in their rotation present him with an opportunity to be give a chance. He is a player, I’m rolling with in deeper leagues and looking to hold. Depending on the price, he could be a solid buy. Keep in mind, he may have an innings cap and not be very useful to you come September.
Is the Yermín Mercedes era over for the White Sox already? For now, it would appear that way, and the most recent call-up with hopes of catching our eyes and potentially our FAAB dollars is Gavin Sheets. Try not to beat yourself up too much if you haven’t heard of Sheets before today. While he is not a high profile prospect, the 25 year old has already made a splash in his very limited major league time. In just 4 games he has smacked two HR with eight RBI and is making the most of the opportunities he is receiving with all of the injuries to the White Sox roster.
In 41 games at triple-A, Sheets had a triple-slash of .292/.352/.472 and tacked on seven HR. He pretty clearly doesn’t exhibit the type of power that Mercedes did, but the hope is that the hit tool with Sheets is what will help him stick (Mercedes hit .159 in June!). There is also the possibility that Sheets will see some time in the OF as well.
The sample size is so small that’s it’s almost non-existent, but Sheets is worth a gamble in deep leagues. It is possible that a savvy owner has already snatched him up. The thing with Sheets that is also consistent with all of the guys we talked about today is the opportunity cost of rostering them. If they aren’t already on waivers, then they can likely be had on the cheap in a trade. These are the types of guys who at best can help you pad your stats and actually make an impact in your standings, and at the very worst get dropped when you decide to chase someone else.
Verdict: WATCH – shallow leagues BUY – deep leagues
Photo by Mick Haupt/Unsplash | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)