Alright friends, we’ve been busy over the last 24 hours and were unable to do the regular game watching/following we do most nights, so to remain as helpful as possible, today’s addition of the newsletter is going to run the full gamut of waiver wire options for all 30 teams.
It is next to impossible to find ownership levels that are applicable to all formats, so we’re going to use the numbers provided by the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, since their leagues vary in size (mostly 12- and 15-team mixed) and involve money, so they tend to give a more accurate read of owners that are engaged on a weekly basis.
To also try to offset this natural issue with relevance to all readers, we’re going to give names in three categories. “Highly-owned” players will be those owned in at least 65% of leagues. “Medium-owned” will be owned in 30 to 64.9% of leagues. And “low-owned” will be owned in 29.9% or less of leagues.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with the regular daily recap + insight on our favorite two-start pitchers in the upcoming week.
- Highly-owned: RP Archie Bradley (90% owned)
- Medium-owned: SS Ketel Marte (43% owned)
- Low-owned: SS Nick Ahmed (6% owned): Ahmed has cut down on his swinging strike rate and is still hanging in the high-70s for his contact percentage. If you’re looking for a safe batting average floor from a middle infielder, Ahmed can provide it, but he hasn’t been able to recreate the stolen base ability he showed in his first four minor-league seasons between 2011 and 2014, and he’s never been a power source.
- Highly-owned: SS Dansby Swanson (74% owned):
- Medium-owned: SP Brandon McCarthy (44% owned): McCarthy is scheduled to be a two-start pitcher next week, as we referenced yesterday, and we like what we’ve seen so far. He’s not going to give you a lot of strikeouts, but if the injury doesn’t impact him, he’s a nice source of innings with mid-level ERA/WHIP production and a decent shot at wins.
- Low-owned: RP Shane Carle (0% owned): Carle has worked four outings beyond a single inning, and with eight strikeouts and one walk in 8 2/3 innings entering Friday, he is a good flyer for a reliever who could get to the high-90s/low 100s for innings this year.
- Highly-owned: RP Zach Britton (88% owned): The best news on Britton is that there has been no news on his rehab in a couple of weeks, which we think is positive at this point. Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com notes in her mailbag earlier this week that Britton remains on track for an early June return. Four months of Britton closing is too valuable to leave sitting on the waiver wire.
- Medium-owned: OF Mark Trumbo (64% owned): Trumbo’s rehab has been slowed, as we noted earlier this week, but there are few players with his power upside when he’s healthy and right. If you have a reserve slot to use to speculate for 3-4 weeks, Trumbo is a good player to use it on.
- Low-owned: SP Andrew Cashner (4% owned)
Boston Red Sox
- Highly-owned: OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (77% owned)
- Low-owned (there is nobody in the medium-owned range): RP Brian Johnson (5% owned): Johnson has been shifted to long relief and had two nice outings this week against the Yankees, going 2 innings and 1 2/3 innings and striking out two and three, respectively. If you want to speculate on a wild card long reliever that could get volume innings and some wins, Johnson is off to a nice start down that path.
- Low-owned: 2B Dustin Pedroia (3% owned): An update earlier this week was that Pedroia had run the bases and was moving forward in his rehab. 2B/OF Eduardo Nunez has been fine but isn’t setting the world on fire, so Pedroia should be in position to get playing time as soon as he’s back.
- Medium-owned: RP C.J. Edwards (59% owned): The Cubs bullpen is by no means settled, especially with an injury-prone and aging closer in RP Brandon Morrow. Edwards also provides value with his strikeouts beyond a “closer backup” role.
- Low-owned (there is nobody in the highly-owned range): C Victor Caratini (3% owned): Caratini is getting playing time at first base with 1B Anthony Rizzo out, and any catcher-eligible player getting playing time is worth consideration in deep and two-catcher leagues.
- Low-owned: 2B Ben Zobrist (5% owned)
Chicago White Sox
- Highly-owned: RP Nate Jones (88% owned): Jones is getting save chances. That alone makes him worth rostering in all formats where saves are a category or a large source of points.
- Low-owned (there is nobody in the medium-owned range): 2B/3B Yolmer Sanchez (10% owned): He has position flexibility and plays every day.
- Low-owned: OF Nicky Delmonico (3% owned): Delmonico is also playing every day and flashed power in spurts last year. He’s also walking consistently.
- Highly-owned: C Tucker Barnhart (95% owned): Barnhart plays as much as any non-elite catcher in the league and should be owned in all formats where more than 12 catchers are worth rostering.
- Medium-owned: SP Tyler Mahle (58% owned)
- Low-owned: SP/RP Amir Garrett (14% owned): We love Garrett as a deep-league addition with his improved strike throwing so far this year and the chance that he moves in to the rotation at some point.
- Highly-owned: 2B Jason Kipnis (97% owned)
- Highly-owned (there is nobody in the medium-owned range): SP Danny Salazar (94% owned): Salazar is rehabbing in Arizona and looks on track for an early-May return. We expect him to take the rotation spot of SP Josh Tomlin shortly after that. You’ll know quickly whether you can keep or cut Salazar, so you won’t have to worry about holding up a roster spot for the long haul.
- Low-owned: OF Rajai Davis (14% owned)
- Highly-owned: OF David Dahl (90% owned)
- Medium-owned: OF Gerardo Parra (35% owned): Both Dahl and Parra have the same value, but for different reasons. With OF Charlie Blackmon struggling with nagging quad and back injuries this week and OF Carlos Gonzalez being an older player (relatively speaking), the windows to playing time for both guys are a little more open than to start the season. With full playing time, any starting hitter in Coors Field must be owned.
- Low-owned: SP German Marquez (25% owned)
- Highly-owned: C James McCann (97% owned): See Tucker Barnhart’s blurb in the Reds section. Same thing applies here.
- Medium-owned: 3B Jeimer Candelario (37% owned)
- Low-owned: SP Daniel Norris (1% owned): SP Jordan Zimmermann will likely make his next start after being hit in the face by a line drive on Wednesday, which means Norris will stay in long relief, where he’s shown some value so far. On Wednesday, Norris was great the first time through the Cleveland order before falling apart the second time. If Norris gets 2-3 appearances a week and compiles 5-6 innings, that’s great value for what he’s shown he can provide for strikeouts as a reliever.
- Highly-owned: 1B Yuli Gurriel (96% owned)
- Highly-owned (no medium-owned players available): RP Brad Peacock (99% owned): Both Gurriel and Peacock have too much upside at their highest-performance outcomes to be free agents. Gurriel’s playing time pattern should work itself out this weekend, but we expect him to get the bulk of the playing time at first base moving forward.
- Low-owned: C Max Stassi (3% owned): Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required…and recommended) has a very nice look at Stassi’s new approach that has driven his hot start. He’s catcher eligible and could be in line for more time as the season moves on with an aging catcher corps of Brian McCann and Evan Gattis (though he’s more of a #3 now as he primarily plays DH). We like Stassi a lot as a second catcher in 12-team, two-catchers leagues for owners who are looking for a lottery ticket.
Kansas City Royals
- Highly-owned: SP Ian Kennedy (67% owned)
- Medium-owned: OF Jorge Soler (33% owned)
- Low-owned: RP Nate Karns (1% owned): Karns may be back next week and will be in a relief role to start. In a deep league, you’ll know within 2-3 weeks of how much long-term viability Karns has in the bullpen. That makes him worth consideration for his previous showcase of valuable skills.
Los Angeles Angels
- Highly-owned: SP Tyler Skaggs (95% owned)
- Low-owned (no medium-owned players worth noting): RP Jim Johnson (8% owned): The Angels bullpen is a mess when it comes to trying to pick a closer to own, but RP Keynan Middleton looks like the best option now. Johnson has been good to start the season, though, and we like him as the best speculative option to close if Middleton fails or gets hurt.
- Low-owned: SP Nick Tropeano (2% owned)
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Highly-owned: OF Matt Kemp (91% owned): Here’s a rehash of what we said about Kemp on Thursday: “OF Matt Kemp has seven hits in his last three games, showing us the guy that we recommended in our preseason trends article as someone to play as much as possible if/when he showed early season production. Kemp could fall apart at any moment, but hitting in the cleanup spot for this lineup makes him valuable in all formats right now.”
- Medium-owned: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (48% owned): Here’s a rehash of what we said about Ryu after his start strong against Oakland on Wednesday:”That make-or-break start we mentioned for SP Hyun-Jin Ryu? He nailed it – six innings, one hit, one walk, no runs, eight strikeouts, 90 pitches. Ryu only went six innings or more eight times last year, but maybe with the Dodgers’ usage pattern for their starters, he can do it more often. Still, the ceiling looks somewhere between 85 and 95 pitches, even on his best days.”
- Low-owned: RP Ross Stripling (1% owned): Here’s a rehash of what we said about Stripling on April 5: “RP Ross Stripling is starting to put together his own value case as a middle reliever. He’s not quite Brad Peacock yet, but he’s already appeared three times, racked up five scoreless innings with five hits and no walks, along with two strikeouts and seven groundball outs. He’s one for NL-only owners to keep an eye on.” Since that note, Stripling has pitched twice, amassing 3 scoreless innings and five strikeouts.
- Highly-owned: 2B Starlin Castro (95% owned): Castro is walking a ton above career norms because pitchers have little to fear in the Miami lineup with 1B Justin Bour struggling. So even if Castro’s power declines a little and brings his RBI total with it, we like his ability to keep his batting average high and perhaps score 85-95 runs when Bour gets going.
- Medium-owned: 3B Brian Anderson (30% owned): Anderson is going to play every day this season unless he bottoms out at the plate. For a guy that is going to hit cleanup or fifth every day this year, he’s not owned enough. We’d much rather have Anderson on our roster in 12-team leagues than continuing to hope that Miguel Andujar (57% owned) gets going for the Yankees.
- Low-owned: SP/RP Jarlin Garcia (2% owned): Rehashing our note on Garcia from Thursday: “We said on Saturday that we’d be watching the starting performance of RP Jarlin Garcia yesterday, as we had liked his stuff in limited action. That like is confirmed after a six-inning no-hitter that ended due to pitch count concerns – and rightly, with Garcia being at 77 and having not stretched out that long at all early in the season. Garcia didn’t have terrific command overall, throwing 33 balls and 44 strikes, but overall we saw a guy who is going to give the league problems the first few times through as they learn about him. He gets a one-start week at the Yankees next week, then a two-start week at the Dodgers and home for Philly.”
- Highly-owned: RP Josh Hader (97% owned)
- Medium-owned: RP Matt Albers (57% owned): Like Nate Jones in Chicago, Albers has to be owned because all signs point to him getting the bulk of the save opportunities in the near term.
- Low-owned: SP Brent Suter (12% owned)
- Highly-owned: OF Max Kepler (93% owned): Rehashing our note on Kepler from Thursday. He needs to be owned in all leagues, regardless of size: “OF Max Kepler’s bounce-back season continued with two home runs, including a walk-off shot against RP Brad Peacock. Two great notes here from Dan Hayes that makes us think Kepler is an add in shallow leagues and a trade target in all other formats. First, his three homers are on off-speed pitches. Last year, he hit four homers on off-speed pitchers in a full season of playing time. Second, Hayes tweets here about the numbers behind Kepler’s improved plate discipline and pitch recognition.”
- Medium-owned: 3B/SS Eduardo Escobar (51% owned): Escobar is going to gain shortstop eligibility in almost all leagues (10 games) this weekend, boosting his value significantly, especially with Rangers SS Elvis Andrus going down for an extended period. Early on, Escobar is continuing the hitting development he showed last season; he’d be our top infield target this weekend.
- Low-owned: 1B Joe Mauer (8% owned)
New York Mets
- Highly-owned: 2B/SS/3B Asdrubal Cabrera (80% owned)
- Low-owned (no medium-owned players available): RP Robert Gsellman (4% owned)
- Low-owned: RP Seth Lugo (2% owned): We like Gsellman and Lugo in relief, but also because they are both speculative plays for a Mets rotation full of guys with injury histories. Here’s what we said about them earlier this week (Monday) after their performance in a 12-inning win against Washington: “Another nice pair of relief outings from RP Robert Gsellman and RP Seth Lugo, who gave the Mets a collective five innings and allowed just three hits and a run. Walks were an issue, five with combined, but both guys have earned their way on to the radar, especially in leagues where your SP/RP positions are separated.”
New York Yankees
- Highly-owned: RP Chad Green (70% owned)
- Medium-owned: 2B Neil Walker (55% owned)
- Low-owned: 1B Tyler Austin (12% owned): We’ve espoused plenty of praise for Austin, and it is crazy for him to be this available when he’s producing, he’s in a strong lineup, and his closest competition is 1B Greg Bird, who is at least a month from being on the field for rehab games.
- Medium-owned (more options than scarcely available highly-owned players): 2B Jed Lowrie (50% owned): We recommended Lowrie in last Sunday’s waiver-wire examination, and heading in to Friday’s action he had played three games since then, going 4-for-13 with a home run and four RBI. Same thing we said last week applies: “Lowrie generally is in the low-to-mid 80s for contact percentage, has good power, and hits in the top third of the Oakland lineup behind a prodigious power hitter in OF Khris Davis. He’s worth considering on 12-team league rosters, especially if you’re looking for volume of at bats and the counting stats (non-steals) that come with it.”
- Medium-owned: SP Andrew Triggs (40% owned)
- Low-owned: OF Dustin Fowler (18% owned): Fowler already has three stolen bases early in his Triple-A season. If you are holding on to Texas OF Willie Calhoun because you expect power and batting average the moment he comes up, you should be holding/adding Fowler for the same reason, but with stolen bases. He’s shown nothing to make us believe last year’s knee injury is going to slow him down on the bases.
- Highly-owned: SP Nick Pivetta (66% owned)
- Highly-owned (no medium-owned players available): OF Aaron Altherr (91% owned): It is an unpredictable playing time situation for all Phillies infielders/outfielders beyond 1B Carlos Santana, 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins, and 2B Cesar Hernandez, but if we were going to seek out one of the players impacted by this, it would be Altherr due to the power/speed combo he can provide at his best.
- Low-owned: SP Ben Lively (21% owned): Complete wild card here, but Lively has at least shown some improved ability to generate strikeouts.
- Highly-owned: 1B/3B Colin Moran (76% owned): Similar to SS/3B Eduardo Escobar of the Twins, Moran will get more valuable position eligibility this weekend when he plays his 10th game at third base. Moran needs to walk a little more for us to feel good about keeping him in the lineup of a 12-team league every day/week regardless of matchup, but otherwise he’s off to a good start after last season’s strong finish.
- Medium-owned: C Francisco Cervelli (37% owned)
- Low-owned: SP Chad Kuhl (5% owned)
San Diego Padres
- Highly-owned: SP Dinelson Lamet (84% owned): Lamet is progressing in his throwing program and his fate should be clear by early-to-mid May – either he’s back and healthy and worth starting for his high-strikeout upside, or the injury gets worse and you can dump him without reservation. That’s the perfect type of injury stash to pursue as a pitcher.
- Low-owned (more options than scarcely available medium-owned players): SP Joey Lucchesi (17% owned)
- Low-owned: OF Franchy Cordero (7% owned)
San Francisco Giants
- Highly-owned: 2B Joe Panik (70% owned)
- Medium-owned: SP Chris Stratton (54% owned)
- Low-owned: RP Tony Watson (2% owned): RP Mark Melancon is two weeks from even throwing a baseball, and while we do like RP Hunter Strickland, injuries happen. We believe in Watson as the next guy up if Strickland goes down, and it doesn’t hurt that it has been a strong start to the season for the former Pirates closer.
- We couldn’t, in good conscience, recommend any of the Mariners pitchers that have any semblance of current non-100 percent ownership: SPs Felix Hernandez, Marco Gonzales, and Mike Leake. Same goes for hitters, other than OF Ben Gamel, who is only 1 percent owned and will give fantasy owners a first glance at his major league viability this weekend.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Highly-owned: SP Jack Flaherty (93% owned): Flaherty is the best minor-league pitcher stash right now and should be owned in 100% of leagues.
- Low-owned (more options than scarcely available medium-owned players): RP Jordan Hicks (4% owned)
- Low-owned: 3B Jedd Gyorko (16% owned): The Cardinals infield has not been a hotbed of production early in the season between 2B Kolten Wong and 1B/3B Matt Carpenter, so Gyorko will likely be in line for every day playing time somewhere when he gets back (likely 2B…don’t see Carpenter being benched).
Tampa Bay Rays
- Highly-owned: OF Mallex Smith (70% owned)
- Medium-owned: SP/RP Yonny Chirinos (33% owned): We’ve mentioned Chirinos more than any other player in the short history of this blog. We love his stuff and the opportunity is going to be there for innings. He has our highest recommendation for pitchers to add this weekend when balancing availability, current opportunity, and future outlook.
- Low-owned: RP Sergio Romo (3% owned): We’re still strong believers that if/when RP Alex Colome is removed from the closer role or traded, Romo is getting it. This is especially true if Colome goes before the trade deadline, as letting Romo close would only further boost his trade value for late July.
- Highly-owned: SP Cole Hamels (99% owned)
- Highly-owned (no medium-owned players available): SP/RP Mike Minor (87% owned)
- Low-owned: INF/OF Jurickson Profar (0% owned)
Toronto Blue Jays
- Highly-owned: 2B/SS/3B Yangervis Solarte (97% owned)
- Medium-owned: DH Kendrys Morales (34% owned): Morales should be back when his disabled list stint is up, and it won’t be easy to find his power upside on waivers later in the year. Morales is a great stash and hold for a few weeks to see if he can get going once he’s back.
- Low-owned: OF Curtis Granderson (8% owned): Granderson has been leading off this week, supplanting 2B Devon Travis. This is what we were hoping to see when we recommended Granderson in our Spring Training Trends outlook. We’d add him in 12-team and larger formats this weekend. As a reminder, here was our preseason feeling on Grandy: “The Jays have one pure left-handed hitter on their 25-man roster, OF Curtis Granderson. While it looks like he’s going to platoon with OF Steve Pearce, I do think there’s a chance Granderson gets 450-500 at bats simply because they need a regular left-handed option. 1B Justin Smoak and DH Kendrys Morales are both switch hitters, but perform much better as right-handed batters. If Granderson plays five days a week and leads off even half of the time (2B Devon Travis is going to start the season in the one hole) he’s a starter in 12-team and larger leagues.”
- Highly-owned: OF Michael Taylor (99% owned)
- Low-owned (more options than scarcely available medium-owned players): OF Brian Goodwin (1% owned): Goodwin is going to play semi-regularly with OF Adam Eaton out, and he’s likely to get at least some run in the leadoff spot. With his ability to steal bases, that’s worth a flyer.
- Low-owned: RP Matt Grace (0% owned): Grace has already, somehow, pitched in eight games this season, amassing 9 1/3 innings and striking out nine with just one walk. No idea what the long-term plan is for manager Dave Martinez using Grace, and the Nationals have already played two-extra inning games, so maybe the bullpen usage is a little off. Either way, Grace is worth monitoring to see how the next two weeks go for his innings volume and performance. At 4-5 innings a week with a strikeout per inning, he could be worth adding in NL-only leagues.