While most managers try to fix their deficiencies by making massive deals, those who target the right players in small moves could make bigger gains. This week’s article is full of players who can be acquired in small standalone trades or added into a bigger transaction.
With more players than usual in the article this week, let’s get down to business.
PLAYERS TO ACQUIRE
Jarred Kelenic (OF, Mariners)
Fantasy managers are a fickle bunch, meaning that Kelenic has gone from overvalued to undervalued in the span of a few weeks. The rookie has an incredibly low .111 average, but his 25 percent strikeout rate is respectable and his batting mark has been dragged down by a .120 BABIP. And even with poor luck overall, Kelenic has produced two homers and three steals in 19 games. At the very least, you should gauge whether the Kelenic manager in your league has run out of patience.
Sean Manaea (SP, A’s)
Those who are looking for a reliable starter at a low trade return could make an offer for Manaea. His ratios (3.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) don’t look like that of an impact performer, but he has been dragged down by one awful start at Boston (where he should have been benched in fantasy leagues) and bad luck overall (.343 BABIP). The southpaw is continuing his career-long trend of limiting walks and should perform at a rate that is reflected by his 3.32 FIP.
Tarik Skubal (SP, Tigers)
Skubal is a waiver-wire option in shallow leagues and a solid trade target in deeper formats. The youngster has been mowing down batters left and right of late, recording at least eight punchouts in four of his past five starts. And his swing-and-miss prowess is nothing new, as Skubal owns a lifetime 13.2 K/9 rate in the Minors. The southpaw is still honing his control skills but has made enough progress in that area to allow his strikeout habits to shine.
Framber Valdez (SP, Astros)
I previously ranked Valdez as one of my favorite value picks in February drafts, believing that he had the potential to be a borderline ace this year. A finger injury suffered in March derailed his full-season value, but the southpaw is back in action and had a respectable 2021 debut when he held San Diego to one run over four innings. Valdez recorded a 2.83 FIP and a 1.12 WHIP last season, and he could be extremely valuable in a week or two, once he has fully shaken off the rust from his long absence.
Eduardo Rodriguez (SP, Red Sox)
Rodriguez is likely easy to acquire right now, as he owns a 5.64 ERA and has produced an 8.69 mark in his past four starts. And after the left-hander missed all of last season, there can easily be a case made that he is quickly running out of steam this year. But my guess is that bad luck is his actual problem of late. Rodriguez has dealt with a .474 BABIP in those four dismal outings, and in a bad start against the Astros on Monday, six of his seven hits allowed were singles. Better days are ahead.
PLAYERS TO TRADE WAY
Alex Reyes (RP, Cardinals)
I’m very worried about Reyes, who walked 15 batters in 15.2 innings during May. The right-hander undoubtedly has outstanding swing-and-miss skills, but very few closers have had sustained success while putting this many runners on base. Reyes led the Majors in saves last month and owns a 0.62 ERA, and these facts can be used while trading him away for a large return right now. A sneaky move would be to trade away Reyes while also adding Cardinals setup man Giovanny Gallegos from waivers, in hopes that you perfectly time the Cardinals switching closers.
Willson Contreras (C, Cubs)
Contreras has solid numbers overall and should provide a decent trade return. But his May numbers are concerning and this could be the best time to make a switch in one-catcher leagues. Seven of the 29-year-old’s nine homers came back in April, and he needed a .367 BABIP just to hit .247 in May. Contreras continues to put too many batted balls on the ground, and his hard-contact rates are poor. I would be happy to move him for a useful starter and use the waiver wire to stream my catcher spot.
Blake Snell (SP, Padres)
I often get comments on Twitter saying that it’s impossible to trade away a slumping player. But the Yahoo! Trade Market page shows that simply isn’t true. Snell has been traded dozens of times in recent days, including 1-for-1 deals for the likes of Will Smith (Braves), Brad Hand, Trent Grisham, and Eric Hosmer. Selling low on Snell is a great idea, as he still has plenty of name value and is unlikely to turn things around soon.
Zach Davies (SP, Cubs)
Davies managers can make an easy case to include him in a trade — he posted a 1.72 ERA in May. After being a huge success last year, the right-hander seems to have put a slow start behind him and is now ready to resume being a mixed-league asset. But the reality is that wise managers will get far away from Davies as soon as possible. His May strikeout rate was atrocious (11.5 percent) and a 2.3 percent K-BB rate last month was the lowest of any qualified starter.
Garrett Richards (SP, Red Sox)
I’m not buying into Richards, who has logged a 2.70 ERA since April 27. He continues to have control issues, having issued 15 walks in his past four starts. And his strikeout rates aren’t special, as he has punched out just 18 batters in his past five outings. I would be happy to trade Richards to a team needing pitching for any serviceable option at another position.