By Sam McPherson
The Major League Baseball trades have started in earnest, as teams with postseason aspirations begin to load up with extra and needed talent. While these trades occur in the real world, their impact upon fantasy baseball is often very different than in actual baseball. Some traded players go from key roles on their old teams to supporting roles on the new team, and the opposite also is possible depending on the situation.
As a fantasy baseball team manager, you have to keep an eye on every trade, looking for value in those traded players—whether gained or lost. If you’re slow to react to a trade and its fantasy consequences, it could end up costing you the league championship. No fantasy owner wants to get stuck with worthless players after the MLB trade deadline on July 31.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: At age 24, he’s finally arrived, hitting .293 with 15 home runs, 50 RBI and nine stolen bases for the National Central Division leaders. The sky is the limit for Santana, and he’s been on fire this month. Snag him and enjoy the ride, for it could last awhile. The Brewers, and their young stud OF, are for real this season.
2. Starling Marté, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Back in late April, we suggested dropping him, and now that he’s due back on Tuesday from his suspension, we recommend you get him if he’s available in your league. A lot of owners might be asleep at the wheel for his return. Marté averaged 37 SBs in four full seasons from 2013-2016, so at the very least, he should be good for 15 steals in the second half of the season.
3. Alex Cobb, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: From 2012-2014, he posted a 32-21 record with a 3.19 ERA for the Rays before missing 2015 entirely due to arm troubles. This season, he is 8-6 with a 3.59 ERA as he works his way back into the fantasy conversation. His strikeout rate is down a little from earlier career, and the Tampa Bay organization probably won’t let him pitch too many innings this year. But Cobb still has some more good starts left in that arm for 2017.
4. Mike Clevinger, SP, Cleveland Indians: In his MLB career so far, he has a 9.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched rate, which is very nice in fantasy baseball. His walk rate is still too high, but Clevinger has been doing a very good job at limiting opposing batters this season in terms of batting average. As long as the hits against are few, he’s worth picking up and starting in your league.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Michael Pineda, SP, New York Yankees: He may never live up to the hype from his early days in the Seattle system, but regardless, Pineda probably is headed for Tommy John surgery. You can release him and look for him again in 2019, basically, when he will be 30 years old. Pineda’s 92 Ks in 96 1/3 innings this year were nice while they lasted.
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians: A two-time All-Star selection, he’s really dropped off this year, hitting a career-low .232 right now. He had a rough 2014 season, too, bookended by his All-Star seasons, so maybe Kipnis can make a comeback in 2018. But with another injury currently, this is a lost season for him. Don’t make it one for your team, too.
3. Joe Ross, SP, Washington Nationals: Hopefully he wasn’t on your roster anyway, but if he was, drop him immediately as he also needs TJ surgery. Ross may have been a sleeper pick in 2017 drafts, coming off serviceable portions of MLB seasons in 2015 and 2016. However, he was terrible this season (5.01 ERA), and now we know why.
4. Mitch Haniger, OF, Seattle Mariners: He’s played 83 games in the majors now over the last two years, and Haniger is hitting just .252 overall with good power (12 HRs, .438 slugging percentage). Generally, you can find better-hitting OFs on the waiver wire on any given day of the season. Haniger is already 26 years old, so this is as good as he’s going to get. You can do better.