We are a few days into Week 18 of the MLB fantasy season, but we can certainly still look to wheel and deal on the trade market.
In week 17, we suggested buying a pair of outfielders in Leonys Martin and Scott Schebler. While the latter remains on the DL and now may not return until September (therefore lowering his stock and making him cheaper on the trade market) the former indeed proved to be a worthy buy-low player since his trade to the first place Indians.
Martin made five consecutive starts for the Indians prior to receiving his first day off, and he clubbed two homers, scored three runs and produced four RBIs in that five-game stretch. He will still get the bulk of starts in center field over Rajai Davis and still projects as a nice buy-low player if you are in need of some cheap outfield help.
We suggested selling Gio Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu before their stocks fell further, and both of those seemed to be quality suggestions as well. Gonzalez was blown up for five earned runs on 10 hits by the Reds in his lone start since last week’s piece while LeMahieu has produced just three runs scored, zero homers, zero RBIs and zero stolen bases in six games since returning from the DL.
As a reminder, these are suggestions based on the perceived value we can get in trades involving these players. The players I suggest to sell aren’t players I think are bad. They are players whose value may soon be on the decline and it may be prudent to explore trades for these players while their value is still very high.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a couple of players we should be looking to buy and some others we should be selling while their stock is high.
Players to Buy
SP – Nathan Eovaldi (BOS)
Eovaldi’s stock isn’t low by any means as he is now over 70% owned in ESPN leagues, but there is plenty of reasons to buy the right-handed flame thrower moving forward.
He didn’t pitch at all in the big leagues in 2017, leading most to believe it would take him some time to regain his form, however that turned out to be far from the truth. Eovaldi has taken off to the tune of a 3.38 ERA, and would be much lower if it weren’t for an eight-run blowup in Minnesota while still with the Rays.
He has otherwise allowed two earned runs or less in six of his last seven starts, including his two starts so far with the Red Sox in which he has hurled 15 innings of scoreless ball to go along with nine strikeouts. Despite averaging 97 mph on his four-seam fastball and adding a nasty cutter to his repertoire, Eovaldi still isn’t going to be a big-time strikeout producer with a 22.6% strikeout clip on the season, but that’s still an improvement on his career mark of just 17.4%.
His stock isn’t low, but it’s not so high that you can’t reasonably make a deal for him, so I would look to see if you can make a move for the right-hander as his move to the Red Sox is certainly another boost to his fantasy value.
2B – Yoan Moncada (CWS)
If you have patience, and you may need it, Moncada is a nice buy-low option right now. Baseball’s former number one prospect is struggling at the plate right now and is hitting just .217 on the season. He leads all of baseball with 161 strikeouts on the season and owns an unsightly 34.5% strikeout rate.
That said, here is a guy with both power and speed upside who plays everyday. Let’s keep in mind this is his first full season in the big leagues after logging just 199 at-bats in the bigs in 2017. Moncada has hit 14 homers and stolen 11 bases on the season, and he has stolen as many as 49 bases in a minor league season. Yes, his poor .300 OBP is dampening his stolen base upside right now, but at just 23 years old, there is room to grow.
Plenty of young players struggle with strikeouts at the big league level. It’s also an almost certainty that Moncada and the hitting coaches in Chicago will be working on pitch selection to address the dire need for improvement in this area heading into next season.
The power is there, the speed is there and the White Sox offense is only going to improve as their impressive farm system starts to reach the big league level, possibly as soon as September when rosters expand.
If you have the patience to wait on Moncada while he cleans up his approach, you could be rewarded in a big way.
Players to Sell
1B – Joey Votto (CIN)
Here is a guy whose value to the Reds is more than it is to your fantasy team.
Votto has been worth as much as 7.3 WAR over the last three years and was still worth 6.6 WAR in 2017, and although he’s still at a solid 2.9 for this year, I think his counting stats are on the decline for good.
He’s no spring chicken. Votto will be 35 years old in September and this year has been no good in terms of counting stats, especially compared to his lofty expectations. He’s clubbed just nine long balls this season and his slugging percentage is down to only .427 after posting a .578 number last season when he hit 36 home runs.
Votto’s extremely patient approach and elite batter’s eye does much more for the Reds than it does your fantasy team. He is an OBP beast still with a .426 mark this year, so if your league counts OBP, than he is still the best in the business in that area. He’s scored a decent 58 runs and knocked in 53, but those aren’t totals that rank among the best in the business by a long shot.
At 99.3% owned and still with tremendous name value, Votto could certainly bring back a real attractive return, possibly addressing multiple needs on your roster. At his age, I’m seeing what I can get.
C – Buster Posey (SF)
For many years, Posey was the top catcher in the game, but these days his name carries much for value than his production at the plate.
Since 2014 when Posey hit 22 homers, his home run totals have dropped every year since. He has just five this season, on pace for easily the worst output of his career. Of 46 catchers with at least 150 plate appearances this season, Posey’s five home runs rank in a tie for 28th along with players like Martin Maldonado and Alex Avila.
His .292 average and .367 OBP are still very solid numbers for sure, but it’s very easy to see his power is fading. At the age of 31, it’s no big surprise for a catcher as the wear and tear of that position is the real deal.
It doesn’t appear to be imminent with Brandon Belt on board for Posey to move to first base full-time, but at some point it’s going to happen. At that point, he is a very poor option at first base, whereas he can still provide value at a position as thin as catcher is.
Regardless, with the power fading and the spacious confines of AT&T Park in San Francisco not helping his cause, it’s not difficult to see that Posey isn’t the same monster producer he once was, even at this position. I would use the name value and seek out a trade before it really is too late.