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Digging Deeper: NL-Only Waiver Wire Report for Week 9


Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams, to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more. With that, onto the Island of Misfit Fantasy Toys. Note: all FAAB bids assume a $1000 budget.

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C - Carson Kelly (C, ARI)

1% owned, FAAB $13

Kelly has surprised most with his offense production so far, and seems to be working himself into a regular role with the Diamondbacks. While he is the future, until Daulton Varsho, Kelly was still slated to be stuck on the bench for most of the year. Nevertheless, in 34 games Kelly is slashing .242/.330/.462 with four homers, and 11 total runs scored. While only playing twice last week, for the year he has played at least three games in a week since Alex Avila's return from an early-season injury. All of this adds to the underlying playing time, and upside that comes with an emerging hit tool.

The other good news for fantasy owners is that the glove has translated to the Majors so far. Kelly sits in the top 10% of the league in terms of pitch framing, and he has covered 230 out of 244 fielding chances. This means that the playing time will be there, just for the defense alone. While Kelly alone might not make the trade for Paul Goldschmidt work out for Arizona, if he can become a reliable .250 batting option, he might be a top-six catcher entering next year. That is a good starting point for the rebuild in Arizona.

 

1B - Matt Adams (1B/OF, WAS)

1% owned, FAAB $16

Owners know what they are getting with Adams, and that is power, power, and then more power. Adams might not play all that often, but he seems to come through with critical hits when he does. After a strong start, and then missing some games with a knock, Adams is back on the bench and should be on fantasy owners' radars. In 34 games this year he only has four homers, but he is posting an improved .247 batting line. If Adams can find that consistency with the bat, not only will the power arrive, but he might be in line for a better season overall that many expected.

There are some changes in the batting approach,highlighted by a higher exit velocity, but a lower launch angle. Last year, Adams sat at 19 for the angle, but this year is down to 16.6. This could explain some of the drop in power, but also the .257 xBA. His Hard Hit% is also up to 44.2 from 39.5, so the changes are favorable for the baseline. While owners might need to choose a different power source than Adams the offensive picture looks bright overall. For the time being, his price is low, and so is his risk to fantasy teams in his current role.

 

2B - Kevin Newman (2B/SS, PIT)

1% owned, FAAB $12

A former first-round pick, Newman struggled in his first pro season. With a .209 batting average in 31 games with no homers, he seemingly had lost a chance to start the year with Pittsburgh this campaign. And yet, in 26 games this year, Newman has started to hit. To date, he is slashing .338/.408/.456 with five runs scored. While most of his chances have come from a utility role, Newman has been getting more run at shortstop with Cole Tucker as they cover for the Erik Gonzalez injury. This means that he might be stuck in a 40% timeshare but can work his way into more if he continues to hit.

Newman’s expected numbers the rest of the way hint at a drop in the batting average but strong OBP numbers. This comes from 9.2 BB%, the highest in his career with the Pirates, and a declining K rate. After striking out 24% of the time in 2018, Newman was worked to bring this number down to 18.4%. Lacking the power to project as a second baseman, Newman fits best as a shortstop with a hit tool in fantasy. Add him as an MI now, but in dynasty leagues, buy him cheap with emerging upside.

 

3B - Colin Moran (3B, PIT)

1% owned, FAAB $17

Still one of the deep-league favorites, Moran is again putting together a solid campaign in Pittsburgh. Through 49 games he is slashing .269/.324/.408 with four homers and 23 RBI. The knock will continue to be the limited power, but over a full year, Moran has a 10 plus floor, and compliments that with the batting average and counting stats to make it all work. With 144 games last year, Moran is a compiler to own, and one that continues to be undervalued in fantasy circles.

The other key for fantasy owners is the playing time, with Moran looking to have the rest of the year in the job. Batting sixth allow him to drive in runs with players on base, and make the most of his contact rate. Even more, with a .250 xBA and .415 xSLG owners can expect the current value to be the floor. With the Pirates showing the ability to get on base, Moran is the hitter that will benefit the most from increased production Add him now, and look to move Moran at the deadline when an owner needs a third baseman for the stretch.

 

SS - Jose Iglesias (SS, CIN)

5% owned, FAAB $29

A higher ownership rate than is typical for the list, Iglesias offers the best value in what is position devoid of value this week at the bottom. With players like Trea Turner returning from injury, replacement options are now back in the minors, meaning owners are looking for playing time on the wire this week. Currently the starting shortstop with the Reds, and with Jose Peraza platooning at second with Derek Dietrich, Iglesias has played in 50 games so far. With a .306/.337/.434 slash, Iglesias has been hitting, and worth the MI start in all leagues.

The key to his early season value has been the power, with four homers so far. While not a ton, for his career, the ceiling has been six in a full season. This means, with a 12 homer pace, Iglesias can smash a personal mark, all while hitting above .300. What does not make sense is that his launch angle is down to 6.7 and his exit velocity is stuck at the career mark of 84. Three of his homers were hit at home so that the park might be the main change. Whatever the case, the power would add another layer of value to what currently is an underownerd asset. Even even if the power does not turn around, the park will keep his run and RBI numbers above-average.

 

OF - Harold Ramirez (OF, MIA)

2% owned, FAAB $18

After the early hype with the call, Ramirez has now drifted down into the bottom end of the ownership rates. Playing in 12 games, he has slashed .381/.435/.524 with a homer, but the 42 ABs have made him hard to roster. Currently looking like the starting center fielder moving forward, Ramirez should have the playing time to allow his fantasy stock to turn into value. At the very least with Isaac Galloway's DFA, the team needs one of the outfielders to step up and take playing time. Owners would love it to be Ramirez for the tools alone.

At Triple-A he was hitting .355 with four homers, so the hit tool is there. The downside with the park is that the power numbers will perhaps stay the same if not cap out at 12 or so. This means that the hit tool will need to drive in runs to be a fantasy asset, and with the sixth or seventh batting slot, this should be a good fit. With a 93 exit velocity, Ramirez is making good contact, and even with some regression in the 54.4 Hard Hit%, the underlying value looks rosterable for the upside in playing time.

 

OF - Gerardo Parra (1B/OF, WAS)

1% owned, FAAB $8

Back on the list after a hot start to his time in Washington, Parra has survived some roster moves to stick on the team. While he has not played first all that often, that flexibility does offer a nice compliment to Howie Kendrick for a team still trying to cover some gaps on the team. Parra only played once last week, but has featured in a platoon role since joining the Nationals. Fantasy owners do not want him to have to face lefties, so will be happy with this news even at the cost of plate appearances.

Since moving from San Francisco Parra is hitting .314 and has added two steals to his line. The expected numbers put his batting line at .247, but with the slow start to the year before the move, owners should expect that to be closer to .270 looking to his career line. The only red flag is the Hard Hit% which sits in the bottom 20% of the league. This might also be noise from the Bay, but if not, owners might be trading homers for singles. In batting average leagues Parra is an OF3 with playing time, but for now, a bench option with upside.

 

OF - Franchy Cordero (OF, SD)

1% owned FAAB $12

While Cordero is still on the Injured List, he seems to be getting close to a return. At the very least, this might be the last chance for owners to grab him with the injury discount with FAAB bucks. Even when he is healthy, there is some question on where he will play, but the bat alone is work that risk. And yet, with Franmil Reyes also struggling with a knock, the situation will work itself out. Owners should value the skills, and trust the long season to create opportunities.

Cordero was only healthy for nine games to start this year, so take the .333 batting average with a grain of salt. The carrying skill is the power, with seven homers in 40 games last year. This shows 25+ full-season pop, with the batting line support, .237, to make it playable. Cordero is still young enough that there can be growth in the skills, but looking to the minor league numbers, the floor will make him a valuable fantasy asset. A speculative pick this week, Cordero is a player with a 90% ownership potential in NL-only leagues with the upside, so owners should buy the stock before it takes off.

 

SP - Zac Gallen (SP, MIA)

5% owned, FAAB $38

Yet to make his debut with the Marlins, Gallen needs to be owned in more than 5% of leagues even prior to his call-up. The first reason has nothing to do with Gallen, but all with park factors. So far in 2019, Marlins Park is playing as the 23rd best offensive park with a 0.910 run factor. This alone means that the run suppression will limit any early-career issues with the adjustment to the Majors for the young hurler. For a team in need of solid pitching, Gallen's 1.74 ERA and 0.65 WHIP in the minors flashes the upside. This all means that when he is up, Gallen might be the best pitcher on the staff. While that is not worth a roster spot alone, the fact that he would be one of the hardest to send down adds unusual stability to the prospect stock.

Gallen has never been thought of as a top pitching prospect, with most reports putting him in the back of the rotation. The difference with fantasy is that the ratios will play up, with the stuff to make some impact due to the length. On a team of pitchers with pitch caps, Gallen seems to be the best option to log quality starts with close to seven innings per start at Triple-A this year. Add in 80 Ks over 67 innings, and Gallen might surprise the scouts and exceed expectations. When all the other big names have eaten FAAB budgets, Gallen will be on the last prospects to make an impact. This means that owners can add that value now, as opposed to getting into the bidding war.

 

RP - Corbin Burnes (SP/RP, MIL)

2% owned, FAAB $27

Burnes has already burned me this year with a disappointing start to the year, so adding him back to the roster stings a bit. And yet, with a role change, the value has changed a bit. While the stuff is there to be an elite arm, Burnes has a hard time getting through the order a second and third time. This is why owners should be back in for the relief-version of Burnes. The fastball is his best pitch and might be comparable to Josh Hader's, so owners can see how that has worked out. Even more, Burnes tops the charts with his fastball spin rate and sits in the top 10% for fastball velocity. Add in a top 15% spin rate on his curveball, and with only two pitches, Burnes is perfect for the pen.

Not only are the skills there, but the Brewers are the ideal team to trust with a fantasy pitcher. This means that Burnes have the chance to record four or five outs per appearance, but will be used in a variety of spots during a game. In the perfect world, Burnes is rotating with Hader based on the opposing line-up. If that is the case, Burnes will close for Hader when lefties were coming to the plate in the seventh or eighth. In that role, not only can Burnes add 80 Ks the rest of the way, but might steal seven or more saves.

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