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Fantasy Baseball Trade Targets - Buy/Sell For Week 18

Making the right trades can be crucial to championship success in fantasy baseball, almost as much as the draft, if not more. While most trades can have a significant impact on your fantasy team, it’s the deals where you acquire undervalued players and then see their production improve that can really tip the scales in your favor where the standings are concerned.

The same can certainly be said about trading away players at the right time when they have the most fantasy trade value. Those deals could happen in the second week of April or the last week of August, but they’re impactful all the same.

Here are some undervalued candidates to pursue in trades and some overvalued ones who you should consider dealing for if they presently occupy a spot on your roster.

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Undervalued Players To Trade For

Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins

Correa is in a bit of a slump at the plate lately, hitting just .186 with a .273 on-base percentage in his last 66 plate appearances. The slump has dropped his average and on-base percentage for the season to .265 and .342 respectively in 362 plate appearances.

The veteran has also added 13 home runs this season. If his recent cold streak at the plate has resulted in the fantasy manager in your league considering trading Correa, now is the time to make a move.

Possessing a decidedly very good collection of expected and underlying metrics – most notably a .362 xwOBA, a 45.0% hard-hit rate and a .487 xSLG, all of which are in the 79th percentile or better league-wide – Correa has the makings of a potential league winner down the stretch.

He continues to hit second in Minnesota’s lineup with regularity, which is significant for any player’s fantasy upside, not to mention a player as productive as Correa.

Hitting second in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup generally means regular plate appearances after on-base machine Luis Arraez (.329 average, .394 on-base percentage in 406 plate appearances) and before fantasy and real-life superstar Byron Buxton (27 home runs, .327 ISO in 342 plate appearances).

What’s more, despite Correa’s recent struggles, there’s plenty to be encouraged with from the infielder’s recent metrics. In those last 66 plate appearances where he’s hitting .186, the infielder is also sporting six barrels, a pair of home runs, a 12.8% barrel rate, and a .200 BABIP. He’ll be fine.

Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros

If you aren’t the manager with Kyle Tucker on your roster, chances are it’ll probably take a lot to acquire the outfielder in a trade. He’s having a strong fantasy season for the Astros so far, batting .241 with a .330 on-base percentage, 19 home runs, and 16 stolen bases in 404 plate appearances.

That being said, if you can swing a deal for him where he’s the best player in the said deal, the reward might just be worth the risk because the outfielder should be even more productive than what he’s shown before.

Exhibit A is a .245 BABIP. That’s the most obvious and glaring number when delving into Tucker’s numbers, but it points to obvious positive regression coming – especially when you consider it alongside the amount of contact he’s making (Tucker has a 20.9% whiff rate and a 15.9% strikeout rate) and the quality of contact he’s making (Tucker’s .367 xwOBA is in the 91st percentile league-wide).

Exhibit B is the power numbers. With that xwOBA and a 10.6% barrel rate, Tucker unsurprisingly has a strong expected slugging percentage this season. It's .490 to be exact, nearly .040 points higher than his actual slugging percentage (.449) and in the 90th percentile league-wide.

In fact, just 25 batters have a higher xSLG than Tucker so far. Among the long list of players who have an xSLG lower than .490 are Mookie Betts, Julio Rodriguez, Trea Turner, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Ramirez.

 

Overvalued Players To Trade Away

Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals

Much of Edman’s fantasy value this year has been tied to his multi-position eligibility (he’s eligible at shortstop, second base, and in the outfield in Yahoo leagues) and his ability to steal bases, paired with reasonable home run and batting average production.

For the season, the 27-year-old is batting .258 with a .322 on-base percentage, seven home runs, and 22 stolen bases in 452 plate appearances.

And while his versatility – for both the Cardinals and fantasy managers – certainly isn’t going away any time soon, his production in other categories has waned considerably as of late.

The 2016 sixth-round pick has just eight steals in 233 plate appearances dating back to a June 4 doubleheader. He also posted just three home runs, a .08 ISO, and a .237 batting average during that span.

Fast forward even more on the calendar and Edman has just three steals, no home runs, and a .223 average in 116 plate appearances since the start of July.

In fairness, he’s still not striking out all that much. Edman’s 17.5% strikeout rate since the beginning of July is nearly identical to his strikeout rate (17.9%) for the season, but he simply hasn’t been as productive.

Thanks partly to an early-season surge, the veteran's season-long numbers still look solid on paper. With that in mind, it might be time to consider trading him before his fantasy value tanks even more. I’d try trading him in a two-for-one with a quality (but not essential to your team) starting pitcher for someone like Corey Seager.

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

Small caveat here to start. Arenado has been very productive this year, hitting .300 with a .369 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, and a pair of stolen bases in 426 plate appearances.

He’ll probably continue to be productive too. His 8.6% barrel rate is higher than it’s been in the last eight seasons. He’s striking out just 13.1% of the time and his .435 xSLG is the highest it’s been since 2019, his last full season in Colorado.

What’s more, the veteran’s .302 BABIP isn’t anything approaching unsustainable and is actually just .012 points above the league average.

So, he’s going to stay productive but is his batting average going to continue to sit above .300? Maybe not, especially when looking into Arenado’s quality of contact numbers.

Never one to log the highest hard-hit rates in the league, Arenado has just a 39.4% hard-hit rate this season. And while that’s nearly a 2.0% improvement over last season, it still ranks in just the 44th percentile league-wide.

The relative lack of hard contact might have something to do with the chasms between Arenado’s actual batting average and wOBA and his xBA and xwOBA. The veteran is hitting .300 with a .391 xwOBA but is sporting just a .260 xBA and a .335 xwOBA.

Those are still relatively solid metrics – checking in in the 67th and 70th percentile league-wide – but they further underscore the notion that Arenado's actual production might be more good than great.

If you have Arenado on your roster, he’s likely been an integral part of your success and not some you should trade simply due to a bit of regression coming. However, if you can net a similar impact bat at third like Manny Machado, plus a second more throw-in type of player, it might make sense to make that type of trade.

Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

As with Arenado and his production, it’s a somewhat similar story with Ian Happ, who is hitting .276 with a .355 on-base percentage, nine home runs, and six stolen bases in 440 plate appearances this season. His xBA (.251) and xwOBA (.320) are both decidedly lower than his .276 average and .343 wOBA.

There are a few different things here with Happ, however. Most of them have a lot to do with the slugger seeing his usual numbers dip in certain statistical categories. Dips that are slight causes for concern in terms of sustained production.

First and foremost, he’s barreling the ball less than he has before, with just a 7.0% barrel rate and 20 total barrels so far. That’s one of the primary reasons that the outfielder – who hit 37 home runs in 766 combined plate appearances from 2020 to 2021 – has just nine so far. It’s also why Happ’s power numbers could continue to be dampened as the season progresses.

In fact, since the start of June, Happ has registered just a 5.8% barrel rate. Looking at things since the start of July, Happ has just two barrels and a 3.4% barrel rate.

He’s also hitting .269 with a .296 on-base percentage in 135 plate appearances during that second span. For reference, Happ’s barrel rate has never dipped below double digits in a single season in his career.

While it’s only 135 plate appearances and not the biggest sample size, it’s not the most minuscule size either. Plus, it’s worth noting that Happ struck out 31.9% of the time in those 135 plate appearances, right in line with the strikeout numbers that hurt his production earlier in his career.

Ian Happ's K% Numbers:

  • 2017: 413 PA, 31.2 K%, .336 wOBA
  • 2018 462 PA, 36.1 K%, .322 wOBA
  • 2019 156 PA, 25.0 K%, .324 wOBA
  • 2020 231 PA, 27.3 K%, .362 wOBA
  • 2021 535 PA, 29.2 K%, .317 wOBA
  • 2022 427 PA, 23.2 K%, .322 wOBA
  • Since July 1, 2022: 135 PA, 31.9 K%, .297 wOBA

It also doesn’t help, for fantasy purposes, that the Cubs opted to hang on to Happ at the trade deadline instead of moving him to a contender. Any hope of Happ seeing a bump in fantasy value down the stretch in a more fantasy-friendly environment is gone.

All told, Happ is stealing some bases, which certainly helps, but like Arenado it might be unreasonable to expect him to continue to produce as he has.

Now might be the time to move him. If you have the outfield depth, I’d try trading Happ with a reasonably productive starter at another position for an impact player at that other position.



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