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The Cut List (Week 2) - Time to Let Go?

Although we are only one week into the baseball season, some of the players you may have drafted in the mid-to-late rounds of standard 10 and 12-teamers are probably not quite working out. Because you didn't spend too much draft capital on them, you don't have to worry about sunk costs and you can, if you wish, cut loose to pick up someone of more promise on the waiver wire.

In this series, we won't tell you who to pick up—check out the fabulous RotoBaller Waiver Wire Pickup List blog for that—but will be more than willing to tell you who should be off your team.

However, it's too early to build a convincing statistical case that someone worth drafting two weeks ago is now more worth cutting. What can be said to matter are unexpected developments that affect a player’s ability to actually play. Such developments may include signing late (“Where could he be going with that?” you are probably not wondering), getting injured, or receiving unexpectedly little playing time. Sometimes there are workarounds that allow for retaining players so affected, like NA and IL spots. But if those are unavailable or full, then decisions have to be made.

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The Cut List

Dallas Keuchel (FA, SP)

Every day Keuchel doesn’t sign is a day he’s losing value. The only good thing from a fantasy perspective is that he doesn’t count as an active player, distinguishing him from, for example, a suspended Robinson Cano from last year. However, that only matters if you have a spot for such players, and when available those spots are preferably used for prospects. In most contexts, Keuchel can be let go. If so inclined, you can in all likelihood pick him up again in between his signing and his debut without much competition--the same cannot be said for Craig Kimbrel, who should be retained if you drafted him.

Hunter Strickland (RP, SEA)

As long as injury spots are available, there’s no reason to cut an injured player. Once there are more hobblers than IL spots on the roster, however, it’s time to make decisions. Strickland should probably be one of the first to go. His injury is moderately severe, having sent him pretty quickly to the longer 60-day injured list. Additionally, saves are one statistic found with relative ease on the wire, so unless it’s a premier closer, there shouldn’t be incentive to desperately hang on to an injured one. Hunter Strickland is not a premier closer and may not even have the job once he recovers, whenever that may be.

Andrew Heaney (SP, LAA)

Heaney is another injured pitcher who likely needs an IL spot on your roster or should be cut. He suffered a setback to his elbow injury in late March, pushing his season debut back and creating questions about how ready he might actually be by then. Pitchers with arm injuries, even promising if less-established ones like Heaney (but not stars), should probably be among the first to go when your fantasy IL fills up.

Jose Martinez (1B/OF, STL)

Finally, there are players with playing time concerns. The St. Louis trade for Paul Goldschmidt should have tipped us off, but Jose Martinez still went around pick 200 in drafts. Martinez has played in all seven Cardinals games through Friday, but only started two of them. That has left him with 14 plate appearances in which he is 1-for-14 with a double, no walks, and five strikeouts. Normally that is too early to panic, but the most important number here is the 14. It will likely take an injury for Martinez to find playing time, but until then there does not appear to be many opportunities for impact.

Johan Camargo (3B/SS, ATL)

Camargo’s .272/.349/.457, 19-home run season in 2018 offered some promise for 2019, leading to Camargo going towards the end of some drafts, but the playing time just isn’t there with Josh Donaldson and Dansby Swanson taking the left side of Atlanta’s infield. Swanson’s strong beginning to the year in particular has made the Braves hesitant to sit him much. If you were one of those to take a chance on Camargo’s ’18 campaign in the draft, it was a bit too early.


The Watch-Out List

Fantasy sites have watch lists for players that are not quite yet worth acquiring but should be monitored; the watch-out list, then, is owned players not quite worth cutting yet. By this time next week, sample sizes across the league will have nearly doubled. Below are a few players for whom a bad week could spell trouble, but a good week would return them from the brink.

Franmil Reyes (OF, SD)

Reyes is hitting the ball well with little to show for it: a .422 xwOBA through Friday and just a .152 actual wOBA, the unluckiest wOBA for anyone with more than seven PA. His bigger problem may be Hunter Renfroe’s strong three-homer start to the year. Reyes has gotten the bulk of right field playing time, but it may not last if his results don’t come and Renfroe’s continue. The Padres did try a Renfroe-Wil Myers-Reyes outfield on April 3rd, and more of that may be what Reyes needs.

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN)

Winker was an insider’s favorite in draft season. Like Reyes, he’s been unlucky by xwOBA while facing playing time competition, in Winker’s case from Matt Kemp and Scott Schebler. Fortunately for Winker, those two haven’t been impressive either, but it’s another playing time situation worth monitoring.

Jake Arrieta (SP, PHI)

Arrieta, after a difficult start on Saturday, can arguably be cut already. His 2.84 ERA covers for a FIP of 6.31 and a 5.45 xFIP. However, it’s still just two starts. If Arrieta can’t handle the Marlins in Miami for his next start on Friday, April 12th, however, or even with a third straight uneven performance, it could already be time to move on.

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