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Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups - After The Draft

Draft season is over which means it's already time to shift your attention to the waiver wire! We'll break down the top options at every position throughout the 2021 fantasy baseball season but before the first pitch, here is an all-encompassing waiver wire piece to cover all the top options widely available.

For our purposes, we'll examine players with fantasy potential that are rostered in 30% or fewer of Yahoo leagues. The usual caveats apply that available options will vary according to your league size and settings.

Now, let's review the top Week 1 waiver wire pickups and adds to consider after your drafts have already been completed as injury replacements or high-upside stashes.

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First Base Waiver Wire

Joey Votto (1B, CIN) - 21% rostered

There's no denying that Votto isn't the same player he once was. His batting average has declined each season since 2016 down to .226 in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. His plate discipline is still outstanding as evidenced by his 2.7% K-BB% and he did launch 11 HR in 54 games. The Reds' offense as a whole was miserable last year so a bounce-back is entirely possible and he is batting third in the order which should make for plenty of RBI opportunities.

Brandon Belt (1B/OF, SF) - 13% rostered

One of these years, Belt will put together two solid halves, I can just feel it. Just when he was gaining steam as a draft sleeper for the umpteenth time, a heel injury set him back in spring. He is back in action and manning a thin first base position, so he could be of use in deeper leagues where a CI slot is used.

Rowdy Tellez (1B, TOR) - 7% rostered

I'm bullish enough on Tellez to declare him one of my must-have players for 2021 and broke him down in my bold predictions although he might not fit on all rosters. Tellez isn't guaranteed everyday at-bats, so to start the season he'll be more of a player to watch.

Nate Lowe (1B, TEX) - 4% rostered

Lowe is one of the RotoBaller staff's favorite sleepers and one of Michael Florio's guys, so that should count for something. Lowe has officially won the starting first base job over Ronald Guzman. He'll have to hit to keep that job, however, so the leash is short. Still, Lowe has 65-grade power and can now flex it in front of a packed house at Globe Life Field.

Jay Bruce (1B/OF, NYY) - 3% rostered

The year is 2021 and Jay Bruce is the starting first baseman for the Yankees. How long depends on how well he mashes in Luke Voit's absence but we know the track record - 10 seasons of at least 20 home runs and five seasons with more than 30 home runs. Bruce is a flier worth taking for those needing a Voit replacement or seeking a power boost.

 

Second Base Waiver Wire

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B, COL) - 29% rostered

He can slot nearly everywhere across the infield but second base is McMahon's most valuable position. As it turns out, the Brendan Rodgers injury, Daniel Murphy retirement, and Ian Desmond opt-out have cleared the way for regular ABs. He sells out for power too often, which is a double-edged sword, but ultimately he'll produce counting stats at the expense of average.

Donovan Solano (2B/3B/SS, SF) - 23% rostered

"Donnie Barrels" seems hell-bent on proving that last year's .326 batting average was no fluke after a scorching spring in which he hit .421 with four homers. Of course, we should have known better since he hit .330 in 2019 and has been a man possessed since arriving in the bay area. His positional versatility and high contact rate aren't sexy attributes but they are still valuable.

Cesar Hernandez (2B, CLE) - 23% rostered

The once-and-future Spiders (fingers crossed) re-upped Hernandez to man second base again due to his solid defense and steady bat. While his consistency is a great attribute for their infield, he's suddenly become risky in fantasy. After four straight years with at least 15 steals, he swiped nine bases in 2019 and none in 2020. Without the speed, he's far less interesting, especially since he only launched three homers last season. You'll get an average upwards of .275 and run production but it would require a flashback for the HR/SB to return.

Kike Hernandez (2B/OF, BOS) - 16% rostered

If there's anyone who appreciates Opening Day, it's Hernandez. In 2019, he went yard twice against Arizona in the Dodgers' opener and in 2020 he went 4-for-5 with a homer and five RBI on Opening Day. So pick him up to start for game one and then feel free to drop him. Actually, he's going to bat leadoff most days and should provide 20 HR as a second baseman, so that has plenty of roto value.

Jazz Chisholm (2B/SS, MIA) - 11% rostered

In the final days of draft season, Chisholm started to gain a little traction based on his strong spring training. He offered a taste of his power/speed upside with three homers and four steals. We already know that Mattingly's Marlins are going to run, as they were fifth in SB attempts per game last season and among the leaders in steals this spring. If he can hold down the second base job which he has already won, this is a dark horse breakout candidate. He is projected to bat sixth in the Opening Day lineup, which is a good sign already that he isn't relegated to the bottom of the order.

 

Third Base Waiver Wire

Jonathan India (3B, CIN) - 19% rostered

If you drafted earlier in the spring, India wasn't likely selected and is floating on waivers. He is one of the fastest risers in fantasy circles and could see his rostered rate balloon if he collects a few hits in the early going. The Reds' conundrum at shortstop might be solved by sliding Eugenio Suarez over and giving India the third base job, which makes the former fifth overall draft pick an intriguing option. He has more doubles power than long-ball potential, so just don't expect an offensive explosion.

Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B, DET) - 15% rostered

Candelario was sneakily productive in the second half of last season, hitting .313 with five HR, 19 RBI, and 19 R over the final 29 games. He will see everyday playing time at third base and also qualifies at first. He is overlooked because he plays for a losing team but he's still in good position to put up stats.

Maikel Franco (3B, BAL) - 9% rostered

A late addition to the roster, Franco will have to beat out Rio Ruiz for the third base job and could be brought along slowly. He may not reach the heights once envisioned for him but 20 homers could still be lurking in that bat with half his games at Camden Park.

Travis Shaw (1B/3B, MIL) - 1% rostered

Your deep-league flier at the CI spot, Shaw is going to try to redeem himself from his most recent appearance in Milwaukee when he hit .157 and struck out at a 33% clip in 2019. He traditionally fares better in the first half of the season, for what it's worth.

 

Shortstop Waiver Wire

Willi Castro (3B/SS, DET) - 24% rostered

His glove may be ahead of his bat but Castro was a pleasant surprise last year when he hit .349 and popped six HR across 36 games. A .448 BABIP suggests he won't repeat that figure (ATC projects him as a .268 hitter) but he could be a solid reserve if he sticks in the three-hole as projected.

Willy Adames (SS, TB) - 16% rostered

Rays fans may be sour about his dreadful 2020 postseason performance and dynasty managers are ready to cast him aside so we can see Wander Franco take over. Still, Adames remains the starting shortstop for the AL champs and has been hot all spring, slashing .375/.444/.775. He'll be a liability in points leagues due to his strikeout rate that reached 36% last season but he can provide 20-HR upside with a fair amount of R+RBI.

Elvis Andrus (SS, OAK) - 12% rostered

Following a miserable season slashing .194/.252/.330, the Rangers parted ways with Andrus after 12 seasons. He'll attempt to revive his career in Oakland, although they are near the bottom in SB attempts as opposed to Texas which was fourth in 2020 and first in 2019. He could still offer a modicum of speed at middle infield but expectations should be tempered.

Jose Iglesias (SS, LAA) - 4% rostered

Over the past four seasons, Iglesias has bounced from the Tigers to the Reds to the Orioles without sticking and somehow landed with a starting gig in L.A. A career .278 hitter, Iglesias can get on base and should cross the plate a fair amount of times. The tradeoff is a lack of power at a deep position.

Luis Urias (2B/3B/SS, MIL) - 2% rostered

It's time for the former Padres prospect to get his shot. The Brewers announced that Urias will serve as the primary shortstop while Orlando Arcia serves a utility role. His excellent hit tool hasn't translated to big-league success just yet, as he's struggled in his first 372 at-bats to muster a .226 average. There's potential here but you might want to see it before taking a chance.

 

Outfield Waiver Wire

Raimel Tapia (OF, COL) - 29% rostered

Apologies for injecting personal bias here but it irks me to see Tapia rostered in so few leagues. You aren't getting power but this is a career .285 hitter in his prime who is set to leadoff in Colorado. He should easily reach double-digit steals, with ATC projecting him for as many as 19.

Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM) - 28% rostered

He's a better real-life player than in fantasy and better in points than roto, but Nimmo nonetheless has some worth. He'll be hitting ahead of Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto most days so count on a healthy dose of runs scored.

Myles Straw (SS/OF, HOU) - 22% rostered

Interested in plucking 40 steals from the waiver wire? Straw might not reach that level but he's certainly capable. A sprint speed in the 91st percentile and potentially the leadoff spot in Houston's still-potent lineup make him a strong source of runs as well. A middling average and zero power are the tradeoff, however.

Austin Hays (OF, BAL) - 16% rostered

Hays has been mashing this spring and doesn't figure to have much competition for playing time but it's unclear whether he slots into the top or middle of the lineup just yet. He doesn't swing-and-miss much and is a plus defender but he hasn't fully tapped into his raw power yet. He could be this year's version of Anthony Santander if everything breaks right.

Luis Arraez (2B/SS/OF, MIN) - 16% rostered

A middle infielder by trade, Arraez might be more valuable at an MI spot but he's here intentionally to serve notice that he has been playing left field this spring. The Twins have a bevy of outfield prospects like Alex Kiriloff and Trevor Larnach waiting to take over Eddie Rosario's vacated spot but until they're ready, Arraez might be the guy. At worst, he'll spell Jorge Polanco at 2B and Andrelton Simmons at SS in a utility role, so there should be plenty of at-bats for him to be valuable. For the second year running, ATC projects Arraez to lead the league in batting average, which he nearly did in 2020 with a .321 mark.

Taylor Trammell (OF, SEA) - 3% rostered

A former top prospect and Futures Game MVP, Trammell has beaten out the competition and won the left field job to start the season.


If his strong spring continues, Trammell can make a serious push to lead the AL in stolen bases, especially with Adalberto Mondesi already on IL.

 

Catcher Waiver Wire

Carson Kelly (C, ARI) - 19% rostered

If you simply want a steady dose of at-bats with someone who won't sink your stats, Kelly is the guy. Daulton Varsho will start the year in the minors, so Kelly should be catching ~five times a week. Arizona's offense isn't the most explosive but sometimes simply having a player who can collect counting stats is enough.

Alejandro Kirk (C, TOR) - 14% rostered

The No. 4 prospect in Toronto, Kirk has earned his way onto the Opening Day roster. Initially, it seems he'll spell Danny Jansen behind the plate a couple of times a week while also spending time at DH. It can't be assumed he'll get enough at-bats to be a starter in single-catcher leagues just yet but the upside is sky high and he could easily supplant Jansen by midseason.

Zack Collins (C, CHW) 4% rostered

A glance at last year's stats in his second tour with the Major League squad might make you turn away quickly. Collins batted .063 in 18 plate appearances after hitting .186 in his first 102 PA the prior season. He'll have to prove he can handle big-league pitching but this former collegiate star at Miami and top-1o pick has the chops to do it. The devastating news of Eloy Jimenez's injury has put all eyes on Andrew Vaughn and whether he can handle left field or whether the team will look to a free agent eventually. What has been overlooked is the fact that Collins may now become the semi-regular designated hitter and backup catcher.

Tony LaRussa broke down the backup backstops, Collins and Yermim Mercedes, this way: “There’s probably going to be enough playing time for one of them. I think the other one will be useful. Collins will start a game, but Mercedes is useful because if you pinch run or pinch hit, he can be the catcher, he can be the pinch hitter, use him as a DH.” Translation - Mercedes isn't a threat whereas Collins could start games at C or DH. Those looking for a dark horse breakout candidate or simply wanting some sort of tangible upside at a thin catcher position should look no further.

Elias Diaz (C, COL) - 3% rostered

A hitter in Coors? Sign me up! Diaz will be batting eighth in an admittedly weaker Rockies lineup than we've seen in a while but he at least figures to get regular playing time. Diaz showed flashes of offensive prowess in sparse playing time with the Pirates and could be serviceable in two-catcher leagues.

 

Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire

Yusei Kikuchi (SP, SEA) - 24% rostered

It's been a rough transition to the majors but some adjustments could lead to good things. Everything you need to know has been eloquently explained by our Eric Samulski:

Tarik Skubal (SP, DET) - 21% rostered

Casey Mize may have been the more highly-touted prospect but Skubal seems to be transitioning to the majors more easily. He will hold down the third spot in the Tigers' rotation and gets two favorable starts in Week 1 against Milwaukee and Seattle, so don't be afraid to test the waters early with him.

Griffin Canning (SP, LAA) - 19% rostered

Canning doesn't jump off the page with filthy stuff but he can effectively wield a four-pitch mix with a still-developing cutter. If he can master that pitch to take the place of his curveball, we could see consistent gains and solid ratios all season long. Unlike Skubal, it might be best to wait before inserting Canning into your rotation as he could face the White Sox and Twins early on.

Logan Webb (SP, SF) - 17% rostered

Webb is also learning to use a cutter that could help him improve on what has thus far been a disappointing turn in the pros. He was lights out in the spring, whiffing 17 batters while walking one over 11 scoreless frames. He has a rotation spot locked down and is certainly a pitcher to watch in the early portion of the season.

Adbert Alzolay (SP/RP, CHC) - 7% rostered

The question "Will be used as a starter or a reliever?" was recently replaced by "Will he stay in the majors or be sent down?" Alzolay was granted an extra option by an arbitrator so his spot on the Opening Day roster wasn't certain but as of now, he remains with the big club. There is tantalizing upside here but the uncertainty of his role makes him a stash only in deeper leagues right now.

Tanner Houck (SP, BOS) - 7% rostered

If you are looking to roll the dice on a breakout young pitcher, Houck looks set to explode onto the scene. Houck was dynamite in three starts last September, posting a 0.53 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with 21 K in 17 innings. He has looked just as dominant in spring training and will get his shot to start with Eduardo Rodriguez on the injured list.

Adrian Morejon (SP/RP, SD) - 2% rostered

It was just a matter of time before one of the starters in San Diego got hurt and opened up a rotation spot for Morejon. Dinelson Lamet isn't officially on the IL as of now but he is being brought along slowly and won't be starting games for at least a brief time. Morejon will get a chance to showcase his elite velocity as more than a long reliever now that he appears likely to earn the fifth starter job. There is tremendous strikeout potential here.

Others to Watch - Tejay Antone (SP/RP, CIN) 19% rostered; Dane Dunning (SP, TEX) 11% rostered; Mitch Keller (SP, PIT) 6% rostered; Cole Irvin (SP, OAK) 1% rostered; Logan Allen (SP/RP, CLE) 3% rostered

 

Relief Pitcher Waiver Wire

Alex Reyes (RP, STL) - 21% rostered

Just hours before the Cardinals' first game of the season, it was surprisingly announced that Alex Reyes would serve as the primary closer instead of Jordan Hicks or Giovanny Gallegos. Like most bullpens across the majors, this is a fluid situation, but Reyes now stands out as a high-priority pickup anywhere that saves are counted.

Tanner Scott (RP, BAL) - 21% rostered

It may be the Orioles but a closer is a closer. With Hunter Harvey moved to the 60-day IL, Scott is the presumptive favorite to earn whatever save opportunities arise in Baltimore. Cesar Valdez and Cole Sulser may also be in the mix and, of course, the O's aren't expecting to be closing out too many narrow victories, so don't empty the FAB wallet completely.

Lucas Sims (RP/SP, CIN) - 20% rostered

If their Twitter spat is any indication, Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims could be battling for the closer job all year long. Having co-closers is not ideal but it makes sense for the team and means both have fantasy value. What doesn't make sense is that Garrett is rostered across 79% of Yahoo leagues, while Sims is merely on 20% of rosters.

Ian Kennedy (RP, TEX) - 13% rostered

Some bullpens best left alone and this might be one of them. At least if Kennedy does take control of ninth-inning duties, we can rest a little easier because we've seen him do it before. The former starter registered 30 saves for Kansas City just two seasons ago and should at least strike out a batter per inning. Those desperate for saves already can take a chance here but also keep an eye on Matt Bush.

Rafael Dolis (RP, TOR) - 9% rostered

The smart money is on Jordan Romano to get first crack at replacing Kirby Yates as fireman up north. Romano picked up a pair of saves and looked dominant last season after Ken Giles went down. Then again, Dolis had five saves in 2020 and effectively ended the season as the closer. Romano has youth on his side while Dolis has experience (in the minors at least). If you're speculating for saves, this is a good place to look.

Gregory Soto (RP/SP, DET) - 7% rostered

It may just be a formality but it would be nice to hear Soto announced as Detroit's closer as he should be. The Joe Jimenez experiment is over, as he's now set to labor in the minors. Bryan Garcia managed to save four games using smoke and mirrors last year but Soto is shooting flames this spring, averaging 99 MPH on his fastball. Don't wait until he pins down his first save to pluck him off waivers.

Emmanuel Clase (RP, CLE) - 6% rostered

James Karinchak drafters might have tasted a few tears in their Cheerios on March 30 when it was announced by Terry Francona that the team would deploy a closer-by-committee. Not just two relievers either, but a combo of Karinchak, Clase, and Nick Wittgren. Aside from the hope for a few saves sprinkled throughout the season, Clase has incredible strikeout potential with a cutter and four-seamer that both average 99 MPH. He is light on experience but is lower rostered than Wittgren.

Sergio Romo (RP, OAK) - 4% rostered

If you were worried that Trevor Rosenthal might be injured at some point this year, it didn't take long to be proven correct. He was placed on IL on the morning of the team's season opener vs Houston. While Jake Diekman was getting preseason buzz as the presumed closer, it could be the veteran Romo instead. He's got the track record, having saved 50 games over the past three seasons for three different teams and 134 in his lengthy career.The 26.4% K-rate isn't top-flight but it will do just fine if he's picking up saves on the way.

Others to Watch - Yimi Garcia (RP, MIA) 23% rostered; Jake Diekman (RP, OAK) 22% rostered; Chad Green (RP, NYY) 18% rostered; Jose Alvarado (RP, PHI) 6% rostered; Matt Bush (RP, TEX) 4% rostered; David Bednar (RP, PIT) 1% rostered



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Dontayvion Wicks - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football Wide Receivers You Must Draft in 2024 - Part V

This will be the series' final entry, and we’ll focus on four receivers this time, although two are on the same team. With this particular edition, we must get comfortable with the unknown. Three of these players are rookies, and one played sparingly last season in his rookie year. However, the unknown isn’t necessarily a... Read More


Jaylen Waddle - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

Fantasy Football No. 2 Wide Receivers to Target in 2024 Drafts

As fantasy managers, we're inclined to seek out and target the presumed No. 1 pass catcher of an offense in our drafts. Opportunity and volume should be the first boxes checked off when assessing and analyzing a player's worth for our teams. Sure, we all want the top guy on any given team to give... Read More


Ja'Lynn Polk - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

2024 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings Analysis and Outlook - Ja'Lynn Polk vs. Javon Baker

Last year, C.J. Stroud took the fantasy world by storm and uplifted Tank Dell and Nico Collins into must-start territory. This year, Drake Maye has a chance to do the same to some degree with the New England Patriots offense. Drake Maye is the most talented quarterback to play for the Patriots since Tom Brady... Read More


Jahan Dotson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football Wide Receivers You Must Draft in 2024 - Part IV

This series continues to move on, and we're now getting into the middle rounds of our fantasy drafts, so the options are getting slimmer and slimmer. Not only that, but fantasy managers may need to be just a wee bit more optimistic with some of these players than they've had to be with the previous... Read More


Video: Offseason Market Movers? 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Analysis

We're preparing for football 365 days a year here at RotoBaller! With early 2024 best ball drafts already underway, we're evaluating the ADP of fantasy football's most impactful players. NFL Network contributor and RotoBaller analyst LaQuan Jones takes at look at the early ADP of some popular fantasy options. As the offseason market continues to... Read More


Anthony Richardson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL News

Early 2024 Fantasy Football Rankings And Analysis: Quarterbacks

Fantasy football players are already looking ahead to their 2024 drafts. So, I have released some of my early 2024 seasonal rankings, along with those from the RotoBaller staff, which can be found here. In this feature, I share some of my insights when building the 2024 quarterback rankings. The top shelf remains predictable, yet... Read More


Kyren Williams - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Dynasty Price Check - Kyren Williams (2024)

Coming off of a disastrous 5-12 season, the Los Angeles Rams were expected to struggle in 2023. With quarterback Matthew Stafford back in the starting lineup, it was expected that the defense would be the side of the ball holding the team back. However, the defense was better than anticipated, and the offense was excellent;... Read More


Ezekiel Elliott - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Fantasy Football Outlook for Dallas Cowboys RBs in 2024

Nostalgia -- it's a powerful emotion. Lately, I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos about the mid-2000s, thinking about how the world of my teenage years differs from the world today. The other day, I watched an entire video about the aesthetics of Windows XP screensavers. I mention this as Jerry Jones must be... Read More


De'Von Achane - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football RB Committees Not to Avoid in 2024

Workhorse running backs are out and running back committees are in. The NFL has shifted to a committee approach to preserve running backs throughout the season from the rigors of modern-day athletes. Of course for fantasy football, running back committees dilute the potential for points. On the flip side, NFL teams have grown very efficient... Read More


Brian Thomas Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Wide Receivers You Must Draft in 2024 - Part III

This series continues moving on with our third edition, which looks at three new receivers that fantasy managers must draft this season. We've already identified six incredibly attractive receivers at their current ADPs. We're starting to move down the wide receiver ranks, which will have us focusing on several rookie receivers. Selling rookie receivers can... Read More


Caleb Williams - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Which Rookie QB Can Turn Their Franchise Around? (2024)

A record-tying six quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and we all know how great the last draft that had six QBs in the first round turned out to be. The 1983 NFL Draft is still regarded as one of the greatest drafts of all time, having produced three... Read More


Cooper Kupp - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Targets

Fantasy Football Wide Receivers You Must Draft in 2024 - Part II

In 2024, fantasy football managers are all about wide receivers, but we’re also about value. With prices skyrocketing everywhere else, we don’t want to pay above market value for a player. We also don’t want to pay for a player at the cost of their 90th-percentile outcome. We need the potential to get a positive... Read More


Ty Chandler - Fantasy Football Rankings, Waiver Wire Pickups, Draft Sleepers

Aaron Jones, Ty Chandler - Fantasy Football Outlook for Minnesota Vikings RBs in 2024

The Minnesota Vikings offense will look a little different in 2024. Quarterback Kirk Cousins left in free agency, and the team replaced him with first-round pick J.J. McCarthy. McCarthy or free-agent signing Sam Darnold will start the year as the Vikings quarterback. Even the running position has changed for Minnesota this offseason. They released Alexander Mattison -- who started the 2023 season... Read More