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Week 18 Waiver Wire - Catcher

With the second half of baseball now in full swing, teams are doing their best to make a late season playoff push. As the trade deadline approaches, teams around the league will drastically change as they do their best to try and win the World Series.

As the MLB landscape changes, so will Fantasy Baseball. With multiple injuries, trades and overall depth chart transactions, different players will become viable in fantasy leagues. One of the hardest positions to manage is catcher. With only limited elite options, many owners are forced to search the waiver wire for the next big thing behind the plate.

If you're one of those owners, this article is exactly for you. Below are six different catchers who can help your team in both the short, and long-term. They range from hot-hitting streamers, to potential long-term back stops who offer top 12 potential. Much like MLB ball clubs, fantasy owners are doing everything they can to get their team into the playoffs. If catcher is the last position you need for championship success, these guys could help you get there.

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Hitting Their Stride

These players have been on fire as of late, providing big offensive numbers at the plate. If you're looking to stream at catcher these are the players to target. While there's no guarantee they'll continue their success long-term, both should be utilized while they remain hot at the plate.

Jonathan Lucroy (C, OAK) 38% owned

The Oakland Athletics have been arguably the hottest team in baseball as of late. They have won eight of their last 10 and currently sit just 6 1/2 games out of the AL West and just 1 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot. While players such as Khris Davis and Blake Treinen are getting all the shine, catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been an underrated part of the team's turn around.

Lucroy is hitting .243 on the season with two home runs, 32 RBI and 26 runs scored. Lucroy has looked strong recently with hits in four of his last six, including a home run and seven RBI. He hasn't been the same catcher offensively since his trade from the Brewers two seasons ago, however, he finds himself in a great position for offensive production.

Lucroy will see regular playing time on a team that currently ranks sixth in the MLB with 488 runs scored. Over the last week, the A's rank second in the MLB with 39 runs scored. Despite hitting at the bottom of the lineup, Lucroy is usually followed by potent hitters such as Marcus Semien, Davis and Stephen Piscotty. With speedsters like Dustin Fowler in front of him, Lucroy should still have an opportunity to produce and score runs.

The A's seem to be streaking right at the moment, and Lucroy has followed suit with an impressive showing over his last few games. Oakland's catcher is just two years removed from an All-Star appearance and has shown he has what it takes to be an elite offensive weapon.

As he continues to see regular starts, Lucroy remains an option in 12-man leagues. If he's able to continue his strong hitting, it may not be long that he remains under 50% owned.

Caleb Joseph (C, BAL) 3% owned

The Baltimore Orioles are not the most fantasy friendly team at the moment. Having already traded Manny Machado and Zach Britton, it looks as if the AL East cellar dwellers are in for a full-blown rebuild. Despite their current struggles, catcher Caleb Joseph has been a pleasant surprise over the past couple of weeks.

On the season, Joseph is hitting just .228 with two home runs, 10 RBI and 15 runs scored. However, over the last 14 days, Joseph is hitting .391 with a home run, six RBI, six runs scored and even a stolen base. Over his last seven games, Joseph ranks tied 15th in the MLB with a .400 average. During his strong few weeks, Joseph ranks fourth on ESPN's Player Rater.

Joseph plays on one of the weaker offensive teams in the MLB, which will hurt his fantasy value. The Orioles rank 29th in the MLB with just 367 runs scored. That number will surely go down if the team trades away players such as Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop. For that reason, Joseph is a risky catcher to own in fantasy.

However, he has been fantastic during the month of July and should continue to see starts with Chance Sisco struggling. If Joseph continues to surge, he could be worth an add in deeper 12-man leagues. Owners just have to be wary of the bad offense he plays for.


New Injuries, New Opportunities

Both of these players are able to see starting roles due to injuries to the catcher in front of them. Both catchers should be considered more long-term options as they'll see the majority of starts throughout the duration of their starter's injury. They should be added with hopes that they'll be able to succeed during their new opportunity.

Austin Romine (C, NYY) 12% owned 

After costing the Yankees a game earlier this week by not running out a ground ball, starting catcher Gary Sanchez was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury. With Sanchez on the shelf, Austin Romine will now have another opportunity to start. Some reports have Sanchez out for at least a month, giving Romine a longer shot at being a fantasy contributor.

On the year, Romine has compiled a .264 batting average with six home runs, 28 RBI and 18 runs scored. The runs and RBI are already career highs. Romine has solid splits in 2018, having a higher average, .282, against lefties and five of his six home runs against righties.

Arguably the best thing about Romine is the offense he is playing in. Currently the Yankees rank fourth in the MLB with 515 runs scored. He normally hits at the bottom of the lineup, however, since he plays in the AL with a designated hitter, he'll always have an opportunity to produce or score runs.

Romine has been in this position before, and now should see regular playing time for at least 10 days and possibly a month. General Manager Brian Cashman has already said he trusts Romine as his starter and fantasy owners should too as Romine makes for a fine starting catcher in 12, and deeper 10-man leagues.

Elias Diaz (C, PIT) 22% owned

Elias Diaz has been on the list multiple times in the past and was last week's featured player. His inclusion this week is a reminder that with Francisco Cervelli out for the foreseeable future, Diaz will continue to see starts and should shine in the opportunity.

Diaz is hitting .286 with seven home runs, 25 RBI and 27 runs scored in 59 games this season. He already has career highs in runs scored, home runs and RBI. Diaz's .286 average would rank third among catchers if he were qualified while his seven home runs rank tied for 19th among back stops.

The Pirates have noticed Diaz's offensive breakout as the catcher has been batting clean up in the majority of his starts, including every start since the All-Star break. He is batting behind players such as Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte while he is followed by a power hitter in Josh Bell. Overall, Diaz is batting in the middle of a lineup that currently ranks 11th in the MLB with 468 runs scored.

Diaz is going to be the Pirates starter going forward as Cervelli battles concussion symptoms. He has performed well at the plate and is hitting in the middle of a strong lineup. As Pittsburgh tries to surge into the playoffs, Diaz will be a big part of what they do on offense, making him a player to target in 12 and even 10-man leagues.


Lottery Picks

Neither of these options are guaranteed to produce at a rosterable level. However, they both hold potential and could be worth rostering given the right opportunity. If you're in a deep two-catcher league or feel like taking a chance at the catcher position, these would be the players to target.

Tom Murphy (C, COL) 2% owned

Rockies' catcher Tom Murphy has been impressive during his small sample size in 2018. While Murphy usually sees limited playing time, he has performed well when given the opportunity. If he is able to see more playing time, he could become a regular fantasy contributor.

Murphy is hitting .271 with one home run, eight RBI and three runs scored over 22 major league games in 2018. Prior to his call-up, Murphy was batting .286 with 16 home runs, 46 RBI and 34 runs scored in 50 Triple-A games. Murphy has proven he can hit the ball with impressive power potential.

The only problem, is that the Rockies currently have both Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters on the roster. Iannetta has hit a weak .224 this season, however, he provides the Rockies with a strong defensive catcher who can help mold the young Colorado rotation. Wolters is hitting an even worse .154 on the year and it looks as if Murphy may have jumped him on the catcher hierarchy.

Iannetta was forced from the team's game on Tuesday with a wrist injury, leading to a Murphy start. If Iannetta is forced to miss more time, it appears that Murphy, not Wolters, would earn more starts behind the plate.

Murphy is the best offensive catcher on a Rockies team that is known for their offense. If he is given more playing time, he could become a solid fantasy catcher in deeper 12-man leagues. Currently it's unknown if that playing time will come, making him a risky gamble in all leagues.

Michael Perez (C, TB) 0% owned 

On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays traded pitcher Matt Andriese to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a package including minor-league catcher Michael Perez. The Rays are immediately calling Perez up and he is currently slated to backup Jesus Sucre. So how could a backup catcher who has never appeared in the MLB on a non-playoff team help your fantasy squad?

Perez has appeared in eight seasons and 572 games of minor league baseball. In that time he has hit .246 with 48 home runs, 285 RBI, 260 runs scored and nine stolen bases. In 2018 alone, Perez was hitting .284 with six home runs and 29 RBI at the Triple-A level.

While not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, Perez has looked solid offensively during his time in the minors. At just 25 he has time to improve and progress.

Outside of his own hitting potential, Perez's fantasy value comes in the form of the catcher in front of him. Jesus Sucre has been starting for the Rays ever since Wilson Ramos went down with a hamstring injury. On the season, he is hitting just .218 with 13 RBI and five runs scored. There's a chance that Perez will see starts over Sucre as the team sees what they have in their new prospect.

Perez isn't guaranteed starts, and he could be sent down upon Ramos' return. But with Sucre struggling and Ramos without a timetable, Perez is a catcher with upside who could make an impact during his first run in the major leagues.

Waiver Order

1.) Elias Diaz

2.) Austin Romine

3.) Jonathan Lucroy

4.) Caleb Joseph

5.) Tom Murphy

6.) Michael Perez


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