All Star Break Waiver Wire Madness (7/18 - 7/24)
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Whether your team is coming in hot or limping into the break, you have to constantly be looking for ways to improve your squad, so let's jump into the All Star Break edition of waiver wire madness! Even if you're down in the standings, don't get complacent because things can turn around quickly, especially if you have injured players about to return or slumping players about to go on a heater. And for those in dynasty and keeper leagues, if you're not making a run for the title, you should be looking to stockpile tradeable assets to flip to those at the top for prospects and keepers. And with that, let's get to it - of course, don’t forget about names that are likely to make a return soon after the break – Jacob deGrom, Mitch Haniger, Yasmani Grandal, Jorge Soler, Miguel Sano, and others.
As always, the recommendations below are divided among shallow leagues (10/12 team mixed) or deeper leagues (15+ team mixed or AL/NL only). Always available, so keep hitting me up on Twitter with trade, roster, or dynasty questions. Good luck!
Shallow Leagues – 10/12 team mixed leagues:
Franmil Reyes, DH/OF, Cleveland Guardians:
Many hitters struggled out of the gate this year, but few were as disappointing as Franmil Reyes was for the first two months of the season. Drafted for his power, Reyes found himself hitting just .195/.255/.278 (.473 OPS) with only 3 HR/9 R/12 RBI through his first 35 games. Reyes then hit the IL with a hamstring issue and didn’t return until the third week of June. But since that time, he has had much better results at the plate, slashing .247/.269/.483 with 5 HR/12 R/14 RBI/1 SB over 23 games. Reyes still strikes out too much and that is always going to be part of his game, but if you need power on your team, I’d be willing to bet there isn’t anyone on your wire with the potential to go on a HR binge like the Franimal. Per Statcast, Reyes is 99th percentile in avg EV, 98th percentile in Hard Hit %, 96th percentile in Barrel %, and 86th percentile in max EV. If (really, when) he goes on a tear, you’ll want him to be on your roster rather than crushing bombs for your competition.
Josh Rojas, 2B/3B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Without much fanfare, Josh Rojas has been a bright spot for the D-backs this year, currently slashing .276/.343/.414 with 5 HR, 34 R, 26 RBI, and 7 SBs in 58 games. While Rojas isn’t likely to single-handedly wins you a fantasy title, he will give you contributions across the board and is a great supplement to the big names on your roster. Similar to the way I described Harold Ramirez last week, Rojas is a grinder – a guy that is out there most days, getting on base at a high clip, and consistently posting counting stats for your team. Rojas started the year on the IL, then was hitting at the bottom of the order, but was relatively quickly moved up in the order and now hits primarily leadoff or second for Arizona. And in the 16 games since June 26th, Rojas has been a spark for that team up top, hitting .356/.415/.542 with 1 HR/13 R/9 RBI/2 SBs (167 wRC+). He’s currently swinging a hot bat and is eligible at multiple positions to help optimize your lineup. Swap in Rojas for a slumping player that is no longer adding value on your squad.
Wilmer Flores, 1B/2B/3B, San Francisco Giants:
Another guy with multi-position eligibility worthy of your attention is the Giants’ Wilmer Flores. In 2022, Flores has compiled a 124 wRC+ in 83 games by coupling some pop (13 HR and 50 RBI) with impressive plate discipline (16% K% and 9.8% BB%). While the Giants are prone to playing matchups, meaning that Flores is unlikely to start every day, when he is in the lineup, Flores is making a difference. He is consistently batting 2nd or 3rd for a Giants team that is 7th in runs scored in all of MLB and all of the underlying metrics suggest that what he is doing is sustainable. As good as he has been this season, Flores has been even better over his past 22 games, crushing to the tune of .313/.421/.625 with 5 HR/12 R/15 RBI. If he is available, it’s likely that he would be a great fit for your lineup at one of the infield positions.
Yandy Diaz, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays:
If you need batting average or OBP on your squad, get you some Yandy Diaz (.302/.412). He has been so consistent this year that even the Rays are keeping him in the lineup nearly every day (started 32 of the past 34 games). Diaz is a Statcast darling that can crush baseballs (87th percentile avg. EV and 95th percentile max EV), but who simply does not hit the ball in the air enough to make a consistent impact in the HR category – he has just 3 HR this year in 81 games. That said, what he does do well is get on base. Diaz has a very low strikeout rate (just 10.4%) and a corresponding high walk rate (14.6%). Hitting at the top of that order leads to a good number of runs scored (often an overlooked category) to go along with Diaz’s fantastic avg and OBP. Scoop up Diaz if you have enough power on your roster, but need to make up ground in AVG/OBP and/or runs scored.
David Peterson, SP, New York Mets:
Talk about a pitcher that is finding his groove . . . over his past 5 starts, David Peterson has very quietly racked up the 4th most strikeouts in baseball (dating back to June 20th). But even disregarding this latest hot streak where Peterson is 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA (2.14 xFIP) and 41 Ks in just 27.1 IP, the Mets starter has been a valuable 2022 commodity. Pitching on a good team, he has logged 5 wins in just 14 starts and has a 3.48 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 76 Ks in 67 IP. And, in addition to those Ks, Peterson has a 52.6% GB% -- you all know I love that combo. No other SP in baseball (min 60 IP) has a GB% that high and a K/9 over 9.0, let alone the 10.38 K/9 that Peterson sports . . . not one! While the walks are a tad high for my taste, it is hard to critique much else for a guy that is relatively widely available on waiver wires in shallow leagues. Peterson has some nasty stuff, pitches on a good team (opportunities for W), and is cruising right now. Unless you are stacked at pitching, you should be able to find a spot for him.
Brett Martin, RP, Texas Rangers:
Following the Rangers’ abrupt announcement late last week that Joe Barlow would be given “a break” from the closing role, it appears that the job is Brett Martin’s for now. Martin has been called upon for the Rangers last three save opportunities and he successfully converted all three. Martin does not get the strikeouts that we usually see from a shutdown closer, but he has certainly been effective this year, pitching to a 2.79 ERA (2.94 FIP) and surrendering just 1 HR in his 29 innings of work during 2022. This is largely due to his ability to induce ground balls at a high rate (56.6% GB%). Riding the closer carousel can be exhausting at times, but Martin is the guy for now in Texas and he’s pitching effectively. So, if you need saves (and who doesn't), that’s enough of a reason to be in.
Deeper Leagues (15 team or AL/NL Only)
Leody Taveras, OF, Texas Rangers:
If you follow me on Twitter, you know how excited I am about what we are seeing from Leody Taveras this year. It seems like Taveras has been around forever because the eyes of the fantasy community have been on him for a number of years waiting for him to fulfill his potential (even though he is only 23). But in brief stints with the big club in 2020 and 2021, Taveras looked overmatched too often, striking out at a 32% clip and hitting just .227 and .161, respectively. As often happens in those circumstances, the fantasy community was quick to write off Taveras as a quad-A guy that can’t cut it in the show. But not so fast . . . this year, Taveras is looking like a much different and more mature hitter. Through 28 games, he currently has a line of: .346/.366/.551 with 3 HR/13 R/15 RBI/5 SBs with, very importantly, just a 25% K% and a 160 wRC+. He is also hitting the ball with more authority than we have seen in the past, averaging over 91 mph on his EV and registering a hard hit rate of 46.6% per Statcast. I really like what we are seeing from Taveras, who may be coming into his own and is a legitimate power/speed combo. Grab him in deeper leagues - he may be a lottery ticket.
Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers:
Guess who’s back?!? Baddoo was a polarizing player in the preseason with many predicting that he would be a fantasy force given his ability to hit for power and steal bases, while others worrying that his 2021 was not repeatable. In the early going, the latter group appeared to have been vindicated, as Baddoo struggled mightily, hitting just .140/.218/.220 with 1 HR and 1 SB through the first 17 games of 2022. He was sent down to work on some things and was recalled this week and immediately slotted into the Tigers lineup. Through a 3 game small sample, Baddoo is 2-11 with 1 RBI and 2 Ks. Will Baddoo be better going forward to justify an add? My guess is that he will. He was off to a truly horrendous start in April, but—let’s be honest—how many hitters weren’t off to a terrible start in April this season? Baddoo only played in 19 games in 2022 before he was sent down and his K% at that time was in line with 2021, as was his batted ball profile generally (although he did have a higher infield fly ball rate at the expense of line drives). The biggest difference was that Baddoo’s BABIP was just .195 prior to his demotion and that is insanely low, especially for a guy with Baddoo’s wheels. While Baddoo may not be the star he was drafted to be, I think he will eventually stick in the Tigers lineup and be a very serviceable OF for your squad in deeper leagues . . . and perhaps much more.
Esteury Ruiz, 2B/OF, San Diego Padres:
If you need an injection of speed on your team (and who doesn’t?), Ruiz is definitely worth a flyer. In a year when we have had as much prospect buzz as I can recall, Ruiz has been the talk of the fantasy community over the past few weeks. And why not after hitting over .320 with an over .450 OBP and over .500 SLG across AA and AAA so far in 2022 – oh, and sorry for burying the headline, he stole 60 bases in just 77 games in the minors this year . . . 60! It’s hard to say whether Ruiz will have a long-term role with the Padres after Wil Myers and Jurickson Profar return from the IL, but he has PT now, starting each of the first four games following his promotion (hitting .333 with 1 R, 2 RBI, and 1 SB). One thing is certain, if Ruiz hits and can perform anything like he did in the minors this year, the Padres will ensure he remains in the lineup. This sort of speed is hard to come by and is rarely available on the wire – grab him now and see where it goes.
Domingo German, SP, New York Yankees:
The injury to Luis Severino has, perhaps, opened the door for German to make his way back to the majors. He is currently on a rehab assignment and has pitched 14.1 innings in 4 starts in the minors, allowing just 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 10 Ks. German has been vulnerable to the long ball during his time in the bigs, but he has also flashed electric stuff and talent to dream on. For example, German has posted SwStk% at 13% or higher in each of the last three seasons in which he has pitched. Put into context, that would rank him in the top 12 of all qualified MLB starters in 2022. It’s not certain that he will be called up or, when he does, that German will slot into the starting rotation. That said, we have seen German do it before and if Severino is out, there aren’t many guys that I would rather take a shot on from the wire in deeper leagues. High risk/high reward.
Kyle Finnegan, RP, Washington Nationals:
The latest closer casualty is the Nationals Tanner Rainey, who has been placed on the 60-day IL with a UCL sprain. I expected this to yield yet another committee approach, but in somewhat of a surprise move, manager Dave Martinez came out on Thursday and said Finnegan will be "the guy." Given this, he's an immediate add if you need saves on your roster. Finnegan was the setup guy for Rainey and has generally good numbers across the board: 4.04 ERA (2.94 FIP), 10.6 K/9, and 48.9% GB%. Although the Nationals won’t likely have a ton of save opportunities, beggars can't be choosy and you have to grab potential saves when you can. Scoop him up and ride the wave.
Enjoy the break all and good luck in the second half! Don't hesitate to hit me up with questions on Twitter.