Fantasy Baseball: 10 Latest 'Buy Low' Fantasy Trade Options

Tim Karan@timkaranContributor IIApril 24, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: 10 Latest 'Buy Low' Fantasy Trade Options

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    Your fantasy season's probably over.

    You took Jacoby Ellsbury in the first round. You drafted Alex Gordon instead of Josh Hamilton. And you completely forgot that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were injured when you snagged them and boasted (loudly).

    You might as well start doing research on whether or not you want a quarterback in the first round of your football draft in August.

    But there might be another way. While your waiver wire might be filled with mediocrity, there are perfectly good players available to you—they're just currently on other owners' teams.

    Here are 10 players who are currently underwhelming but who could be the key to your midseason resurgence. 

10. Max Scherzer

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    Unless you live in Detroit, there's a good chance you have the wrong idea about Max Scherzer.

    Admittedly, an ERA of 7.98 and opponent batting average of .333 isn't exactly encouraging. But that's what happens when you give up seven runs in 2.2 innings during your first game of the season. But when you consider that his ERA after that one unfortunate outing against the Red Sox was 23.63, the bigger picture starts to come into focus.

    Scherzer gave up three runs in his next game—a loss to the White Sox—but he also threw 11 Ks. Five days later, the righty recorded his first win of the season in a slightly less impressive but still effective effort against the Royals.

    This is a guy with a bottom floor of 175 Ks and about 12 projected wins on a team that shouldn't struggle to put up points. He's also currently working with a 10.4 K/9 and has only allowed two homers. 

    But you don't exactly need to advertise that to his owner.

9. Justin Upton

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    Touted as a perennial 30-30 threat, Justin Upton was on pace to finish the season in the 0-10 club up until he homered Monday night.

    Obviously, that's not a club anyone wants to be in—and it's not where Upton will end up.

    Odds are whoever owns Upton in your league wasn't all that sold on him in the first place, as he's still relatively unproven in the long-term and seems to struggle in even-numbered years. But Upton is unquestionably one of the most promising sluggers in the game and coming off a 31-home run, 21-steal campaign. He hit just two homers last June and followed it up with an eight-HR July.

    Considering he's got one so far, he could smack 10 in May. Grab him before that craziness commences. 

8. Mat Latos

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    Uh oh, looks like everybody was right to worry about Mat Latos moving from spacious Petco Park to the cozy Great American Ballpark. He's 0-2 in three starts with an 8.22 ERA and has given up 14 runs in 15.1 innings.

    But blaming the ballpark is the easy way out. 

    Two of those games took place on the road, and he's only allowed two home runs. Like Scherzer, Latos is the victim of the dreaded "small sample size syndrome." Unlike Scherzer, however, he's been consistently inconsistent throughout. Still, it was his last outing—an eight-run nightmare at the hands of the Cardinals—that really sent his ratios through the roof.

    But Latos started out last season with an 0-4 record through April and a 4.98 ERA. The year before that, he started out 1-2 with a 6.20 ERA. He ended those years with ERAs of 3.47 and 2.92, respectively.

    Latos is a threat to top 200 Ks, and that's not going to change. Bring up the ballpark when you trade for him and keep his season-to-season splits secret. 

7. Jose Reyes

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    Did you really believe Jose Reyes had become Ted Williams?

    Considering he's a career .291 hitter with two past full seasons in which he hit .273 and .280, last year's NL batting title probably seemed a little suspect to skeptics. Subtract his 39 steals, and Reyes finished 2011 with seven home runs and 44 RBI.

    So is his current stat line of zero homers, two RBI and four steals all that out of character for him? Not really. But the .230 average makes things seem a lot worse than they are.  

    Since the owner who has Reyes now might be focusing on the fact that nine players have more steals than their pseudo-star shortstop, the time is right to pounce.

    Reyes is not for the faint of heart, and he's shown that so far this season. But when his average rises—and it will—and he heats up along with Hanley Ramirez and Emilio Bonifacio, he's going to be exactly who he always is.

    That might not be Ted Williams, but it's certainly better than whoever you give up for him.

6. Zack Greinke

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    If your league's Zack Greinke owner is paying attention, you might not be able to get him. But if that owner wouldn't peruse Greinke's stats until you send a trade offer with a sell-high candidate like, oh, Philip Humber, you could pull off the steal of the season.  

    That's partially because nobody ever seems to have confidence in Zack Greinke—likely because he used to lack confidence in himself. But he's quietly the most underrated ace in fantasy.

    Did you realize he was 16-6 with 201 Ks last year? Well, he was. He also hasn't thrown fewer than 181 strike outs since 2007—when he made just 14 starts. But he's currently affordable thanks to a mediocre 4.76 ERA and a 1-1 record after three starts.

    The thing to keep in mind is that he gave up just two runs combined in two of those games and eight in one ugly loss to the Cubs. That's also something you should keep in your mind and not broadcast when you make your offer.   

5. Jose Bautista

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    When you hit 16 home runs before June one year and 20 the next, you're setting your fantasy owners up for a superhuman start.

    However, Jose Bautista is very much a human being. (Just ask Pirates fans who saw him hit fewer homers for them over five seasons than he hit in just one with the Blue Jays.)

    Now that he was somebody's first-round pick, the two homers and .212 average this season are looking largely unacceptable. But giving up on him now would be ill-advised at best.

    Bautista's .302 average last year was way out of line with his previous career best of .260—the same year he hit 54 dingers and 124 RBI. So is it cause for concern that he's not on his way to a batting title? Nope. But is it worrisome that his homers are down? Not really.

    Each of his past two seasons, he's had months during which he smacked just four home runs and others when he hit 11 or 12.

    He's probably never going to be a realistic triple crown threat, but that doesn't mean there still isn't plenty of time for him to start slugging. 

4. Carlos Gonzalez

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    You try to hit a home run with strep throat. If you're anything like me, strep would probably be cause to call off and watch a Storage Wars marathon.

    But Carlos Gonzalez had the added pressure of keeping his fantasy owners happy—which he most certainly has not. Unless, of course, anyone was hoping for no homers, two steals and a .240 average. 

    Granted, he was an early-season mess even before his illness, but that's nothing new. He kicked off 2011 with one homer and a .228 average up until May. That, however, is when he hit .282 with seven long balls on his way to a second straight 20-20 season.  

    There's a chance CarGo's MVP-caliber 2010 was his ceiling, but that doesn't mean he's as bad as he's currently letting on. Five-category contributors don't come along all that often, and the clock to get this one is counting down.

3. Adam Wainwright

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    This spot would have been occupied by Tim Lincecum had he not gone and struck out eight Mets in a win on Monday.

    But Adam Wainwright hasn't quite pulled it together like that.

    He's 0-3 and looking at a gnarly 9.88 ERA, confirming the worst fears of everyone who believed his Tommy John surgery comeback would be rocky. However, the Cardinals' ace is still inciting Ks (he has 14 in 13.2 innings) and he's walked just four.

    The big problem has been the home run. His 3.12 HR/9 ratio is incredibly out-of-character from his career .068 average. Once that regresses to the mean, the other numbers—like the sub-3.0 ERA and 200-plus Ks—will fall into place.

    Get your foot in the trade door with surgery talk, pick up your Cy Young candidate and run.

2. Robinson Cano

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    One of the positives about being consistently overshadowed by teammates like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira is that when you struggle, you're still in that shadow.

    Robinson Cano is hitting just .242 with one home run and three RBI, but most fans have likely been preoccupied with those other guys—everyone except those fantasy owners who snagged Cano around the corner of the first and second rounds.

    While he's still a surefire bet for 25 homers and 100 RBI, his true value is in his glove. When he's on, Cano is a first-tier second baseman and potentially in a class all his own.

    He also jumped out to a blistering start last season, which could contribute to his possible discount price this one.

1. Albert Pujols

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    Whoever has Albert Pujols in your league probably either had to settle for him after Matt Kemp was taken or used the No. 1 pick to take him over Kemp. 

    Either way, that owner would have been unhappy with Pujols' historically bad start—but if their situation was the latter, Kemp's 80-80 pace probably has them inconsolable.

    The time to act is now.

    Yes, this is the longest Pujols has taken to hit his first homer. Yes, there are concerns he's going to need to adjust to AL pitching. But does anyone remember how bad Miguel Cabrera was when he first got to Detroit? And does anyone really believe Pujols is going to end up with anything worse than 35 home runs and 100 RBI?

    The guy who drafted him might. And all it'll take is one home run (maybe two) to change that.