Fantasy Baseball 2013 Waiver Wire: Top 10 Pickups for Week 1
You've drafted your team (yay!), and the season is officially underway (double-yay!). So now what?
The safe play is to stick with your gut or to your guns (or whatever cliche you prefer) and give the players you picked a chance to do their thing. That's smart—and also not that much fun, especially now that the real action, as well as all the roster moving and shaking, has begun.
While you should avoid doing anything rash—like, say, dropping Adrian Beltre, who was your second-round pick, just because he went 0-for-4 on Opening Night—it's important to be on the lookout at all times for ways to improve your team because a lot can happen between the end of spring training and fantasy's first week.
If one of your end-game draftees was demoted unexpectedly (ahem, Ricky Romero) leaving you with a dead rotation spot, or an end-of-spring-training injury took down one of your hitters (again, David Freese?) leaving you with an empty lineup slot, the time to act is now.
Just make sure you don't overreact.
Here, then, are 10 readily-available players owners should consider picking up, trying out or stashing away for later as we enter Week 1 of the waiver wire.
Assuming a standard 12-team league with 25-man rosters, the waiver wire pool consists only of players with average draft positions outside the top 300 (12 x 25), according to MockDraftCentral.com.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
It may be unusual to suggest picking up a player who was sent down to the minors at the end of camp, but then again, Oscar Taveras is an unusual talent.
The 20-year-old lefty-swinging Taveras is arguably the best hitting prospect in baseball, and while he doesn't have a clear path to playing time in St. Louis right now, it's not hard to see how he could factor into one of baseball's best lineups at some point in the near future if a Cardinals outfielder suffers either injury (Carlos Beltran?) or ineffectiveness (Jon Jay?).
Of course, if Taveras continues to rake like he has the past two years—he won the Low-A Midwest League batting title in 2011 and the Double-A Texas League MVP in 2012—he could force the Cardinals' hand.
If your roster is deep enough to fit an add-and-stash, Taveras is a prime pick-up.
Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers
In case you missed it, Leonys Martin started the season opener in center field over Craig Gentry for the Rangers.
Part of that was because the Astros threw a right-hander (Bud Norris) and Martin hits from the left side (Gentry hits right-handed), but it's become clear that Texas wants to see what Martin can do when given the lion's share of at-bats.
Martin's all-around game could make him a useful fantasy piece as a fourth or fifth starting outfielder if he makes good on the club's faith in him. The tools are there for a solid average and double-digits in both homers and steals.
Beware, though, that Martin did hit ninth in the first game, so his runs and RBI totals could lag unless performs well enough to move up in the order.
Chris Nelson, 2B/3B, Colorado Rockies
Chris Nelson isn't going to win your fantasy league, but he's got a chance to be a worthwhile plug-and-play option.
The 27-year-old former first-rounder (way back in 2004) has never had a regular starting job for the Rockies, but he's in line to see most of the PT at the hot corner this year. Granted, he'll cede some at-bats to Jordan Pacheco, but Nelson is the better fantasy asset.
In about a half-season's worth of at-bats in 2012, Nelson hit .301 with nine homers, 53 RBI and 45 runs, and he's eligible at both second and third base, to boot, so if you're in need of a fill-in, you could do worse.
Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
With rookie Adam Eaton expected to miss the first month (or more) of the season after suffering an elbow injury late in March, Gerardo Parra goes from the Diamondbacks' fourth outfielder to likely starting center fielder.
Parra is a career .280 hitter and offers a little bit of pop and decent speed, so he won't hurt owners, especially if you can play him mostly at home (.804 career OPS) and/or against right-handers (.756 OPS).
Plus, even though he's been around since 2009, he's only still 25 years old, so there may be another bump in production yet.
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Texas Rangers
Mitch Moreland gets no love in fantasy circles, primarily because he doesn't seem to get much love from his own team. But with no other real option to handle first base, the Rangers will have to give Moreland a longer leash to start the year.
Very quietly, Moreland had a productive 2012, hitting .275 with 15 homers and 50 RBI in only 327 at-bats. While he struggles against lefties (.615 career OPS), he should see an uptick in action, which in turn will lead to an increase in counting stats.
Travis d'Arnaud, C, New York Mets
There's going to be a little bit of a wait before Travis d'Arnaud makes his big league debut, but once he does, it could be well worth getting in while you still can.
The big get in the winter trade of R.A. Dickey, d'Arnaud opens 2013 at Triple-A, a level he was dominating a year ago (.333 average, 16 homers, 52 RBI in only 67 games) before a knee injury ended his season. And therein lies the real rub with d'Arnaud, who's been healthy enough to play even 100 games only twice in six minor league campaigns.
Once d'Arnaud, 24, puts the finishing touches on his development, he'll take over for John Buck, who's merely keeping the catching gear warm. That makes d'Arnaud another potential cheap add-and-stash who could wind up being a starting fantasy catcher after a month or two.
Wily Peralta, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
A big, 23-year-old right-hander with a heavy, powerful fastball, Wily Peralta is ready for his closeup in Milwaukee.
Even with the recent signing of Kyle Lohse, Peralta is solidly in the five-man rotation and slated to start the third game against the Rockies.
After Peralta, the club's top prospect, impressed during a late-2012 call-up (2.25 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 22 strikeouts in 28 innings), the Brewers are hoping he can translate that small sample to more extended success.
Be careful expecting too much, because Peralta does have control issues (4.0 career BB/9), but there's mini-breakout potential here.
Vernon Wells, OF, New York Yankees
Okay, all fantasy owners love to hate on Vernon Wells, and for good reason, as the 34-year-old veteran has been declining the past few seasons while playing out a massive $100 million contract that he failed to live up to (to say the least).
But the recent trade to the Yankees, who are in desperate need for warm bodies, gives Wells—who's barely even a warm body in some owners' eyes—one more shot to show he's not yet finished.
It's certainly understandable if you want to stay far, far away, but it's at least worth pointing out that Wells did hit 31 homers in 2010 and 25 in 2011. The average won't be pretty (.244 since 2010), but Wells could take advantage of hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium and post the ninth (!!!) 20-homer campaign of his career.
Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Between former and current Diamondbacks top pitching prospects like Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin has often been lost in the shuffle. Yet the 23-year-old southpaw, who was a second-round pick in 2009 himself, is the guy getting the ball every fifth day in Arizona at the moment.
Corbin had a big spring to beat out Skaggs and Randall Delgado, who was acquired from the Braves in the Justin Upton trade, to win the final rotation spot. While he struggled at times in his first taste as a starter last year, there is some upside here, making Corbin an intriguing add.
In other words, if you're staring at, say, Bronson Arroyo in the free-agent pool, consider Corbin instead.
Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins
Well, well, well, welcome to the big leagues, kid.
Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' first-round selection in 2011 who has yet to pitch above A-ball, was a surprise addition to the 25-man roster at the end of the weekend.
Because other Marlins arms are hurt (Nate Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez) or underperformed in spring (Jacob Turner), this seems like a short-term fix—hopefully one that doesn't risk the 20-year-old Fernandez's development long-term—but Fernandez was absolutely brilliant in his first pro season, posting a 1.75 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 in 2012.
If Fernandez proves he's ready right now and forces Miami to keep him up, this is the kind of early-season waiver wire addition that could turn into lightning in a bottle.
As they say, it's better to have waived and lost than never to have waived at all. Or something.