You never want to sell when a player’s value is at its absolute lowest. In most cases, I’d say not to panic and wait it out. Most players, especially established ones with strong tracker records, do come out of slumps, as I pointed out in this article from a few weeks ago.
This early in the season, however, you could probably still convince a league mate that a slumping player will bounce back even though you might not believe that yourself.
Here are five players who are off to dreadful starts and might be better cutting ties with now.
Yunel Escobar, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays were optimistic that Yunel Escobar was ready for a big season in 2013 after struggling in Toronto last season. Manager Joe Maddon raved about Escobar’s work ethic a few weeks back and called him a potential All-Star early in spring training.
Joe Maddon said today that he sees Yunel Escobar as a potential "Gold Glove/All-Star shortstop," believes he is fitting in well with Rays.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 19, 2013
But he continues to struggle at the plate, with three hits in his first 30 at-bats with the Rays. In 2012, he was consistently bad, posting an OPS over .700 in only one month, and he was at his worst with runners in scoring position (.598 OPS).
So start sending out some preseason quotes from Maddon to potential trade partners and try to convince them that it’s only a matter of time before the 30-year-old Escobar really starts to turn things around.
Jesus Montero, C, Seattle Mariners
With top catching prospect Mike Zunino already knocking on the door to the majors (9-for-21, 4 HR, 16 RBI in Triple-A), Jesus Montero’s time to prove himself behind the plate is running out quickly.
Starting the season with just four hits in 30 at-bats and no extra-base hits or walks wasn’t exactly the kind of start he needed.
The 23-year-old still has a ton of potential with the bat and can easily turn it around. But with pressure increasing to do it before Zunino claims the job, it’s hard to see him doing it in Seattle. He’s also sharing time with veteran Kelly Shoppach, who is 5-for-9 on the season.
For fantasy purposes, the best thing that can happen is for Montero to get traded to a team that will play him every day and can utilize him as the designated hitter when he’s not catching. Let someone else hope that happens and try to trade him now.
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics
After tossing 194.1 innings as a rookie in 2012, a huge workload increase from his 136.2 innings in 2011, there has to be some concern with how Jarrod Parker’s arm will respond this season. If his first two starts (8.1 IP, 6 ER, 14 H, 6 BB, 2 K) or his 7.45 ERA in the spring are any indication, be very concerned.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the 24-year-old Parker go back to the minors to try to get straightened out if he struggles in his next few starts. Dan Straily would be a capable replacement.
He wouldn’t be hard to trade, based on his rookie success. If you have major concerns, as I would, try to unload him before more is being made of his early season struggles.
Rick Porcello, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Rick Porcello’s always been more hype than production since winning 14 games as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009. In reality, he’s just a pretty good back-of-the-rotation pitcher who reached most of his potential at an early age.
An excellent spring (3.00 ERA, 24 IP, 18 H, 0 BB, 21 K) only added to the hype, but he’ll very likely end up with an ERA in the mid-4.00s and 5.0 K/9 just as he normally does. In fact, there's no guarantee that he can keep the rotation spot over lefty Drew Smyly, who is currently in the bullpen.
His first two starts weren’t impressive (10.1 IP, 7 ER, 14 H, 2 BB, 3 K) so wait for him to have a good start, and then offer him up in a trade to someone who still buys into the hype that he can be an elite major league starter.
Ben Revere, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Fantasy baseball geeks tend to overvalue fast guys like Ben Revere who are capable of stealing 40-plus bases in a season. As the Philadelphia Phillies' new everyday center fielder and leadoff man, it’s hard to argue that he won’t be among the league leaders in that category in 2013.
The problem is that he doesn’t walk very much and doesn’t have much power to speak of (0 HR, .319 SLG in 262 career games).
Ben Revere has the most career at-bats((1,094) among active players without a home run. The next 35 on the list are pitchers— Tim Kurkjian (@Kurkjian_ESPN) April 9, 2013
So if he doesn’t hit at least .294 as he did in 2012, he’ll have a very hard time getting on base at more than a .300 clip.
That’s why Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is still in the minors even though Hanley Ramirez is out for an extended period of time with a thumb injury. It’s why Revere, who is 8-for-38 with no extra-base hits and a .268 on-base percentage to start the season, will eventually find himself in the eighth spot in the lineup and eventually sharing at-bats with John Mayberry Jr. or Ezequiel Carrera.