Fantasy Baseball 2014: Week 15's Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice
What good is talent to a fantasy owner who lacks timing?
Fantasy baseball—just like the real thing—is a game of skill, luck and timing. That last trait, in particular, comes in handy with regard to getting value in the trading game.
Knowing which player(s) to trade away and which to deal for—and knowing just the right time to do so—can make all the difference.
After all, it doesn't get much better than making a move to unload a hot flavor-of-the-week type who's about to cool off in exchange for a slumping stud who's ready to take off. And now that we're more than halfway through the season, repeat names are fair game going forward.
Speaking of timing, let's get to some players to sell high and buy low.
Buy Low: Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
Fantasy Stats: .277 BA, 57 R, 26 HR, 70 RBI, 2 SB (375 PA)
Edwin Encarnacion's injury looked bad when it happened last week—see the footage up top—and he said he felt something pop, which is never good. But it's been categorized only as "right quad soreness," which will keep him out for at least two weeks, per Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
EE's absence might be longer than that (maybe even quite a bit longer), but with the All-Star break coming up, he'll have an extra week to rest and get right. The timing here actually works in an inquiring owner's favor.
Only do so, though, if your team is in the middle of the pack, and you're looking to make a play for a difference-maker like Encarnacion at a discount. No promises, but sometimes a gamble like this is worth a shot, which could be the case if the slugger can come back for two full months.
Sell High: Dallas Keuchel, SP, Houston Astros
Fantasy Stats: 9 W, 3.20 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 87 K (115.1 IP)
While the #VoteKeuchel scheme didn't quite work out for Dallas Keuchel in MLB's Final Vote for the upcoming All-Star Game—he finished fifth out of the five candidates in the AL's version—the boost of publicity the left-hander received just might help you swing a swap.
If so, you better take advantage of the Keuchel love while you still can. Ever since the 26-year-old's ERA fell to a season-best 2.38 with eight innings of one-run ball on June 11, he's seen his ERA rise in each of his past four starts.
Keuchel numbers are still is good enough to peddle, and he remains a borderline top-30 fantasy starter on ESPN's Player Rater. But he's not up to that standard going forward, in part due to his mediocre 6.8 strikeouts-per-nine rate. We've already seen the best Keuchel has to offer. It's time for #TradeKeuchel to catch on.
Buy Low: Carlos Santana, C/1B/3B, Cleveland Indians
Fantasy Stats: .208 BA, 37 R, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 2 SB (347 PA)
It might be a stretch to suggest that defensive hopscotch was hurting Carlos Santana's offensive production. But then again, maybe not.
The 28-year-old was brutally bad for an extended period. In fact, his batting average at the end of May began with a "1" and then had a "5" and wrapped up with a "9." Ouch. In that time, Santana was shuttling between four different positions—mostly third base, some designated hitter, a little catcher and a dash of first base.
Since the start of June, however, he's been playing first much more regularly, thanks to the injury and struggles of Nick Swisher. In that time, Santana is hitting a more-like-it .287 with 14 runs, seven homers and 17 RBI over 30 games.
Says here he'll once again wind up as a borderline top-five fantasy catcher in the end, so get him while his owner still hates looking at his low-.200s average.
Sell High: Joakim Soria, RP, Texas Rangers
Fantasy Stats: 1 W, 2.76 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 40 K, 16 SV (29.1 IP)
Amid a season that has gone down the drain due to an overflow of injuries, Joakim Soria remains one of the few bright spots—and healthy bodies—for the Texas Rangers. In a way, that's ironic, given that the 30-year-old is in his first full season back in the bigs since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
And bright might be putting it lightly when you really look at Soria's stats, including that sparkling 0.82 WHIP and his 40 strikeouts in 29.1 innings. In short, he's been as good or better than he used to be as a closer for the Kansas City Royals.
Here's the catch: Because the Rangers are so far out of it by now, Soria might become a real-life trade chip Texas cashes in to get something for the future. If that happens, Soria's league, park, team and role could all be up in the air.
That last element is the most important one, because if he gets moved to a club with an established closer in place over the next three weeks, then Soria's value is going to plummet.
Buy Low: Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Fantasy Stats: .293 BA, 44 R, 10 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB (220 PA)
Nothing really jumps out at you about Kole Calhoun's overall 2014 digits. Sure, some of that can be chalked up to his missing 31 games across April and May due to an ankle injury.
But let's zoom in on his since-June statistics, which is when the 26-year-old started to get his rhythm back after returning May 21: .345 BA, 28 R, 7 HR, 18 RBI in 31 games.
Starting to jump out at you now, isn't it? That's because in addition to being hot, Calhoun also has enjoyed taking over leadoff duties—which began June 1—for a Los Angeles Angels offense that has scored the most runs in the majors.
Unless Calhoun's owner has been paying very close attention, there may still be time to jump on the opportunity to trade for him.
Sell High: Casey McGehee, 3B, Miami Marlins
Fantasy Stats: .320 BA, 35 R, 1 HR, 53 RBI, 1 SB (395 PA)
Like Dallas Keuchel, Casey McGehee also came in fifth out of five in the NL's Final Vote. But he's not exactly hurting for his story to be shared, it's fairy tale-esque, which only serves to drive up any potential return you might get for him.
After a season spent with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, the 31-year-old has revived his MLB career and currently is tied atop the Senior Circuit in base knocks. No wonder everyone's been calling him "Hits McGehee."
This is a great story, the kind that sentimental rather than savvy fantasy owners will eat up. Meanwhile, you're the savvy one who knows that McGehee's inexplicably bizarre one-homer, yet 53-RBI campaign is being propped up by a .371 BABIP that's the third-highest in baseball.
If that starts to normalize, McGehee will be little more than a fantasy reserve in shallower formats, especially given that he doesn't really do much in three of the five traditional categories (runs, homers and stolen bases). His value is tied to his batting average, and that, in effect, is tied to McGehee's being pretty lucky.
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