Fantasy Baseball 2014: Week 16'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.
Sell High: Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics
Fantasy Stats: .246 BA, 53 R, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 1 SB (384 PA)
Even if Monday's Home Run Derby was a bit of a disappointment overall, Yoenis Cespedes made the most of it by putting on another huge power display and becoming just the second player in history, along with Ken Griffey Jr., to win the event in consecutive years.
The hype from that performance alone should be enough to tempt other owners if they're presented with an offer involving Cespedes.
The 28-year-old has put up good numbers in runs scored, home runs and RBI—those last two are especially unsurprising given what we watched earlier in the week—but his batting average remains a bit of a drag because he hits so many fly balls (again, not exactly a shock, right?). In fact, his 49.5 percent fly-ball rate is third-highest in the majors.
And whereas Cespedes once looked like the type of athlete who would swipe 15-20 bases a season, he's gone just 1-for-3 in that department so far.
Will the power continue? No reason to think otherwise. But if you can capitalize on an awestruck owner to get a more well-rounded hitter or a solid second starter for your fantasy rotation, that's a good return for Cespedes.
Buy Low: Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
Fantasy Stats: .255 BA, 34 R, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 13 SB (295 PA)
Man, what happened to the guy who was drafted in Round 2 this year because everyone thought he was going to be a perennial 20-20 man at second base?
Well, for one thing, Jason Kipnis got off to a slow start, hitting just .234 through April. For another, the 27-year-old injured his right side and missed just about all of May, which helps explain his deflated numbers.
Since the start of June, though, Kipnis has done better in batting average (.267) and stolen bases (nine). But his power is gone, as he's yet to homer over those 38 games. That could be due, in part, to his front hitting side—the one responsible for pulling the swing through the zone and generating torque—has taken a while longer to fully heal.
Kipnis is now hitting leadoff, which actually might be a good thing for him at the start of the second half until he finds his rhythm and power stroke, at which point he could drop down to more of a run-producing spot. Remember, he's proved to be the kind of streaky hitter who can get hot quick, and with such a low cost of acquisition via trade, Kipnis is a good gamble.
Sell High: Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
Fantasy Stats: 3 W, 2.58 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 52 K, 27 SV (45.1 IP)
Here's the only thing you need to know about why Francisco Rodriguez, in the middle of his resurrection year, is better off being used to obtain some talent than staying on your roster:
The 32-year-old has thrown 45.1 innings already—or about one fewer than he did after joining the Milwaukee Brewers in mid-May of 2013—which is the most among any closer with at least 15 saves. Also? That puts him on pace for 76.1, and even if he did reach the 70-inning plateau in 2011 and 2012, that would be the most innings K-Rod has thrown since...2004.
Beyond that, it'd be wise to peddle Rodriguez and his 27 saves—third-most in the sport—because that is the only category he's really capable of helping in over the rest of the season. And if he winds up with a big 40-45 saves, that still only means he's got about another 15 or so in him.
Buy Low: Brett Lawrie, 2B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Fantasy Stats: .244 BA, 27 R, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB (281 PA)
We're now nearly a month out from when Brett Lawrie took a Johnny Cueto heater to the hand and fractured his right index finger. The injury initially was expected to keep him out anywhere from three to six weeks.
That means the 24-year-old should be back soon enough, which presents a buy-low opportunity while Lawrie remains out of both the Blue Jays lineup and his fantasy owner's general consciousness.
The battered Toronto lineup isn't quite as strong with Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind also out, but Lawrie will be the first one back and should benefit from their returns at some point down the stretch.
Lawrie's power could be sapped some by this type of injury, but with his eligibility at both second and third base and a chance to get hot again—all at a discounted price—makes for a potential payoff.
Sell High: Marlon Byrd, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Fantasy Stats: .263 BA, 49 R, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 1 SB (390 PA)
In a way, this is a new Marlon Byrd. What that is, exactly, is a hitter who strikes out a lot, hits a ton of fly balls and yet still has found a way to put up numbers, particularly of the power variety.
That Byrd reinvented himself at such a late stage of his career—he'll be 37 in August—is rather remarkable. But you have to be more than a little wary of any player who is striking out 29.2 percent of the time (second-most in MLB) and whose fly-ball rate of 44.8 percent (just outside the top 10) indicate he's been getting some kind of lucky.
Plus, with all the trade rumors swirling around Byrd, he could be leaving cozy Citizens Bank Park, where he sports an .825 OPS and .243 ISO, compared to .764 and .189 on the road. As if up and moving to a new city in the middle of the season wasn't disrupting enough in and of itself.
Remind others that only 13 players total have more home runs than Byrd's 18, and you're bound to get a nibble, if not a full bite.
Buy Low: Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres
Fantasy Stats: .226 BA, 26 R, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 4 SB (294 PA)
In all honesty, buying low on Chase Headley might be a stretch, and a move that only applies if: A) it's a very deep league (i.e., 14-team or NL-only); or B) the price to bring him in is so low, it's almost like his owner is paying you to take him.
Ever since his monstrous second half in 2012, the 30-year-old has been brutally bad for fantasy, hitting just .240 with 85 runs, 20 homers, 79 RBI and 12 steals—and that's in a season and a half.
But there's a good chance Headley, who's headed to the open market at year's end, could be traded. That means he would escape having to hit at Petco Park half the time and in a lineup that's legitimately threatening to set the record for lowest batting average (.214) and lowest on-base percentage (.273).
In other words, getting out of San Diego alone could turn Headley into a somewhat useful corner-infield option.
Sell High: Henderson Alvarez, SP, Miami Marlins
Fantasy Stats: 6 W, 2.63 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 73 K (120.0 IP)
If you own Henderson Alvarez, then copy, paste and fill in what's below into an e-mail to be sent out to each owner in your league:
Ahoy [insert name of fellow owner here],
Could your rotation use a 24-year-old All-Star who ranks in the top 10 in ERA in baseball? Thought so.
Well, I just happen to have such a pitcher in Henderson Alvarez, an up-and-coming arm who also is tied for the most complete games (three) in the majors.
While I like Alvarez a lot, my pitching is pretty deep, but I could use some help in [insert category here] and/or at [insert position here]. Would you trade [insert player name here] in a deal that sent Alvarez your way?
Thanks, and get back to me soon—other owners have inquired already!
What you won't be including in said message, of course, is that Alvarez had a couple of arm-related injury scares in the first half, remains very hittable (9.7 H/9) and possesses a strikeout rate of 5.5 per nine.
No matter: Someone should see the perceived value in trading for Alvarez, which allows you to get something in return that specifically addresses a category or position need in your lineup.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11