Fantasy Baseball 2015: Week 3's Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice
What good is a fantasy owner who lacks a sense of timing?
Fantasy baseball—just like the real thing—is a game of skill, luck and timing. That last trait in particular comes in handy in 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.
Now, speaking of timing, let's get to some players to sell high and buy low.
Buy Low: Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
2015 Stats: .149 BA, 12 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB (59 PA)
Right about now is a great time to try to pry away Toronto's Jose Bautista. You know, when he's hitting below .150 and dealing with a lingering shoulder injury that has kept him out of three consecutive games.
While a stint on the disabled list no longer appears likely, per Scott MacArthur of TSN 1050, Bautista's ailing shoulder certainly isn't making his owners feel more comfortable, either.
That's not to say anyone is going to actively start shopping the slugger, who was a borderline first-round pick in fantasy drafts just a month ago. But if you can present a promising offer—say, one top-50-caliber player like Ryan Braun or Adam Wainwright and a hot-starting youngster like Steven Souza Jr. or Shane Greene—it might be tempting enough.
It'll also be worth it in the end. Bautista, 34, is a proven 30-homer stud with elite plate discipline, and he's displayed both of those attributes to start 2015. Hence, the four home runs and 12-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
As for that unsightly .149 average? Blame it on a laughably low .097 BABIP.
Sell High: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
2015 Stats: .269 BA, 12 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB (66 PA)
In this author's eyes, Alex Rodriguez is the perfect sell-high guy.
As a big name on the New York Yankees who is off to a hot start—and will only continue to be in the news in the coming days and weeks as he chases down milestone career home run No. 660 to tie Willie Mays—A-Rod has all sorts of noise driving his trade value higher and higher.
Besides, just about everyone is fascinated by an entertaining, controversial redemption story. Plus, nearly every league has its unabashed, unapologetic Yankees fan who already has picked up, dropped and picked up Didi Gregorius again.
To be honest, Rodriguez actually does look good at the plate, like he has it in him to produce like a starting fantasy third baseman in most formats.
The thing is, at his age (40 in July), and with his history of multiple hip surgeries (on both hips), it's almost impossible to expect A-Rod to A) maintain this level of performance and B) stay healthy enough to play, oh, 130-plus games.
Think of it this way: Right now, if you own Rodriguez, you either took him way late in your draft or snatched him up off the waiver wire, so you're more or less playing with house money. You could choose to keep betting, or you could cash in before the good fortune turns.
Because with A-Rod, once something starts going south—whether production or health—no other owner is going to want to touch him.
Buy Low: George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
2015 Stats: .183 BA, 5 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 SB (71 PA)
With just one homer so far, George Springer is not hitting for any power. Heck, the Houston Astros outfielder is not hitting—period.
You see that .183 batting average just above, right? Well, that's going to get better, although it might not cross the .250 plateau given his swing-and-miss tendencies. And the power? The 25-year-old former top prospect has plenty of it, which he proved after smashing 20 homers in less than half a season as a rookie in 2014.
The owner who selected Springer in the fourth round in March knows this, too, but there's bound to be at least a little panic in his eyes each night when he stares at his team's stats and sees an oh-fer next to Springer's name. And it certainly doesn't help that the Astros are batting just .219 as a team.
If you want something positive to grab on to as you float your A.J. Pollock and Jimmy Nelson proposal, here's a promising sign: After notching just five stolen bases in 78 MLB games a year ago, the athletic, speedy Springer—who nearly had a 40-40 campaign in the high minors in 2013—has already swiped four (without being caught) to open this season.
Sell High: Addison Russell, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
2015 Stats: .111 BA, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB (18 PA)
It's just four games—and four not-all-that-impressive games at that—so you're not selling Addison Russell high based on his production, but rather on his status as one of the sport's very best young talents.
A consensus top-five prospect, Russell has that next-big-thing quality that fantasy owners everywhere just can't get enough of. Better yet, he may well be eligible at both middle infield positions, because he came up through the minors as a shortstop but will handle second base for the Chicago Cubs.
To top it all off, there's all the hype surrounding the Cubs at the moment—from their hiring of Joe Maddon to the signing of Jon Lester to their hot start to the promotion of Kris Bryant—so it shouldn't be hard to find someone who is itching to get in on the action. Especially after Bryant's first week in the bigs went so well.
So why dangle Russell at all? A few reasons. One, the 2012 first-rounder is only 21 years old, and the Cubs called him up with just 77 games above A-ball in the minors. Even with his pedigree and talent, that's a lot of youth and inexperience to overcome.
Two, whereas Bryant is going to hit for power, Russell's offensive profile is much less certain initially. Is he going to be able to get to his pop as he faces major leaguers for the first time? Or will his biggest contribution merely come from reaching double digits in steals?
And three, for as touted a prospect as Russell is—and deservedly so—a rather sizable portion of said tout stems from the fact that he's a good defensive player, which doesn't really do much in our circles.
Russell will be good, but it might not be in 2015. He also might well fall into the better-in-real-life-than-in-fantasy category, particularly out of the gate. When a stock is this high, sometimes selling is the only choice.
Buy Low: Cody Allen, RP, Cleveland Indians
2015 Stats: 0 W, 14.40 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 10 K, 3 SV (5.0 IP)
Admit it: You're hating Cody Allen right about now.
You're hating him for single-handedly wrecking your ERA and WHIP with his ghastly 14.40 and 3.00 marks, respectively. Oh, and he already blew a save chance, too. Jeez.
Forget trying to trade him—you're debating whether or not to drop the dude. Well, don't. And don't give in to the scavengers who are nibbling at the Cleveland Indians closer and asking to take him off your hands.
Allen, 26, isn't dealing with any noteworthy injury issue or velocity drop, but he is sporting a crazy-high .643 BABIP (yes, really!) and a super-low 50 percent left-on-base mark (also not a typo).
Add it all up and you get a 3.23 FIP that looks a heck of a lot better than his actual ERA. Chalk up the ugly numbers to a couple of really, really bad outings early on. It will take awhile—like, until June—but Allen's stats will start to look much prettier—and he's going to keep getting saves along the way.
Sell High: DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies
2015 Stats: .414 BA, 4 R, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB (63 PA)
This one's more for those of you in deep-league or, especially, NL-only formats. It's doubtful that someone in a 10- or even 12-teamer is going to give up any player of any kind of value for DJ LeMahieu.
That said, second base is a relatively shallow spot, and in the Senior Circuit, Dee Gordon, Kolten Wong and Howie Kendrick are about the only three second-sackers off to anything remotely resembling a good start.
Otherwise, there's Chase Utley hitting .135, Daniel Murphy at .158, Neil Walker with just one homer, Jedd Gyorko with zero (and making last year's .210 average look good) and Scooter Gennett adding an embarrassing injury to an insulting start (.510 OPS).
So even though most are aware that LeMahieu isn't an offensive force, the 26-year-old is currently sporting a .414 average to go with 12 RBI and a homer and steal apiece. That's enough to make him an intriguing secondary piece to include in a trade offer.
While LeMahieu does have it in him to reach double digits in stolen bases and hit for a non-hurtful average, that's about as good as it's going to get. And the .469 BABIP, which is the highest in baseball, suggests the .414 number is going to plummet sooner than later. Sell before that happens.