Fantasy Baseball 2015: Week 6's Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterMay 15, 2015

Fantasy Baseball 2015: Week 6's Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice

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    Craig Kimbrel hasn't gotten off to a great start for his new club. Go make an offer while you can.
    Craig Kimbrel hasn't gotten off to a great start for his new club. Go make an offer while you can.Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    What good is a fantasy owner who lacks a sense of timing?

    Fantasy baseballjust like the real thingis 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: Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2015 Stats: .230 BA, 18 R, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB (142 PA)

    Those numbers above sure don't look like something from a perennial MVP candidate who was one of the first five picks in every draft this past March.

    Andrew McCutchen's slow—no, downright sluggish—start has raised both concerns and eyebrows, in part because he has been dealing with injuries since the start of spring training. Enough has been made about the 28-year-old's performance that his owner is starting to feel some pressure to cash in while he can still get, say, 75 cents on the dollar.

    If that's what it takes to trade for Cutch, then you want to be the one bringing him in. While the overall stats still sting, the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder has done better in 12 May starts, with a .280 average, six runs, a homer, six RBI and a pair of stolen bases.

    The stolen bases, in particular, could indicate that McCutchen's knee is feeling better, which should allow him to get his usual torque on his vicious swing, leading to some more damage-doing with the bat. While McCutchen wasn't in the starting lineup Thursday, don't worry: It was a planned rest, according to Tom Singer of MLB.com.

    Another thing worth noting? McCutchen's .248 BABIP is more than 100 points below his mark from each of the past three seasons when it never dipped below .353. Even if he's not 100 percent and might have logged too much time to be an overall top-10 player in the end, McCutchen still has all kinds of time to regain his top-tier status. He's still an OF1 in fantasy, but one who might be gettable for an OF2 price.

Sell High: Shelby Miller, SP, Atlanta Braves

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    2015 Stats: 4 W, 1.60 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 39 K, 0 SV (45.0 IP)

    Before we dig into Shelby Miller a bit, realize that this is a promising young pitcher who looks like he's figured things out again after a mostly disappointing 2014. So the 24-year-old isn't some get-out-while-you-can type by any stretch.

    Rather, the reason we're suggesting you might want to sell on Miller is that he's currently performing as a top-15 arm overall, according to ESPN Fantasy Baseball's player rater. Sure, he's a nice combination of production and potential given his age, pedigree and stuff, but how confident are you that Miller really is a borderline SP1 or even SP2 in fantasy?

    Here's where we pick apart his unsustainably low .203 BABIP, which is tied for the second-lowest in baseball. Miller has shown a knack for sporting lower-than-league-average marks in this category, but you're kidding yourself if you think it will stay anywhere close to where it is.

    What's more, Miller's left-on-base percentage of 87.9 is the third-highest around, which is another sign that a correction should soon be coming. No wonder his FIP is nearly two full runs higher at 3.41.

    On top of all that, the rebuilding Atlanta Braves aren't likely to provide a ton of run support, meaning Miller might struggle to reach the teens in wins, even though he already has racked up four of 'em.

Buy Low: Craig Kimbrel, RP, San Diego Padres

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    2015 Stats: 0 W, 5.93 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 19 K, 10 SV (13.2 IP)

    If there's ever going to be a time to buy low on the reliever who has been the best closer in the sport over the past handful of seasons, it's right about now.

    Craig Kimbrel has been shaky enough in a new situation—pitching for a new team in the San Diego Padres—that savvy traders could craft a somewhat persuasive narrative that he was thrown off by being traded hours before Opening Day, or that he's just not right or that this is the year he finally proves merely human.

    Sure, not every owner is going to buy it, but there's no harm in trying, right?

    While Kimbrel has had his share of surprising struggles so far—including allowing nearly half as many hits and exactly half as many homers already as he did all of 2014—this is still an elite fantasy RP1. Kimbrel will be just 27 at the end of May, and he should register 40 saves and post crazy-good stats in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts (for a reliever) yet again.

    Kimbrel's BABIP against at the moment is .375, which is almost exactly 100 points north of his career mark of .276. That's bound to rectify soon, especially since his stuff is as wicked as ever. There's no hint of a velocity drop, and Kimbrel's swinging strike rate of 19.0 percent is just shy of his career high.

Sell High: Marcus Semien, 2B/3B/SS, Oakland Athletics

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2015 Stats: .307 BA, 20 R, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB (151 PA)

    Fellow fantasy friends, this is your No. 1 shortstop right now.

    The fact that Marcus Semien has put up the best stats among all players at the position so far presents an excellent opportunity to sell, particularly because short is as shallow as any spot out there. Everyone is constantly searching for a quality starter, which inflates the going rate for one—let alone the top one—in a trade.

    The 24-year-old has a nice offensive profile featuring a pop-speed combination that had him looking like a potential 15-15 guy in the preseason. But Semien's fast start has him on pace for a near-30-30 campaign at 27 homers and 27 steals, which is what you should be selling to your leaguemates who so desperately need help at shortstop.

    Semien has made some improvements in his approach, namely striking out 20.5 percent of the time after sporting a rate near 30 percent in his limited exposure in 2013-14. But asking him to hit better than .280 and tally 15 more homers and steals apiece the rest of the way while playing half his games at pitcher-friendly O.Co Coliseum is probably asking too much. He still could be a very good player—just not a guaranteed top-five (or even top-10) shortstop.

    As great as Semien has been, perhaps the biggest reason against trading him away is that he's extremely useful for his eligibility at three infield positions. There's value in that, especially in deeper leagues or AL-only formats. Just don't pass up on the chance to swap him at peak value solely because you like that he has "2B/3B/SS" next to his name.

Buy Low: Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago White Sox

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    2015 Stats: 2 W, 4.39 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 39 K, 0 SV (41.0 IP)

    Jose Quintana had his best outing of the young season Wednesday, hurling seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball with 10 strikeouts, so the window to buy low might already be in the process of closing.

    But there still should an opening here, given that the 26-year-old left-hander's overall numbers in the five-by-five categories appear pretty average.

    Quintana's underlying numbers, however—like his 3.14 FIP and 39-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio—are much more evident of his true skill set. After all, he has been one of the steadier, yet underrated, arms on the fantasy landscape the past two years.

    Oh, and it's worth pointing out that a big reason why Quintana's ERA still looks kind of bloated has to do with the career-worst nine earned he permitted in a road start against the dangerous Detroit Tigers on April 19. We can't take that one away, of course, but if we did, his ERA would be a much, much nicer 2.68.

Buy Low: Jose Reyes, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    2015 Stats: .250 BA, 6 R, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB (66 PA)

    Is it just us, or does it seem like everyone has forgotten about Jose Reyes. Granted, the guy is on the disabled list for, like, the 37th time in his career and all—a cracked rib has kept him out since late April—but Reyes still is going to wind up as a top-10 fantasy shortstop when all is said and done.

    The good news on the injury front is that Reyes didn't feel any pain in a batting practice session earlier this week in which the switch-hitter swung from the left side for the first time in about a month, according to John Lott of the National Post. If all goes well, he could head out on a rehab assignment soon and be back before the end of May.

    Even with all the missed action and advancing age (32 in June), Reyes should approach 30 steals yet again, something he has done eight times in his career, most recently last year when he nabbed exactly that many despite missing time early on with a hamstring strain. At least this time it's not a leg-related injury.

    Once he's back as the leadoff man for the dangerous Toronto Blue Jays lineup, which ranks No. 1 in baseball, Reyes will be a great source of runs scored, which might be the most underrated of the 10 traditional rotisserie categories.

      

    Statistics are accurate through Thursday, May 14, and courtesy of MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

    Need more fantasy baseball help? Come pepper me with your questions on Twitter today at 1 p.m. ET @JayCat11.