Hello there and welcome to the first edition of Waiver Wired for the 2015 baseball season. I'll be here each and every Thursday to recommend some widely-available names on the waiver wire in mixed leagues as well as AL-only and NL-only formats.
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This is my sixth season doing this column, which almost feels hard to believe. If you have been here with me from the beginning, thank you. If you are joining me for the first time this week, just know that I generally don't include anyone in this column if they are owned in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. So no Joakim Soria (51 percent owned) this week, but you don't need my advice to pick him up anyway. I realize that it's difficult to be one-size-fits all with this sort of thing (some of you might play in really shallow leagues while some are in deeper formats), but this system has worked pretty well over the years. Hopefully there's at least something here for all of you.
You can always track me down on Twitter (@djshort) if you have specific questions about your roster, but let's get this thing rolling.
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Travis Snider OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 11 percent owned)
I mentioned Snider way back in my first ever edition of Waiver Wired back in April of 2010, so I guess you could call him a super post-hype at this point. Still, I think the stage is set for him to finally take off. After hitting .264 with 13 home runs and .776 OPS over 140 games with the Pirates last season, the 27-year-old was dealt to the Orioles over the winter and now finds himself with a starting job in a hitter-friendly home ballpark. As for the icing on the cake, he's been hitting in the middle of Buck Showalter's order already. I would be careful about dropping someone more established in a shallow league, but Snider is someone to take seriously in mixed formats.
Jeurys Familia RP, Mets (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
Jenrry Mejia landed on the disabled list this week after coming down with some elbow stiffness on Opening Day, so now Familia is the man to own in the Mets' bullpen. The 25-year-old is coming off a 2.21 ERA across 76 appearances last season to go along with 8.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and a ground ball rate of 57.4 percent. He was shaky in the spring, but looked like his normal nasty self on Monday. Mejia's injury apparently isn't serious (and Bobby Parnell looms as a potential replacement when he returns from Tommy John surgery), but Familia has the stuff to take advantage of the opportunity. Don't let him sit on the wire.
Adam Lind 1B, Brewers (Yahoo: 41 percent owned)
Well, would you look at that. The Brewers finally have themselves a first baseman. After suffering through the likes of Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, Sean Halton, Juan Francisco, Blake Lalli, and Mark Reynolds over the past two seasons, Lind is a breath of fresh air. Of course, the knock on him is that he can't hit lefties. That's true. You'll have to deploy him wisely. But his .329 batting average against righties is second-highest in MLB dating back to the start of 2013. Only the Mets' Michael Cuddyer is higher in that time. Lind is still in a hitter-friendly ballpark after moving from Toronto to Milwaukee and will hit in the middle of the Brewers' lineup, so I really like him as a corner infielder. Again, maybe just have someone else in mind against left-handers.
Carlos Martinez RP/SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)
The final spot in the Cardinals' starting rotation likely would have gone a different way if southpaw Jaime Garcia didn't come down with more shoulder issues toward the end of spring training, but I'm not going to complain. It's going to be really exciting to see what Martinez can do. The 23-year-old has had his issues putting away left-handed batters in the majors (they have an .829 OPS against him) and the Cardinals figure to watch his workload, but it's hard to bet against his electric stuff. Don't be alarmed that he was used in relief on Opening Night last Sunday, as he was just getting some work in. He's set to make his first start of the season this Sunday against the Reds.
Rougned Odor 2B, Rangers (Yahoo: 44 percent owned)
Despite being one of the youngest players in the majors last season, Odor held his own as a 20-year-old rookie by batting .259/.297/.402 with nine home runs and 48 RBI across 114 games. Jurickson Profar underwent surgery in February to repair a torn labrum, so the path is clear for Odor to take another step forward this year. I think he's going to add more power in time. And while he was just 4-for-11 in stolen base attempts last season, he also offers double-digit speed potential. He's going to break out at some point, so it's just a matter of when. Grab him in most formats on the chance that it's this year.
Dalton Pompey OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 37 percent owned)
The Blue Jays aren't afraid to go with youth. In addition to Devon Travis, Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, and Miguel Castro playing prominent roles, Pompey is set to serve as Toronto's primary center fielder. The 22-year-old rocketed his way to the majors last season after batting .317/.392/.469 with 40 extra-base hits (including nine homers) and 43 stolen bases between three different levels in the minors. He's ready with the glove and has an advanced approach at the plate for his age, so I think he'll be valuable even with inevitable ups and downs. I like the speed and his potential in this lineup.
Jake Lamb 3B, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 29 percent owned)
The Diamondbacks experimented with Yasmany Tomas at third base during spring training, but things didn't go so well and he was optioned to Triple-A Reno over the weekend. Lamb quietly ended up as the primary third baseman, but he announced his presence with authority this week by amassing seven RBI over the first two games of the season. The 24-year-old is one of Arizona's better prospects, hitting .327/.407/.556 with 15 homers and 84 RBI across 108 games between Double- and Triple-A last year. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 78 prospect in the game over the winter. Oh, and as opposed to Tomas, he can actually play third base. I wouldn't drop a high draft pick for him, but Lamb should be on your radar as a corner infielder option if he isn't already. He's one of the most popular adds this week, but his ownership level isn't too crazy yet.
Yusmeiro Petit RP/SP, Giants (Yahoo: 12 percent owned)
Seriously, what does Petit have to do to get an opportunity in the Giants' rotation? While he's valued for his ability to pitch in long relief, I think they might not have a choice soon. Matt Cain hit the disabled list this week with a flexor tendon strain and Jake Peavy is dealing with a back issue. Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum doesn't inspire much in the way of confidence and Chris Heston is likely more of a stopgap. Petit was one of the team's best five starters before this mess and I'd tuck him away in deeper formats in hopes that they finally realize it. Armed with an excellent curveball, the 30-year-old posted a 3.69 ERA with a stingy 133/22 K/BB ratio in 117 innings last season over 12 starts and 27 relief appearances.
Yasmani Grandal C/1B, Dodgers (Yahoo: 26 percent owned)
Acquired as part of the Matt Kemp trade with the Padres, Grandal is expected to serve as the Dodgers' primary catcher this season. The 26-year-old showed some promise in 2012 before a PED suspension and a torn ACL, but he got back on track last year by putting up 15 home runs and a .728 OPS across 128 games. His patience improved as the year moved along and his average batted ball distance was among the best in the majors. I think he's one of the better sleepers at the catcher position assuming he plays four out of every five days. He's especially interesting in OBP leagues and the multi-position eligibility is a nice bonus. It's worth noting that he batted fifth in his season debut on Wednesday.
Chris Hatcher RP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)
All-Star closer Kensley Jansen had foot surgery in mid-February and will likely be sidelined until mid-May, so the Dodgers went into the season without a set closer. Hatcher appears to be the favorite as a fill-in option after getting the first save chance on Opening Day. He was knocked around pretty good on Tuesday, but this is a guy who had a solid 3.38 ERA and 60/12 K/BB ratio across 56 innings with the Marlins last season. I still think he'll get some chances while Jansen is sidelined. Joel Peralta (13 percent owned), who got the save Wednesday, is the alternative if you really want to speculate in this bullpen.
Shopping at the five-and-dime
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Alejandro De Aza OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 7 percent owned)
I already recommended new Orioles outfielder Travis Snider this week, but don't forget about their new primary leadoff man. De Aza finished strong after coming over in a trade from the White Sox last August and should now get most of the playing time in left field. The 30-year-old owns a respectable .274/.335/.413 career batting line against right-handed pitching and is capable of providing double-digit homers and 20-plus stolen bases. He should also score a bunch of runs atop what should be a pretty solid lineup. He's an undervalued option in mixed leagues right now.
TJ House SP, Indians (Yahoo: 5 percent owned)
It looked like there wouldn't be room for House in the Indians' rotation at the start of spring training, but things changed after Gavin Floyd re-injured his elbow and Danny Salazar was optioned to Triple-A. The southpaw is still flying under the radar despite posting an impressive 3.35 ERA over 18 starts and one relief appearance last season to go along with 7.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, and a lofty ground ball rate of 60.9 percent. His splits against right-handed batters are worth watching, but he's a potential breakout pick with me.
Jordan Schafer OF, Twins (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
The Twins demoted Aaron Hicks at the end of spring training and are currently going with a platoon of Schafer and Shane Robinson in center field. It's not the most exciting development, but Schafer has swiped 79 bases dating back to the start of 2012. Only 18 players in MLB have stolen more bases in the same timespan. Keep in mind that he's a .229 career hitter without any power, so he's a one-tricky pony, but that skill comes in handy in a league-only universe.
Miguel Castro RP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Castro is just 20 years old and hadn't thrown a pitch above High-A coming into spring training, but the lanky right-hander managed to win a spot in the Blue Jays' bullpen after a dominant showing this spring. Armed with a mid-to-high 90s fastball to go along with a slider and a changeup, he has tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts over his first two appearances in the big leagues. The Jays will likely move him back to starting eventually, but he could make a big impact in the late innings. He's not a bad stash if you want to speculate on Brett Cecil's ability to keep the closer job.
Trevor Cahill SP/RP, Braves (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Cahill won a spot in the Diamondbacks' rotation early last week only to find himself traded to the Braves a couple of days later. He changed his mechanics this spring, but the change of scenery could be what he needs to get his career back on track. While the 27-year-old had a 5.61 ERA across 17 starts and 15 relief appearances last season, advanced metrics like xFIP and FIP give some reason for hope. He still induces plenty of grounders and moving from Arizona to Atlanta is a positive for him. Maybe we won't see a year like 2010 again, but I'm expecting a decent bounceback.
Chad Billingsley SP, Phillies (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
I was tempted to go with Dan Uggla or Jeff Francoeur just for kicks, but let's look at a lottery ticket instead. Billingsley hasn't pitched in the majors since Tommy John surgery two years ago and is currently working his way back from flexor tendon surgery, but he joined the Phillies on a one-year, $1.5 million deal over the winter and is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday. If all goes well, he could join Philadelphia's rotation by the end of this month. Billingsley owns a 3.65 ERA with a 7.9 K/9 and 3.8 K/9 in the majors, so he's a worthy flier if you have some roster flexibility.