Welcome back for Week Two of Waiver Wired for the 2016 baseball season. I hope the first week treated you well. If it didn’t, don’t panic. We have a long way to go. Fortunately, I have a list of names below that might be able to help you out.
The early season small sample size can drive you to do some things you usually wouldn’t do. I completely understand that impulse. It’s good to be flexible if you have a feeling about a certain player or situation. In many cases (and especially at the beginning of a season), you have to be aggressive to reap the benefits. But you drafted the great majority of your team for a reason and a few games shouldn’t be enough to shake things up significantly. Some luck always helps, but I’ve found that diligence is the biggest key to finding yourself in the mix at the end of this wonderful six-month grind.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
Howie Kendrick 2B, Dodgers (Yahoo: 37 percent owned)
Kendrick declined a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in hopes of finding a big deal in free agency over the winter, but he ended up settling for a two-year, $20 million deal to return to the Dodgers. He’ll likely end up seeing most of the playing time at second base once again, but he made his first start in left field since 2011 on Wednesday and could see more time there with both Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford both sidelined. The 32-year-old doesn’t have significant category upside, but he was useful when healthy last year, hitting .295 with nine home runs, 54 RBI, and six steals over 117 games. He’s a fine middle infield option at the very least and could even function as a starting option at second base in deeper formats.
Brandon Finnegan SP/RP, Reds (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)
Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani have received most of the attention in fantasy leagues, but don’t forget about Finnegan. Acquired from the Royals in the Johnny Cueto deal last July, the 23-year-old southpaw owns a 2.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings over his first two starts. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Cubs on Monday, which was pretty impressive considering the quality of that lineup. His control is a work in progress, but the development of his changeup could be the key to him sticking in the rotation and finding a spot on fantasy rosters. As I said in the video above, those in shallow formats can afford to wait and see or play the matchups with him, but he’s an interesting name right now.
Matt Moore SP, Rays (Yahoo: 39 percent owned)
Hey, remember when Moore was being talked about as the left-handed version of Stephen Strasburg? Things haven’t worked out exactly as planned. He required season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2014 and had some ups and downs last year, but it looks like things are finally getting back on track for him. Now 26 years old, Moore has a 3.00 ERA and 11/3 K/BB ratio in 12 innings over his first two starts this season. He actually owns a 2.98 ERA and 40/13 K/BB ratio in 48 1/3 innings in eight starts dating back to his return from the minors last September. While his velocity isn’t what it once was, he maxed out at around 96 mph and averaged 93 mph on his fastball Tuesday against the Indians. That’ll work. Control was his issue prior to surgery, but he’s back on the mixed league radar once again.
Mallex Smith OF, Braves (Yahoo: 36 percent owned)
Ender Inciarte landed on the disabled list over the weekend with a left hamstring strain, so the Braves are giving Smith a chance as their starting center fielder and leadoff man. He’s had a bit of a slow start so far and even suffered a cut above his eye in his major league debut, but there’s some serious speed potential here. Acquired from the Padres in the Justin Upton deal last winter, the 22-year-old stole 57 bases in 126 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year and had 88 swipes in 120 games in the minors in 2014. While he doesn’t have any power, he has shown good plate discipline in the minors and makes contact. He’s worth trying as long as he’s hitting leadoff. Hector Olivera figures to face a lengthy absence after his arrest for an alleged domestic dispute on Wednesday morning, so Smith figures to stick around even after Inciarte returns from the disabled list.
Nick Castellanos 3B, Tigers (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)
It feels like we have been waiting on Castellanos for a while already, but keep in mind that he just turned 24 in March. He’s actually younger than Kris Bryant. On the whole, his 2015 didn’t look much different than what we saw in 2014, but he showed more patience during the second half last year while amassing 31 extra-base hits (including nine home runs) and an .800 OPS over 68 games. Those are some encouraging numbers to speculate on. He’s at least worth keeping around as a corner infielder option right now, but it’s not crazy to think that he could emerge as a top-12 option at third base. The position is looking a bit weaker these days.
Marcell Ozuna OF, Marlins (Yahoo: 33 percent owned)
Another post-hype option, Ozuna fell out of favor with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria last season while struggling to the tune of a .259/.308/.383 batting line over 123 games. He even found himself in the minors for a stretch, which added to the animosity. His name popped up in all sorts of trade rumors over the winter, but the Marlins resisted selling low and he’s currently getting an opportunity as their regular center fielder and No. 2 hitter. If you are looking for some reasons to believe in a bounceback, consider that Ozuna improved his contact rate last season and was among the league leaders in exit velocity. The fence/dimension changes at Marlins Park should help his cause.
Jerad Eickhoff SP, Phillies (Yahoo: 32 percent owned)
Eickhoff wasn’t talked about much as part of the haul in the Cole Hamels trade with the Rangers last July, but the 25-year-old has surprised with a 2.43 ERA over his first 10 starts in the majors. This includes seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and zero walks against the Padres on Wednesday night. Yes, it was the Padres, but we can’t keep overlooking his success in mixed leagues. His fastball is nothing special, so location is key with him, but his slider and curve have proven to be nice weapons for him thus far. Similar to Vincent Velasquez, who I mentioned last week, I worry a bit about the win potential with this lineup and bullpen, but there are some really interesting names in this rotation. Aaron Nola (Yahoo: 62 percent owned) is also still out there in a lot of leagues.
Kevin Jepsen RP, Twins (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)
Twins closer Glen Perkins hit the disabled list with a shoulder strain yesterday, which likely puts Jepsen at the top of the depth chart for save chances. You know, assuming the Twins eventually get one. Jepsen has been in this role before, notching 10 saves as a fill-in option after being acquired from the Rays last July. The 31-year-old is coming off a 2.33 ERA last year, though he got there with a mediocre 59/27 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings. On the bright side, he induces his fair share of grounders. Who knows how long Perkins will be gone, so Jepsen could end up having long-term value. 26-year-old Trevor May (Yahoo: 6 percent owned) is the dark horse here if you want to speculate.
Jarrod Dyson OF, Royals (Yahoo: 19 percent owned)
Dyson was forced to begin the season on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, but he began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha over the weekend and could make his season debut with the Royals within the next few days. The 31-year-old has served as a part-time player and defensive replacement in recent seasons, but he’s expected to get a chance as Kansas City’s primary right fielder. And that’s big if you need some speed on your roster. Dyson has swiped 126 bases dating back to the start of 2012. Only seven players have more in the same timespan. He might not do much else for you (he owns a .255/.320/.343 batting line), but he’s capable of helping you win a category.
Trea Turner 2B, Nationals (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
I always get a ton of questions about prospects in my weekly chats, specifically which ones are closest to making an immediate impact. Turner is at the top of my list. The 22-year-old made his major league debut last September, but he’s currently biding his time with Triple-A Syracuse while Danny Espinosa gets an opportunity at shortstop. By the way, Espinosa is batting just .150 (3-for-20) with a .508 OPS over his first seven games while Turner is off to a red-hot start. If Espinosa continues to struggle, it might not be long before we see a change. Known for his excellent speed, Turner batted .322/.370/.458 with eight homers and 29 stolen bases over 116 games last season between Double-A and Triple-A. It might be time to get ahead on this situation.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Nick Tropeano SP, Angels (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
After posting a 3.82 ERA and 38/10 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings in the majors last year, Tropeano replaced the injured Andrew Heaney in the Angels’ rotation on Monday and tossed five scoreless innings in a victory over the Athletics. The 25-year-old right-hander struck out six batters and walked two, with one of them being intentional. Tropeano doesn’t blow batters away, averaging in the low-90s with his fastball, but he gets plenty of whiffs with his slider and changeup. He has a real chance to stick in this rotation and has a pitcher-friendly home stadium as the backdrop. For now, I like him as a streaming option against the scuffling Twins this weekend.
Jake Lamb 3B, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 9 percent owned)
Lamb batted just .263/.331/.386 with six home runs and 34 RBI over 107 games during his first full season in the majors last year, so I can’t blame you if you weren’t excited about him in drafts this spring, but it’s fair to wonder if his left foot injury impacted his production. And heck, he still had a .742 OPS vs. right-handers, which isn’t terrible. While it would be nice to see him hit more fly balls, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder had a .321/.408/.552 batting line in the minors. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him take a step forward in the power department, especially in this ballpark. Brandon Drury looms as a threat if he scuffles, but Lamb is worth a try as a corner infielder or bench player in deeper formats. I’d probably stick to using him versus righties for now.
Mike Minor SP, Royals (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Minor is working his way back from shoulder surgery and probably won’t be an option for the Royals’ rotation for another month or so, but there was an encouraging report this week that the southpaw touched 96 mph and sat “comfortably” around 93 mph during an appearance at extended spring training on Tuesday. Per FanGraphs, Minor peaked with an average fastball velocity of 91.2 mph in 2011 and has mostly sat around 90 mph since, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep it going. He’s a lottery ticket, but those with an open DL spot could do worse than stash him while we wait.
Oswaldo Arcia OF, Twins (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
With some chatter surfacing that the Twins could demote one of their struggling young outfielders, Arcia might find himself getting some more at-bats in the coming days. I had high hopes for the 24-year-old last season, but he landed on the disabled list with a hip flexor strain in May and ended up spending the rest of the year in the minors. Still, there’s some nice power potential if the at-bats are there. Here’s hoping Arcia gets a look over David Murphy (Yahoo: 0 percent owned), who was signed to a minor league deal on Thursday. But that’s not a sure thing. By the way, I’m working under the assumption that that Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Yahoo: 5 percent owned) is already gone in your league. If not, he’s obviously a must-own in AL-only formats as he fills in for the injured James McCann in Detroit.
Logan Verrett SP/RP, Mets (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Verrett was excellent while filling in for Jacob deGrom on Wednesday against the Marlins, allowing just three hits over six scoreless innings while striking out six and walking two. The 25-year-old a useful piece for the club last season, posting a 3.59 ERA and 39/15 K/BB ratio in 47 2/3 innings over four starts and 14 relief appearances. There’s still some uncertainty about deGrom’s sore lat, as a stint on the disabled list hasn’t been ruled out, so Verrett needs to be owned in NL-only formats until we get some clarity on the situation.
Kelly Johnson 1B/2B/3B/OF, Braves (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Hector Olivera was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery for an alleged domestic dispute on Wednesday morning in Arlington, Virginia. He has been placed on administrative leave by the Braves and there’s no clear timetable for his return. Even if he isn’t convicted, he’s likely to face a lengthy suspension. The Braves will presumably move forward with a combination of Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, and Drew Stubbs in left field. Johnson is the pick for me since he’s left-handed and has multi-position eligibility. He's batting cleanup on Thursday, for goodness sakes. Make sure he's owned. Tommy La Stella (Yahoo: 1 percent owned) is another name to consider in NL-only formats, as he could have some sneaky value in the Cubs' lineup after Kyle Schwarber's knee injury.