Well, we made it. This is the 26th and final edition of Waiver Wired for the 2014 season. Thanks so much for hanging with me throughout the year. If you are still reading this, you are probably still in contention in your league. Or maybe you are trying to play spoiler and finish as strong as you possibly can. I can admire that. The recommendations below are mostly aimed at those in deeper formats, but I also have a bunch of streaming options which should apply to pretty much everyone. Good luck.
Yes, the regular season is coming to a close, but please don't be a stranger over the winter. Follow me @djshort on Twitter and feel free to ask any questions you might have about the Hot Stove or 2015 planning and/or strategy. I do this baseball stuff year-round, you know.
Oh, and one final thing: Be sure to click through to page two to see who walked away with this year's Waiver Wired Awards. It's a prestigious honor.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day, $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $4,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Emilio Bonifacio 2B/3B/OF, Braves (Yahoo: 25 percent owned)
Looking for some late speed off the waiver wire? It's hard to do much better than Bonifacio. The 29-year-old has been running wild since joining the Braves by going 12-for-14 in stolen base attempts, which gives him 26 steals in 106 games on the year. He's not doing much of anything with the bat, but the Braves have used him out of the leadoff spot in six straight games. The multi-position eligibility is also handy right now with many players getting unexpected rest during the final week of the season. If Bonifacio is gone in your league, consider other widely-available speedsters like Lorenzo Cain, Gregor Blanco, Jake Marisnick, and Ender Inciarte. Dalton Pompey is a decent gamble if you are really desperate.
Chris Coghlan 3B/OF, Cubs (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)
The Cubs will face all right-handers this weekend against the Brewers, which makes Coghlan a solid choice depending on need. Serving mostly as the Cubs' leadoff hitter of late, the 29-year-old has earned his way back into mixed league relevancy by batting .283/.349/.447 to go along with eight homers, 39 RBI, and six stolen bases over 122 games. This includes an .817 OPS against right-handed pitching. Nick Castellanos is also eligible between third base and the outfield and should still be available in some leagues. Coghlan's teammate Luis Valbuena falls in the same boat and has dual-eligibility between third base and second. Meanwhile, Wilmer Flores can cover you at three positions. Flexibility is an underrated asset right now. I'd mention Juan Uribe here, but I'm guessing he rests a bit now that the Dodgers have clinched the NL West. That actually makes Justin Turner a pretty good pickup.
Stephen Vogt C/1B/OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
Vogt has just one hit in 19 at-bats since his two-week absence with a sprained left ankle and he's batting .196 (21-for-107) dating back to the start of August, but I still think he's worth having around for the final series of the season against the Rangers. Texas will throw a pair of right-handers this weekend, with Nick Tepesch on Friday and Nick Martinez on Sunday. Vogt isn't a lock to play in those games necessarily, but his power potential and multi-position eligibility make him worth a flier in leagues where he was dropped. Some insurance at the catcher position is a good thing. Tyler Flowers, Yasmani Grandal, and Anthony Recker (a decent power option if Travis d'Arnaud continues to miss time) are also out there in most leagues.
Zach Putnam RP, White Sox (Yahoo: 5 percent owned)
Jake Petricka has been Robin Ventura's preferred option in the ninth inning for most of the summer, but Putnam has nabbed two of the team's last three save chances. With Petricka coming off a tough appearance against the Tigers on Tuesday night, one wonders if Putnam would get the ball with a lead this weekend against the Royals. After bouncing around with three different teams from 2011-2013, Putnam owns a 1.98 ERA and 46/20 K/BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings over 65 appearances this season. While the strikeout rate isn't great, the 27-year-old right-hander gets plenty of whiffs with his cutter and has produced a 53.1 percent ground ball rate. He's worth a try if you are scratching and clawing for saves.
Rougned Odor 2B, Rangers (Yahoo: 5 percent owned)
Odor is just 20 years old and was aggressively pushed to the majors this year, so he has understandably had some ups and downs as a rookie. The good news is that he's finishing the season on a high note, reaching base safely in 20 out of his last 22 games while hitting .325 (25-for-77) with three home runs, three doubles, two triples, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored. This includes a homer and a double Wednesday night against the Astros. He could be very interesting in 2015 depending on how things shake out with Jurickson Profar. As for the immediate future, I'd stay away from him against A's left-hander Scott Kazmir on Friday, but he's worth a look in deeper leagues with right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray lined up for the rest of the weekend. Rickie Weeks, Jose Ramirez, and Alexi Amarista are among other middle infielders who are out there in most leagues.
Dayan Viciedo OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
I'm not much of a Viciedo fan, but he's currently 21st among all outfield-eligible players with 21 home runs. Sure, he's only batting .232 with a pathetic .280 on-base percentage this season, but I can overlook that if he runs into one this weekend against the Royals. Viciedo's teammate Avisail Garcia, who I mentioned last week, should also be considered. Oswaldo Arcia would be an ideal alternative to those two, but the Twins are slated to face a pair of left-handers against the Tigers. Steve Pearce returned to action Wednesday, but I'd be careful about relying on him too much coming off the hamstring injury.
Derek Holland SP, Rangers (39 percent owned)
Holland didn't make his season debut for the Rangers until September 2 because of left knee surgery, but he has been worth the wait for fantasy owners, posting a 1.31 ERA and 24/4 K/BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings. His most recent outing on Monday against the Astros was admittedly his weakest so far, but he still walked away with the win and managed to go seven innings for the fourth time in his five starts. The southpaw is a strong play against the scuffling A's on Saturday and will likely be a nice value pick in drafts next spring.
Danny Duffy SP, Royals (Yahoo: 43 percent owned)
After missing a little over two weeks with left rotator cuff inflammation, Duffy showed little on the way of rust on Monday by tossing six scoreless innings in a crucial victory over the Indians. The 25-year-old southpaw now owns a 2.32 ERA across 24 starts and six relief appearances this season. Among pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched, only Johnny Cueto, Chris Sale, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA. My guess is that he's gone in most competitive leagues already, but you never know. Either way, he's a must-start against the White Sox on Saturday.
Bartolo Colon SP, Mets (Yahoo: 36 percent owned)
Colon has been hit or miss for much of this season, but I'll roll with him one final time for Sunday's finale against the Astros at Citi Field. The veteran right-hander has had some issues with the home run ball over the past two months, but his control is just as good as ever and he's been better at home (3.68 ERA) than on the road (4.44 ERA) this season. Jon Niese on Friday is another option as a streamer, but the Astros have generally been a much stronger offensive team against left-handers this season.
Cory Rasmus RP/SP, Angels (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
Rasmus has yet to complete five innings in a start since moving into the Angels' rotation late last month, but he has been very effective along the way, putting up a 1.69 ERA and 16/4 K/BB ratio in 16 innings across five starts. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Tuesday that he's considering giving Rasmus a playoff start, so it's possible he'll be stretched out further against the fading Mariners on Saturday, which gives him some win potential. Even if it's only another four-inning outing, he's capable of helping in ERA and WHIP.
Josh Collmenter RP/SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 15 percent owned)
Collmenter has been fantastic over his last six starts, posting a 1.29 ERA with 25 strikeouts and just five walks over 42 innings. The bearded right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all six of them. The two big keys have been throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the ballpark. He has served up just one home run during this recent stretch. He's a solid option against the Cardinals on Sunday, especially if they rest Adam Wainwright and some regulars.
Henderson Alvarez SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
Alvarez missed a start earlier this month with a left oblique strain, but he has allowed just three runs in 20 2/3 innings across three starts since his return. The 24-year-old right-hander will bring a 2.70 ERA into Sunday's season finale against the Nationals and makes for a must-start wherever he's available. Yes, the Marlins' lineup isn't scaring anyone without Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, but the Nationals should be resting some regulars. Besides, Alvarez threw a no-hitter on the final day of the season last year. That's just in case you need an extra push.
The 2014 Waiver Wired Awards
Welcome, everyone, to the 2014 edition of the Waiver Wired Awards. As you'll notice below, each award is named after an obscure Mets player from my youth. This is my fifth year of doing this and I can't believe I have gotten away with it for so long. Anyway, we're going to keep rolling with it until somebody tells me to stop.
Basically, the idea is to shine a light on some of the names that have been mentioned in this column throughout the year. You won't find Charlie Blackmon below (I resisted way back in early April) and Dee Gordon was already scooped up in most leagues by the time I did my first Waiver Wired of the season, but I still think we did really well. Check out the field and enjoy.
The Phil Lombardi Award (best waiver wire catcher)
I was optimistic about Devin Mesoraco's fantasy prospects when I mentioned him in the very first Waiver Wired of the season, as he was finally lined up for regular playing time freed from the shackles of Dusty Baker, but nobody saw this coming. The breakout player at the catcher position this season, Mesoraco has put together a potent .276/.360/.541 batting line to go along with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. And that's only in 111 games. He's second among catcher-eligible players in homers, third in RBI, and first in OPS. Look for him to be a top-five option at the position going into drafts next season.
The Roberto Petagine Award (best waiver wire first baseman)
Justin Morneau and Steve Pearce both have very strong cases here, but I'll go with Lucas Duda, who didn't take over the regular first base job in New York until after Ike Davis was traded to the Pirates in late April. There was a lot of debate at the time about whether the Mets made the right decision, but it's hard to question them now. After going undrafted in most mixed leagues this spring, Duda is eighth (tied) among first-base eligible players in home runs and 12th (tied) in RBI. Meanwhile, his .826 OPS is tied for 25th in the majors. In a time when power is down around the game, Duda has been one of the year's best bargains.
The Al Pedrique Award (best waiver wire shortstop)
Danny Santana didn't make his major league debut until May 5, but he'll finish the year as a top-10 shortstop in mixed leagues. In 96 games, the 23-year-old has hit .319/.355/.477 with 40 extra-base hits (including seven home runs), 40 RBI, 19 stolen bases, and 66 runs scored. His emergence has been one of the bright spots in another losing season for the Twins, but I'm still pumping the breaks a bit on his future, as his plate discipline hasn't been great and he's riding a BABIP approaching .400. Still, he has earned a regular job for next year, whether it's in center field or at shortstop.
The Jason Hardtke Award (best waiver wire second baseman)
If you weren't lucky enough to pick up Dee Gordon in your league, Neil Walker proved to be a fantastic value. His average draft position in Yahoo leagues this spring was 247.1, below the likes of Mike Aviles, Dan Uggla, Alex Guerrero, Alberto Callaspo, Daniel Descalso, and Marco Scutaro. Meanwhile, he has outperformed big names like Matt Carpenter, Ben Zobrist, Jason Kipnis, Dustin Pedroia, Martin Prado, and Chase Utley by batting .270/.341/.456 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI over 133 games. That production has been good enough for 10th among second-base eligible players.
The Junior Noboa Award (best waiver wire third baseman)
Walker was at least drafted in some mixed leagues this spring, but his teammate Josh Harrison was truly off the radar. After putting up a .648 OPS over his first 229 games in the majors, mostly in a backup role, the 27-year-old has emerged as one the Pirates' most important players this season. Now serving as their regular third baseman and leadoff man, he has hit .316/.347/.493 with 56 extra-base hits (including 13 home runs), 52 RBI, 17 stolen bases, and 72 runs scored over 139 games. He has a chance at the NL batting title going into the weekend. While Harrison also qualifies at second base and in the outfield, he has ranked as the eighth-most valuable third baseman in Yahoo leagues. There's a real chance he'll be drafted as top-100 player next season. And it's hard to say that it's not justified.
The Wayne Housie Award (best waiver wire outfielder)
I didn't bite on Charlie Blackmon in the first Waiver Wired of the season, but there are still plenty of good options here even if we put him aside. Top honors this year go to his teammate Corey Dickerson, who has batted .312 with 24 home runs, 76 RBI, eight stolen bases, and 74 runs scored in 131 games. That's a 30-homer, 90-plus RBI, 10-steal pace over a full season. Playing half of his games in Coors Field, he should have a legitimate shot at those numbers next season.
Some other notables in the outfield include Denard Span (.300 with 93 runs scored, 31 stolen bases), Marcell Ozuna (emerging power bat with 23 home runs and 85 RBI), J.D. Martinez (extreme case of a post-hype breakout with a .320 batting average to go along with 23 home runs, 76 RBI, and a .928 OPS), Kole Calhoun (thrived as the Angels' leadoff man by batting .275/.330/.451 with 16 home runs, 57 RBI, 88 runs scored), and Adam Eaton (.297 batting average and a .360 on-base percentage to go along with 73 runs scored in 119 games).
The Brett Hinchcliffe Award (best waiver wire starting pitcher)
While his season came to an unfortunate end due to a torn left patellar tendon, Garrett Richards gets the nod here. The 26-year-old right-hander finally saw his velocity translate to success prior to the injury, going 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA and 164/51 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings over 26 starts. Even though he's been out for a month now, he's still ranked as the 11th-most valuable starting pitcher for the season in Yahoo leagues. Here's hoping he comes back strong in 2015.
The rest of my waiver wire rotation includes Jake Arrieta (the Cubs' flier paid off in a big way with a 2.53 ERA with 167 strikeouts in 156 2/3 innings), Dallas Keuchel (a relative unknown at the start of the year, he posted a 2.93 ERA in 29 starts), Jacob deGrom (unheralded rookie finishes with a 2.63 ERA and 144/43 K/BB ratio in 140 1/3 innings), and Phil Hughes (the best single-season K/BB ratio of all-time). So many good options among starters here. And that's leaving out guys like Matt Shoemaker and Collin McHugh. While they didn't pitch the entire season as starters, Marcus Stroman and Carlos Carrasco have a lot of momentum going into 2015.
The Edwin Almonte Award (best waiver wire relief pitcher)
It takes a pretty special season to give this award to someone who only had one save, but with a 1.40 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 135 strikeouts over 90 innings, Dellin Betances has had exactly that. Just to put things in perspective, he has 34 more strikeouts than Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson despite throwing 82 fewer innings. Betances was essentially like getting a dominant starter out of a relief pitcher spot. That matters.
Wade Davis (0.90 ERA, 104 strikeouts in 70 innings) fits into the same vein as Betances and had an incredible season in his own right. Zach Britton (1.70 ERA, 36 saves) and Sean Doolittle (2.77 ERA, 88 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings, 22 saves), were two traditional closers who proved valuable off the waiver wire.