Welcome to Week Three of Waiver Wired, where I’m happy to introduce a new feature. In the past, I have usually included our “Buy, Sell, Hold” video along with this column, but now we have a video strictly dedicated to waiver wire pickups. Hopefully it enhances the analysis you'll find below.
Have specific questions about your roster? Ask @djshort on Twitter.
Rick Porcello SP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)
The Red Sox caught plenty of criticism after Porcello got off to a rough start last season. After acquiring him from the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes and signing him to a four-year, $82.5 million extension, he posted a rough 5.81 ERA over 20 starts before going on the disabled list with right triceps inflammation in late-July. Something has clicked for him since his return. The 27-year-old owns a 3.52 ERA with 81 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 76 2/3 innings over his last 11 starts. This includes a nine-strikeout performance against the Rays on Wednesday. While he has won each of his first three starts this season, he has a 4.66 ERA while allowing five home runs over 19 1/3 innings. Navigating the AL East isn’t easy, so you might want to pick your spots with him, but I’d use him with confidence in an interleague matchup against the Braves next week.
Hector Santiago SP, Angels (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)
Santiago is not a new name in mixed leagues. And perhaps you are reluctant to trust him after he faded during the second half last year, but I find his uptick in velocity pretty interesting. Through three starts, his average fastball velocity sits at just under 93 mph, which is a couple of ticks above where he was last year. So far, the whiffs have followed. He tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts on Monday against the White Sox and induced 20 swinging strikes. Santiago’s control has never been great and his fly ball tendencies will lead to some home runs, but at least he makes half of his starts in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Who knows if he’ll be able to maintain this velocity, but it’s worth a shot to see where this story goes.
Michael Saunders OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)
Saunders had some momentum as a sleeper going into spring training last year, but his season ended up being wrecked due to a knee injury. It’s time to pay attention to him again. Saunders was recently promoted to the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays, which is a great spot to be in this lineup. He has hit safely in four straight games since moving to the top of the order, so he has a chance to run away with the gig. Health is a lingering concern for him, but he has been an interesting power/speed guy in the past, amassing 19 homers and 21 steals in 2012 and 12 homers and 13 steals in 2013. He’s capable of helping in most formats.
Joe Mauer 1B, Twins (Yahoo: 21 percent owned)
As I said in this week’s “Buy, Sell, Hold” video, I don’t think you need to rush to pick up Mauer in standard mixed formats. He’s no longer catcher-eligible and hasn’t hit more than 11 home runs in a season since 2011. This limits his appeal, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be useful in deeper leagues and OBP formats. So far, we are seeing some good things from him. In addition to hitting .340 (18-for-53) over 15 games, he has drawn 12 walks while striking out only five times. Sure, the BABIP is high, but he’s always been a high BABIP guy. Mauer’s strikeout rate has been on the rise in recent years, but if he can maintain a strong contact rate, it’s not crazy to think that he can hit .300 again. We can’t count on the power, but he could deliver runs scored and RBI. There’s value in that in a lot of leagues.
Devin Mesoraco C, Reds (Yahoo: 47 percent owned)
Because of his recent hot streak, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is currently owned in more leagues (Yahoo: 49 percent owned) than Mesoraco. Listen, we know what Saltalamacchia is. Can he provide some pop? Sure, but he’s a .241 career hitter who has stuck out in 35.1 percent of his plate appearances this year. That batting average isn’t going to last. Mesoraco is off to a slow start after hip surgery, but he clubbed 25 home runs with an .893 OPS in 2014 and plays half of his games in a great ballpark for power. We know how this story will end for Saltalamacchia. James McCann will eventually cut into his playing time anyway when he comes off the disabled list. Why not take the guy who has more upside and the clear path to playing time if his health cooperates? Don’t panic about Mesoraco. He’s making contact, but it has led to a .185 BABIP so far. That’s not going to last.
Yasmany Tomas 3B/OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)
Coming into the spring, I wasn’t all that interested in Tomas. He failed to impress during his first season in the states last year, batting .273 with nine home runs and a .706 OPS over 118 games. He was one of the most aggressive hitters in the majors and hit a ton of balls on the ground. It’s early, but we are seeing some progress so far this year. He’s swinging less frequently, especially on pitches outside of the strike zone. As a result, he already has five walks through 54 plate appearances after drawing only 17 walks in 406 plate appearances last year. It’s very possible that this is just small sample noise, but perhaps he’s picking up on things and making some changes. Breaking through on the power front will be the key to him finding his place as a fantasy asset, but playing half of his games in a hitter-friendly environment helps his cause.
Byung-ho Park 1B, Twins (Yahoo: 46 percent owned)
It was only natural that Park would need some time to adjust against major league pitching. It was looking a little rough early on, as the South Korean slugger had 11 strikeouts through his first 21 plate appearances. We have seen some positive signs since, with just five strikeouts in his last 27 plate appearances. Perhaps most importantly, we have also seen the reason why the Twins invested nearly $25 million in him over the winter. The dude has massive power. Just watch this one. I’d sign up for a .250 batting average if he can get somewhere around 25-30 homers. I don’t think that’s unreasonable here.
Melvin Upton OF, Padres (Yahoo: 17 percent owned)
Yes, you are reading this correctly. Upton deserves to be back on the radar, at least in deeper mixed leagues. The 31-year-old was quietly pretty good over the final three months last season, batting .281/.346/.456 with 19 extra-base hits (including four home runs), 15 RBI, and five stolen bases over 69 games. And he has managed to keep that going early on this year, batting .286/.386/.490 with five extra-base hits (including two home runs), five RBI, and four stolen bases over 15 games. I’m not banking on the batting average sticking, but he could provide some sneaky pop and speed in San Diego’s lineup. He has batted cleanup in five out of his last six starts.
Drew Pomeranz SP/RP, Padres (Yahoo: 26 percent owned)
I have liked Pomeranz as a sleeper before and he’s finally showing some signs of that long-awaited breakout. The 27-year-old southpaw stuck out a career-high 10 batters on Wednesday against the Pirates and now owns a 2.04 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings over his first three starts this season. He has walked three batters in each of those starts, but he’s getting an absurd number of whiffs thus far and has added a cutter to his arsenal, which could help his chance of sticking in the rotation. As my colleague Drew Silva pointed out on Twitter, Pomeranz owns a 2.97 ERA with 171 strikeouts over his last 172 2/3 innings (that includes 22 starts and 54 relief appearances). He’s looking like a steal for the Padres, who got him from the Athletics over the winter for Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski. There are some injury questions here, but he needs to be owned in most leagues, especially making half of his starts in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Caleb Cotham RP, Reds (Yahoo: 8 percent owned)
Not surprisingly, JJ Hoover struggled in his attempt to replace Aroldis Chapman as Reds’ closer, so manager Bryan Price announced Wednesday that he’s going to move to a committee approach. Jumbo Diaz looked like the biggest threat for the job coming into the year (and he still might be in the long-term), but he was demoted to the minors this week after getting off to a rough start. We’re left with a messy situation here, but Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood didn’t improve their standing by coughing up the lead on Wednesday against the Rockies. This makes Cotham an interesting stash by default. Acquired from the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal, the 28-year-old thrived in his first full season out of the bullpen last year by posting a 2.21 ERA and 61/13 K/BB ratio over 57 innings in the minors. He got knocked around during his limited time with the Yankees last year, but he has begun this season with eight scoreless innings.
Oswaldo Arcia OF, Twins (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
We saw the good and bad with Arcia on Wednesday night against the Brewers. After launching a long two-run homer in the sixth inning, the 24-year-old struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning before making a critical defensive miscue which led to four runs scoring. There’s already a log-jam at play here, with Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Eddie Rosario in the mix and David Murphy likely to follow in the coming days, so shaky defense and plate discipline doesn’t help him in this situation. Still, I’m intrigued by the power potential. Remember, he slugged 20 home runs in 410 plate appearances as a 23-year-old in 2014. As mentioned in the video above, Arcia is mostly a speculative play for those in deeper leagues.
Andrew Bailey RP, Phillies (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
I know a couple of weeks ago I said that I was staying far away from the Phillies’ closer role, but the chase for saves has already gotten pretty intense in a number of my leagues, so I can’t ignore it forever. Jeanmar Gomez has notched for saves for Philadelphia in the early part of the season, but he doesn’t fit the mold of a typical closer and could be more useful as a bridge to the ninth inning. That’s where Bailey comes in. The 31-year-old has pitched well in Triple-A (1.80 ERA, 10 strikeouts, two walks over five innings) and has a history as a closer. Who knows if he’ll hold up, but it’s logical to think that he’ll shift into the role if he shows something. Stash if you are feeling bold.
Henderson Alvarez SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Last week I mentioned Mike Minor as a potential DL stash, so this week we are going with Alvarez. The 26-year-old required shoulder surgery last July and was surprisingly non-tendered by the Marlins over the winter, but the Athletics took a flier with a one-year, $4.25 million contract. Alvarez made his first minor league rehab appearance Wednesday with High-A Stockton and allowed one run over three innings while striking out one and walking none. If all goes well, he should join the Athletics’ rotation at some point next month. While Alvarez has never been a big strikeout guy, he owns a 3.80 ERA in his career and his new home ballpark should be a good fit for him if he can stay healthy.
Brandon Guyer OF, Rays (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
With as much as the Rays have struggled offensively, it would be really nice to find some at-bats for Guyer. The 30-year-old was a perfectly useful part-time player last season, batting .265/.359/.413 with eight home runs and 10 steals over 128 games last season. Unfortunately, there are a lot of moving pieces on this roster, so he has only logged 22 plate appearances going into Thursday’s action. At the very least, he should be in the lineup against southpaws. He’s starting against Red Sox left-hander David Price on Thursday and should be in there against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia on Friday.
Aaron Blair SP, Braves (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Much was made out of the Diamondbacks acquiring 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson as part of the Shelby Miller deal, but don’t forget that they also got Blair. There might not be ace upside here, but he’s pretty promising too. The 23-year-old posted a 2.92 ERA and 120/50 K/BB ratio over 160 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season and was ranked as the No. 60 prospect by Baseball America over the winter. He has a 1.42 ERA and 22/5 K/BB ratio in 19 innings over his first three starts with Triple-A Gwinnett this season, including a 10-strikeout performance on Tuesday. The Braves are reportedly considering calling him up to make his major league debut Sunday against the Mets. Even if he needs to wait a little longer, he’s worth stashing.
Rickie Weeks Jr. OF, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
I think we are going to see more of David Peralta in center field with Arizona, so Peter O’Brien (Yahoo: 1 percent owned) is an interesting name to stash if you haven’t already, but he’s still in the minors right now. Weeks is someone who could benefit in the short-term. The 33-year-old was flat-out awful with the Mariners last season, but he made Arizona’s Opening Day roster out of spring training and is 3-for-10 (.300) with two doubles in a bench role so far this season. The Diamondbacks are set to face a pair of left-handers (Jon Niese, Francisco Liriano) this weekend, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Weeks draws at least one start and does well with the opportunity. He’s purely a short-term grab, I’ll admit.