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It’s Fantasy Baseball Trade Season

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We’re deep in June, and it’s time to strategize how to make your fantasy baseball team better. Ringer deputy editor Mallory Rubin and baseball writer Michael Baumann offer a few suggestions on whom to buy and whom to sell on the latest episode of The Ringer MLB Show. Read below for an excerpt from the conversation, and listen to the full episode for more tips on the best moves to make.

This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed

Mallory Rubin: Let’s talk about the thing that everyone is thinking about, both for real baseball and fantasy baseball at this time of year: Trades! I don’t know what the deadline is in your league, Ringer listener, but this is the time of the season to start making your team better, and that means punting on the guys you’re sick of owning and acquiring the guys that you think someone else is probably sick of owning. We’re each going to give a few buy targets and a few sell targets.

I’ll start. The lead buy candidate for me right now is a guy you listed among your disappointments, and that’s [Yasiel] Puig. Everything that you said about him is completely true: He started at 59, now ranked 744. That’s abysmal. As someone who owns him, I know how bad he’s been. He’s hitting .237 with five homers, four steals, and he’s on the DL. But the hammy is healing. It’s healing! He had a homer in his Monday rehab start. If he comes back healthy and focused, he could easily give you 15 homers and 10 steals in the second half of the fantasy baseball season, and I would want that kind of production on my team.

Michael Baumann: You talked [earlier] about how it’s tough to sell on Giancarlo Stanton right now because you would’ve put so much into him that you don’t want to be the guy who sells him and he goes off for a 20-home-run second half. I’m very confident in his ability to raise his batting average 50 points, to hit 20 home runs in the second half, if not more. And if you trade for him now, you don’t have that crappy first half on your résumé right now. So if you can get him for anything less than sticker price, he’s definitely a guy I’d target right now.

M.R.: Who’s on your buy list here?

M.B.: OK, so I’ve actually got a package deal right now that I would recommend to people, and that’s sell on Jeanmar Gómez and trade for Héctor Neris. These are two guys at the back end of the Phillies’ bullpen. Jeanmar Gómez was leading the National League in saves, despite having maybe the worst stuff of any closer in the National League. [Given] where the Phillies are right now — particularly now that they’ve dropped back in the standings a little bit — they know that they’re not going to contend, after I jinxed them with that article on Ringer launch day. They would be inclined to sell Gómez to a team. We talk about saves not mattering or anything, but somebody’s going to buy a “proven closer,” and Gómez is going to be that guy. He’s either going to fall off in terms of performance, or he’s going to get traded and he’s not going to get saves anymore. When that happens, Neris, who I think is a much, much better pitcher, is going to step into the ninth-inning role for the Phillies, and he’s got great stuff.

The Phillies are an ideal team to pick up cheap saves from because they’re going to play a lot of low-scoring games. Their offense sucks and their starting pitching is really good, so they’re going to play a lot of 3–2 games that are going to be close toward the end of the game. I think this is what has inflated Gómez’s save totals, and I think the same effect will work for Neris if and when that handoff takes place.

M.R.: Next buy candidate for me: Corey Kluber. He was ranked 36th this preseason, and he’s ranked 59 now, so if you just look at those comparative figures, you’re not really going to think that he’s been a disappointing player. But he has been. He’s already starting to round the bend, so that’s why those numbers are close. His overall stats are still just bad enough that you can probably trick a frustrated owner into giving you him for cheaper than at any other point in the season, and people who thought they were getting an ace are probably ready to move on from the heartache. But even in Kluber’s bad starts this year, he’s delivered incredibly useful strikeout totals, and four of his last five starts have been gems. I’m in. I’m all in on Kluber for the second half.

Let me just give you one more buy candidate because I can’t help it, and I feel bad that we haven’t talked about him yet. Andrew McCutchen! Ranked ninth this preseason, currently ranked 376. Someone out there drafted him in the first round and is not enjoying a first-round player. That person’s probably willing to move on and is ready to sell low. You should buy! He’s not going to hit .237 with nine homers and one steal, he’s not going to be on that pace all year. His thumb injury is going to heal and when it does, he’ll be himself again, maybe. Buy.

M.B.: I was going to sell McCutchen’s teammate, Starling Marté. He’s stealing a ton of bases, he’s hitting [around] .330. Even if on-base percentage isn’t a category in your league, guys who are high-average, low-OBP, kind of low-power, they always scare me a little bit — unless they’re someone like Ben Revere, who you can just pick up at the end of a draft. There’s a possibility he keeps this up all year and you can look like an idiot for selling on him, but there’s also a possibility that that batting average comes down 40 points in the second half. Nineteen steals now turns into 27 by the end of the year. He’s not a guy that I would absolutely push a sell button on, but I think if you get a good offer on him, if you can get value for him now, then definitely pull the trigger.

M.R.: I’d like to bring up another player right now: Big Papi. [Laughing.]

M.B.: Oh yeah.

M.R.: Sell!

M.B.: Sell!

M.R.: Sell Big Papi now while you still can! He’s currently the third-ranked player in fantasy baseball, which is insane. He’s performing at a historic level. When people are listing his comps right now, it’s Ted Williams. That’s not going to last. The odds of that lasting are a lot worse than the odds of him needing a hip replacement around the All-Star break. Please sell now while you still can.

All stats and rankings referenced here were up to date as of 1 p.m. ET on June 15, the time of the podcast recording.