Weekly Waiver Wire Report
Note: My waiver wire report digs a little deeper and is slanted toward high-stakes leagues (15 teams)
Gary Sanchez, NYY
Sanchez may look expendable to some fantasy owners in shallow leagues after starting the year with 11 hits over 58 at-bats (.190 with two home runs and four RBI). He’s only made only five starts over the Yankees’ last 11 contests, leading to two hits over 20 at-bats. On the positive side, his strikeout rate (21.4) and walk rate (14.3) show a much better approach than 2019 and 2020. I don’t expect him to be in any free agent pools, but I wanted to shine some light on his start to the year with the hopes of stopping some fantasy owners from making a bad cut. I expect his bat to come around, along with New York’s offense. In a trading league, it would be an excellent time to buy low.
Andrew Knizner, STL
With Yadier Molina landing on the injured list with a right foot injury, his natural replacement should be Knizner. Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .303 with 37 home runs and 172 RBI over 1.127 at-bats. Knizner has an above-average approach while still looking to make an impact in the majors (.253 over 99 at-bats with two home runs, 12 RBI, and two steals). If Molina were out longer than 10 days, I would look to add Knizner as a C2 in deep leagues if I have a weakness. His upside looks to be a 15/60 hitter with help in batting average when he secures a starting job for the Cardinals.
Albert Pujols, LAA
The hottest possible free-agent first base option in 12-team leagues (2.0 percent own) is Pujols. Over his last eight starts, he only hit .214, but Pujols did smash four home runs with eight RBI over 28 at-bats. He remains tough to strike out (eight over 67 at-bats) while needing 33 home runs to reach 700 for his career. He is more a bridge player as his runs and batting average are no longer assets.
Bobby Dalbec, BOS
For a fantasy team that is trailing in power and looking for a possible flash dance, Dalbec has the talent and upside to dominate in home runs over a short stretch. He hit .273 over his last 33 at-bats while picking up his first home run of the year. His contact rate invites major slumps and possible nights off, so a fantasy owner needs to ride this pony one week at a time in shallow leagues. Next week, the Red Sox played six games against the Tigers and Orioles, with three expected lefty pitchers.
Jonathan Villar, NYM
I know Villar’s playing time has been erratic with almost no production, but his skill set is unique and one that plays well when in the starting line every day and stealing bases. I view him as a base stealer in waiting similarly as a team looking to mine saves. The significant difference is a fantasy owner will have a more challenging time finding an impact speed guy on the waiver wire. Villar is a free agent in 43 percent of the 12-team leagues in the high-stakes market. I would look to pick him up for my bench before he starts to run.
Brendan Rodgers, COL
The Rockies have struggled to score runs in April, and Josh Fuentes (.178 over 73 at-bats with two home runs, 10 RBI, no walks, and 21 strikeouts) hasn’t seized a starting opportunity. Rodgers suffered a hamstring in mid-March, leading to him starting the year on the injured list. He started running this week, which gives him a chance to be in the majors by mid-May. Rodgers is a former first-round draft pick (2015) out of high school. His skill set points to a plus average with a future of a 30/90 player. He fits the buy-and-hold category.
Luis Urias, MIL
The free-agent pool for the third base position remains full of have-nots. I mentioned Urias a couple of weeks ago, and his game played better as a middle infield option. He is the most attractive option for me at third on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues at this point of the year. Over his 13 games, Urias hit .303 with two home runs and 11 RBI while missing a couple of games with a minor injury. His approach looks improved, which might be a sign that Urias is ready to become a 20/80 type player.
Jon Berti, MIA
Miami lost Brian Anderson and Jazz Chisholm over the last week, giving Berti a chance to be in the lineup on most nights. His attraction should be his speed, but he doesn’t have a steal over his first 55 at-bats. Berti only had three hits over his previous 16 at-bats, but two of those balls left the park. If my team needs a boost in steals, I would be looking to add him while he’s getting a chance to start.
Wander Franco, TB
With the Rays calling up the ultra-talented Shane McClanahan this week, it could be a signal that Franco will be in the majors over the next couple of weeks. He’s owned 88 percent of the 12-team leagues in the high-stakes market, making him more of a bench target in shallow leagues if Franco slipped through the waiver wire cracks. His bat and approach have been impressive over his first 667 at-bats in the minors (.336 with 128 runs, 20 home runs, 110 RBI, and 22 steals).
Nick Ahmed, ARI
After starting the year on the injured list with a knee injury and only three hits over his first 41 at-bats, Ahmed hit .353 over his last 17 at-bats with three runs and two RBI. His bat offers only steady stats in deep leagues, where playing every day helps his counting stats.
Daulton Varsho, ARI
The Diamondbacks called up Varsho on Thursday after Kole Calhoun landed on the injured list with a left hamstring issue. He needs to have surgery, which puts him on the shelf for six to eight weeks. Varsho had a pinch-hit double in his first at-bat in 2021, but he didn’t get a start the next night. I’ve been pining for him all year, but Varsho needs to hit his way into a full-time job that should come in the outfield. His best value comes as a catcher if he capitalizes on his opportunity, but Varsho may be the best option as well in the outfield if he does indeed earn a starting job.
Jarred Kelenic, SEA
The minor league baseball season starts over the next week, which helps fantasy owners mine for future stars. Kelenic would already be in the majors if he were willing to sign a long-term contract. In 2019 over three levels, Kelenic hit .289 with 83 runs, 23 home runs, 68 RBI, and 21 steals over 450 at-bats. I expect him to hit the ground running while securing a top-of-the-order opportunity. Kelenic should only be available in 10-team leagues. The time to roster him is this week.
Mike Tauchman, SF
After losing Mike Yastrzemski to the injured list with an oblique issue, The Giants made a deal for Tauchman. His bat played well in 2018 offered the bench for the Yankees (.277 with 13 home runs, 47 RBI, and six stolen bases over 260 at-bats). He should be in the lineup every day going forward while offering a balanced skill set. Tauchman will be the top outfield free agent in 15-team leagues this week.
Shane McClanahan, TB
Earlier in the week, I thought the Rays needed help in the bullpen, and McClanahan’s electric arm would shine brightly. They gave him an opener start on Wednesday. He responded with two runs and five hits allowed over four innings with no walks and five strikeouts while throwing 59 pitches. In 2019, he pitched in 24 games, leading to a 3.36 ERA and 154 strikeouts over 120.2 innings. McClanahan will be the top pitching prospect picked up this week in the high-stakes market.
Eric Lauer, MIL
After battling a shoulder injury in 2020, Lauer received his first start for the Brewers on Thursday night after Brett Anderson landed on the injured list with a hamstring issue. He tossed five shutout innings against the Dodgers with three strikeouts. His fastball touched 94 mph while working with an improved changeup. Over his first two seasons in the majors with the Padres, Lauer went 14-17 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 261.2 innings with 238 strikeouts. There’s upside in this arm with better command. He has double starts next week (@PHI and @MIA), making a viable option in deep leagues.
Caleb Smith, ARI
Smith pitched his way to the bullpen after a poor opening start (three runs and eight baserunners over three innings with four strikeouts). Over his subsequent eight appearances out of the bullpen, he posted a 0.71 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 12.2 innings. Arizona placed Taylor Widener on the injured list this week, potentially giving Smith another shot at starting. His arm has strikeout upside as long as he’s solved his early career battles with home runs allowed. Smith is a viable option in 12 and 15 team formats.