In every fantasy sport, playing the waiver wire is as important to long-term success as a solid draft. Fantasy baseball, in particular, contains an unprecedented amount of league scoring settings, ranging from rotisserie to head-to-head with subsets for each. Still, the large pool of players generally allows for midseason acquisitions that can help bolster any roster. It’s just a matter of finding the right piece.
Below are this week’s suggested waiver wire adds, currently owned in less than fifty percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Danny Santana – SS/OF – Minnesota Twins
Much like Rougned Odor, some time away from Major League Baseball might be all that Minnesota’s Danny Santana needed. Shrouded in hype during the preseason that followed his fantastic rookie campaign that — .319 batting average and 20 stolen bases is 101 games — Santana has been a disaster is 2015. The Twins held out for as long as possible, but they eventually sent Santana and his .218 batting average to the Minor Leagues in early June.
Santana has now re-emerged on the Major League roster, and comes with a few attractive features. The young hitter has been granted a second chance to prove his worth. With that, he has either hit rock bottom, or will be carried with a short leash. He won’t continue to hurt the Twins or a fantasy roster much longer, if he can’t turn his season — and batting average — around.
The other benefit is that Santana’s greatest asset is his speed. Slump or not, a 24-year old shortstop who averaged one stolen base for every five games played, last year, should be expected to keep running. The only negative with Santana is that he tends to bat at the bottom of the lineup, and this trend should be monitored closely. However, with shortstop being a barren position in fantasy baseball, Santana could provide value, right away.
Logan Forsythe – 1B/2B – Tampa Bay Rays
Despite continuing to exceed expectations in an open division, the Tampa Bay Rays tend to go unnoticed in baseball circles. Leading the charge in both obscurity and value to his team is Logan Forsythe. Eligible at first base and second base, Forsythe quietly sports a .286 batting average, eight home runs, and seven stolen bases. Most importantly, he typically bats fourth or fifth in the Rays’ lineup, often serving as the only protection for slugger Evan Longoria.
As an everyday starter for the first time, Forsythe is currently setting career marks in doubles, home runs, runs batted in, walks, batting average, and on-base percentage, and he is virtually guaranteed to break his career high in stolen bases. While he won’t light up the scoreboard single-handedly, his versatility – both on the field and in fantasy sports – adds to his value as a healthy asset on any roster.
Domingo Santana – OF – Houston Astros
The Houston Astros saw their dream season take a big hit when George Springer landed on the disabled list with a wrist injury. Thankfully, for Houston, the team was already so loaded with potential starters that it had been looking for a way to get everyone in the lineup. While no one player will fill the void left in Springer’s absence, some young bats will get more opportunities in the coming weeks.
Enter Domingo Santana, a 22-year old outfielder whose previous cup of coffee with the Astros included 14 strikeouts and no hits in 18 plate appearances — in addition, he walked once, leaving only three plate appearances during which he put a ball in play. His return to Major League Baseball has already erased memories of his slow start, as he has already hit two home runs and stolen a base in 13 games. He has, however, continued his astonishing strikeout rate, going down on strikes 17 times in 40 plate appearances.
Santana is clearly raw, but will be granted the most important piece of the development pie — playing time. The injury to Springer will lead to an increased role for Evan Gattis in the outfield, as well as Domingo Santana in the lineup. As long as the league settings don’t penalize strikeouts, Santana is a free-swinging outfielder – only three career walks in 58 plate appearances – in a potent lineup. Santana only makes sense in the deepest of leagues, but he has solid potential for the next few weeks,
Ken Giles – RP – Philadelphia Phillies
Since the start of Spring Training, the Philadelphia Phillies were ‘sellers.’ Weighed down by some of the worst contracts in baseball and going nowhere this season, Philadelphia has been the expected location of this season’s garage sale for months. While they will likely be offering used fixtures, they are in a position of relative power.
The contracts they wish to unload are basically unmovable, and the Phillies will be stuck eating a large portion of the money in order to part with the rest. With that, they can hold a makeshift auction to try to raise the price as high as possible, knowing they will lose, in the end. The two names most rumored to be moved this month are the same two names that have been rumored to be traded since March — Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon. Hamels is the more attractive option, but his replacements are not as fantasy-worthy, right now. Therefore, a potential deal involving Papelbon opens the door for Ken Giles.
Giles should already be owned in any league that counts ‘holds’ as a statistic, and his 2.06 ERA and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched make him a gem in any rotisserie format. He is the heir-apparent to Papelbon, and his numbers indicate that he will be a solid performer even without adding saves to his repertoire. If a deal goes through that moves him into the closer’s role, his stock will rise rapidly. He should be added now, before it’s too late.
Patrick Corbin – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks
With Matt Moore and Jose Fernandez stealing the headlines of ‘pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery,’ Arizona’s Patrick Corbin often gets left out of the conversation. Admittedly, he would have entered the season with less fanfare than the aforementioned two starting pitchers, if healthy, but even that separation might be unfounded.
In his only 30-start season, Corbin went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA and earned a trip to the All-Star Game. Including his rookie season, the left-handed pitcher strikes out 7.5 batters per nine innings pitched, and would be flying off draft boards if he would have remained this consistent over multiple years. The injury closed the door on what could have been a breakout 2014 season, but an early summer return to the Diamondbacks makes him potentially an impact pitcher for the second half of the fantasy baseball season. With a solid 2015 debut under his belt — 76 pitches and two earned runs in five innings — and widely available on the free agent market, there’s no reason to wait on adding Patrick Corbin.
Kevin Gausman – SP – Baltimore Orioles
For reasons that cannot be explained, the Baltimore Orioles refused to remove Bud Norris from the rotation and hand the ball to Kevin Gausman. Wiser heads appear to have finally prevailed, as reports state that Norris — 2-7 with a 6.79 ERA — will be moved to the bullpen, while Gausman will start his third game of the year on Tuesday.
Gausman — 1.59 ERA as a starter, this year — is not necessarily guaranteed to remain in the rotation long-term, but the beauty of him earning another start is that he was supposed to be sent back down to Triple-A following his last game. 6.1 shutout innings later, Gausman proved he belongs with the Major League club. Now, the wait for the former first-round pick to have a significant impact might be over.
Across all levels of Minor League baseball, Gausman averages exactly one strikeout per inning. His ceiling is exceptionally high and his only limitation remains the Orioles’ commitment to keeping him in the rotation. As the team is now charging towards the top of the American League East race, the Orioles need their biggest guns at their disposal. Watch out for any rash decisions by the organization, but if they stick with the current path, be ready for the Kevin Gausman era to begin in Baltimore.