Welcome to another week of working the waiver wire! If there’s one thing I know about fantasy baseball players it is they are never quite happy with their team. However, I also believe that if you stop working your team you are due to struggle. A vigilant fantasy baseball player is one that is always looking at the fantasy baseball waiver wire.
Are you starting to get frustrated with someone that you drafted who is not living up to expectations? Could it be you are looking for a closer to help you get a few saves in the next month? Maybe you are looking to the Minor Leagues to grab someone before they make it to the Bigs.
So, what will you find in this week’s version of the waiver wire? On the pitching side this week we have an exciting veteran making his way back from Tommy John, a closer switch in the American League, and a hot shot young hurler who was incredibly impressive his last time out.
On the hitting side of the wire we offer a grizzled vet who has been given new life on a terrible team, a former hotshot prospect looking for regular playing time, and a second year player who is far exceeding our expectations when he was given the starting job to start the season.
As we roll towards the end of April, we are still trying to find out exactly what we have with our rosters, but it never hurts to take a look at the following players that are available in far more than half of leagues on the major sites. Analyze your team to see if any of them can help you. As always you can follow me on Twitter @fightingchance.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Targets
Javier Baez, 2B/SS/3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
This one is a bit more of a speculative grab than the others. The success of many of the Cubs prospects has made Baez somewhat forgotten. In 2014, between the Minors and Majors, Baez connected on 32 home runs in 156 games, and threw in 21 stolen bases to boot. He struggled some in 2015, and he strikes out at an amazing rate. He is still just 23 years old, and has a world of potential. There are still holes in his game, but the upside is substantial.
He was recently activated from the Disabled List, and while he doesn’t have a set place to play every day, Baez is going to be a super utility player for the Cubs. Baez can play the middle infield, and a corner outfield position, so his opportunity to play could come in many different ways. If you are in a competitive league that is hot on the waiver wire, you may want to grab Baez now. If there was to be an injury to multiple players, or if Jorge Soler proves unable to play every day, Baez could be a hot commodity.
Travis Shaw, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox
After Pablo Sandoval ate his way out of the starting third base job, Shaw was anointed the guy at the hot corner. He isn’t a big power hitter, but so far Shaw has been doing plenty of hitting. He had a streak of four straight games with one RBI or more, and also has five doubles and a home run on the season. And not that we wish injury on anyone, but Pablo Sandoval has been visiting Dr. James Andrews (Mr. Tommy John Surgery), and that does not bode well for him returning any time soon. It looks like Shaw has a great chance to keep this job for the long term.
Even better for his fantasy value, the Red Sox have been hitting him in the fourth or fifth spot in the lineup, giving him plenty of opportunity to drive in runs. Personally, I own Shaw in a 15 team league and I have been keeping him on my bench. However, with his recent hot hitting I am now putting him into my utility spot. He is owned in just over 25% of ESPN leagues and 38% of Yahoo leagues, so that means a lot of you are playing in leagues where Shaw is a free agent. He has first and third base eligibility now and is definitely worth having on your team.
Nick Markakis, OF, Atlanta Braves
I believe I said a couple of weeks ago that even on terrible teams, someone has to be fantasy relevant. Teams like the Phillies, Brewers, and yes even the terrible Braves are going to score some runs in almost every game and they should have a couple of fantasy relevant players. He has long been a player who has had fantasy value because of his batting average and RBIs. Markakis hasn’t broken the 20 homer plateau since 2008, or 100 RBIs in 2009. However, he has often hit between .285-.305 and has been helping fantasy teams near the end of their roster.
Markakis hasn’t hit a home run yet this season, but he has walked more than he has struck out, he is hitting .333, and has already driven in 12 runs in his first 12 games. Markakis has been leading off for the Braves because of his ability to get on base, and he should continue to be aggressive. Look for Markakis to fall off some in the batting average category, but I am expecting him to start hitting some long balls, and in some deeper leagues his ability to hit .300 with potentially 80 RBIs make him a worthy pick up.
Homer Bailey, SP, Cincinnati Reds
There are two pitchers due to come back from Tommy John Surgery that could possibly have significant value in fantasy circles this season, Zack Wheeler and Homer Bailey. While Wheeler is still a couple of months away, Bailey is starting to get close. He made his final extended spring start last weekend, and is due to go out on a rehab assignment in the next handful of days. His velocity was good during his extended Spring, which is a great sign for his return. He had surgery late May in 2015, and should be expected to make four rehab starts before taking the mound for the Reds for the first time.
History has shown that it is the season after their return is when pitchers find their groove again, but Bailey has a chance to be good. He has never quite lived up to his enormous potential, but he still can be a fine number three in your pitching rotation. His strikeout numbers are strong, even if his win total might not be big on a less than stellar Reds team. You need to have an open DL spot on your roster if you are going to move on Bailey this soon. However, once the news of his rehab assignments start to hit, someone is going to jump on Bailey quickly.
Adam Conley, SP, Miami Marlins
Conley had a strong finish to 2015 with the Marlins, and then the young hurler got fantasy players even more excited with a great Spring Training heading into the 2016 year. His first start of the regular season did not get off to a good start before it was shortened by a long rain delay. However, his second start was the one that started to put him on the fantasy radar as he threw six shutout innings and struck out nine New York Mets. He certainly has a lot of potential as a strong strikeout pitcher, even if he isn’t on the best team.
If you just look at the box score of his third outing against the Nationals, it doesn’t look that impressive. However, he threw six shutout innings and struck out eight on his way to another great outing. He certainly got in trouble and allowed back to back homers, and then the batters he left on base also scored and he ended up giving up four earned runs. The important thing is to see that Conley has been mostly dominant his last two trips to the mound, both against strong offensive team. And while both of those squads are in his division, so are the putrid Phillies and Braves.
Meet the new Fish starter who is already drawing All-Star comparisons. https://t.co/zmx1K8L0B0
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) April 14, 2016
Ryan Madson, RP, Oakland Athletics
Sean Doolittle was a mess nearly from the word go this season, and two weeks into the season he already lost his spot in the ninth inning for the Athletics. He allowed runs in three of his seven outings so far, including a blown save. With a chance to possibly hold the job, Doolittle allowed another earned run the appearance after blowing the save, and Ryan Madson has taken this job and run with it. He has allowed just two earned runs in eight innings, and has racked up five saves. It’s been many years since he was a great strikeout pitcher, but for right now he has the job.
However, I think adding Madson is only for you Saves Trolls. You know, those of you who don’t draft closers but just wait for these types of situations to unfold. I do think if he remains healthy that Doolittle will reclaim this job. Madson hasn’t had a closing job since 2011, and he didn’t pitch in the Majors from 2012-2014. He was solid for the Royals last season, but I am not confident that a 35 year old guy is going to hold the closer’s job all season long.