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Week 16 Waiver Wire: Halfway Home

Week 16 Waiver Wire: Halfway Home
Kevin Harber

There are no guarantees in sports, but recent history does favor teams in first place at the All-Star break going on to win division titles or better. In fact, the World Series champions of the past two seasons (Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals) were in first place at the All-Star break.

What does first place in your division of your Fantasy league at the All-Star break indicate? Absolutely nothing!!!

Now is the ideal time to evaluate your team and see who’s out there to ensure you’ll be contending in September. When is the last time you have looked at your league’s waiver wire? It is definitely worth checking your league transactions to see if anyone worthwhile has been dropped.

The halfway point is a natural time for speculation about the rest of the season. The trade deadline approaches, and it is always fun to double up stats for players and see how they project for the whole year.

We are halfway home to a Fantasy title, let’s take a look at the players who can help you get there with the Week 16 Waiver Wire.

Week 16 Waiver Wire


 Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays


Wilson Ramos was on his way to a huge payday in free agency coming into this season when he suffered a torn ACL and damage to the medial and lateral meniscus in his right knee in September. He slashed .307/.354/.496 with 22 home runs and a .850 OBP which were all career highs in 2016.

Even though the Tampa Bay Rays knew they would be without Ramos for the majority of the first half of the season, they signed him to a two year, $12.5 million contract this offseason. The Rays activated Wilson Ramos a few weeks ago after being on the DL all year rehabbing his knee.

He passed every test during his rehab stint and he is now ready to prove that he is completely recovered. While hitting only .242 so far this season, five of his eight hits have gone for extra-bases, including three homers with 10 RBI. He has two multi-hit efforts in seven games since his return.

Due to the lack of Fantasy talent at the catcher position, Ramos should return to being one of the better Fantasy catchers in the second half of the season. He shouldn’t be available on any waiver wires, but as of this writing, he is only 36 percent owned in ESPN leagues.

Wilson Ramos is a must-add in all formats and he will end up as a Top 10 catcher for the rest of this season.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Stephen Vogt, Milwaukee Brewers


First Base

Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates


The rookie switch hitter came into this season as a sleeper who exhibited a good batting eye with some power. He was ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the league prior to this season, according to MLB Pipeline.

The young slugger has surprised with his developing power, while only hitting .243 with 65 strikeouts compared to 74 total hits so far this season. He is now on pace for 30-plus home runs with 75 RBI and 76 runs scored.

Bell continues to show defining splits. Against right-handed pitching, he is slashing .251/.336/.494 with 12 homers and 37 RBI in 231 at-bats. Southpaws are limiting the rookie to .219/.305/.452 with five homers and 11 RBI in 73 at-bats.

Bell carries plenty of upside into the second half and could be useful in deep mixed formats with CI spots.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Luke Voit, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Ji-Man Choi, New York Yankees

Second Base

Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals


Whit Merrifield came into spring training without a guaranteed roster spot. And he ultimately lost that spot to Raúl Mondesí. However, Mondesí inevitably struggled this season and cleared the way for Merrifield’s return.

Merrifield has certainly been a catalyst for the Royals’ resurgence this season, especially after he was inserted into the leadoff spot. He slashed .281/.319/.449 with seven homers, 33 RBI and 14 stolen bases to go along with a .768 OPS for the first half of the season.

Whit Merrifield is a multi-position asset (2B/3B/OF) with legit 20/20 potential. He has cut his strikeout rate by nearly eight percent from last season and a hitter with this type of ability should be owned in far more than less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Logan Forsythe, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals


Third Base

Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox


The hype is real. The 20-year-old Rafael Devers is Boston’s No.1 prospect and No. 12 in all of baseball, according to  Devers is the club’s third baseman of the future. The future might be THIS season.

Devers was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket from Double-A Portland on Friday. He put up strong numbers all season long. He hit .300/.369/.575 with a team leading 18 home runs and 56 RBI.

The prospect played in his first game for the PawSox on Friday night and he didn’t disappoint. He went 4-for-4 with two singles, a double and a two-run homer. Devers finished the night with two RBI and two runs scored.

The Red Sox have a difficult decision to make as the MLB trade deadline approaches. The Red Sox have been linked to White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier in trade talks. Do the Red Sox go outside the organization to upgrade the black hole otherwise known as the third baseman position? Do they trust Devers enough now to make him their third baseman this season as the pennant chase heats up?

In either scenario, Devers is a very intriguing prospect who will make a major impact. The lefty will be with the Red Sox in some capacity this season and in the playoffs. The amount of playing time will be the ultimate question. My advice is to add Devers with the anticipation of joining the bigs just in case he goes off. In keeper/dynasty leagues, he is a must own already and would be shocked if he was still available.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros
  • Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals


Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals


Paul DeJong made a quick ascent through the Cardinals’ farm system, and while his 4:38 BB/K ratio foretell regression, he should continue to provide pop after slugging 13 homers in 190 plate appearances at Triple-A this season.

DeJong is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, where he is hitting .565 with five doubles, three home runs, and six runs scored. He became the first shortstop in the modern era to collect four extra base hits in a single game earlier this season.

The rookie infielder currently gets the most time at shortstop because of the demotion of the struggling Aledmys Diaz and will do so until if/when he stops hitting. He has hit.313/.331/.602 with nine home runs, 10 doubles, and 20 RBI over his first 36 major league games.

DeJong is quickly becoming a guy that is hard to keep out of the lineup. He has shown above-average power and should remain Fantasy relevant as he continues to smash the baseball. DeJong would be a great fit in all formats for owners looking for power and have room in their MI slots.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies


Tommy Pham, St. Louis Cardinals

Tommy Pham has been a pleasant surprise since he started playing regularly in early May.

He has been one of the hottest hitters over the past month. He has gone 33-for-97 (.340) with five doubles, six home runs, and six steals since June 15. Overall, Pham is hitting .311/.393/.524 with 11 homers and 12 stolen bases along with a .917 OPS.

He has emerged as a valuable five-category contributor and has become one of the Cardinals’ offensive leaders.

Pham is a must-own in all Fantasy formats right now.

Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians


Bradley Zimmer was recalled in mid-May after the Indians’ outfielders were getting hurt almost daily and the 2014 first-round pick is here to stay.

He reminds most Indians’ fans of former Indian Grady Sizemore. In his prime, Sizemore hit for power, stole bases, played excellent defense and struck out … a lot. That sounds like Zimmer. From 2005-2009, Sizemore averaged 25 home runs, 26 stolen bases and hit .270.

With second baseman Jason Kipnis now on the disabled list, Tribe Manager Terry Francona has started rookie Bradley Zimmer in the leadoff spot in the first two games coming out of the All-Star break. Zimmer has spent most of his baseball career hitting somewhere in the middle of the lineup. Since his promotion to the bigs, he has spent most of his time at the bottom of the lineup.

Although strikeouts are still an issue for him, he still has a good chance to develop into an all-around Fantasy contributor with power and speed as he matures. With his move to the top of a potent Tribe lineup, Zimmer is worth owning and starting in AL-Only and owning in shallow mixed Fantasy leagues.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees

Clint Frazier is rated as the team’s No.2 prospect by and the No.17 prospect in all of baseball. The highly-touted prospect acquired from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade is now 7-for-27 with six extra-base hits over his first eight Major League games. He is coming off a huge series prior to the All-Star break, in which he went 5-for-11 with two home runs and six RBI against the Brewers.

The small sample size shows that Frazier’s power certainly looks real, especially while playing half his games at home run friendly Yankee Stadium. He is extremely talented and can make an impact if given the chance in a potent Yankees lineup. The playing time may become an issue when the injury situation resolves itself in the Yankees outfield.

With his Fantasy-friendly power/speed skill set, Frazier makes for a speculative add and is worth an investment, particularly in keeper leagues. He is worth owning in all leagues based on the brittle injury history of the Yankees’ outfielders.

On-Deck (Players you should consider)

  • Gerardo Parra, Colorado Rockies
  • Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins
  • David Dahl, Colorado Rockies

Starting Pitcher

Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals


Michael Wacha has had a up-and-down season so far but headed into the All-Star break on a high note. He has allowed just three earned runs with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings over his last three starts.

He is now 6-3 overall while sporting a 4.10 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 9.04 K/9 for the season. Four of his six wins have come over his past six starts. His 3.52 FIP and 3.84 xFIP demonstrates he could be in line for a successful second half.

Michael Wacha should be a starter in NL-Only formats and is worth owning as a streaming option in all other Fantasy formats.

Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians


Mike Clevinger is making the most out of his latest opportunity in the Indians’ starting rotation after being in and out of the rotation all season. Over his last five starts, Clevinger has managed an impressive 1.67 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 27 innings.

Clevinger sported a nice first half. He was 5-3 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 66/30 K/BB ratio, and .184 BAA through 12 games (11 starts). He has held opponents to two or fewer runs in five straight outings.

His control remains a disturbing problem. He is averaging 4.8 BB/9 so far this season and has displayed spotty command during his brief MLB career with a 4.7 BB/9.

Fantasy owners should take note of Mike Clevinger, he is only owned in 43 percent of ESPN leagues. He has cemented his role in the starting rotation and should be in more starting lineups in Fantasy leagues. In addition, he is eligible at RP in most formats which means you can stash him in your bullpen and get quality numbers in his starts.

Charlie Morton, Houston Astros

Charlie Morton has now won both of his starts since going on the disabled list May 28 with a right lat strain. He is now 7-3 with a 4.06 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and an impressive 78/30 K/BB ratio in 68.2 innings through 12 starts this season.

The veteran right hander is fanning 9.6 batters per nine innings after posting a 6.6 mark so far in his career.

It seems that Morton is now fully recovered from his lat strain and is ready to get back to pitching for the best team in the American League. The Astros have supported Morton all season, giving him 6.33 runs per game over his 12 starts. Support like that will lead to a significant amount of wins for Morton, who has recorded double-digit wins just once during his nine previous seasons.

Charlie Morton is a very useful Fantasy option. He pitches behind a potent offense and the strikeout upside keeps him relevant in Fantasy. In leagues, where WINS is a category instead of QUALITY STARTS, Morton should be owned in all of those leagues. In the other formats, he is no worse than a streaming option but definitely should be owned in more than just 40 percent of ESPN leagues.

Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves


Mike Foltynewicz has recovered nicely after going 0-4 with a 4.55 ERA through his first six starts of the season. He’s given up more than two earned runs in a game just twice in his past eight starts. In his five starts in June, Folty dominated while compiling a 1.09 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings. The Braves have won 10 of the past 12 games he’s started.

He hit the All-Star break with a 7-5 record, 3.77 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 81/31 K/BB ratio over 93 innings. He is well on his way to a career season and had a dominating performance versus the Athletics in which he took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning before losing it on a solo homer.

The right-hander is still a volatile Fantasy play due to his control issues. His strikeout potential makes him a high-risk, high-reward option in many formats. He has emerged as a quality mixed-league option and has done a good job of solidifying the rotation for a surging Braves team.

Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays

Alex Cobb has been a big part of the Rays’ momentum and helping them surprise many with their second place standing in the AL East. His string of solid and long outings has taken some pressure off the bullpen and underscored the kind of pitcher he is when he isn’t battling injuries.

He still hasn’t quite hit his groove yet after missing all of 2015 and most of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. His pre-surgery strikeout rate still hasn’t returned.

Cobb took a 7-6 record with a 3.75 ERA into the All-Star break. He produced 76 strikeouts and 30 walks in 115.1 innings through 18 starts. He has quality starts in six of the past seven outings, re-establishing himself as a dependable Fantasy option in most formats.

Alex Cobb has produced a nice comeback season and is a decent AL-Only option and someone to stream in deep mixed formats.

Warming Up (Pitchers to consider)

  • Zach Davies, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Jose Urena, Miami Marlins
  • Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox
  • Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds


Relief Pitcher

Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angels


The Los Angeles Angels signed Bud Norris in January after he was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers last September. He was brought in to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. The Angels took a flier on the right-hander before spring training opened, and he has delivered in ways that no one could have imagined.

Injuries kept sidelining would-be closers until the role unexpectedly fell Norris’ way. Norris worked as the team’s closer and has posted an excellent 2.43 ERA and 42/13 K/BB ratio through 33 1/3 innings for the Halos, tallying 11 saves before he was placed on the disabled list on June 20 with right knee inflammation.

The Angels employed a closer-by-committee approach while Norris was on the DL with Cam Bedrosian being the primary reliever in the closer’s role.

Norris missed the minimum 10 days while recovering from the minor knee injury. He has looked as strong as ever since returning from his injury. He has made three appearances and has tossed three scoreless innings with five strikeouts to two walks.

Look for Norris to immediately regain his role as the Angels’ closer with Cam Bedrosian moving back to the eighth inning. He has done enough this season that a change is far from expected.

The former starter has converted 13 of 15 save opportunities in his first season as a closer. His career-best ERA before 2017 was 3.65, it’s now 2.23. Bud Norris needs to be owned and started in all formats. Also, consider Cam Bedrosian as a necessary handcuff.

Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants


Sam Dyson came into the season as the closer for the Texas Rangers but quickly fell apart. He failed to convert a single save opportunity and allowed 23 runs in 17 appearances. Dyson was released with a record of 1-6 with a 10.80 ERA and opponents hitting .392 off him.

He was then designated for assignment and traded to San Francisco and Dyson has now corrected himself. Dyson is in line to get the save opportunities for as long as Mark Melancon is on the disabled list. He has now pitched in 11 games since joining the Giants, going 3-for-3 in save chances with a 3.48 ERA.

His numbers in San Francisco are encouraging after he struggled with the Rangers earlier this season. The Giants are hoping Dyson can return to the level he performed at in 2016 when he was 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA and 38 saves. He had a 1.14 ERA in 75 games for the Marlins and Rangers in 2015.

Mark Melancon hasn’t worked out as the Giants closer because of injuries and low usage. One bright spot has been the emergence of Sam Dyson. If Dyson keeps up his performance, will he make Melancon expendable? They are certainly looking for a closer in Washington, so will a return to the Nationals make sense?

Sam Dyson is currently a short-term fix for the Giants until they figure out what to do with Melancon. Even after signing him to a four-year contract this offseason, I still see the Giants trying to trade Melancon to get an elite prospect. This would free up Dyson to be the Giants’ closer for the rest of the season. I would certainly pick up Sam Dyson in anticipation of him providing saves for the Giants and your Fantasy team.

Warming Up (Pitchers to Consider)

  • Brandon Maurer, San Diego Padres
  • Jeurys Familia, New York Mets


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