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Welcome to a very special issue of The Watch List! Usually, I identify players owned in less than 30 percent of polled leagues, and there will be some of those players mentioned today, but I also want to take a look at players who could be dealt and how it affects their Fantasy value.
Before we get into it, one quick piece of advice for those in NL and AL-only formats. I hope you have saved some FAAB or a high waiver claim and are ready to use it, as there may be some high end names soon available in your player pool because of players changing leagues; think Jeff Samardzija last year. Now on to the Watch List!
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto
Since May 27, Realmuto has slashed .301/.324/.469 with four homers, 19 RBIs, 15 runs and get this, four stolen bases. Those are starting catcher numbers in Fantasy, and he continues to fly under the radar due to his early season struggles bringing down his overall numbers. Realmuto has found success by spraying the ball all over the field and improving upon his hard hit rate. He was a highly touted prospect and is showing that his minor league numbers were no fluke, especially the stolen bases. Do not hesitate to add him.
First Base: Stephen Piscotty
The Cards have called up their top-hitting prospect in Piscotty, an outfielder by trade, with the belief that he will man first base. This is another sign that Matt Adams is not likely to return anytime soon, if at all this season. Piscotty has played in only two games this year, both in left field, and he has two hits including a double in eight plate appearances. The real reason to be excited for Piscotty is his numbers in Triple-A, where he slashed .272/.366/.475 with 11 homers and five stolen bases in just 87 games. Piscotty may not be a superstar but he certainly provides more upside than Mark Reynolds, whom the Cards have been playing at first base. Piscotty has a high enough ceiling to be on all Fantasy owners’ radar.
Third Base: Lonnie Chisenhall
This is not Lonnie Baseball’s first appearance on the Watch List this year, but this time it’s for a different reason. I know what you are thinking; why would I be interested in a .209 hitter who was sent down to Triple-A? Well, you could be optimistic and see Chisenhall is hitting .303 with three homers in the minors. But in all seriousness, the reason for optimism is the Indians are willing to move Chisenhall, and if they do it could be the change that the 26-year-old needs. So far this year in the majors, Chisenhall has slashed .241/.278/.386 on the road compared his awful home rates of .181/.206/.309, a trend we also saw in 2014. Chisenhall will never be an elite option, but he could be serviceable in deeper formats. Perhaps all he needs is a change of scenery.
Outfield: Will Venable
Will Venable does one thing well, and that is hit righties. One thing that he does not do well is hit in Petco Park. At home this year, he is batting .189 with one home run. Against right-handed pitchers in Petco he is batting .200. Compare that to his road numbers, where he is batting .284 with five home runs, and you can see how a full- time move away from Petco could make him a valuable match up play in deeper formats or in DFS. The Padres have made it very clear they are willing to shop players, and Venable is a very likely candidate to be on a different team within the week. Keep an eye on the 32-year-old, as a change of scenery to a more hitter friendly park could boost his value.
Outfield: Michael Conforto
The Mets have FINALLY placed Michael Cuddyer on the DL and called up minor league outfielder Michael Conforto. The likely scenario is that Conforto gets a cup of coffee to provide the Mets with a bat until Cuddyer is healthy. However, the Mets are desperate for hitters and if Conforto hits, he will likely stick around. Conforto has hit at every level in the minors. In just 45 games at Double-A this year, he slashed .312/.396/.503 with five homers and 26 RBIs. He put up similar numbers earlier this year in High-A ball. Conforto has a knack for getting on base, and scouts rave about his raw power. Expectations should be tampered, though, as he doesn’t even have 200 plate appearances at any level above Low-A. He is worth keeping an eye on, as he could stick around longer than expected and provide Fantasy owners with a solid average and 5-10 homers down the stretch.
Starting Pitcher: David Price
It is hard to imagine that David Price could get better in any way, shape, or form, but a move from Detroit might just do the trick. In 69 innings at home this year, Price has pitched to a 3.00 ERA, while allowing opposing hitters to slash .258/.289/.394 against him. Those numbers are all great, but in 71 innings on the road he has pitched to a 1.65 ERA, while holding opposing hitters to just .212/.267/.327. Those are Cy Young numbers. Add in the fact that the Dodgers appear to be the front-runner to land Price and going to Dodger Stadium in the NL could only help the lefty. A three-headed monster of Price, Clayton Kershaw, and Zack Greinke, would also be awesome to watch. Keep an eye on Price, and don’t be afraid to pay face value to acquire his services this week. It could end up looking like a nice little steal for your team next week.
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto
The opposite could be said for Cueto, who despite pitching in one of the most hitter- friendly parks in the league, has always thrived at home. So far this year, Cueto has pitched to a 1.86 ERA at home and a 3.50 ERA on the road, and he has an 8.78 K/9 at home compared to 8.18 on the road. This is a trend that we have seen throughout his career. Last year, Cueto posted a 1.71 ERA at home compared to a 2.89 on the road. In fact, only twice in his career has he posted a better ERA on the road than at home; in 2012,when the difference was a miniscule 0.02 runs, and in 2009, when he posted a 5.16 ERA at home and 3.83 ERA on the road. This is evident in his 2.91 career ERA at home and 3.51 ERA on the road. Cueto should continue to be a very effective pitcher if he gets traded, but it would not be surprising if he did not post SP1 numbers or perhaps even struggled early on away from Cincinnati. Do not be afraid to trade Cueto now, and get full face value before a trade could potentially hurt him.
Relief Pitcher: Junichi Tazawa
There are many relievers that could be shopped and I was tempted to write about D’Backs reliever Brad Ziegler, as it is very likely they deal him. However, there is no one in the bullpen who intrigues me as much as Junichi Tazawa, especially if the Red Sox trade Koji Uehara. Tazawa has been an effective reliever for years now, posting a 2.88 ERA, 9.07 K/9 and a 1.55 BB/9 over his career. He’s also posted a very good 12.2 percent swinging strike rate (SwStr%), and we all know how much managers covet the ability to miss bats in their closers. If Boston does trade Uehara, Tazawa has the potential to be a must-start reliever going forward, and owners should keep a very close eye on that.
If you have any questions or just want to talk Fantasy Baseball as the trade deadline approaches make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.