Only one subject is more oppressive than the heat turning half of the nation into a Dutch oven, and the number of trade rumors between now and next Sunday’s deadline may be hotter when you consider the caliber of names being bandied about. Many of those names could create waiver wire sleepers. So the next 2-3 weeks will produce at least a handful of players who — due to a new opening at a position or a change of scenery — will prove to be valuable names to consider.
Dan Vogelbach, DH, Mariners: Steve Silver, a friend of RotoExperts.com and West Coast sage for Chris Mitchell’s A Podcast to be Named Later, had a solid conversation with me on Thursday morning about how Vogelbach will impact the M’s down the stretch. While C-Mitch’s concerns about Vogelbach’s potential is valid, S-Squared and I agreed that the Mariners may have gotten over on the Cubbies in a deal that sent P Mike Montgomery to Wrigley. Vogelbach has consistently shown sound plate discipline (.425 OBP in 89 games in Triple-A), which has offset a lack of true power one would expect from a 6-foot, 250-pound professional hitter (Heaven help the M’s if he has to field, because he has the range of a cinder block in wind).
Vogelbach has allayed some concerns via his 16 homers and .548 slugging percentage in Triple-A, numbers I feel will only rise now that he has chosen to become more aggressive at the plate. More intriguing is that Vogelbach’s strikeout rate (18.4 percent) is reasonable for someone whose game will be centered on power, and his 15.1 percent walk rate should also translate well once he’s called up at some point next month. For now, he’s an AL-only play, but one which merits contention for owners in search of a power bat which can fill a DH/Utility spot.
Tommy Joseph, 1B, Phillies: The Good? Try 13 homers, which come at a rate of one per 11.6 ABs, which would translate to 47 dingers per 550 trips to the plate. Joseph has a blistering slash line of .378/.439/.838 with an OPS of 1.277 this month, which has helped overcome The Bad. What’s that, you’re asking? Oh, it’s just Joseph’s .282 OBP, which makes him an all-or-nothing play for the 11 percent of owners in polled mixed leagues. The Ugly? A 24.9 percent strikeout rate and a tepid .265 BABIP, numbers which may also aptly explain why nearly 90 percent of owners aren’t willing to gamble on him. This marks his second mention on here this season, and while many of the concerns I had on him when he came up are still subject to debate, there’s no denying Joseph will hit 20-25 homers. Oh, yeah: his eligibility at catcher is still valid in most leagues. Just thought I’d point that out.
Ryon Healy, 3B, Athletics: Like Vogelbach, Healy is mostly an AL-only play (just more than five percent of ownership in polled mixed leagues) and is also beginning to ease into his power game while also possessing the speed of an 80-degree afternoon arriving at the Gulf Coast. Where the two separate is that while Vogelbach’s batting eye is refined, Healy’s patience at the plate is about as solid as a Ted Cruz promise to Donald Trump. Healy had just a 6.2 percent walk rate in Triple-A, a number that has fallen to 4.5 percent early in his stint with the big club. The A’s are committed to giving him healthy doses of plate appearances between now and the end of the season, making Healy an interesting option. I don’t doubt his power, but while he makes baseballs jump the fence, it could also be costly to your batting average if Healy doesn’t curve his 31.4 percent whiff rate.
Eduardo Rodriguez, P, Red Sox: Yes, that Eduardo Rodriguez, who went 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in the month of June before being demoted. Apparently, life in the sticks did wonders for the electric-armed southpaw, who came back last Saturday and locked up the Yankees to just one run and four hits over seven innings of work. So, am I willing to suggest investing in a pitcher who entered the weekend with a 1.57 WHIP? Yes, why yes I am. His K/9 still doesn’t make me sleep well at night, but Rodriguez’s Boogeyman of a walk rate (3.4 BB/9) is showing signs of no longer being the scary thing under the bed which results in long half-innings of extended batting practice. The second time around should go better, a fact that hasn’t gone noticed to the more than 10 percent of owners in polled mixed leagues.
Andrew Cashner, P, Padres: Apparently, someone remembered they could still dial their fastball back up into the upper 90s, which is what Cashner did when he fanned nine Giants over six innings last Friday, marking the first time he struck out more than eight batters since a 12-K gem against the Reds on June 1, 2015. If this is the Cashner we’re going to see the rest of the season, now would be a good time to make an investment in deeper leagues, as he’s owned in just fewer than seven percent of those of the polled mixed variety. He’s quietly put together quality starts in five of his last eight starts, and while the exchange of pure octane for deeper outings is still up in the air, I’m placing a bet that Cashner reverts back to his form earlier in his career when he focused on blowing hitters away. You may want to keep an eye on his future whereabouts, as the Marlins, Orioles and Rangers are locked in discussions to pry him out of San Diego.
Pedro Alvarez, 1B/3B/DH, Orioles: After batting .194 the first two months of the season, Alvarez has quietly adjusted to his role as mauler of righties, hitting .303 with eight homers and 18 RBI since June 1. The starts are infrequent at best, but Alvarez is the type of player who can get obscenely hot at a moment’s notice, which is why his ownership has ticked back up to close to nine percent in polled mixed leagues. He’s not going to see lefties often (only 22 ABs against them this season), so keep him in mind in DFS formats when the O’s get a righty. Alvarez is more productive on the road, where he’s sporting an .899 OPS, compared to his .706 mark at Camden Yards.
Yoan Moncada, 2B, Red Sox: Try as I might, the idea of Moncada joining the big league roster by season’s end is becoming more of a reality with each look at his daily stat line. He’s only owned in five percent of polled mixed leagues, but I’m getting a feeling that total will be much higher this time next month. Most scouts don’t throw out Bo Jackson and Mike Trout comps on a frequent basis, which is all the uninformed needs to know about Moncada. He entered Thursday with a .309/.420/.651 slash in the minors to go along with 11 homers and 43 steals. Right now, I wouldn’t suggest stashing off a needed roster spot for him, but I’d definitely put him on a watch list while also throwing his name on a sports app (like the grossly underrated The Score) to make sure you’re ready to go all-in if/when news of his call up to Boston becomes news.n