Major League Baseball’s trade deadline has arrived, and while players can still be moved under certain circumstances in the month of August, today marks the last time clubs can swap players without any waiver restrictions coming into play. However, ESPN standard leagues still have a little bit of extra time left before they’re locked out of any future dealing with their fellow owners for the remainder of 2017.
With that in mind, here is a list of one player from each of the 30 major league teams you should be thinking seriously about adding to your rosters as we head into Week 17 of the season:
Arizona Diamondbacks: This was going to be shortstop Chris Owings, whose value had taken a huge hit due to an awful 2-for-35 slump, making him a prime buy-low player. Unfortunately, he fractured a finger in a failed attempt to bunt on Sunday and should be out for some time. That elevates Ketel Marte a ton, and the 23-year-old is exhibiting some newfound pop at the plate with four home runs since his late-June recall. Marte was recently placed on the bereavement list but is a name to monitor once he’s back in the clubhouse with the Diamondbacks.
Atlanta Braves: Over the past two weeks, Brandon Phillips has hit .373 for the Braves, and he was already batting .280 for the year when this recent surge started. Yes, it elevates his trade value immensely, but given that Phillips has expressed a desire to stay in Atlanta and he still has a limited no-trade clause, perhaps he’ll stick around for August and beyond. Even if he does move, he’ll take the .290 batting average he has had since the start of 2015 with him.
Baltimore Orioles: Fantasy owners don’t often worry about catchers, especially in leagues where you only need one. That said, I’ll take the “every other day” production of Welington Castillo over most backstops for the rest of the season. In the second half of the season, Castillo is batting .395 with a pair of home runs thanks to five multihit games in his last ten contests. Caleb Joseph is also hitting well (.298 for the season), but power is more likely to come from Castillo.
Boston Red Sox: Count me in the camp of those who believe this latest injury for David Price spells the end of his fantasy relevance for 2017. I’m cutting him loose and would be more than happy to replace him with Drew Pomeranz, who had a 2.72 ERA in his six July starts. If he can cut back on the walk rate (4.7 in July, compared to 2.9 through the end of June), he should be more than capable of remaining successful the rest of the way.
Chicago Cubs: After stumbling into the All-Star break with a disastrous 10-run first inning, Jon Lester has thrown three consecutive quality starts — all wins — with a 2.05 ERA, a .135 BAA and a stellar 20-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Could a repeat of last season’s 10-1 second half be on the horizon? Expect a trip to the bereavement list later this week as he leaves the club to attend a family funeral, but the pitcher won’t miss any starts.
Chicago White Sox: Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera are gone, as is nearly the entire bullpen. Avisail Garcia is on the disabled list, and if you don’t already own Yoan Moncada, you’re not getting him anytime soon. So what’s left? How about taking a chance with Leury Garcia, who hit .298 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in his first 200 plate appearances this season before a finger injury sent him to the disabled list in mid-June. He’s finally healthy again and homered on Sunday in his first game back with the team.
Cincinnati Reds: Only 18 pitchers this season have managed to have at least three starts with a game score of 75 or better. After Sunday’s start, Luis Castillo now has two — in just eight overall appearances. Not too shabby. With a 9.6 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate, there’s a good chance Castillo may finish the season as the only pitcher on the Reds with an ERA under 4.00.
Cleveland Indians: There’s no question that Jason Kipnis has had a miserable season. However, he’s currently rehabbing his hamstring at Triple-A Columbus and could well be back with the Indians by the end of this week. Although the perception may be that Kipnis is not a second-half player, he has hit over .270 in both of the past two years, post-break, with a career-best nine second-half home runs and 33 RBIs in 2016. I believe there’s still gas left in his tank.
Colorado Rockies: Gerardo Parra is certainly red hot (.438 BA in the second half), but he’s still very much a Coors Field creation based on the home-road splits. DJ LeMahieu, on the other hand, continues to shine, with no discernible difference between his stats based on the location of the games. There’s not a ton of power here, nor a ton of speed, so for rotisserie-based formats, his upside is limited. However, if you need the batting average boost or play in points leagues, this is your guy.
Detroit Tigers: Adrian Beltre got hit No. 3,000 on Sunday. Assuming he’s healthy in 2018, Albert Pujols should soon reach that milestone as well. After that, one could argue that the player closest to being the next to join that elite club is Justin Upton — and he’s not yet even halfway there. He hit .329 in July, with eight multihit games and 15 RBIs in 22 starts. I’ll pencil him in for 50 more hits the rest of the way and take my chances I won’t need an eraser.
Houston Astros: Lance McCullers Jr. threw 81 major league innings last season. This season he reached that total on June 24. Since then, he has posted an 8.63 ERA in five starts with a .362 BAA. Call me a seller here, and I’ll exchange him for Collin McHugh, whose season is only just beginning following early elbow issues. McHugh had a strong no-decision on Saturday and should only get stronger with each passing start.
Kansas City Royals: It’s all about Whit Merrifield. Since the All-Star break, all he has done is bat .366 with a 1.044 OPS, hitting safely in all but one of his 16 starts. Some may be concerned that the infielder is a bit “up and down” as evidenced by his month-to-month splits of .229 in April, .319 in May and .257 in June. Even if history repeats, you’re still in for an amazing September. I’m all in.
Los Angeles Angels: Obviously, if someone wants to trade you Mike Trout, you do what you can to make that happen. Beyond that, though, I’m actually sad that Albert Pujols hit two home runs yesterday, because in the midst of his 0-for-24 slump, you could have stolen him for practically nothing. You probably still can, because one good day doesn’t completely wash away a .233 batting average from a 37-year-old. That said, I believe Pujols can surprise the rest of the way with another eight homers and a .275 BA, and I can still probably get him for a song.
Los Angeles Dodgers: With the Dodgers having won 19 of 21 games, you’re not likely to get anybody from this roster via trade — at least not without overpaying dearly. Except for maybe one guy — Pedro Baez. From a fantasy standpoint, unless your league rewards holds (Baez has 16), there’s not a ton of value here. However, this team is going to keep winning and potentially could ease off on using Kenley Jansen down the stretch to keep him fresh. It’s a speculative add to be sure, but it could be a very valuable one.
Miami Marlins: Let’s try to spin the stats into something negative for Marcell Ozuna. His batting average in the second half is 28 points lower. After hitting home runs at a rate of one every 14.7 at-bats in the first half, he has hit just one in his last 59 at-bats. The sky is falling! Sell, sell, sell! Of course, I believe none of this. However, it’s part of the pitch I’d be giving Ozuna’s current owner in order to try to steal away a top-20 hitter.
Milwaukee Brewers: While his overall production has certainly stalled, few players provide fantasy owners with as much positional versatility as does Hernan Perez, who has played at least five games at all three outfield spots, both second and third base and shortstop. Somebody on your fantasy team will get hurt before the end of the season — possibly even during the time it took you to read this sentence — and odds are good that Perez can provide you with a solid stopgap option.
Minnesota Twins: The Minnesota Twins have correctly decided they will be “sellers” at the deadline rather than “buyers,” which means fantasy owners should feel more comfortable taking chances on younger Twins players the rest of the way. Case in point, 24-year-old Max Kepler, who should be good for a minimum of a .260 batting average and 20 RBIs from this point forward. Is this going to single-handedly win you your league? No. Could it tip the scales in your favor? It might.
New York Mets: It’s certainly tempting to say “nobody” here and move on, since you’re not getting Jacob deGrom or Michael Conforto and there’s little left to desire after those two names. Still, the fans will always love Wilmer Flores, and if the deadline passes without any tears from the versatile infielder, he should continue his steady hitting that has already produced a .342 batting average and four home runs since the break.
New York Yankees: By the time all the wheeling and dealing is done, who knows what the 25-man roster will look like in the Bronx. However, Didi Gregorius will likely be a part of it, and for fantasy owners, there are few better options in pinstripes. From July 18 to 27, the shortstop hit .500 with five home runs to send his average to .308 for the season. Then he went 1-for-11 over the weekend, so clearly he’s finished and about to hit .200 the rest of the season? Of course not! But hopefully his current owner can be convinced to sell now.
Oakland Athletics: Sonny Gray is no longer with the team, and Yonder Alonso may no longer be around by the time you read this, and if so, a bevy of prospects are likely to be headed back Oakland’s way. However, for those players currently on the A’s, I’m most excited about Matt Chapman. His batting average is going to be a drag, but .250 is much better than .177 — and that’s what he has done over his past nine games, including four home runs. And while defense counts little in fantasy, watching his field awareness at third base over the weekend proves to me his focus on the game is at 100 percent.
Philadelphia Phillies: Aaron Nola has now thrown seven consecutive quality starts, with a 1.49 ERA and a .189 BAA. I was in attendance during his 10-K outing against the Astros. After the first two innings, my impression was that he was tipping his pitches and that he wouldn’t be long for the game. But then he seemed to correct what he was doing wrong and was stellar before being pulled after six innings in a 9-0 win. Seeing is believing. I saw. I believe.
Pittsburgh Pirates: With no earned runs allowed in July, Felipe Rivero has held opponents to a .125 BAA while fanning 16 hitters over 11 2/3 innings and has picked up six saves. The time to get him at a bargain price was probably a few days ago, when the threat of his being traded was much higher, but assuming the Pirates held on to him, I’d still try to grab him while the names of other relievers in new locations are getting more publicity.
St. Louis Cardinals: Randal Grichuk has been a fantasy yo-yo this season, with multiple trips to Triple-A to “figure things out.” In his latest Cardinals stint, he has batting .342 with four home runs through 10 games. I wouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis doesn’t use this recent hot streak as an opportunity to sell high on the outfielder, but I’m inclined to believe that he can at least keep the power numbers up for the next eight weeks and will be buying.
San Diego Padres: Shh! The Padres were a winning team in July. Don’t tell anyone. Let them believe this is a no-good, can’t-win, lackluster offense with no fantasy appeal. Then ask them to throw in Manuel Margot, who was hitting just .254 on June 27 after returning from a calf injury that cost him a month. Hopefully, they won’t notice the outfielder has hit .333 over his last 24 games with four home runs and six steals.
San Francisco Giants: In all likelihood, Mark Melancon‘s owners will see the “DL” designation next to his name and be more than happy to get something of value from a guy who was underwhelming (4.35 ERA and only 11 saves) prior to his forearm injury. Melancon started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento yesterday, with a 15-pitch first inning and nobody should be surprised to see him back closing games for the Giants before the end of the week.
Seattle Mariners: Of course, I’d love to have Robinson Cano or Jean Segura. That said, I’ll sign Leonys Martin (2-for-4 with a home run in his return to the majors on Sunday) off the waiver wire and hope he can get on base enough to add to my stolen base totals going forward now that Mitch Haniger‘s facial laceration will have him out a minimum of two weeks. Martin went just 6-for-54 (.111) in April before being sent to Triple-A Tacoma, but his season has been solid there, to the tune of a .312 average, 11 home runs and a PCL-leading 24 steals.
Tampa Bay Rays: I’m definitely keeping an eye on Kevin Kiermaier‘s potential return from the 60-day DL on Aug. 8, though he has been experiencing back tightness, and that’s a tad concerning. But I’d like to angle to nab Chris Archer, playing up the 7-6 record (1-2 over his last six starts with a meh .267 BAA). For me, it’s all about K’s to walks, and Archer’s 3.85 K-BB ratio this season (3.92 in his last six) is a career-best.
Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre is now 56 hits away from passing Rickey Henderson on the all-time leaderboard to move into 23rd place, and I believe he’ll do that before the end of the season. He’s 38 years old, but by no means did he limp his way to the 3,000-hit milestone. Heck, he hit .341 in July with a .990 OPS.
Toronto Blue Jays: With a .288 batting average, four home runs and 14 RBIs since July 5, we’ve been impressed with Steve Pearce‘s ability to survive and thrive this season, especially against right-handed pitching (.285 versus .224 against LHP). A pair of walk-off grand slams in the last four days is actually a bad thing in terms of getting value in a trade for him right now, but wait a few days and hope that glow fades with an 0-for-4 or two and then pounce.
Washington Nationals: It has been a strange season for Gio Gonzalez. Seven wins at home compared to just one on the road, but his ERA in D.C. has been 3.50, compared to just 2.02 away. As strong as the Nationals offense is, Gonzalez seems to have gotten little love of late, going 1-3 in July, with losses in games in which Washington scored a combined three runs. And if he had won just half of his no-decisions (2.39 ERA, .225 BAA in those eight games), he’d be 12-5 right now. I’d say he has seven quality starts left in him. I’d love my fantasy team to have those starts.