We are less than one week from the MLB Trade Deadline and roughly two weeks from the default Yahoo! fantasy trade deadline, which makes this an exciting time in all leagues. This is definitely the time of year when managers should be targeting specific weaknesses in their team, rather than trading purely for value.
Weaknesses usually come in two forms. The first is a category weakness, where a team needs to acquire a player with a specific skill set in order to maintain their standing or move up the ranks in a specific hitting or pitching category. And the second area of weakness is a positional one, where a team has at least one player in their starting lineup who clearly doesn’t belong there.
I also want to remind everyone that they need to have fun with their stretch-run trades. After all, these games are supposed to provide enjoyment, and making a regrettable deal is not going to result in any real change in someone’s overall life. With that in mind, I encourage all of you to go for it — make an aggressive trade that feels right, and don’t look back.
Finally, this is a great time for managers to make a 2-for-1 trade. This type of deal clears a roster spot, which is key for creating room to add players from the waiver wire who experience an increase in value because of a real-life trade over the next few days. After all, wise managers realize that trade decisions and waiver-wire moves go hand-in-hand.
Now, let’s take a look at some fantasy players that should be traded in the coming days.
Players to acquire
Lucas Giolito (SP, Chicago White Sox)
Giolito came out of the All-Star break looking for second-half improvements and instead laid an egg by allowing six runs across three innings to the Guardians. The dismal outing surely left his fantasy managers pulling their hair out, as the former ace now owns a 5.12 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. Still, I like Giolito as a buy-low option for teams who are desperate to improve their pitching staff, as he may have the biggest cost reduction of anyone with such a high ceiling. And to throw some positive spin on his struggles, the 28-year-old continues to rack up strikeouts (10.3 K/9 rate) while being saddled with bad luck (.350 BABIP).
Liam Hendriks (RP, Chicago White Sox)
Hendriks is another White Sox pitcher who has started the second half with a thud, allowing five runs on seven hits over three innings. And the right-hander has been disappointing for much longer than a few days, as he has collected just five saves since the beginning of June. There are likely some managers who regret drafting Hendriks and would trade him for a reasonable return, despite the fact that his stretch-run ceiling remains as high as that of any reliever.
Jacob deGrom (SP, New York Mets)
This one is a long shot, but one that could pay off in a major way for desperate teams. deGrom has had numerous ups and downs in his quest to finally make his 2022 debut, and we still aren’t exactly sure when that will happen. But the right-hander still has a ceiling as high as any pitcher's, which makes him worth the risk for teams whose season is likely going down the drain either way.
Players to trade away
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)
Gurriel is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, having hit .355 in June and .408 so far in July. But his high batting average has mostly come on the strength of a .445 BABIP since June 1, despite producing plenty of ground balls (45 percent) and little hard contact (33.6 percent). Those grounders will eventually stop finding so many holes, at which point Gurriel will become a marginal fantasy contributor.
Amed Rosario (SS, Cleveland Guardians)
Rosario is a similar story to Gurriel. Since June 1, the shortstop has enjoyed a .386 BABIP despite hitting many ground balls (50.9 percent) with little hard contact (23.4 percent). Without a fluky hit rate, Rosario could soon struggle to score runs and collect steals at his recent pace. Those who can spare some steals and a shortstop ought to look at dealing him now.
Jose Urquidy (SP, Houston Astros)
Urquidy was good in June (3.68 ERA) and has been great in July (2.73 ERA). But before fantasy managers get too secure with his lineup-lock status, they need to be aware that he has enjoyed the second-lowest BABIP in baseball (.191) since June 1. Urquidy is also part of a six-man rotation, which will limit his ability to collect wins and whiffs down the stretch.