Nationals C Keibert Ruiz: I tried to trade for Ruiz in a two-catcher, 15-teamer where I’m in a tight race for the top, but I sort of didn’t try real hard because I’m solid at catcher, where I have Willson Contreras and Elias Diaz. Solid. Old. Streaky. Probably on the way down. Would’ve probably been smart to try harder.
Royals C Freddy Fermin: The Royals have made gestures toward trading Sal Perez this off-season to make room for Fermin, who’s been in the lineup most nights anyway with Perez covering first in lieu of Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto. The exposure and the grind have chipped away at his once-pristine stat line, but he’s still hitting .284 with a 112 wRC+. That’s a starter in most fantasy leagues.
Phillies 1B Bryce Harper: Tough to go wrong with a blue-chip stock. I was able to swing a deal for Harper before he picked up first base eligibility and found his rhythm in the batter’s box, so I might be working with faulty information here.
Rangers 1B Abimelec Ortiz: He’s started to get some interest from non-Razzball spaces, but I suspect the buy window remains mostly wide open. First base prospects can be weird. Can be almost free for a long time and then suddenly the opposite, partly because of the real-baseball penalty that gets heavily imposed on most non-fantasy lists.
I struggled a bit to find a player worth your trouble at second base. Ultimately, I settled for Blue Jays 2B Davis Schneider, who has 27 home runs and ten steals in 102 games across two levels. He’s slashing .412/.516/.863 with six homers in 15 MLB games, so as long as he keeps doing that, he should find his way into the lineup. And if he’s closer to the guy who posted a .415 OBP with 21 homers in 87 Triple-A games, well, that’ll work, too. I dropped the ball on Schneider when he would’ve been free, but sometimes these pop-up guys are extremely cheap, especially in the off-season when it’s unclear what kind of role they’ll have.
Angels 2B Luis Rengifo is up to a 110 wRC+ on the season despite bouncing all around the field, lineup and bench for a team that never seems to have a good handle on its own roster. He’s not a free agent until 2026, so that’s kind of a drag, but you’d like to think he’d at least open 2024 as an everyday player. It’s all gloom and doom in LA of A right now, but they should be able to field a competent offense next year. A healthy Mike Trout would be a nice place to start. Zach Neto’s legit. Logan O’Hoppe should help. Mickey Moniak has slumped for a while but looks like a solid regular. Nolan Schanuel gets on base. The free agent class has plenty of decent bats to offer a team with playing time to spare. Anthony Rendon . . . well . . . he’ll be there, too, I suppose. Rengifo Isn’t a guy to break the bank for, but he’s going to be on the field making a lot of contact for the next half decade.
Nationals SS CJ Abrams: Probably too late, but I’d feel dishonest excluding him from this list because he’s the guy I’d rather trade for than just about anyone else in my leagues. And I suppose you never know. His line is pretty loud in context: 15 HR with 38 steals, but he’s hitting .248 with a .297 on base percentage. 25 with 50 is well within the range of outcomes for next year. Don’t pinch pennies here and you might open a dialog.
Cubs SS Jefferson Rojas doesn’t have a slash line that screams superstar (.265/.344/.420), but he’s an 18-year-old with a 118 wRC+ in 62 Low-A games. He’s also got seven home runs and 11 stolen bases. Another year like this as a 19-year-old in High-A and he’ll be a popular pick for top 25 hype. He turns 19 on April 25, so he has a good chance to reach Double-A at that age.
Rays 3B Isaac Paredes leads his position in wRC+ this season at 139. His 27 home runs and 17.4 percent strikeout rate might make him pricey, but his .253 batting average, faded prospect star and general Ray-ness might keep him attainable in your leagues. I think we’re looking at the beginning of his fantasy starterdom–not a one-year stretch of skill.
Reds 3B Elly De La Cruz has a 35.2 percent strikeout rate and 85 wRC+ in 75 MLB games. He also has 11 homers and 24 steals, so even on the struggle bus, he’s on a 25/50 pace as a 21-year-old, middle-order rookie the other teams are circling in red and scheming to strike out. He’s got enough detractors in the echo chamber that he might be a reasonable trade request in your league.
Tigers OF Kerry Carpenter: Hi there. It’s me: the guy who won’t shut up about Kerry Carpenter, who’s hitting .354 with nine home runs over his last 30 days to bring his season totals to .283 and 20 HR in just 92 games. The time lost to injury combined with his location in Detroit might obscure the fact that this guy’s a category booster in everything but steals. 30-homer bats with significantly plus batting averages are tough to find.
Dodgers OF James Outman has followed a fairly typical trajectory, bursting out of the gate before flagging and then rebounding. Over his last two months (49 games), Outman is slashing .294/.426/.477 with eight home runs and six steals in seven attempts. You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that’s a 24/18 season if stretched across 147 games. His season-long strikeout rate is 32.3 percent, which creates a little buying window for a talented player in one of the game’s best places to develop across time.
Rockies OF Nolan Jones has found a way to blend his patience with aggression and actualize his significant physical gifts. Might be too late to get a deal here, but he feels like a pretty safe place to put a little coin if you’ve got some to spare. I think expected batting average is a nonsense stat, but it might help our trade chances that Jones has an xBA of .235.
You’re better off trading for pitchers when the season is underway, I suspect. You never know what spring training is going to reveal after a few months off the mound. A couple guys I’ve seen go for relatively little the past few weeks are Max Fried and Tyler Glasnow. Sure, they’re injury risks, but who isn’t? More importantly, they’re both ratio helpers on teams that win games in bunches.
The Marlins have two guys I’d ask after in Sandy Alcantara and Jesus Luzardo. Their season-long numbers don’t reflect their true talent. Luzardo has already thrown 49 more innings than he’d ever pitched in a season, so that’s a little scary but could cut both ways. His 1.22 WHIP and 3.62 ERA are both shy of what you’d need to win a league, but the added innings obscure that a little for me. If he can get to about 170 and then somehow stay healthy enough to push 200 next year, the total strikeouts gained would offset the ratio risk. Alcantara is a fairly obvious one who might not be available after slowly rediscovering his rhythm these past couple months.
Brewers RP Abner Uribe would inherit some portion of the ninth inning if Devin Williams went down (or costs too much as he enters arbitration this winter). Nobody turns out elite closers better than the Brewers, and Uribe features a premium sinker/slider combination that nobody has touched in 20 big league outings. With velocity in the 99th percentile and a slider that sweeps 94 percent more than average at 89.6 miles per hour, he’d be a hitter’s worst nightmare in the ninth.
Thanks for reading!