There’s usually a several-week lull between the MLB trade deadline and September call-ups where things on the deep-league waiver wire are extra, extra dire. I feel like that’s been true again over the last few weeks this season, though it also seems like we are getting a slow trickle of potential new talent joining major league rosters a little earlier than usual this year. Perhaps it’s because of the elimination of the second MLB trade deadline since teams know that they can’t add anyone outside of the organization via trade — or maybe it’s just my imagination — but I do feel like there are a few new interesting names to look at. Hopefully this will be even more true over the next five weeks, and for now, let’s do what we do here and take a look at some players that might be on the radar of NL-only, AL-only, and other deep-leaguers.
Sean Murphy. It’s still anyone’s guess if Murphy will get a chance to catch for the A’s at all this season, but I’ve grabbed him in one deep re-draft league where I need some serious catching help, just in case he is promoted next month and provides a bit of offense over the final weeks of the season. He missed most of the triple A year with a knee injury followed by a setback to the same knee, but is finally back and presumable healthy – in his first game back with the Las Vegas Aviators, he had 2 homers and 6 RBI.
Tom Murphy. As long as we’re talking about catchers named Murphy, let’s take a moment to wonder if Tom Murphy should be owned in more than 11% of CBS leagues. Well, he’s now hitting .293 on the season with 16 homers in 184 at bats for the Mariners. Using standard 5×5 value, that makes him the 9thmost valuable catcher in the AL this season and the 14thmost valuable fantasy catcher in baseball up to this point, so I’m gonna go with yes.
Brock Burke. Burke may sound like a uninspiringly-named 1980’s soap opera character, but turns out he’s actually a starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers. His first start with the big club went quite swimmingly, as he pitched 6 scoreless innings at home against the Angels, and he’s scheduled to pitch in Chicago against the White Sox this weekend. Over his minor league career (450 IP), he’s got a 3.48 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and 438 Ks. Those numbers don’t exactly scream major league ace, but they may have to do if you’re searching for deep-league starting pitching this late in the year.
Nick Solak. Solak is another Ranger, this time a second baseman. He’s 24 and was having a great year in the minors (.289 average, .362 OBP, 27 HR, and 5 SBs). Overall, he’s hit 61 homers and has 41 steals in 435 minor league games, so if he gets handed some playing time he could be an interesting end-of-season flyer even in re-draft leagues. He’s gone 4 for his first 11 with a homer for the Rangers, so it’ll be interesting to see if Roughned Odor finds himself on the outside looking in more often than usual over the last month or so of the season.
Wilmer Flores. Don’t look know, but Wilmer has his batting average up to .307, and has hit four homers over a one-week span. He’s not playing every day for the Diamondbacks, but he qualifies at 1B and 2B in most leagues, and could provide a little part-time pop for a deep-league fantasy team just the way he’s been doing for his real-life team of late.
Harrison Bader. I seriously over-invested this guy at the beginning of the year as a potential cheap deep-league speed source, and he was nothing but disappointing unless your league gives credit for the occasional outfield web gem. While his current .196 average (.238 MLB career average over parts of 3 seasons) may unfortunately be the truest reflection of who he is, I find myself giving him one more chance in an NL-only league where I could really use a couple steals, hoping he sees some starts against lefties and has some pinch running opportunites. Bader is back with the Cardinals after a 3-week stint in the minors… he had a triple and scored 2 runs in his first game back, so that’s a start, right?
Carlos Estevez/Jairo Diaz. Time for one of our patented terror dives into the always-offputting world of ultra deep-league relievers. The Rockies don’t really have a closer these days, what with Scott Oberg done for the season with a scary-sounding blood clot, and Wade Davis continuing to implode pretty much whenever he gets the opportunity to. Estevez has a 1.38 WHIP on the year, which is awful, but he’s struck out 67 guys in 57 innings, and does have 11 career saves for what that’s worth. Like Estevez, Diaz (4.65 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 48 Ks in 40 innings) has been mentioned by manager Bud Black as a potential candidate for saves, so we’ll wait with bated deep-league breath to see how this one plays out.