Deep-league greetings, friends, and here’s hoping that you are holding your own in your leagues. The injuries keep coming, and information about how long players may be out is vaguer than ever, making setting a weekly lineup full of players that you know will be healthy beyond difficult even in a standard league. And as we all know, what’s difficult in a standard league is often next to impossible in a deep league. All I’m saying is that if you’re finding the fantasy baseball waters particularly tough to navigate this year, you are not alone. And with that thought, let’s look at a few names who may be of interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other particularly deep leagues.
Victor Reyes. Once the Tigers apparently committed to keeping Rule 5-er Akil Baddoo on their roster all year, it was clear that would be bad news for at least one of Reyes and JaCoby Jones. Neither got off to a good start, and it was Reyes who got the boot to the minors first. He’ll get another chance at the MLB level now, though, as he’s been recalled by Detroit as the (still underperforming) Jones heads down to triple A. Even if Reyes gets decent playing time he’s unlikely to suddenly turn into a fantasy stud… but he could absolutely score a handful of runs and swipe a few bags, which I know I for one could use in a league or two right now.
Danny Santana. Santana sparked quite the bidding war in my AL-only league over the weekend, and he is way past the ownership threshold (16% on CBS) to be considered an ultra-deep league option — but I thought I’d mention him anyway since he has enough fantasy upside to take a gamble on even for the ‘medium-deep’ league crowd. We’ll see how many starts he gets once the Red Sox outfield gets healthy, and how he looks after a lost year in 2020 and a couple of serious injuries (shoulder surgery and a foot infection that required hospitalization). But let’s not forget that is was just 2019 when he had an absolute monster of a fantasy year, hitting 28 home runs and stealing 21 bases for the Rangers. He hasn’t exactly stayed under the radar in his three games with his new team, already hitting two homers and stealing a base.
Santiago Espinal. Espinal qualifies at 3B and SS in most leagues, though he has exclusively played third this season with the Blue Jays. He’s been the biggest playing time beneficiary with Cavan Biggio hurt and missing games — and now officially on the IL — and is a true deep-leaguer given that he’s still listed as being 0% owned (despite being owned in at least one of my leagues). Espinal is a solid defender who has never shown more than a glimpse of pop even in the minor leagues, so we are indeed talking about situations where you’re choosing between a below average hitter who is getting regular at bats for the moment, where you’re just hoping for a counting stat or two, versus a complete zero in your lineup. Espinal did steal 20 bases in the minors back in 2017 and has one steal with the Blue Jays this year, and it seems likely he’ll stumble into at least a handful of runs scored given the hitting talent surrounding him in the Toronto lineup.
Jean-Carlos Mejia. Mejia is a 1% owned pitcher for Cleveland, who recently made his MLB debut out of the bullpen, and looked great doing it with 5 strikeouts (1 hit, no walks) in 2.1 scoreless innings. In his current role he’ll be of little interest to anyone outside the super deep-league world, but he may be worth keeping an eye on for those of us with fewer fantasy options at our disposal. His career minor league numbers are impressive: .216 batting average against, 2.76 ERA/1.07 WHIP, 272 Ks vs. 77 walks in 283.1 innings. I think we’ve all learned that rookie pitchers can be a scary fantasy investment no matter their pedigreee, but if Mejia keeps pitching well and finds his way into the rotation at some point, he’s a guy whose ownership could rise in a hurry.
Sean Reid-Foley. I owned Reid-Foley in my AL-only keeper league years ago when he was a promising young prospect with Toronto, but that promise never came to fruition for either my team or the Blue Jays. Reid-Foley is now a 25-year old, post-hype prospect middle reliever for the New York Mets (he came over in the Steven Matz deal), and don’t look now, but he’s basically been phenomenal. Yes, it’s just 11.2 innings, but he’s holding down a 1.54 ERA/0.86 WHIP, and most tantalizing of all, has 18 strikeouts and just one walk. Like Mejia above, he’s another guy who could suddenly turn into a mixed league option if he continues at anywhere near this pace and/or gets a crack in the starting rotation.
Josh Reddick. If anyone’s been wondering where Josh Reddick hangs out these days, turns out it’s with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Looking at his past numbers, Reddick is one of those guys who never really crossed the line over to being a useful mixed-league option (he did have 20 homers and 10 steals while hitting .272 in 149 games for the A’s in 2015), but has usually been at least somewhat useful in very deep leagues with his modest blend of speed and power. He’s 34 now and has had a horrible start to his season, going 2 for 17 with just one single run scored and one single RBI. If nothing else though, he should get a chance to play with Kole Calhoun down for a while, as Reddick has started four games in a row since being added to the MLB roster.
Nick Martini. Another name who does not inspire a great deal of confidence in terms of fantasy promise, but who is the beneficiary of playing time due to someone else getting hurt. Martini was recalled by the Cubs after Jason Heyward hit the IL, and while he’s appeared in all four games since, that has only added up to 5 official at bats, in which Martini remains hitless (though he does have a run scored and an RBI). Yes, it’s yet another situation where an ultra deep-leaguer has to ponder whether it’s worth grabbing and starting a 0% owned player — who could get lucky and hit a homer or steal a base in limited playing time, or who could take an 0 for 8 on the week — or just leaving an injured or demoted player in your active lineup. I never said these decisions were for the faint of heart, my deep-league friends.
Albert Pujols/Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. I think we’re all familiar with the 7% owned Pujols’s new situation with the Dodgers, which of course made it that much more confusing to many of us when the 2% owned Tsutsugo joined the club as well. It’s hard to believe Tsutsugo will make much of an impact, but he can draw a walk and occasionally hit one out, and the Dodgers do seem to know what they are doing when it comes to finding a way to produce hitting stats out of part-time players. I could see rostering Tsutsugo in a deep league with daily transactions and hoping he’s in the right place at the right time when it comes to your fantasy lineup.
Drop Givens for Estevez to be the handcuff to Bard? I still don’t trust him.
I’m trying to figure out if I want to bother with Estevez in my NL only keeper league (won’t have pick ups until this weekend) and the bottom line is that I don’t trust him either. That being said, he does seem to be the clear handcuff for Bard (who as I’m sure you’ve noticed has not exactly been pitching lights out this year) so yeah, I’d take him over Givens right now. FWIW I also have a far-reaching eye on Jordan Sheffield, not that any of us should probably make a habit of stocking up on more Rockies pitchers than we need to : )
Hey Laura, got the trade itch and I need a good quality starter. My rotation is Woodruff, Peralta, Paddack, Gilbert, Corban Martin, Alzolay, Cueto and Luzardo on the IL. 12 team h2h keeper. I have a feeling I may be able to trade Juan Soto and Luzardo for Bellinger and Garrett Cole? Would you do it? Getting sick of being beaten in the pitching cats.
Hey Homer, I think that’s a fair deal overall and I like the idea of buying low-ish on Bellinger, but in a keeper I just don’t think I could let Soto go, no matter what the return. I know he hasn’t been lighting the world on fire so far this season, but he is still only 22 and I just have to think he has many monster years ahead of him. That’s just me, though, and I am less a fan of trading in general than just about anyone I know who plays fantasy sports (I guess I just get too emotionally attached to “my” players!) and I”m guessing most people would probably say go for it in terms of this deal (especially depending on how your offense looks and if you think it’d be enough to put you over the top to win your league).
What if Kyle Tucker was in place of Bellinger?