We’re just coming out of the All Star Break, and it’s a tricky time in deeper leagues that use a FAAB budget, especially NL or AL-only leagues where crossover players may be involved over the next couple of weeks. In my leagues at least, there’s not much available on waivers this weekend, so I’m hesitant to spend many pretend dollars or a high waiver claim position even in leagues where I could really use an upgrade. It’ll be August before we know it, and I don’t want to play shorthanded for too long, but I’m probably going to gamble that the waiver wire will be at least a little more interesting next weekend and certainly the week after. Don’t forget that when players change teams, there can be a ripple effect involving promotions and playing time that is particularly impactful in deep leagues. There’s always a surprise trade or two that turns a good closer into a setup man, a so-so setup man into a closer, an off the radar minor league hitter into an MLB starter who has a surprisingly good late summer run, or gets a more interesting prospect thrown into the fire with an earlier than expected promotion. For now though, back to that bleh waiver wire we were talking about. There may be even less to see than usual this week, but we’ll still look at a few players who’ve recently had a small jump in ownership, but are still rostered infrequently enough that they are true deep leaguers.
Ezequiel Duran. The Rangers have recalled Duran since Brad Miller hit the IL, and he’s already in the starting lineup, at second base, on Thursday. He qualifies at 2B and 3B in most leagues and should see a decent amount of playing time for now, albeit likely at the bottom of the lineup. He had 2 homers and 2 steals in his 16 MLB games earlier this year and was doing well on the farm (he has 13 homers and 10 steals overall this season in double A/triple A combined), so even in a platoon/utility situation he may be of some deep league help.
Kutter Crawford. Crawford’s ownership has been slowly but surely climbing over the last few weeks, as he’s turned in three solid starts in a row. His most recent, when he went six innings with 6 Ks and 0 walks against the Rays, would have been even better — if he hadn’t gone out for the 7th inning and failed to record an out while giving up three hits to the first three batters he faced, all of whom ended up scoring. At any rate, it was still another step in the right direction. His current status in the Red Sox rotation is a little murky pending a potential return to full health for Eovaldi/Wacha/Hill, but that’s not exactly a young group of guys for whom injuries are rare. Also murky is the Red Sox overall situation in terms of staying in contention, so Crawford could prove to be a starter worth monitoring in deeper leagues.
Chad Pinder. Another lackluster option, yes, but 30 year old utility guys on bad teams are often what we have to settle for in deep leagues. He’s been hitting decently for the A’s lately and may continue to get significant playing time if he remains in Oakland through the deadline. In his 216 at bats this season, he’s scored 21 runs, has 7 homers and 25 RBI, plus two stolen bases. That’s better than nothing, right?
Roman Quinn. He’s now a Tampa Bay Ray, on a major league deal, after Harold Ramirez suffered a frustrating-to-his-fantasy-owners broken thumb. Even in a seriously banged up outfield Quinn may not play a ton, and there’s that pesky reality that he’s never hit well when he has gotten MLB opportunities. But if you’re desperate for a one category player whose category is speed, it’s not out of the question that Quinn could steal a few bags.
Jose Urena. Urena’s CBS ownership has recently doubled from 2 to 4%, which isn’t too surprising as all three of his outings since he was recalled from triple A have been quality starts. Two of those starts were at home in Colorado, and the other was on the road against the Dodgers, for what it’s worth. The bad news, and there is plenty of it, starts with the fact that (the now 30 year old) Urena has strikeout numbers that are so horrible they look like typos: he’s fanned just 12 batters in 26.1 innings, and has walked 13. Also, it’s unclear how long he’ll have a rotation spot, so even if he’s starting and you can pick and choose your matchups, this situation feels slightly terrifying on the fantasy front. If you really, really need a starter in the deepest of leagues you could take the gamble like those above-mentioned 4% did, but it is indeed a gamble.
Carl Edwards. I keep drafting Edwards in my deepest leagues based on his strikeout numbers from several years ago, which is probably quite silly, but here I am looking at him again in NL-only. He’s currently rocking a 1.02 WHIP with 35 Ks in 34.1 innings for the Nationals, though his 15 walks, plus the fact that he’s pitching for a bad team that is currently in the process of getting much worse, don’t instill a ton confidence that he’ll be a big fantasy contributor in the season’s final two months. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from grabbing him in a couple very deep leagues, in case he keeps pitching well and in case he lucks into some saves with Tanner Rainey done for the year and Kyle Finnegan a possible (though perhaps not particularly likely) trade chip.
Lars Nootbaar. It seems unlikely that Nootbar will be a big part of the Cardinals’ plans in the second half, but it bears mentioning that he was recalled recently, what with Juan Yepez joining Harrison Bader on the IL, and has actually been hitting well. Nootbar has gotten at least one hit in the last six games he’s played in, and has two homers over that span. He’s likely to continue seeing at bats against righties as long as the St. Louis outfield isn’t at full strength.