Before we dig into this week’s waiver wire report, if Juan Soto is still available in your league, go add him right now and scold the rest of your league (and yourself) for not adding him already. As I mentioned in my scouting report, Soto has the skill set to hit over .300 with 35-plus homers annually. Expecting that right away is foolish, but he’s still going to be a fantasy factor moving forward.
Soto isn’t the only exciting player worth adding right now, either. This week’s report also has two other top hitting prospects and a former American League MVP winner.
Waiver Wire Targets: Hitters
Tyler O’Neill (OF – STL)
Ownership: Fantrax 53%, Yahoo %, ESPN 35%
What, Dexter Fowler’s .558 OPS wasn’t doing it for you, St. Louis? Yeah, I don’t blame you. That OPS ranks 158th out of 165 qualified hitters and is just three points above Madison Bumgarner’s career .555 OPS. You know who has an OPS nearly double that this season? I’ll give you a hint. His last name starts with O, ends with Neill, and has an apostrophe in the middle. That’s right, Tyler O’Neill is sporting a 1.070 OPS in 27 Major League at-bats and had a 1.041 OPS in 113 Triple-A at-bats.
Back-to-back-to-back games with homers for @Cardinals No. 3 prospect Tyler O'Neill, who was just recalled on Friday. That's 16 on the season between @MiLB & @MLB for baseball's No. 74 prospect. No one has more than the #STLCards young slugger: https://t.co/Zv1ijOBNFg pic.twitter.com/hVdYngqxyO
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 22, 2018
The book on O’Neill has always been a ton of power and a ton of strikeouts. Not at Joey Gallo levels or anything, but O’Neill does have a 27.9% strikeout rate in his minor league career. With that being said, he cut his K rate to 23.3% this season, albeit with only three measly walks. But, hey, that’s the type of hitter he’s always been, and likely will always be. If you’re looking for a comparison, think Khris Davis with a tad more batting average potential.
Dustin Pedroia (2B – BOS)
Ownership: Fantrax 41%, Yahoo 22%, ESPN 14%
Before last night’s game against the Rays, Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed that Dustin Pedroia will be activated today and make his 2018 debut either tonight or tomorrow. The 2008 American League MVP only needed five rehab games to get back into the swing of things. Just ignore the fact that he only had one hit in 14 at-bats during his five-game rehab stint. What matters is that Pedroia is back and immediately returns to fantasy relevance.
The durability concerns surrounding Pedroia are valid. Trust me, as a Red Sox fan, it’s become extremely frustrating over the last several seasons. But you can’t argue with the results when Pedroia is on the field. He’s a .300 career hitter and has averaged 14.0 home runs and 13.8 steals per 600 at-bats in his 12-year career. Most of those steals we in his younger days, but the double-digit pop still remains into his mid-30s. Don’t forget, just two seasons ago, Pedroia hit .318 with 15 home runs, 74 RBI, 105 runs, and seven steals.
He’s not a guy who will carry your team to a fantasy title, but Pedroia’s bat is still potent when he’s in the lineup and should hold decent value moving forward. In turn, the value of Eduardo Nunez takes a considerable hit as he will move into a reserve/utility role.
Jesus Aguilar (1B – MIL)
Ownership: Fantrax 58%, Yahoo 55%, ESPN 35%
At the beginning of the season, it was difficult envisioning Jesus Aguilar having much of a role on this team with the logjam the Brewers had at first base and in the outfield. Well, a couple injuries later and Aguilar has found everyday playing time at first base while hitting smack dab in the heart of the order.
That doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon, either, with Craig Counsell mentioning recently that Aguilar would likely remain in the starting lineup once Ryan Braun returns. It’s easy to see why, too. Aguilar currently sports a .324/.383/.577/.959 slash line with seven doubles, seven dingers, and 23 RBI in 111 at-bats. With his manager confirming his spot in the lineup, Aguilar’s ownership rate needs to be much higher than it currently is. Go do your part in making that happen.
Mac Williamson (OF – SF)
Ownership: Fantrax 33%, Yahoo %, ESPN %
Have people forgotten about Williamson over the last month? If they have, shame on them. Williamson slugged a trio of taters in 19 at-bats earlier this season after putting up some sexy stat lines at Triple-A and in spring training. It was a shame that he only got those 19 at-bats in before going on the disabled list with a concussion. After mashing in the spring and at Triple-A, the buzz around Williamson grew at an alarming rate. Concussions are tricky SOBs, but at least it’s not something that will impact his offense going forward. With Williamson due back this weekend, now is an ideal time to add him to your fantasy roster before someone else does.
Waiver Wire Targets: Pitchers
Carlos Rodon (SP – CHW)
Ownership: Fantrax 56%, Yahoo 7%, ESPN 6%
Rodon has spent the last nine months rehabbing his way back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery last September. It’s been a long road, but the southpaw is finally nearing a return to the White Sox rotation. Rodon has pitched very well in his two rehab starts so far. His first outing ended after 5.2 innings of one-run ball where he allowed just three hits and zero walks while striking out six. Last night was cut short after he took a comebacker off the head (he appears to be fine), but Rodon had struck out six of the nine batters he faced before exiting the game for precautionary reasons.
Rodon has been maddingly inconsistent throughout his career. No doubt about it. But he has always been a solid source of strikeouts at the very least. He’s averaged more than a strikeout per inning each season and has a 9.2 K/9 for his career. If you can afford to stash him for a week or so, now is the time to pounce on Rodon if your pitching staff needs a boost.
Daniel Mengden (SP – OAK)
Ownership: Fantrax 53%, Yahoo 20%, ESPN 18%
I get the strikeout rate isn’t ideal, but there’s a still a lot to like about Daniel Mengden for fantasy purposes. Through his first 10 starts, he’s registered a tidy 3.30 and 1.08 WHIP with four wins and quality starts in his last three turns. On top of that, his control has been very impressive with a 0.9 BB/9 so far. He doesn’t get himself into trouble and keeps hitters off balance with a diverse arsenal. He showed more strikeout potential in the minors and earlier in his major league career, so there’s a little hope that his current 6.0 K/9 can rise some.
Nate Jones (RP – CHW)
Ownership: Fantrax 46%, Yahoo 43%, ESPN 13%
If the last several games are any indication, Nate Jones has surpassed Joakim Soria as the White Sox closer. Not hard to see why, as Soria currently has a 4.96 ERA and 1.53 WHIP through 16.1 innings. Jones hasn’t been dominant or anything, but has a respectable 3.32 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 19 innings.
Throughout his now seven-year career, Jones has been very reliable in the bullpen but has never really gotten the chance to show what he could do as a closer. He has posted a K/9 above 10 in each of the last six years (including 2018) and has an arsenal that fits the closer mold. Jones’ fastball sits around 97 mph on average and he pairs that with a sharp high-80’s slider. The job looks to be his to lose going forward.
Have a question about a player who wasn’t covered here? Ask below or find me on Twitter. Check back next Friday for more waiver wire recommendations.