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Waiver Wire Report: Let the Deadline Moves Begin

Alright, enough of the All-Star break. I’ll admit, that was a nice little break to recharge the batteries, but it’s time to get back to work. The next two weeks are going to be huge in determining if your team is a contender or a pretender this season. The MLB trade deadline is inching closer and closer which means more and more deals are going to be getting done. Most of these trades create or alter opportunities, and in turn, waiver wire value pops up from unlikely sources. We’ve already had two trades go down that have done just this and plenty more are on the way. Stay on your toes and get that clicking finger ready.

Top Waiver Wire Targets of the Week

Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)

Ownership: Fantrax 72%, Yahoo 27%, ESPN 36%

Look familiar? He should, as Winker was listed here two weeks ago. I usually don’t like to list the same guy multiple times in such a short period of time, but this one is warranted.  Scott Schebler has landed on the DL with a sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder and will be out for at least the next two to three weeks, if not longer. This opens up every day playing time for Mr. Winker. He was already playing nearly every day already, but now there are no challenges to his playing time, at least for the next few weeks.

If you recall, I mentioned Winker’s high hard contact rate two weeks ago. Well, that’s only gotten higher of late. Over the last month, Winker’s 57.4% hard contact rate ranks 2nd in the Majors, only behind Eugenio Suarez. This is the type of hard contact rate that warrants the phrase “tearing the cover off the ball.” For counting stats, Winker has four homers, 23 RBI, and 12 runs with over the last 30 days, good enough to make him a top-25 player in that span. Furthermore, in three out of four months, Winker has had an average and OBP above .300 and .400 respectively.  Do yourself a favor and make sure he’s not still sitting on your waiver wire.

Kole Calhoun (OF – LAA)

Ownership: Fantrax 48%, Yahoo 12%, ESPN 12%

If you look at Calhoun’s season stat line, you’ll probably end up thinking I have a few screws loose. We’re around 100 games into the 2018 season and Calhoun is still under the Mendoza line at .187, but it’s what he’s been doing lately that makes Calhoun an intriguing waiver wire target. Over the last month, Calhoun’s eight home runs are tied for the seventh most in all of baseball and his average is finally trending in the right direction.

This is much more indicative of the Calhoun we’ve gotten used to over the last few seasons. The Calhoun that averaged 20 home runs, 72 RBI, and 84 runs per season from 2014-2017. Calhoun will never be a piece that leads you to a fantasy championship, but if you’re in need of a power boost, he’s a worthwhile addition while he’s this hot.

Elias Diaz (C – PIT)

Ownership: Fantrax 30%, Yahoo 17%, ESPN 17%

Does your catching situation make you want to pull your hair out? Then pick up your cell phone and call now for a potential C1 moving forward. Act now, inventory is in short supply. Did that sound like a late-night infomercial? Good. Call in the next 15 minutes and we’ll throw in locks of Andrew McCutchen’s former dreadlocks for no additional cost. Alright, enough of that. Due to post-concussion symptoms, Francisco Cervelli finds himself back on the 7-day concussion DL and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. While he’s out, Elias Diaz will handle the bulk of the work behind the plate.

Diaz has performed admirably when called upon this season, slashing .283/.329/.465/.795 with seven home runs, 23 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 159 at-bats. You can feel confident about that batting average as Diaz hit between .266 and .292 in each of his last five minor league season, however, the power is shiny and new. Diaz never profiled as a power hitter in the minors, hitting just 27 total home runs in 2,222 at-bats with a single-season high of just six. Changes have been made this season, though, Diaz has raised his hard contact rate, pull rate, flyball rate, etc. All positive signs for his power output moving forward. Who’s ready to walk with Elias?

It’s time to multi-task! Keep up with all of our baseball coverage, but kick off your football prep and dig into our 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Kit. Then head on over to Fantrax and join a Fantasy Football league.

Drew Pomeranz (SP – BOS)

Ownership: Fantrax 61%, Yahoo 19%, ESPN 7%

One week ago, it wasn’t a certainty that Drew Pomeranz would get his rotation spot back once he was ready to come off the disabled list. Now, with Eduardo Rodriguez out for the next six-plus weeks with an ankle injury, Pomeranz looks like a lock to return to the Red Sox rotation next week. I know he’s looked terrible in his eight starts this season, but don’t forget, this is the same pitcher that posted a 3.32 ERA and a strikeout per inning last season over 32 starts with the Red Sox.

After scuffling on his rehab assignment, Pomeranz pitched six innings of one-hit ball on Wednesday, allowing one run and two walks while striking out five. If you’ve been cycling through a slew of random streamers for the last couple spots on your roster, grabbing Pomeranz could provide some stability and give you a solid arm for the fantasy stretch run.

Kirby Yates & Craig Stammen (RP – SD)

Ownership (Yates): Fantrax 44%, Yahoo 38%, ESPN 12%

Ownership (Stammen): Fantrax 19%, Yahoo 8%, ESPN 4%

This one is a two-parter. With Brad Hand now in Cleveland, the Padres have a vacancy at the closer position. The early favorite to take over the role is Kirby Yates. On the season, Yates has been arguably the Padres best reliever (including Hand) with a 1.43 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 11.5 K/9 spanning 39 appearances. Yates has the stuff to succeed in the role, but he might not be in San Diego for long, as his name has popped up in several trade rumors. If I was a betting man, I’d say that Yates is donning a different uniform come August 1. If that ends up being true, Craig Stammen looks like the best remaining option to close.

The nine-year veteran is having one of the best seasons of his career with a 2.91 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, and 9.9 K/9 in 42 appearances. A lot of times, you need to get a potential closer well ahead of when they actually take over the role. If your roster has the room, now is a great time to stash Stammen if you’re one of the many fantasy owners scrambling for saves.

Check back next Friday for more waiver wire pickups.

For more from Eric, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04. For all of you dynasty leaguers, check back in on Tuesday for Eric’s weekly Dynasty Dugout column.

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