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The MLB season will reach its midpoint near the end of this month, which means that fantasy teams have settled into a section of their league standings. Some teams are running away with everything, others are sitting near the top, and many clubs are now in a position where they'll need plenty of excellent weeks to challenge for a title.
A team’s position in the standings has to factor into their manager’s approach to trading. Those teams at the top should seek deals that stabilize their roster with a deep group of productive players. Meanwhile, those in the middle of the pack need to make bold moves that involve some risk but plenty of upside. Without being able to personally evaluate all of your specific situations, I hope you’ll find some helpful trade nuggets with the players below.
PLAYERS TO ACQUIRE
Jacob deGrom (SP, Mets)
A trade offer for deGrom is typically going to be met with laughter, which will still be the case in some leagues. But a series of apparently unrelated injuries to the Mets superstar has caused waves of panic in fantasy circles, which could open the door for deGrom to become available. Specifically, deGrom managers who are sitting atop their league may be willing to spread their risk by trading him away for a lower-end ace and another big-name player. And those in the middle of the pack should be happy to partake in such a deal. The right-hander is one of the few players who could single-handedly propel a team up the standings, which makes him a risk worth taking.
Remember, there’s no prize for finishing in fifth place.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (C/3B/SS, Rangers)
Kiner-Falefa is having a breakthrough season, producing respectable numbers in all categories while sitting in a tie for second place in the Majors with 15 steals. The 26-year-old is valuable in every format, but his value in Yahoo! leagues is much greater due to having catcher eligibility on this site. In fact, Kiner-Falefa has thus far been the most valuable fantasy catcher in the standard Yahoo! format. Not being catcher eligible at other sites has muted the buzz on the Rangers infielder across the industry overall, which should keep his trade value in check. My guess is that you can acquire Kiner-Falefa for less than the asking price of other big-name fantasy catchers such as J.T. Realmuto or Salvador Perez. He is the perfect trade target for those who seek speed, as his 15 swipes make him one of just two catchers (along with Christian Vazquez) who have produced at least five steals this year.
Kyle Tucker (OF, Astros)
Tucker has been all over the map this season in terms of fantasy value. The outfielder started the year with terrible luck at the dish, which resulted in a .610 OPS in April. He finally got on track in the middle of May, riding an outstanding hot streak before landing on the COVID-IL on June 16. Tucker is set to return to action in the coming days, and I hope that fantasy managers can pick him up before he gets hot again. The expected stat xwOBA is an excellent measure of a player’s batting skills, and the 24-year-old currently sits 8th among all players in that statistic, along with the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr., Mike Trout, and Juan Soto. His Yahoo! Trade Market page shows that Tucker has recently been obtained for reasonable returns.
PLAYERS TO TRADE AWAY
Wander Franco (SS, Rays)
The consensus top prospect in baseball, Franco is set to make his much-anticipated Major League debut today. You can put me squarely in the large camp of observers who believe that this talented 20-year-old is going to be a future star along the lines of Ronald Acuna Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Juan Soto. And Franco is coming into the Majors on a hot streak, having posted a .954 OPS with seven homers and five steals across 39 Minor League games this year. But having said all of those complimentary things about him, I still need to acknowledge that playing in the Majors is hard. Players don’t always have success right away, with Guerrero being a great example of a future superstar who needed some time to find his peak form.
We know that fantasy managers get carried away with hyped prospects. Just this season, we have seen youngsters such as Jarred Kelenic, Alek Manoah, and Logan Gilbert have disappointing early results to their big league careers. All of those rookies had their peak 2021 fantasy trade value the day they were promoted, and Franco could have a similar fate. He is among the most traded players in Yahoo! leagues this week, being swapped for the established stars such as Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, and Trevor Bauer. I’m not saying that you need to trade Franco away, but you owe it to yourself to be open-minded to trading him for a veteran with a long track record of fantasy value.
Marcus Semien (2B/SS, Blue Jays)
Like Franco, Semien isn’t someone who I feel you need to trade away right now. That being said, the Blue Jays infielder is playing over his head at the moment and could fetch a massive return in some leagues. Semien has been a top-10 player in Yahoo! formats this year, but any manager who values him at that level is overlooking his expected statistics. The leadoff man is hitting .283 with an xBA of .243 and has an xSLG of .449 in comparison to an actual mark of .527. Semien should be very valuable the rest of the way, as the Blue Jays lineup is built to score runs in bunches. And I wouldn’t blame anyone who decided to ride things out with the 30-year-old and hope that he stays hot. But please remember that we are talking about potentially getting a star-level trade return for someone who entered 2021 with a career OPS of .747.