Fantasy Baseball Trade Talk: Get ahead of Cody Bellinger's inevitable fall

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/10504/" data-ylk="slk:Cody Bellinger">Cody Bellinger</a> has been one of the most dominant hitters in baseball this season — so you should sell while you can. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Cody Bellinger has been one of the most dominant hitters in baseball this season — so you should sell while you can. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

By Fred Zinkie

Special to Yahoo Sports

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This week’s 10-pack of trade tips includes two of March’s most coveted aces, along with a red-hot slugger.

Overall, owners should be chasing trades hard right now, as each league likely includes a handful of owners who are panicking after slow starts.

Buy Low

Gerrit Cole, SP, Astros

The market to acquire struggling aces should be robust right now, with Cole among the best targets due to a slow start that is unrelated to age or a velocity dip. In fact, the right-hander is dominating the strike zone at a slightly higher rate (4.5 K:BB ratio) than a year ago, and his 2.61 xFIP is lower than his 3.04 mark from 2018. Sitting at 1-4 with a 4.71 ERA, he is surely one of this week’s best buy-low options.

Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians

Carrasco may be the unluckiest ace to this point in 2019, as he has been severely hampered by a .420 BABIP and a 65.0 percent strand rate. His 5.86 ERA is a depressing mark, but he is showing his typically strong dominance levels (5.9 K:BB ratio) and is not giving up an obscene amount of hard contact (39.7 percent). Wise owners could build a potentially dominant rotation by making multiple buy-low deals on the likes of Carrasco and Cole.

Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals

One of baseball’s best at accumulating fly balls (51.4 percent), Carpenter should have much more than three homers at the conclusion of April. His .254 BABIP and 8.1 percent HR/FB rate have held him back, although he has shown solid strike zone control and an excellent ability to produce line drives and hard contact. Once his luck evens out, Carpenter should produce plenty of homers while having minimal impact on a fantasy team’s batting average.

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Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins

Polanco is a rarity in this space: A buy-low recommendation who has played well of late. But the 25 year old still lacks elite name value in fantasy circles, and his advanced stats paint the picture of someone who is in the midst of a major breakout. With oodles of hard contact (41.0 percent), fly balls (53.1 percent) and line drives (27.2 percent), he looks like someone who can maintain a high BABIP and solid HR/FB rate. Polanco also has the speed to post a double-digit steals total, even though he has yet to swipe a bag this year.

Jurickson Profar, 1B/2B/3B/SS, A’s

Profar falls into the category of “He can’t possibly be this bad.” His .165 average makes him look hopelessly lost, but his plate discipline and batted ball tendencies are not much different from the 2018 marks that made him a mid-round pick this year. Once he experiences some positive regression on his 6.5 HR/FB rate and .174 BABIP, Profar will return to being a useful contributor who has extra value due to his multi-position eligibility.

Sell High

David Peralta, OF, D-backs

Peralta is batting .325 primarily on the strength of a .412 BABIP that ranks among the highest in baseball. His plate discipline (0.23 BB:K ratio) has been abysmal, and he continues a career-long pattern of producing too few fly balls to be a prolific power hitter. When his batting average inevitably drops, Peralta will be someone who is no more than replacement level in 10-team leagues.

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Dodgers

Bellinger has been playing at an absurd level this year, but his pace of 73 homers, 193 RBIs and a .434 average is simply unsustainable. Batted-ball luck has been his friend in a big way (.400 BABIP, 41.2 HR/FB rate) even though he deserves credit for producing plenty of hard contact. Overall, Bellinger’s placement on this list is a reflection of his immense fantasy buzz and the possibility that his owners may be able to move him for someone who is an established top-10 hitter. That type of deal needs to be considered right now.

Aaron Sanchez, SP, Blue Jays

Sanchez owns a stellar 2.32 ERA, which will make many owners believe that he has regained the form that produced the lowest ERA in the American League in 2016. But the right-hander is showing dismal skills (1.35 K:BB ratio) while succeeding solely on good fortune (.241 BABIP, 8.0 HR/FB rate). Some major regression is in store for Sanchez, who also has a mediocre ceiling when everything is going his way.

Jon Gray, SP, Rockies

I’m always a big fan of selling high on Rockies starters, and Gray fits the bill right now. The right-hander owns a solid 3.65 ERA, but his batted-ball and situational luck have been excellent (.269 BABIP, 83.7 percent strand rate). Pitchers can rarely sustain good fortune at Coors Field, meaning that Gray will likely soon see his ERA trend towards his 4.86 FIP and his name will fall to waivers in most mixed leagues. This is the time for wise owners to sell him for a modest return.

Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians

Although I would want a massive return for Bauer, my concern over his elevated walk rate (12.0 percent) is enough to considering moving him while he owns a 1.99 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. His 3.43 FIP paints a more accurate picture of the right-hander’s skills so far this season, and he will almost certainly experience regression if he doesn’t get his control skills in check. As an example, a Bauer owner could likely swap him for Carrasco and a second useful player.

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