By Fred Zinkie
Special to Yahoo Sports
With just over two weeks to the Trade Deadline, wise gamers will try to get ahead of future real-life deals by grabbing the beneficiaries before their value shoots up. And 2-for-1 trades are always a great idea at this time of year, as those who clear roster space can be more aggressive in adding free agents who benefit from deadline trades.
Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees
Frazier has hit .283 with 11 homers and 34 RBI across 191 at-bats this season, and he would be a valued fantasy asset if not for his June demotion from a crowded Yankees roster. But there are two ways that the outfielder could get back into shallow-league lineups by the end of July. First, New York could trade the 24 year old to fortify their rotation. Second, the club could suffer additional outfield injuries and promote Frazier from Triple-A. Either way, Frazier is likely to see his value spike soon.
German Marquez, SP, Rockies
This one is pretty straightforward, as Marquez will be available for next to nothing from those rostering him who see his 5.12 ERA and 11 runs allowed in his most recent start. But smart gamers can extract plenty of value by using the right-hander on the road, where he has logged a 3.33 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Even during his breakout 2018 campaign, Marquez posted a 2.95 ERA on the road and 4.74 mark at Coors Field.
Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Tigers
Castellanos is going to benefit from a July change of scenery as much as anyone. The 27 year old has been very ordinary this year (9 HR, 34 RBI) while trying to be the centerpiece of baseball’s worst lineup. But his plate discipline and batted-ball tendencies are mostly unchanged, and Castellanos could be a terrific four-category stud once he joins a productive offense.
Edwin Diaz, RP, Mets
Gamers rostering Diaz are likely to trade him away at a massive discount, as his full-season ratios (5.35 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) and recent results (13 ER across his past 9.2 IP) are far below preseason expectations. But his K:BB ratio remains elite (5.2), and his hefty contract ensures that the right-hander will never leave the closer’s role. Whether he is pitching for the Mets or a contending team in August, Diaz remains someone who should be a solid source of saves and strikeouts. And his trade value will likely never be lower than it is right now.
A.J. Pollock, OF, Dodgers
Having recently returned from a long-term injury, Pollock is carrying very little fantasy buzz at the moment. But the 31 year old remains a valuable power-speed threat (21 homers, 13 steals in 2018) who is set to appear regularly in one of baseball’s best lineups. Additionally, his .248 batting average is artificially low according to Statcast (.271 xBA). Gamers may be able to pick up Pollock for a song before he gets his season on track.
Austin Riley, 3B/OF, Braves
Although Riley is trending in the wrong direction, his initial success has propped up his full-season stats. But since June 22, the rookie has posted a miserable .179/.243/.373 slash line while striking out in 37.8 percent of his plate appearances. Riley still has a bright longterm future, but the 22 year old would not be the first talented hitter to go through some low periods during his rookie year.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
The hype train on Tatis is speeding out of control. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw a fantasy writer whom I respect label this youngster as a top-20 hitter going forward. Tatis is an exciting blend of power and speed, but his batting average is a complete mirage. His .442 BABIP and .339 batting average are completely unsustainable, and his xBA via Statcast is an unremarkable .247. Once he starts collecting base knocks at a lower rate, Tatis will also slow his rate of runs scored, RBI, and steals. Wise gamers will get their king’s ransom right now.
Shane Greene, RP, DET
I’m putting Greene here as a place holder. Several closers should be on the move by the end of the month, including Greene, Will Smith, Ken Giles, Alex Colome, and Sergio Romo. The window might be closed on getting full value for these relievers, but any fantasy gamers who can spare their services should make one last attempt to trade them for a sizeable return. Of course, some gamers are in a situation where they need to hold these valuable save sources and cross their fingers that they remain with their current clubs.
Adalberto Mondesi, 2B/SS, KC
With three steals in 10 games since returning from the IL on July 2, Mondesi is back to doing what roto gamers covet. And with 30 swipes this season, the speedster has immense value in any format that places a premium on steals. Mondesi has been so aggressive on the basepaths that Mallex Smith is the only player who is within seven steals of his league-leading total. Many rostering Mondesi are already set in the steals category, meaning that they can benefit greatly in the long run by shipping the 23 year old to a steals-needy competitor.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Royals
Hamilton certainly isn’t going to fetch much on the trade market, but sometimes the smallest deals can add up to having an impact. My advice for those rostering the speedster is to find a leaguemate who needs steals and swap Hamilton for any player who is preferable to the options on waivers. Gamers who can get a talented setup man or stream-worthy starter ought to be happy to rid themselves of Hamilton, who is going to be totally useless in fantasy circles once he is traded to a contending team later this month.