Fantasy Baseball Trade Talk: Move Kluber now

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9048/" data-ylk="slk:Corey Kluber">Corey Kluber</a> is on the shelf — but does he still hold trade value? (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Corey Kluber is on the shelf — but does he still hold trade value? (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

By Fred Zinkie

Special to Yahoo Sports

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Owners who get ahead are the ones who look at their trade market from every angle. And this week’s 10-pack shows the full range of trade options, from an injured player to a slumping veteran listed as sell-high candidates.

Buy Low

Joey Lucchesi, SP, Padres

Behind all sorts of bad luck (66.8 percent strand rate, .333 BABIP), Lucchesi has shown strong skills. Among his stellar advanced stats are a 3.0 K:BB ratio, a 50.9 percent ground ball rate and a 29.5 percent hard contact rate. Wise owners will use his 5.00 ERA in trade talks while hoping that their competitors don’t notice his 3.59 FIP.

Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies

Nola has caused some of his own problems, as is evidenced by his 4.99 FIP. His control skills have waned (9.6 percent walk rate) and he is giving up more line drives (24.8 percent) than ever before. But he continues to limit hard contact (29.7 percent) and fly balls (30.3 percent) and deserves better than his .356 BABIP. My guess is that the 25 year old will soon have a statement game and slams the buy low window shut.

Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Indians

Ramirez remarkably still owns a .200 average and a single-digit RBI total, and even his most patient owners are probably willing to deal him away at a significant discount. His plate discipline has waned, but that is often the case for someone who is in a slump. Ramirez is still producing plenty of line drives (23.1 percent), fly balls (44.2 percent) and hard contact (41.9 percent), which means that he likely deserves much better than his .223 BABIP and 4.3 percent HR/FB rate.

Yonder Alonso, 1B, White Sox

Although all owners can see is Alonso’s .174 average, those who look a little closer will discover that he has been plagued by a .177 BABIP while showing solid plate discipline (0.68 BB:K ratio) and good batted ball tendencies (41.7 percent fly ball rate, 35.7 percent hard contact rate). The lifetime .262 hitter is likely available for a song in mixed leagues right now, and he is worth the minimal investment with the expectation that his average will soon rise.

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Yuli Gurriel, 1B/3B, Astros

Gurriel has been pretty boring this year (.252 average, two homers), but his 31.8 percent line drive rate is among baseball’s best and his other batted ball tendencies range from average to good. As part of a talented lineup that hasn’t yet hit their stride, the veteran has the potential to match last year’s .291 average and 85 RBIs. And like Alonso, Gurriel is likely available for a minuscule price in leagues of 12 teams or more.

Sell High

Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals

From a skills perspective, Strasburg continues to be one of baseball’s best. And with so many elite starters providing disappointing results or landing on the IL, the right-hander and his stellar swing-and-miss skills are likely coveted by several owners in each league. But Strasburg has a long history of letting people down, and he reached the 150-inning mark in just one of the previous four seasons. This could be a good time for his owners to deal him away at an inflated price.

Corey Kluber, SP, Indians

Trading a starter with a broken pitching arm is never easy, but sending Kluber to another roster could be worth the hassle. The right-hander has an undetermined timetable, and my guess is that he makes his next appearance for the Tribe in August. Three months is a long time to wait for a pitcher, and his owners should be willing to trade him away for a serviceable player who can contribute now.

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Rays

Fantasy owners love their rookies, and many of them are likely going bananas for Lowe and his stellar freshman stats (.307 average, seven homers). And while the youngster deserves credit for producing excellent batted ball data, he definitely doesn’t deserve an absurd .418 BABIP and a 28.0 percent HR/FB rate.

His plate discipline is also a source of concern (0.24 BB:K ratio), and he may struggle to hit better than .250 from this point forward.

Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers

Owners aren’t going to get a lot for Cabrera, but hopefully, his name value and .298 average are enough to get a useful player in return. In short, I don’t expect the future Cooperstown resident to provide meaningful stats at any point this season. His plate discipline has eroded (0.35 BB:K ratio) and he has neither the speed nor batted ball tendencies to maintain anything close to his .402 BABIP. He could finish the season hitting .250 with fewer than 15 home runs.

Will Smith, RP, Giants

Smith is doing great as the Giants closer, which is actually part of the problem. San Francisco was never expected to contend this year, and they are almost certainly going to trade away this pending free agent by the end of July. And once Smith joins a new team, he may be stripped of his mixed-league value by working in a setup role. The time is now for owners of the 29 year old to get full value on the trade market before his name starts popping up in rumors.

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