When George Springer was called up by the Astros last month, I wrote about the obvious service time manipulations associated with the move. We're seeing a similar situation with the Pirates right now.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday night that the Pirates recently offered top prospect outfielder Gregory Polanco a seven-year, $25 million extension with three club options. If Polanco would have accepted, it's a good bet that he would be on the major league roster right now. However, now that he has (smartly) declined, we likely won't see him with the big club until after the estimated Super 2 deadline passes next month.
As I have said before, these situations send mixed messages to fans about what the goal of a franchise should be. After ending a 20-year playoff drought last season, the Pirates just look cheap here. Granted, they aren't doing anything wrong by taking advantage of the system that is in place. The Cardinals are trying to do the same thing with Oscar Taveras, as are the Mets with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, just to name a few quick examples. However, the Pirates clearly have a need in right field, where Jose Tabata and Travis Snider (among others) have combined for a .239 batting average and a .687 OPS. Meanwhile, Polanco is batting .395/.444/.613 with Triple-A Indianapolis right now.
Obviously the Pirates don't want to put Polanco in the position where he's viewed as some sort of savior for their floundering season, but can you really say that he doesn't deserve a call-up right now? He's apparently good enough for the Pirates to guarantee him $25 million without playing in a major league game. However, now that he has turned them down, we have to keep up the charade that he's not "ready" for another month or so. That's the world we're in right now. And it still stinks.
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Hector Rondon RP, Cubs (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)
I usually don't recommend the same player twice in a four-week span, but we'll make an exception here since this situation appears to have some clarity. With both Jose Veras and Pedro Strop now on the disabled list, Rondon is far and away the top option in the closer role for the Cubs. The 26-year-old was roughed up in his last appearance on Sunday, but I'm willing to give him somewhat of a pass since he was working in his third straight game and had been pretty good up until then. The hard-throwing right-hander still owns an impressive 1.69 ERA and 18/6 K/BB ratio through 16 innings this season. He should be owned in most leagues by now.
Adam Lind 1B, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 27 percent owned)
Lind landed on the disabled list in mid-April due to a lower back strain, but he has made it through three minor league rehab games without incident and should be activated Thursday. While Juan Francisco has swung the bat well since coming up from the minors, Lind should continue to receive regular at-bats against right-handers between first base and the DH spot. The 30-year-old hit .288 with 23 home runs and an .854 OPS over 143 games last season and was off to a good start this year before getting hurt, so he makes for a solid pickup if you need some help out of the CI (corner infielder) spot.
Dillon Gee SP, Mets (Yahoo: 45 percent owned)
Gee's rotation spot with the Mets was at risk after he posted a 6.34 ERA over his first ten starts last season, but he struck out 12 batters over 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on May 30 of last year and has quietly been one of the game's most effective pitchers ever since. Seriously. Over his last 29 starts, the 28-year-old right-hander owns an impressive 2.66 ERA over 196 innings. Sure, he's not a big strikeout guy and the Mets' offense and bullpen will limit his win potential, but doesn't he deserve a little credit at this point? Gee gets the Phillies next and they have had his number during his career, but I'm content rolling with him in most mixed leagues at this point. He's earned it.
Brett Cecil RP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 16 percent owned)
Sergio Santos was the first choice as the fill-in closer for Casey Janssen, but a string of rough appearances recently got him demoted from the role. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has utilized a committee approach since, with Cecil notching one save and Aaron Loup locking down two games. Both pitchers throw from the left side, but Cecil gets the edge with me because of his ability to miss more bats. Granted, Janssen is already two appearances into his latest minor league rehab assignment and might only need two or three more outings before coming off the disabled list, so we're not talking about long-term value here.
Jose Quintana SP, White Sox (Yahoo: 36 percent owned)
To keep on the theme of pitchers who deserve some more respect, what about Quintana? The 25-year-old southpaw quietly owns a 3.61 ERA through 62 starts and three relief appearances in the majors. Featuring a deep and varied arsenal, he showed some nice signs of growth last year by increasing his strikeout percentage by five percent and even cutting down on his already solid walk rate. Pitching in the hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field will hurt him at times, but he's an underrated and useful pitcher in both real life and fantasy. Give him a try against the last-place Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Devin Mesoraco C, Reds (Yahoo: 45 percent owned)
After beginning the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique, Mesoraco hit a ridiculous .468 (22-for-47) with three home runs, six doubles, and 13 RBI over 13 games prior to straining his left hamstring on April 25. The 25-year-old backstop is eligible to return on Sunday, but it's unlikely he'll be ready by then, as he has yet to test his hamstring by sprinting. The good news is that he hasn't encountered any setbacks. If you were too slow to snag Wilson Ramos off waivers prior to his return on Wednesday, Mesoraco isn't a bad fallback option to stash in a DL spot. The power potential is there and he's in a great environment for a breakout season. You just might need a little patience.
Henderson Alvarez SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)
Fresh off a shutout victory against the Mets on Tuesday, Alvarez now owns a 2.62 ERA and 29/11 K/BB ratio in 44 2/3 innings across seven starts this season. If you include his no-hitter on the final day of the season last year, he has three shutouts in his last eight starts. Not bad. Not bad at all. Alvarez's high velocity hasn't translated to strikeouts yet, but he has good control and keeps the ball on the ground with the best of them. He's not someone I'd rely on every time out in mixed leagues, but he's a very nice streaming option this weekend against the light-hitting Padres.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Oswaldo Arcia OF, Twins (Yahoo: 3 percent owned)
After missing a month with right wrist inflammation, Arcia is due to be activated for Thursday's game against the Indians. The 22-year-old outfielder was off to a slow start before the injury, but he hit .333 (9-for-27) with three doubles in eight rehab games with Triple-A Rochester and appears to be back to full health. Arcia struck out 31 percent of the time as a rookie last year, but he showed real power potential with 14 home runs in 378 plate appearances. On a related note, he also ranked among the game's best in average batted ball distance. Ups and downs are to be expected here, but he's a fine pickup in deeper leagues.
UPDATE: Arcia still has soreness in the wrist and isn't ready. Bummer.
Kolten Wong 2B, Cardinals (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)
I have to admit, I was taken by surprise when the Cardinals demoted Wong to the minors after just 20 games. It all felt a bit panicky for a team that was looking for him to be their starting second baseman and a potential No. 2 hitter. Still, if all goes according to plan, Wong won't be down in the minors for long. To his credit, the 23-year-old has responded to the demotion by hitting .333 (13-for-39) with one home run, two doubles, and two stolen bases over nine games. With Mark Ellis batting just .170 with a .422 OPS through 15 games, I think we could see a move soon. It would be a good idea to stash Wong in a bench spot in deeper leagues.
Carlos Quentin OF, Padres (Yahoo: 5 percent owned)
Quentin has yet to make his season debut due to a bone bruise in his left knee, but he's finally making some progress. The 31-year-old slugger began a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Lake Elsinore over the weekend and moved up to Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday. Barring any setbacks, it's possible that he could be activated this weekend. Quentin is obviously a very poor bet to stay healthy, but he has 29 home runs and 90 RBI in 168 games over the past two seasons. You don't find that kind of power potential widely available on the waiver wire very often. Give him a shot if your offense needs a jolt.
Grant Green 2B, Angels (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
C.J. Cron has been a trendy add in deeper leagues over the past few days, but I wouldn't be surprised if Green ends up being more valuable relative to his position. Acquired from the Athletics last July in the Alberto Callaspo deal, Green owns a .309/.357/.470 batting line in the minors and was hitting .349 with 11 extra-base hits (including two home runs) and three stolen bases over his first 25 games this season with Triple-A Salt Lake. While the 26-year-old has mostly been an infielder during his pro career, the Angels are giving him some work in left field as they attempt to get by without both Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun. If he hits enough, the Angels could give him playing time at third base after Hamilton and Calhoun return. He's a worthwhile gamble if you need help in the MI (middle infielder) spot.
Chris Heisey OF, Reds (Yahoo: 2 percent owned)
Jay Bruce underwent surgery Monday to repair a partially-torn meniscus in his left knee and will be sidelined for about a month. While the injury is a tough blow to the middle of the Reds' lineup, it opens the door for Heisey to receive increased at-bats in the team's outfield. The 29-year-old slugged nine homers in just 87 games last season and has hit as many as 18 in a season before, so we know he has the power to take advantage of the opportunity. While the batting average and on-base percentage might not be there, Heisey is also capable of stealing a few bases. Grab him in five-outfielder formats.
Drew Pomeranz SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)
Acquired from the Rockies over the winter in the Brett Anderson deal, Pomeranz made the A's Opening Day roster as a reliever, but he was called on to start the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Mariners. The 25-year-old left-hander took advantage of the opportunity by allowing just two hits and no walks over five scoreless innings while notching five strikeouts. Tommy Milone and Dan Straily have both struggled to begin the year, so it will be interesting to see if Pomeranz will now get an extended chance in the starting rotation. The former first-round pick has sleeper potential if they go that way. Even those in mixed leagues should pay attention.
Moises Sierra OF, White Sox (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Sierra was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays last week after going 2-for-34 over his first 34 games this season, but he was soon claimed off waivers by the White Sox and stands a chance to see regular at-bats in Chicago's injury-riddled outfield. The 25-year-old owns an ugly 84/23 K/BB ratio over 323 plate appearances in the majors, but he has some pop in his bat and even swiped the occasional base in the minors. His playing time will likely dry up once Adam Eaton (hamstring) returns from the disabled list, but feel free to play him in the short-term.
Wilmer Flores 3B, Mets (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
With the Mets desperate for offense, reports indicate that the club plans to call up Flores as a potential replacement for Ruben Tejada at shortstop. Tejada is batting just .183 (15-for-82) with two extra-base hits (both doubles) and a .509 OPS over 29 games, so it's easy to see why the Mets are looking at alternatives. It won't take much for Flores to be an upgrade with the bat, but there are serious doubts about his ability to hack it defensively at shortstop. Fortunately, that doesn't matter in most fantasy leagues. He'll be worth owning if the Mets give him regular at-bats.
Chase Anderson SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)
Anderson was called up from Double-A Mobile earlier this week and appears on track to make his first major league start this Sunday against the White Sox. Known for his plus-changeup, the 26-year-old right-hander posted an impressive 0.69 ERA and 38/6 K/BB ratio in 39 innings over his first six starts this season in the minors. With his injury history, some believe he could have a better chance holding up as a reliever, but he's someone to keep an eye on if he gets an extended chance in the rotation.