Owners are a stubborn breed, rarely wanting to admit that they made a mistake with one of their premium draft picks. But some slow starters have real reasons for concern and may not come around in the next few months.
Here are nine players with an ownership mark of at least 75 percent that those in shallow leagues can consider shipping to waivers, ranked in order of most droppable to least.
Buster Posey, C, Giants
This one is easy for me, as I predicted in March that Posey wouldn’t be a top-10 catcher this season. The 32 year old is experiencing a notable drop in plate discipline (0.53 BB:K ratio), which will inhibit his ability to hit for average. He already lacked power, and his spacious home park is not going to cough up any cheap round-trippers. Even with the weakness of the catcher position, owners can likely find someone with less name value and more upside.
Corey Kluber, SP, Indians
Kluber wasn’t pitching well prior to suffering a broken arm, and there remains a real concern that his skills are diminishing at age 33. Although his career resume is terrific, he owns a 5.80 ERA, a 1.65 WHIP this season and may not make his next start for the Indians until August. Also, Kluber’s 2.5 K:BB ratio doesn’t look anything like the marks he posted in recent seasons.
Chris Archer, SP, Pirates
At this point, fantasy owners have to wonder what they are waiting for from Archer. The right-hander is on pace for a fourth straight season with an ERA over 4.00 (5.58 ERA this year), and his durability is in question after throwing 148.1 innings last year and landing on the IL early this season. Sure, he provides plenty of whiffs, but he’s not the only source of strikeouts in an era where hitters are striking out at higher rates.
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
From a skills standpoint, Votto may be the most concerning player on this list. The 35 year old started trending in the wrong direction last season, and this year he is unable to hit for either power or average. Votto’s whiff rate has ballooned to 24.3 percent, and his walk rate (13.0 percent) is his lowest mark in a decade. His year-over-year line-drive rate has dropped 10 percent, and the corresponding increase in fly balls isn’t resulting in a homer increase. Votto has been known for torrid stretches, but he doesn’t seem to be on the verge of another memorable run.
Luis Severino, SP, Yankees
Like Kluber, Severino will make his next Major League start after the All-Star break. And with such a long, uncertain timetable for someone who hasn’t pitched this season, there remains a chance that the right-hander won’t return to the Yankees until August or later. I would keep Severino over Kluber, as Severino has yet to struggle this season and has the potential to return in the middle of July. Still, there are teams out there with multiple injuries who do not have the bench space to hold Severino for the next two-plus months.
Robinson Cano, 2B, Mets
For starters, Cano is 36 years old. And beyond his age concerns, the veteran has lost his stellar contact skills (21.5 percent strikeout rate in 2019). He doesn’t produce enough fly balls to be a prolific power hitter, he strikes out too often to bat .300 and he has never been a base stealer. His owners may be better off using the roster spot on a high-upside youngster.
Craig Kimbrel, RP, Free Agent
Sure, Kimbrel is a top-notch closer, but he remains unsigned and joining a club after the June draft means that he wouldn’t debut until late June or early July. The long layoff, unusual start to the season (for someone who had a 4.5 BB/9 rate last year) and natural volatility of save chances will combine to move some owners to consider dropping him for more immediate help.
Wilson Ramos, C, Mets
I would likely keep Ramos in every situation, but I can make a case for dropping an over-30 catcher who is showing some disturbing batted ball trends this season. The backstop is hitting just .231 with two home runs, which is not surprising when noticing that the slow-footed runner is putting 62.2 percent of his batted balls on the ground. Ramos was extremely fortunate with his HR/FB rate last season, which masked a disturbing trend that threatens to ruin his power potential.
Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
Owners need to wonder if Seager has not moved past his 2018 Tommy John surgery. After all, the 25 year old has been a batting average drain (.242) while not making a significant impact in any other category. Because he doesn’t steal bases, Seager has to soon hit for power and average in order to make any sort of shallow-league impact.