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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Watch: Royals closer drama, Jose Caballero's speed and more

Welcome to Waiver Wire Watch, where we go through the top waiver wire adds and drops for each week of the MLB season.

The premise is pretty straightforward. Each week I'll try to give you some recommended adds based on recent production or role changes. When I list a player, I'll try to list the category where I think he'll be helpful or the quick reason he's listed. My hope is that it will help you to determine if the player is a fit for what your team needs or not.

For a player to qualify on this list, he needs to be UNDER 50% rostered in Yahoo formats. I understand you may say, "These players aren't available in my league," and I can't help you there. These players are available in over 50% of leagues and some of them are available in 98% of leagues, so they're available in a lot of places.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds

We'll start by just looking at the teams with the best overall schedule in the next week. It's just a part of the equation, but it's good to know which hitters will face an easier road.

Good Schedule

Team

Games

Opponents

Braves

7

vs NYM, @MIA

Reds

7

vs MIL, vs @CWS

Astros

7

@KC, vs TEX

Brewers

7

@CIN, @BAL

Twins

7

vs LAD, @PIT

Mets

7

@ATL, vs KC

Phillies

7

@STL, vs PIT

Rangers

7

@HOU, vs OAK

Diamondbacks

6

@COL, vs STL

Hitters

Lars Nootbaar - OF, STL: 41% rostered
(RETURN FROM INJURY)

Nootbaar was sidelined at the start of the season due to a rib injury, but he has already begun his rehab assignment. It's unclear exactly when the Cardinals will activate him, but I would imagine it'll be within the next week or so and he should come up right back into the starting lineup for the Cardinals. He flashed good skills last year with 14 home runs, 11 steals, and a .261 average, but there should be more in the tank there. He makes for a priority season-long add if you need OF help.

José Siri - OF, TB: 39% rostered
(SPEED AND STARTING JOB)

Jose Siri headshot
Jose Siri
CF - TB - #22
2024 - false season
116
AB
.172
AVG
3
HR
6
SB
.542
OPS

I covered Siri last week, so I'm going to repeat what I wrote then because I think it still applies: "Jose Siri said he wanted to steal 30 bases this year, and he's already stolen three in three games. Considering how fast he is, it was a surprise that he only stole 12 bases last year, but he certainly has the wheels to swipe 20+ bases this year. Considering he also hit 25 home runs last year, there's a chance Siri will be a 20/20 guy this year. Yes, he might also hit .220, but depending on your league format, it's hard to let a 20/20 player sit on the wire."

Brendan Donovan - 1B/2B/OF, STL: 33% rostered
(RUNS, AVERAGE AND LINEUP SPOT)

Donovan survived a scare with a minor elbow injury but was back in the lineup on Saturday. Donovan has regularly been hitting leadoff and, as a plus contact hitter in a solid lineup, that's a spot that's enticing to us. Donovan had made swing changes before the 2023 season and was starting to see growth in power and hard contact before getting hurt. He's not going to put up huge power numbers, but should help out a little in all five categories and be a great batting average and runs asset with multi-position eligibility.

Will Benson - OF, CIN: 32% rostered
(POWER, SPEED AND STARTING JOB)

Will Benson headshot
Will Benson
CF - CIN - #30
2024 - false season
157
AB
.191
AVG
6
HR
8
SB
.669
OPS

It's unclear to me why Will Benson is rostered in so few leagues. This is what I wrote last week, which also still applies: "It was a bit of a surprise on Opening Day when the Reds lineup had Benson in the two-hole. The lefty swinger has some swing-and-miss in his game, but he also has tons of power/speed for fantasy appeal. If he's going to hit second in the Reds lineup against right-handed pitchers then he has a great chance to rack up runs and RBI. He did hit ninth against a lefty, but at least he was in the lineup."

Mitch Haniger - OF, SEA: 23% rostered
(POWER AND LINEUP SPOT)

Yes, I still believe you should add Haniger. The question for Haniger is usually never talent but health. He's had double-digit barrel rates every year since 2018 and has a history of elite power production while playing in Seattle. He's hitting clean-up right now, after Julio Rodríguez and Jorge Polanco and before Cal Raleigh. While he may not play a full season, you aren't playing in a best-ball league, so add him and take his production for as long as he stays healthy.

Max Kepler - OF, MIN: 22% rostered
(POWER AND STARTING JOB)

Max Kepler played one game this season and then got hurt and missed two games with a knee bruise. He struggled in his first few games back, but I think that's just creating a better buying opportunity. Kepler hit .260 with 24 home runs last year and, perhaps more importantly, is not one of the Twins left-handers who frequently gets platooned against a lefty pitcher. He's going to hit cleanup in Minnesota, and I believe he's going to put up another usable fantasy season.

Michael Busch - 1B/3B, CHC: 13% rostered
(POWER, LINEUP SPOT)

Michael Busch headshot
Michael Busch
1B - CHC - #29
2024 - false season
149
AB
.242
AVG
7
HR
1
SB
.779
OPS

Michael Busch was a power-first prospect with questionable contact rates when he was with the Dodgers but was given a chance at a full-time job when he was traded to the Cubs. So far, he's delivered and, more importantly, he's regularly been hitting sixth in the lineup, which is great for his RBI opportunities considering how guys like Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger have been hitting. Garrett Cooper is also hitting well, so Busch needs to keep it up, but the Cubs will give him every opportunity.

In deeper formats, if you need another 1B option, you can look at Ty France - 1B, SEA: 14% rostered, who has seen his exit velocities rise since his offseason work at Driveline, or J.D. Davis - 1B/3B, OAK: 16% rostered, who has an everyday job in Oakland or Jared Walsh - 1B/OF, TEX: 3% rostered, who is an option in deeper formats because he's playing most days with Nate Lowe out.

Michael A. Taylor - OF, PIT: 13% rostered
(POWER/SPEED, STARTING JOB)

First off, we need to pump the brakes a bit on Taylor's fast start since the Pirates faced five left-handed starters to begin the year. Taylor is rocking an inflated BABIP that will come down, and he's hitting at the bottom of the Pirates order. However, his defense has him in the lineup almost every game, and he's flashed a solid power/speed combination in the past. You'll have to manage a low batting average, but he can help you in most categories.

Alex Kirilloff - 1B/OF, MIN: 12% rostered
(AVERAGE, HEALTH)

Kirilloff has always been fairly productive when healthy, and he's healthy now. His previous injuries may have sapped a little bit of Kirilloff's power, so I'm not sure he'll ever be a huge asset there, but he will likely post a solid batting average and he's been hitting second for the Twins which should add more than a few run-scoring opportunities.

Nelson Velázquez - OF, KC: 11% rostered
(POWER, STARTING JOB)

The big power hitter is starting three out of every four games for the Royals and has two home runs so far. He has only three RBI on those home runs, but I think the Royals have a solid lineup that I think will provide more opportunities in the future. If you need power, Velázquez is a good bet.

Mark Canha - 1B/OF, DET: 8% rostered
(RBI, LINEUP SPOT)

The Tigers have been rained out a few times and playing doubleheaders, so Canha's games played seem low, but he's a regular starter in the Detroit lineup and is often hitting fifth. He's a boring veteran who has no flashy tools, but he can contribute in all five categories and is a solid option in deeper formats.

Ezequiel Durán - 3B/SS/OF, TEX: 7% rostered
(SOME POWER, STARTING JOB)

I covered Duraán in this week’s article The Replacements, where I look at players who have new opportunities due to a teammate's injury.

Brandon Marsh - OF, PHI: 6% rostered
(POWER/SPEED, STARTING JOB)

Brandon Marsh headshot
Brandon Marsh
LF - PHI - #16
2024 - false season
143
AB
.259
AVG
6
HR
8
SB
.754
OPS

I like Marsh as a deep-league add. He's been in the lineup for the Phillies almost every game, including against lefties. If Marsh is going to play that often in a really good lineup, then we should be interested. He has just enough power and speed to help you a little bit everywhere. In deeper formats, that is certainly valuable.

If you want other deep league outfield options, you could look to JJ Bleday - OAK: 4% rostered, whom I covered in the offseason as one of the best plate-discipline hitters in the league. He's looked solid and has an everyday lineup spot, as does Jake Meyers - HOU: 1% rostered, who has two home runs already this season and is eighth in baseball in barrels per plate appearance.

Coby Mayo - 3B, BAL: 6% rostered
(PRIORITY STASH)

It might be time to stash Mayo. I'd say the same for Jackson Holliday, but he's rostered in over 70% of teams. Mayo is crushing Triple-A, and the Orioles have both Ramón Urías and Jordan Westburg off to slow starts at the big-league level. I think Holliday will be up first, but the Orioles might start to feel pressure to call Mayo up soon too if he keeps hitting like this.

Luis García Jr. - 2B/SS, WAS: 2% rostered
(PLAYING TIME, POTENTIAL NEW LEVEL)

Luis García Jr. headshot
Luis García Jr.
2B - WAS - #2
2024 - false season
143
AB
.280
AVG
4
HR
7
SB
.760
OPS

Much like his teammate CJ Abrams, I think we sometimes forget how young García is because he debuted so early. Garcia is just 23 years old and showing his best exit velocities yet. He's sixth in baseball in barrels per plate appearance so far and has a 50% exit velocity of 105.4 mph, which means the average of the hardest 50% of balls he hits is 105.4 mph. That's 13th in baseball. It's early and we don't want to overreact to that, but we also want to acknowledge a young player who is showing quality contact.

It also happens that Oliver Dunn - 2B/3B - MIL (1% rostered) pops up in that regard as well. Dunn was an interesting prospect for the Phillies and now has more of a chance for playing time in Milwaukee. He could be a flier in deeper formats.

— Here's a separate little plug for Blaze Alexander - 2B/SS - ARI (3% rostered), who looks set to get everyday playing time with Geraldo Perdomo out. Alexander has a solid swing and some power/speed potential, so I'd be adding in deeper formats if you lost Trevor Story, for example.

A few other repeat names whom I think you should still roster. If you'd like to read my full reasoning for these players, just click here to see last week’s write-up:

  • Willi Castro - 2B/3B/OF, MIN: 9% rostered: (SPEED AND STARTING JOB) - He's playing basically every day since Royce Lewis got hurt.

  • José Caballero - 2B/SS, TB: 9% rostered: (SPEED AND LINEUP SPOT) - He has four steals already and the Rays have no other real option at SS.

  • Tyler Freeman - 2B/3B/SS/OF, CLE: 4% rostered (LINEUP SPOT - DEEP LEAGUE ONLY)

Pitchers

Tanner Houck - SP, BOS: 39% rostered

Tanner Houck headshot
Tanner Houck
SP - BOS - #89
2024 - false season
65
IP
1.94
ERA
0.95
WHIP
62
K
12
BB

After the first turn through the rotation, all of the Red Sox starters aside from Houck are now over 50% rostered. However, I think Houck deserves to join the party. He's also eaten up right-handed hitters with his splitter and slider, but he added a cutter this year to help him with lefties as well. I'm not 100% sure yet that it will prevent Houck from having a splits issue, but I think it's worth adding him on the off chance that it does. The upside could be high.

Jason Adam - RP, TB: 33% rostered
Pete Fairbanks imploded on Friday night in the cold in Colorado. We also saw his velocity drop noticeably. It could be nothing, but we also know that Fairbanks has Reynaud's Syndrome, which causes the fingertips to feel numb in cold temperatures. That means it could be a one-game blip for Fairbanks, but in case it's not, stashing Adam may not be a bad idea. In general, adding high-leverage relievers on good teams is also a solid idea in most leagues.

Zack Littell - SP, TB: 29% rostered
Zack Littell jumped on my radar when he was throwing fastballs past Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley. Through two starts, Littell looks like the real deal. Now, he's not going to wow you with his skills, but Tampa Bay has historically gotten the best out of its arms. Littell is leaning more into the slider this season and seems to have tabled his sweeper. I'm not sure if there is a Jeffrey Springs ceiling here, but I think the floor is pretty solid.

If you want other starting pitcher adds, I like Luis Gil - NYY: 28% rostered, Casey Mize - DET: 27% rostered, Seth Lugo - KC: 27% rostered, Reese Olson - DET: 20% rostered, and Reynaldo López, ATL: 20% rostered. In deeper leagues, you could go for Erick Fedde - CWS: 6% rostered, Spencer Turnbull - PHI: 3% rostered, or Alec March - KC: 3% rostered.

Check out my list of weekly streamers below.

James McArthur - RP, KC: 14% rostered

James McArthur headshot
James McArthur
RP - KC - #66
2024 - false season
21.2
IP
11
SV
4.15
ERA
23
K
3
BB

It's just not happening for Will Smith. I know he's had the early opportunities, but I think his time as the closer is done. We should start by saying that I don't think the Royals plan to let one guy run with the job. There may be a "favorite" for saves, but I think saves will be shared to a certain extent so please keep that in mind before bidding this weekend. I know many people are big on James McArthur, but I would put my chips on John Schreiber - KC: 3% rostered.

I know he has struggled versus lefties in the past, but I think he can miss bats, and the Royals gave up a big-time prospect for him, which means I think they value him. I would put Chris Stratton - KC: 1% rostered the third of this group and think he got a save on Saturday only because McArthur and Schreiber were rested due to their previous workloads.

Edward Cabrera - SP, MIA: 14% rostered
Cabrera has already made one rehab start at Triple-A, so I think he's only a week or so away from a return. I loved the command improvements we saw from him in spring training before his shoulder impingement. If he were to carry those over to the regular season, we could see a breakout. I'd be trying to stash him on my IL now.

Shelby Miller - RP, DET: 7% rostered
Last week I recommended picking up Jason Foley based on early Detroit bullpen usage, but the truth is that A.J. Hinch will continue to play matchups in his bullpen, which he has said repeatedly. I think Foley will get the majority of the saves, but I also think Miller will get a handful and also steal a handful of wins. I think he's a solid add in most leagues.

In deeper formats, I also like adding Ryne Stanek - SEA: 4% rostered because I think he can claim a handful of saves if Andres Muñoz is used in early innings in a high leverage spot, and Chad Green - TOR: 7% rostered, whom looks likely to fill in as the Blue Jays' closer for a little while longer until Jordan Romano is back.

Michael Lorenzen - P, TEX: 4% rostered
Lorenzen is set to make his season debut for the Rangers. He's not an exceptional pitcher, but he's a solid one who should keep his ratios in check while pitching for a good team in a good pitcher's park. There isn't a high ceiling here, but I think the floor is safe, so you should likely pounce in deeper formats.

STREAMING STARTER OPTIONS FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK (ranked in loose order)

  • Reynaldo López (ATL) vs NYM, @MIA

  • Reese Olson (DET) @PIT vs MIN

  • Tanner Houck (BOS) vs LAA

  • Zack Littell (TB) @LAA

  • Casey Mize (DET) @PIT

  • Nick Lodolo (CIN) vs CWS (his season debut)

  • Spencer Turnbull (PHI) @STL, vs PIT

  • Luis Gil (NYY) @CLE

  • Michael Lorenzen (TEX) @OAK

  • Erick Fedde (CWS) @CLE

  • J.P. France (HOU) @ KC

  • Sean Manaea (NYM) vs KC

  • Alec Marsh (KC) vs CWS

  • Martín Pérez (PIT) vs DET

Players to Drop

It's only been a little over a week, so we don't want to overreact and drop people because they had a bad start. In most cases, I would advocate for holding almost every hitter unless there's a major role change. However, I'll list some players I think are rostered in too many leagues as of now, and I'll also list the schedule as well to highlight which teams have fewer games or face a tougher road of pitchers.

Bad Schedule

Team

Games

Opponents

Angels

6

vs TB, @ BOS

Marlins

6

@NYY, vs ATL

Cardinals

6

vs PHI, @ ARI

Josh Jung - 3B, TEX: 92% rostered
Much like last week when we discussed Matt McLain, I'm not outright advocating cutting Jung because he's immensely talented and there are so many different league types. I just wanted to mention that you should expect to be without him for about three months and I would doubt Jung will return immediately with his typical power after recovering from this fractured wrist. We may not see the Josh Jung we're used to seeing until August or September. So if you're in leagues without an IL spot or get into an IL crunch, I could see moving on in shallower formats.

Nestor Cortes Jr. - SP, NYY: 74% rostered
Like with Jung, I don't think you HAVE to drop Cortes, especially given all of the pitcher injuries, but he has not looked good through two starts, and I'm not sure I believe he's going to get back to his old level. If you see a more talented starter on your wire, I could see making the swap. I could also see trying to trade Cortes away rather than cutting him.

Trevor Story - SS, BOS: 58% rostered
Sadly, Trevor Story said "there's a chance" he'll play again this season. That doesn't sound great, and you certainly can't hold onto him on a chance. The injury is a brutal blow for a guy who just got healthy again, but you need to move on. It's also time to move on from Shane Bieber (61% rostered) and Eury Pérez (47% rostered) in all redraft formats if you haven't already.

Esteury Ruiz - OF, OAK: 58% rostered
I advocated cutting Ruiz last week and that was before he was demoted to Triple-A. I'm not sure why he's being held in 60% of leagues. As I broke down in more detail in this week's Fantasy Baseball Add/Drop video, the team has clearly soured on Ruiz and his future upside is likely as a Dairon Blanco-type fourth outfielder. I'm not sure why we're holding that profile when he's not even on a major league roster.

Will Smith - RP, KC: 51% rostered
As mentioned, I think the dream might be done for Smith. He's blown one save and been removed in the middle of another opportunity. His velocity is down, and he just doesn't look like a great bet right now. I can't justify holding him, and I'd rather take a shot on his two teammates, whom I mentioned above.

Players to hold

It's only been 10 days of baseball so I also want to take some space to highlight players who are among the most dropped players on Yahoo and whom I think you should hold onto. Given the starting pitching landscape right now, I think you need to hold onto any arm that has some upside because that waiver wire could be barren in another couple of weeks.

Louie Varland - SP/RP, MIN: 39% rostered

Louie Varland headshot
Louie Varland
SP - MIN - #37
2024 - false season
16.2
IP
9.18
ERA
2.16
WHIP
18
K
9
BB

I understand all league types are different and if there’s a guy like Garrett Crochet or Reese Olson on your waivers then go for it, but I don’t think you should feel you have to drop Varland. Despite allowing three earned runs on six hits in his four innings on Tuesday, he also struck out four and posted a 30% whiff rate. Both his cutter and his new curve missed a lot of bats, and the curve could give him two strong pitches to complement his fastball. What’s more, the Brewers averaged just an 87 mph exit velocity on all batted balls off of Varland. I know the home run was well hit, but most of the contact he allowed was fairly weak. I’m not convinced that we’re going to see the breakout that everyone was hoping for, but I am acknowledging that the foundation of skills is still there for him to be a solid fantasy starter. He’ll get the Dodgers next and while I won’t start him there, I’ll hold through his start against the Tigers before I decide to let him go.

DL Hall - SP, MIL: 34% rostered

DL Hall headshot
DL Hall
IL15
SP - MIL - #37
2024 - false season
16.1
IP
0
SV
7.71
ERA
13
K
10
BB

Hall was one of my favorite late-round starting pitcher picks this season, and I wrote about him as part of my bold predictions for Rotoworld. I know he didn't look great in his first start, and his second start began slow, but he was singled to death early on against Seattle. The average exit velocity on balls in play off of him was just 81 mph, and he settled in after that rough first inning. A 20% whiff rate isn't ideal and I'd like to see him increase that a bit more, but I'll keep holding for now. Sadly, he gets Baltimore next week, so I can't use him then, but I'm open to using him against St. Louis the start after.