Clayton Kershaw, starter: With a 3.73 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, the 2014 National League MVP was merely respectable in April. Across 60 starts from 2013-14, Kershaw posted a 1.80 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .196 batting average. Owners who can acquire baseball's best pitcher for anything less than a first-round player in return would be wise to make the swap.
Chris Sale, starter: Because he gave up eight earned runs in his April 30 outing, Sale is sporting a 5.32 ERA through four starts. The left-hander is likely not yet in top form after missing all game action during Spring Training, but he has the stuff to be a top-five starter once he gets on track. Offering something less than an ace for the 26-year-old and judging his owner's response would be a smart maneuver.
Shin-Soo Choo, outfielder: Choo had one of the worst April performances of any starting hitter in the Majors, as he hit one homer and posted the second-lowest average (.096) among players with at least 50 at-bats during the month. The exceptionally slow start has caused many fantasy owners to either drop the outfielder or sell him for cents on the dollar. But a .146 BABIP to this point in the season shows that at least some of Choo's struggles can be ascribed to poor fortune. The acquisition cost on this former five-category contributor is so low right now that smart owners will feel justified in stashing him on their bench.
Robinson Cano, second baseman: Although Cano has had an underwhelming start to the season, with one homer, no steals and a .263 batting average, he is among the most durable, consistent performers in the Majors. Granted, the career .309 hitter may never again display the power that allowed him to hit at least 25 homers every year from 2009-13, but his steady contributions at a relatively scarce position can have great value during the final five months of the season.
Craig Kimbrel, reliever: Kimbrel has compiled a 4.66 ERA to this point in 2015, and he has allowed at least one run in three of his past five appearances, but he was arguably the most consistent closer in the Majors from 2011-14. Owners would be wise to offer a second-tier closer with better early-season numbers in exchange for San Diego's stopper, as Kimbrel will likely be the better reliever during the final five months of the season.
Jake Odorizzi, starter: With a 2.41 ERA and an 0.86 WHIP across five starts, Odorizzi appears to be ascending toward ace status. However, the fly-ball-prone starter has yet to allow a home run this season, after serving up 20 round-trippers a year ago. The 25-year-old is likely taking a step forward, but not as large of a step as some observers believe. Smart owners will market him as a No. 2 mixed-league starter and look for a large return.
Devon Travis, second baseman: Travis will likely be a mixed-league asset all season, but he cannot possibly maintain his current pace of hitting .325 with six homers and 19 RBIs through 23 games. At the Double-A level last season, the second baseman hit .298 with 10 homers and 16 steals across 396 at-bats. Those are fine numbers, but not ones that project instant Major League stardom. Owners who can swap Travis for a top-five second baseman should make the move.
Dallas Keuchel, starter: The left-hander induces plenty of ground balls, and those grounders found enough gloves during April to allow Keuchel to post a 0.73 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP. However, he walked 11 batters across 37 innings, and he gave up just 16 hits after conceding 187 knocks across 200 innings last season. Because of a low strikeout rate, the 27-year-old needs to post outstanding ratios in order to be a difference-maker in mixed leagues. Owners would be wise to deal Keuchel for a high-strikeout starter with above-average lifetime ratios.
Dee Gordon, second baseman: Gordon is hitting .440, but his current .494 BABIP is notably higher than his career .340 mark. And though the speedster has swiped 11 bases, he has been caught stealing six times. Those who believe that Gordon will improve his stolen-base success rate the rest of the way should be aware that he was caught stealing 10 times across 31 tries during the second half of last season. The second baseman should be among the league leaders in swipes this season nonetheless, but an inevitable decline in batting average will reduce his chances to run. Those who can swap Gordon for an elite bat should strongly consider the opportunity.
Chris Archer, starter: Archer's trade value dropped a bit after a six-inning, four-run outing against the Orioles on Saturday, but fantasy owners still have a window open to market the 26-year-old as a budding ace. The right-hander has held opposing hitters to a collective .176 batting average this season, which has led to a 1.64 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. Although his start to 2015 is undoubtedly impressive, he may find maintaining elite ratios while pitching in a division that boasts four hitter-friendly venues and four of the top-eight offenses in run production this season to be a difficult endeavor. Swapping him for an established ace in a less-powerful division could pay long-term dividends.
All statistics are accurate through the completion of Saturday's games.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.