Power bats Stanton, Beltre join trio of arms as value buys
By Jason Catania
In case you haven't noticed, speculation has picked up across baseball -- the real-life version, that is -- in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
But don't dare wait until then for your wheeling and dealing in fantasy. Make a move now on one or more of the below five guys, and your roster could thank you later.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF: It's not pretty. In fact, it's straight bad. A first-round pick back in March, Stanton is hitting just .192 -- the worst average in MLB -- and has only 22 runs, 12 homers and 29 RBIs. He's also stolen nary a base and sports a 35.1 strikeout percentage.
Since May 1, it's even worse: a .149 average with 49 whiffs in 131 plate appearances (37.4 K%).
All of the above indicates something's not right with the 26-year-old should-be slugger, so don't necessarily go targeting him if you're already sitting pretty in the standings. But in the event your club is near the bottom and needs a massive shakeup, Stanton is about as huge-risk/huge-reward as there is. Just make sure you pass along all those not-so-pretty stats to his current owner, so you can get him for, say, 50 cents on the draft-day dollar.
If you pay too steep a price, though, don't say we didn't warn ya.
Adrian Beltre, 3B: Beltre has been his usual consistent, productive self so far, thanks to a .271 average to go with 30 runs, 10 homers and 40 RBIs.
But Beltre, who has something of a reputation for being banged up, has been his usual hampered-by-injury self, too. This time, it's a hamstring ailment that has limited him of late and could result in a DL stint.
Strike now, while Beltre's owner might have some concerns. Even if he winds up on the shelf, you'd be wise to make a play for a guy who gets to hit in the middle of a dynamic Rangers lineup. Remember to mention that Beltre is getting up there in age -- by baseball's standards -- at 37 years old, and you might even get him at more of a discount.
Andrew Miller, RP: Miller isn't a buy-low player from a statistical standpoint. After all, the guy has posted a 3-0 record with an elite 1.01 ERA, even-better 0.68 WHIP and a ridiculous 16.2 K/9 rate.
No, this is purely about the potential for the 31-year-old Yankees reliever to add even more value by tacking on to his save total. Miller managed to rack up six saves while opening the season as the club's closer while Aroldis Chapman was suspended. Since the fireballing Chapman's return on May 9, however, Miller has but one save.
There's already been loads of trade speculation surrounding Miller, but here's the thing: A free agent at season's end, Chapman is as much, if not more, of a candidate to be traded this summer than is Miller. In other words, Miller likely is going to be staring at save opps at some point, as long as the Yankees don't keep the status quo in their bullpen. That could happen, of course, but in the event they make a swap involving either Miller or Chapman, the former's value is going to skyrocket.
Trevor Rosenthal , SP: While we're on the topic of hard-throwing relievers, let's discuss Rosenthal, who hasn't been worth what his owners paid for him in drafts.
Sure, the 3.32 ERA isn't that bad, but the 26-year-old has all of 12 saves and -- here's the really rough part -- a 1.66 WHIP. That last number is so high because Rosenthal owns a career-worst 7.5 BB/9. Then again, his 13.3 K/9 rate also is the highest of his career, and that's a promising sign.
Although he has battled control problems in the past (3.9 BB/9 career, including a 5.4 BB/9 in 2014), the hunch here is that Rosenthal cleans things up some and also picks up the save pace, too. He might not reach the 48 or 45 from the past two seasons, but there's time for him to approach 40. And he remains the Cardinals' unquestioned and unchalleneged ninth-inning option.
Lance McCullers, SP: Coming off a shoulder injury from early in Spring Training, McCullers started the regular season on the DL while the Astros wisely chose the cautious route with their valuable young arm.
The 23-year-old righty then proceeded to struggle his first time out (4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R), which likely turned off some owners who had been waiting patiently for his debut.
McCullers has been better since that May 13 start, but his overall numbers remain either below-average (4.54 ERA, 1.69 WHIP) or muted by missing the first six weeks (three wins, 44 strikeouts).
Where the savvy owner will uncover value is in McCullers' elite 11.8 K/9 rate and his enticing 2.93 FIP, both of which portend good things on the horizon.
Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.