The trade market is rife with opportunity for those who have the courage to buy low on players who have started the season in disappointing fashion.
While some slow starters are at the outset of an unremarkable campaign, many others are set to turn their 2017 season around in the coming weeks. With the goal of making long-term lineup improvements, wise owners should immediately make buy-low offers on the following five guys.
Miguel Cabrera, first baseman, Tigers
Some owners are likely losing patience with Cabrera, who has spent time on the disabled list and produced his lowest OPS (.794) since the initial season of his illustrious 15-year career. However, those who take a more measured approach will likely see a buy-low opportunity in a 34-year-old who owns a lifetime .320 batting mark and has driven in more than 100 runs in 12 of the past 13 seasons. And those who need an in-season reason to acquire Cabrera at a discount will be happy to learn that he is generating an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher on 57 percent of his batted balls -- the third-highest rate in baseball, per Statcast™ (minimum 30 batted-ball events).
Kendrys Morales, 1B/OF, Blue Jays
Although he is on a respectable power pace, with seven homers across 160 at-bats, Morales has tested the patience of fantasy owners by producing a disappointing .244 batting average and a .715 OPS. But based on the quality of his contact, according to Statcast™, Morales owns a .299 Expected Batting Average (xBA). Once his .264 BABIP progresses toward his lifetime .297 mark, Morales should provide a solid average alongside his plus power. And for those who need one more reason to make a buy-low offer on Morales, read this still-relevant offseason article by MLB.com's Mike Petriello.
Manny Machado, 3B/SS, Orioles
Machado owners were likely expecting an elite multiposition asset when they tabbed the slugger in the opening round of their draft. Instead, they head into the final days of May with a superstar who is not one of the top 10 producers at either shortstop or third base. But smart owners will look to pluck Machado at a discounted cost, with the expectation that his .222 BABIP will soon normalize toward his lifetime .305 mark. After all, Machado ranks among the top 10 Major Leaguers in barrels (18) and average exit velocity (93.5 mph), according to Statcast™. He is also showing small signs (two steals) of regaining some aggressiveness on the bases after swiping no bags last year.
Jacob deGrom, starter, Mets
While owners should be pleased to see deGrom logging a 12.3 K/9 rate -- the highest in the National League among qualified pitchers -- his ratios (3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) are undoubtedly a disappointment. However, those who put in a little research will note that the right-hander has been held back by a .336 BABIP that is significantly higher than his lifetime .300 mark. With better batted-ball luck and improved control (3.7 BB/9 rate in 2017; career 2.4 BB/9), deGrom could become the total package of a high-strikeout, low-ratio mixed-league ace in the coming weeks.
David Robertson, reliever, White Sox
Experienced fantasy players know that save chances sometimes come in bunches during the long season. However, impatient owners are likely unhappy with a White Sox team that has afforded Robertson just six opportunities to close out narrow wins across seven weeks of regular-season action. Some owners of the 32-year-old may also be starting to worry about constantly seeing his name in trade rumors. But with a stellar 2.23 FIP and a 12.4 K/9 rate, the right-hander is showing the skills to handle an inevitable cluster of save chances -- whether they come with the White Sox or a contending club.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.