Trout, Yelich among discounted players to acquire now
By Jason Catania
Have you seen the temperature lately? Or rather, have you felt it? The start of summer is bearing down on us, which means it's time to keep cool. Except, of course, when it comes to fantasy baseball.
You need your roster to heat up along with the weather. That's where this week's list of candidates to buy low comes in. Target any -- or all -- of the names below in trade discussions, and you'll be better off. Just make sure that when you engage in talks for these players you (ahem) play it cool.
Mike Trout, outfielder, Angels
Hey, it's not often you get a chance to trade for the best player in baseball and the consensus No. 1 overall fantasy pick at a below-market price, especially when his performance has been as good as (or better than) expected. But with Trout out, that very opportunity has presented itself.
The 25-year-old hit the disabled list for the first time in his career late last month and is expected to miss at least another six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, which he suffered during a stolen-base attempt.
That's quite a while for Trout's owner to be without a building block. While it's also long enough to discourage owners in need of immediate help from making a play for the Angels outfielder, you may be in position to propose a healthy-for-hurt swap if you're already holding down one of the top few spots in the standings.
Take caution, as there's no guarantee that Trout will come back on time or even be his usual self. But this is the sort of play that can pay off big time when the final push comes in August and September.
Christian Yelich, outfielder, Marlins
While Yelich hasn't been bad this season, none of his fantasy stats stand out (.264 BA, 39 R, 7 HR, 27 RBIs, 6 SB). After a breakout 2016 campaign in which the Marlins outfielder crushed 21 homers and totaled 98 RBIs -- both career highs -- while also hitting .298, owners who drafted him have been left expecting, wanting, needing more. Add it all up, and the cost of acquisition is way down.
Signs that the best is yet to come for the 25-year-old? His walk rate (9.8 percent) remains right in line with his lifetime mark (10.3), he's striking out a career-low 17.0 percent of the time and his .295 BABIP is well below the .355 rate he owns since debuting in 2013.
While another 21-homer, 98-RBI season likely isn't attainable at this point -- particularly with a 58.7 percent ground-ball rate -- Yelich, quite simply, is better than he's been.
DJ LeMahieu, second baseman, Rockies
Now is a good time to reach out to LeMahieu's owner. The early season excitement from rostering the player who led all of MLB with a .348 average in 2016? That's worn off, no doubt.
Play the sympathy card by commiserating over how frustrating it is to pay for a player's career year after the fact, and assure them you've been there before. Sometimes, it's just best to move on.
The end game here? Adding an in-his-prime hitter who makes a ton of contact (13.8 percent strikeout rate), plays home games at Coors Field and inhabits the second spot in one of the highest-scoring lineups in the sport.
Although LeMahieu's superb 2016 is in the past, the 28-year-old's 2017 still can get a lot better.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals
After years of hitting atop the Cardinals' lineup and moving all over the infield, Carpenter has spent much of this season as St. Louis' No. 3 hitter and everyday first baseman. Could the 31-year-old's struggles -- including a .223 average and only 28 runs -- be tied to those changes? Maybe … maybe not. But presenting that narrative might be just the thing that allows you to separate the slugger from his owner.
The 31-year-old does still have 11 homers, so the power he's grown into during the previous two seasons remains intact. Fantasy owners can expect his .245 BABIP to pick up, considering it's never been below .307 and sits at .324 for his career.
Oh, and if there really is something to that whole leadoff thing, owners should note that the Cardinals moved Carpenter back to his comfy perch just last week.
Jason Catania is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.