Because of Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the second half of July is a key period for fantasy owners. Each deal will produce winners and losers in terms of fantasy value, and smart owners will be on top of all the moves, with an eye on adding valuable depth for the final two months of the season. Here are some players who should be active in most leagues for the coming week.
Catcher, John Jaso (A's): Oakland has produced three mixed-league-level catchers, and Jaso is likely the safest option because he is a left-handed hitter who can supply batting average and the occasional homer. The 30-year-old is hitting well in July, and he is the perfect long-term option for owners who have been hurt by the higher-profile backstops who have underperformed.
First base, Adam Lind (Blue Jays): Lind is on track to return near the end of July, and when he gets back, he should be a mixed-league asset. He can hit for both average and power against right-handers, and he should be involved in plenty of run scoring since he hits cleanup behind OBP machine Jose Bautista and in front of slugger Edwin Encarnacion.
Second base, Arismendy Alcantara (Cubs): The 22-year-old earned his promotion through strong Triple-A numbers, and his early work with the Cubs suggests that he is the real deal. With a pair of homers and four steals in fewer than 50 at-bats, Alcantara has already shown that he can be a difference maker in mixed leagues.
Shortstop, Josh Rutledge (Rockies): Troy Tulowitzki's trip to the disabled list gives Rutledge a chance for regular playing time, and he should be able to help fantasy owners for at least two weeks. The 25-year-old has three multihit efforts in the past week, and his Major League track record shows that he can offer a nice blend of speed and power.
Third base, Chase Headley (Yankees): Perhaps no hitter will benefit as much from a July trade as Headley, who gets to take advantage of the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium on the way to free-agent status. The 30-year-old was batting over .300 in July at the time of the trade, and he could become mixed-league relevant again with help from his new hitter-friendly park.
Outfielder, Emilio Bonifacio (Cubs): If Bonifacio stays with the Cubs through the Trade Deadline, he should pick up regular playing time the rest of the way, especially now that Darwin Barney has been designated for assignment. The speedster picked up 98 steals from 2011-13 despite having a regular job for just part of that three-year stretch. He could be among the National League leaders in steals in the second half.
Outfielder, Adam Eaton (White Sox): Fantasy owners have long been enamored with Eaton, a potential dynamic leadoff hitter. The 25-year-old became a forgotten commodity to some, but he has been hitting for average and scoring runs since the start of June. He has been especially hot since the All-Star break, so this is the time to give him another chance.
Starter, Chris Tillman (Orioles): Tillman was a consistent asset for fantasy owners last season, but he had some struggles early in 2014. However, the right-hander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his past nine starts, and this week he is scheduled for a pair of outings at home, where he owns a 2.89 ERA this season.
Starter, Trevor Bauer (Indians): Bauer owns a high WHIP, but he has kept his ERA under 4.00 and strikes out roughly a batter per inning. The 23-year-old has shown some signs of improvement in recent outings, and he is scheduled for two home starts next week. Matchups against the Mariners and Rangers should give him a great chance to succeed.
Starter, Bartolo Colon (Mets): The 41-year-old retired the first 20 batters he faced at Safeco Field this week, which is a great reminder that he has done a good job keeping the bases clear (1.15 WHIP) all season. Colon will head home to pitcher-friendly Citi Field next week, when he is scheduled for a pair of starts.
Starter, Francisco Liriano (Pirates): Owing Liriano is not for the faint of heart, but he can be a difference-maker when he is hot. The streaky starter has allowed one earned run in 12 innings since the All-Star break, and he has a pair of starts next week, so this could be the time to take the plunge.
Starter, Jake Odorizzi (Rays): Odorizzi has quietly posted one of the best strikeout rates in baseball, with 124 K's in 106 2/3 innings. Next week, he is scheduled to make a pair of starts at home, where he owns a 2.73 ERA in 11 outings this season.
Starter, Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays): Stroman has been arguably the Blue Jays best starter in recent weeks, and he put an exclamation point on his improvements when he flirted with a no-hitter against the Red Sox his last time out. He will work on the road twice next week, but he should fare well against the Astros and in a rematch with Boston.
Reliever, Neftali Feliz (Rangers): As soon as the Rangers traded Joakim Soria, manager Ron Washington announced that Feliz would likely get first chance at the closer's role. The 26-year-old has extensive experience in the ninth inning, and he has posted a 2.61 ERA with a 0.77 WHIP since coming up from the Minors near the beginning of the month.
Reliever, Joaquin Benoit (Padres): Benoit has had some hiccups in recent outings, but with a 1.99 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP and 47 K's in 40 2/3 innings, he has shown that he is one of the top relievers in baseball. As long as the Padres do not trade him away this month, he should close out games the rest of the way.
Fred Zinkie is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less