Gerardo Parra, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Khris Davis went on the disabled list on May 31st, opening up everyday at-bats for Parra, who had been a valuable fourth outfielder in real life but an empty batting average in fantasy. Parra made the most of his opportunity, hitting .329/.371/.514 with six home runs and five steals while Davis was on the shelf. Further bolstering his fantasy value, Parra has been occupying the leadoff spot against righties—a split he’s had success with throughout his career—and has scored 24 runs in the past 37 games. The total package adds up to a top-five outfielder over the past month. That his ownership rates only got to 66 percent in CBS leagues and 54 percent at ESPN despite the tear tells me owners are likely to be shy with Parra now that Davis is back in the fold. Defensive metrics rate Parra less favorably than they once did, but he can play all three outfield positions and figures to be moved before the trade deadline, when he should reclaim an everyday role. There is already speculation about Kansas City as a potential landing spot, with Alex Gordon set to miss the next two months. If Parra is somehow still on your wire or an owner drops him because of questions about where the at-bats will come from, make the claim.
Delino DeShields, OF, Texas Rangers
DeShields came off the disabled list on Sunday and snatched the starting center-field job from Leonys Martin, who has been dreadful this season. DeShields also snagged the leadoff spot from Rougned Odor and has now hit in the pole position every time he’s played since May 22nd, after beginning the year as a regular in the nine hole. DeShields can steal bases from wherever Jeff Bannister pencils him in; he’s swiped 13 in 51 major-league games after crossing the 50-steal threshold each of the past three minor-league seasons. That lineup position is key though, as the Rangers have scored the 11th–most runs in baseball and DeShields will need a solid runs total to be more than speed streamer for owners looking to make up ground in one category. Martin won’t stay on the bench forever but DeShields’ Rule 5 status ensures he’ll stay on the roster and there’s every reason for the Rangers to give the 22-year-old at-bats to see if he can build on his unexpected early success.
Mike Montgomery, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Remember the Mike Montgomery Trade? No? Okay, you might know it as the (first) Wil Myers Trade. Or maybe it was the Big Game James Trade. Wait, is it the Jake Odorizzi Trade? He’s been pretty good but he’s hurt. Let’s see here…Wade Davis has given up 32 baserunners and nine earned runs in his past 100 innings? Yeah, it’s the Wade Davis Trade. But Mike Montgomery was in that trade and his first 50 major-league innings are enough to graduate him from footnote to someone whose name is worth recalling in its own right.
After making a couple respectable starts in place of an injured James Paxton, Montgomery appeared in a previous Free Agent Watch as a 15-team mixed option. Since then he’s made four more starts, including consecutive complete game shutouts in which he struck out 17 batters, walked four, and gave up only six hits. I saw Montgomery in Triple-A Durham a bunch over the past two seasons and there was precious little evidence of this as a possibility, so good on the Mariners if they unlocked the dormant potential in the arm of a former first rounder and 21st best prospect in all of baseball. Montgomery clearly won’t pitch to the 1.62 ERA and 0.94 WHIP he’s currently sitting on, but he does have okay velocity and better-than-okay life on his fastball(s). Better still, he keeps hitters off balance with a five pitch mix and enough variation in his sequencing that it’s hard to discern a pattern. Montgomery’s strikeout upside is limited but with James Paxton unlikely to return until August, Montgomery will take a few more turns and has pitched himself into the conversation in mixed 12-teamers.
Bonus selection for dynasty leagues: Go ahead and pick up Patrick Leonard. If the two-and-a-half year history of this trade is any indication, it will be his turn with the nomenclature by 2018.
Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals
With the news yesterday that Alex Gordon could be sidelined up to eight weeks (or possibly longer) with a groin injury, Orlando should have fantasy relevance in the short term in deep AL-0nly formats. The 29-year-old rookie from Brazil is in his second stint with the Royals this season after spending the first two months in the majors while Alex Rios was on the DL. Called back up from Triple-A on Monday, Orlando’s fantasy appeal is his speed, as he’s racked up over 200 career steals in the minors, including 34 stolen bases for Omaha last season. Orlando is a plus defender, so he could find himself in a platoon in right field with Jarrod Dyson unless the Royals decide to trade for an everyday outfielder to fill the void left by Gordon. Orlando has a little pop as well, evident from his walkoff grand slam off Brad Boxberger on Tuesday night, and he could be a valuable fill-in if you have a hole in your outfield.
Felix Doubront, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
I wrote about Doubront in this week’s Deep League Report. After he was released by the Cubs this spring, the Blue Jays signed the left-handed starter to a minor-league contract in April and assigned him to Triple-A The former Reds Sox hurler who won 22 games over 56 starts back in 2012-2013 for Boston, and he posted a 2.44 ERA and 43-to-18 K:BB ratio this season over nine starts (48 innings) at Triple-A to earn the call up. Doubront has struggled with his command over his career, and we saw a decline in his strikeout rates last season, but the jump in his strikeout rates this season in the minors provides some optimism. The Blue Jays needed a fifth starter, so the southpaw got the start on Tuesday against the White Sox, and he delivered a solid performance, picking up the win, and allowing just seven base runners over 6 2/3 innings and just one earned run while striking out six. I am not the biggest believer in Doubront, but his situation is worth monitoring this week as he is scheduled to get a second start this Sunday against Kansas City. If you are desperate for a potential wins play and don’t mind a short-term hit to your ratios, Doubront could be your man.
Other AL-Only FAAB options: Jake Elmore, IF, Tampa Bay Rays; Daniel Robertson, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Curt Casali, C, Tampa Bay Rays; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Chris Bassitt, SP, Oakland A’s —Greg Wellemeyer
Yes, the NL-only free-agent pool is barren yet again this week, so you have to look hard to find some potential hidden gems. Kolten Wong suffered a mild concussion against the Cubs on Tuesday, leading to the Cardinals’ call-up of Johnson on Wednesday. Mark Reynolds has been struggling quite mightily of late, toting a .138/.200/.293 line with 27 Ks over his last 63 PAs, and with Xavier Scruggs slugging just .333 in his limited time, the Cardinals might give Johnson some playing time in a first-base-platoon situation. Johnson smacked 11 homers at Triple-A before his call-up, so there still could be a little gas left in the tank, and he did get a couple of hits with two RBI in his start for the Cardinals on Wednesday. Realistically, Johnson is probably nothing more than a short-term fill-in if you have a dead spot this week to help with the counting stats, but he’s certainly not a terrible flier.
Deolis Guerra, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Remember when Guerra was a prized arm in the Mets organization as a teenager, and was one of four prospects (along with Carlos Gomez) shipped to the Twins in the February 2008 trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets? Well, fast forward seven years later… after being let go by the Twins, the former starter was signed by the Pirates this offseason as another reclamation project for Ray Searage to tackle. Guerra began the season in Triple-A and put up impressive numbers, posting a 1.23 ERA, 0.791 WHIP, and 37-to-8 K:BB ratio over his 36 2/3 innings, including four saves. Since his call-up by the Pirates back in late June, Guerra has been thrust into high-leverage, late-inning situations and has delivered like a grizzled veteran. The Venezuelan reliever has picked up wins in his last two appearances against the Tigers and Padres, and has yet to allow a run in his seven innings with a 7-to-0 K:BB ratio. We have seen what Ray Searage can do, and while Guerra will probably not see any saves as long as Melancon stays healthy, why not take a flier on reliever who can put up solid ratios?
Other NL-Only FAAB options: Travis Ishikawa, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates; Pedro Ciriaco, IF, Atlanta Braves; Johnny Monell, C, New York Mets; Corey Knebel, RP, Milwaukee Brewers; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Chad Billingsley, SP, Philadelphia Phillies; Tim Cooney, St. Louis Cardinals; Adam Morgan, SP, Philadelphia Phillies —Keith Cromer