We are currently in the final full week of the first half, and we’ll spend most of the next week recharging our fantasy baseball batteries and getting ready for the stretch run. Most of our trade deadlines are about a month or so away, so now is the time to decide whether you want to stick with someone for the rest of the year or try to sell on them now. Every roster is different, and you can’t just trade for your favorite players, particularly in a roto league. Obviously, the ideal scenario for any manager at the deadline is to shore up areas of weakness. With that, here are—generally speaking—my three favorite trade targets for the second half. Keep in mind this is simply for redraft leagues, or maybe even contenders in longer-term leagues.
It’s been a strange year for pitchers, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that we have no idea how to project pitchers—in terms health and performance—outside of the very elite class. Because of that, many people will be trying to trade for pitchers as they look to make a big run in their leagues in the second half. On the other hand, it’s hard to be confident in any pitcher you target in a deal. Samardzija is the one pitcher I have among my top targets this summer, and even he is not someone I would say I’m super confident in.
The Giants starter has had a strange career, and he also happens to be one of those players that I have not been able to quit. Based on his 4.54 ERA, he has not been good. Everything points to that improving significantly as the year goes on. To go with the ERA, Samardzija has a 3.41 FIP, a 2.98 DRA and a 77 cFIP. He’s striking out more than a batter per inning while also showing off the best control of his career. Despite all of that, he’s seen as being worth the price of a mid-range SP3, and can be had with a solid but unspectacular talent at another position. There is concern about his home-run rate and he could be traded away from the pitcher’s paradise he currently calls home, but Samardzija is pitching as well as he ever as and I’m willing to take a chance on that.
Hanley Ramirez—Red Sox
Ramirez, at first glance, is kind of a counterintuitive trade candidate. Obviously, he hasn’t quite been himself this season which is bad enough. On top of that, his best quality has always been his power and that’s clearly not all that hard to find in 2017. To make matters even more worrisome, Ramirez has been dealing with shoulder issues that have relegated him to DH duties, and have likely been affecting his swing. So, why target him?
For one thing, he’s done this before. Specifically, around this point last season, he went from one of the most disappointing fantasy assets to one of the best in the blink of an eye. During that insane run, he hit 22 home runs and posted a .309 ISO in the second half. I think it’s safe to say we shouldn’t be expecting that this time around. However, he has been heating up of late and has an .882 OPS over the last three weeks with a .266 ISO. There are real question marks here, but if you could use some cheap power with big all-around upside, there are probably plenty of Hanley owners who are sick of this lackluster performance.
The following statement is being made with little thought and even less research, but I believe Inciarte may be the most underrated fantasy asset in the game. Or, at least, his type of player might be the most underrated. In this age of extreme power that we find ourselves in, Inciarte will help in the other areas. He is the rare player who doesn’t strike out at least 15 percent of the time. Moreover, he makes good contact on a consistent basis rather than just putting the ball in play and hoping for the best. He combines that good contact with plus speed to ensure he posts consistently high batting averages during a time in which that is a rarity. When you combine that with his stolen-base totals, another rarity that is hugely valuable to fantasy owners, you have someone who is safely an OF1 on ESPN’s Player Rater and yet is being ranked among players like Brett Gardner, Nomar Mazara and Yasiel Puig. Take advantage of that while you can.
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