The baseball world saw a significant trade this past weekend as the New York Yankees acquired American League home-run leader Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners. Though we've seen several swaps before this in 2019, this starts fantasy baseball's trade deadline stashing and bidding season in earnest.
It's even more important to consider this year, when MLB's brass decided to make July 31 the only in-season trade deadline. No more of those waivers shenanigans; make your dealing decisions by the end of next month.
The American League has 10 teams in legitimate playoff contention, with the Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays, Tigers and Mariners looking like clear sellers. The National League, conversely, is much more chaotic, with everyone but the Marlins at least being able to touch a wild-card berth with their fingertips.
The next few weeks will sift out the pretenders and add to the list of clearance sellers, but NL-only fantasy players seemingly have a better shot at using their free-agent budgets on league-crossing, game-changing names.
Here's my initial scratch pad of deadline fantasy stashes. I won't go into prospects -- we have excellent coverage there -- but I'll instead focus on somewhat-forgotten big leaguers who could emerge as useful or great post-deadline contributors -- not to mention relief pitchers who could fall into saves and turn the tide of many fantasy championship races.
Clint Frazier, OF, New York Yankees (20.8% rostered in ESPN fantasy leagues)
Landing Encarnacion suddenly leaves the Bronx Bombers bloated with bats, especially as Aaron Judge (oblique) will follow Giancarlo Stanton back from the injured list. Though the recently demoted Frazier could still be in the Yankees' long-term plans, they may decide to flip him for, say, a difference-making pitcher.
If someone in your league cut the power-speed chip loose in frustration, scoop him up. He hit .283/.330/.513 with 11 homers in 209 plate appearances before the roster cut. The post-hype prospect likely would occupy an important lineup spot for any new suitor, and though most landing spots would be a downgrade from Yankee Stadium, plate appearances are often currency enough to help fill holes on a fantasy club.
Remember when Polanco was a breakout candidate ... for a few seasons? Well, injuries and poor plate performance in 2019 have led to the Pirates trusting Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and newcomer Bryan Reynolds as their three main outfielders lately. Dickerson is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and if the Buccos' dreams of a playoff berth sink, they'll look to ship the top-side platooner.
Polanco stole 27 bases in 2015 and teased 20-20 campaigns in 2016 and 2018. Though he hasn't shown much evidence for rebounding in the swipes department, the 27-year-old -- yes, he's only 27 -- could use this as a proving ground for his long-term potential. Plus, PNC Park is bucking recent trends and helping hitters more often.
Scooter Gennett (groin) is expected to return near the end of the month, and the Reds will have a surplus of starter-worthy infielders. Assuming the Reds dip in the race for a wild-card berth, they'll probably want to offer up overachieving Derek Dietrich.
Peraza's power hardly stands out, but he's stolen 20-plus bases across his first three MLB seasons, and has struck out fewer than 14% of the time in his first four, including this disappointing campaign. Having a clearer path for playing time should lead to more success in late-summer action, especially for home at-bats at Great American Ball Park.
We were waiting for San Diego to clear its outfield personnel at the end of spring training, but the team let performance (Margot) and injury (Cordero) set the tone. Though the Padres could send away one of their current starters (Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes), they may convince a team to take one of their intriguing backups. For all of his woes this year, Margot has nine stolen bases, including two on Tuesday despite getting just one plate appearance, and offers reliable defense. Cordero is still nursing a left quadriceps injury that elongated his absence from an elbow issue but boasts similar potential on the basepaths and has teased elite exit velocities in his limited MLB work.
Alex Wood, SP, Cincinnati Reds (16.3%)
Should the Reds' wild-card dreams die, the southpaw may slide into a rotation spot after a trade of someone like Tanner Roark. Wood is currently on the 60-day injured list, though, as a back injury has kept him from making his debut.
We should be concerned about his durability and ability to last deep into games, but rotation spots will matter in many deep fantasy leagues, and Wood has looked like a staff ace for fleeting periods in his up-and-down career, especially in 2017, when he spun a 2.72 ERA with a 8.92 K/9.
Tim Beckham, 3B/SS, Seattle Mariners (30.9%)
In more fallout from the Encarnacion deal, Beckham looks like he'll slide into more playing time, notably at designated hitter. Ryon Healy was recently diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which further complicates his already drawn-out timetable to return to action. Beckham should at least see work versus southpaws (.274/.318/.500 against them this year), but further housecleaning could lead to him seeing regular duty.
Will the Pale Hose trade franchise player Jose Abreu? If so, the recently demoted 32-year-old Alonso could regain semiregular work. Though he's surprisingly hit .275 against lefties, Alonso has typically proven more serviceable versus righties (.755 OPS career).
Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers (1.9%)
Shane Greene's surprisingly dazzling season (21 saves, 0.93 ERA, 9.00 K/9, 52.0% ground-ball rate) should give the Tigers incentive to sell him; he has one more year of control in arbitration in 2020.
Detroit should give Jimenez a try as a stopper; he's had trouble with walks (4.45 BB/9), but beneath the 24-year-old's 4.76 ERA sits a 12.76 K/9. He already has 12 holds while working mostly as the chief eighth-inning setup arm and has long been considered the organization's closer of the future.
Someone in the thick of a pennant race will want Sergio Romo. Anderson's had issues with walks (3.94 BB/9) but has mowed down opponents when thriving (15.47 K/9). His 2.90 FIP and 2.51 xFIP show his 4.55 ERA is a bit fluky.
Say what you will about Miami's ability to generate enough closing chances to make a fantasy difference; Romo has checked off 12 saves so far.
Kyle Crick, Pittsburgh Pirates (1.1%)
Should Pittsburgh deal Felipe Vazquez, which we've been predicting since his last name was Rivero, Crick (10 holds, 2.88 ERA, 28 strikeouts in 25 innings) would likely be the first choice to slide into save chances.
Michael Lorenzen, Cincinnati Reds (0.4%)
Timely listing, considering Lorenzen has saved a Reds victory the past two nights as the club continues deploying Raisel Iglesias in non-save spots. If the organization can find a suitor for Iglesias, Lorenzen could be locked into wrapping up wins.
Melancon's albatross contract ($14 million in his 2020 walk year) will make him difficult to deal without the Giants taking on a large chunk of money, and his 182 career saves could be enough to give him the job as they play out the string. Despite his recent struggles, however, Moronta can touch triple digits on the radar gun and, at 26 years old, hints at a productive future closing games.
After a possible Alex Colome departure, we'd probably see a situational split between the lefty Bummer (1.59 ERA, 9.53 K/9, 1.99 BB/9) and righty Herrera (60 career saves). Fantasy waiver-pickers choosing Herrera would have to trust that Chicago would prefer him due to his experience. His 6.58 ERA isn't doing him any favors. Bummer isn't just a matchup lefty, though: The 25-year-old has boosted his velocity and held righties to a mere .219 wOBA. I'd put my chips with him first, especially as he recently filled in for Colome and worked a tidy closure.
Jake Diekman, Kansas City Royals (0.3%)
Though he could himself be swapped as a shutdown lefty specialist, Diekman could also instead step into at least some of whatever minimal save chances the flailing Royals could provide, should failed-starter-turned-solid-closer Ian Kennedy garner interest the club can't refuse.
I don't want to commit to Wily Peralta or Brad Boxberger before I absolutely have to. Walks remain a problem for Diekman, but his 3.33 FIP show his 13.5 K/9 could be producing better results. Righties aren't exactly getting to him, either (.197/.326/.352).
Others: Craig Stammen/Trey Wingenter, San Diego Padres; Seth Lugo, New York Mets; Adam Cimber/Oliver Perez, Cleveland Indians; Joe Biagini/Daniel Hudson/Tim Mayza, Toronto Blue Jays; Kyle Barraclough, Washington Nationals