Fantasy Baseball Trade Analyzer: Why you should try pulling off a deal for an elite catcher

Before launching into specific names, this week’s tip is for those who play in roto or head-to-head categories leagues. This article often refers to the concept of combining trade and waiver wire strategy, as wise managers will work these tools in conjunction with one another rather than treating them as separate entities. Which brings us to a plan for trading hitters. With home runs and batting average on the decline across baseball, finding someone who can hit for power and average has proven to be much more difficult than finding a speedster.

José Caballero has a reasonable .261 average, sits second in MLB with 19 steals and is sitting on waivers in nearly half of Yahoo! leagues. Jacob Young is one of six players with at least 16 steals and remains available in 77% of leagues, and Brenton Doyle has combined 14 swipes with decent numbers in other categories while still sitting on waivers in 32% of leagues.

From a power perspective, Shea Langeliers is the only player with more than 10 homers and availability in over 20% of leagues. Of course, to roster the A’s catcher you’ll need to stomach his .210 average. There is a similar story with Daulton Varsho (10 HR, .211 BA), Eddie Rosario (7 HR, .173 BA) and Edouard Julien (7 HR, .213 BA).

The takeaway from these comparisons is that managers would be wise to shift their hitting profile towards homers and batting average via the trade market. They are more likely to fill a hole created in the steals category than one elsewhere. Most of the choices for this week’s article guide managers in that direction, although admittedly this cannot be one-size-fits-all advice.

There are a handful reasons that I would like to sell high on Rengifo. The most obvious one is that he is playing over his head right now. His .374 BABIP is 87 points higher than his career mark, and in all areas, his expected stats are significantly worse than his real-life marks. Additionally, managers can use his four-position eligibility to elevate his value to a prospective trade partner. Finally, most of Rengifo’s future value will be in the steals category, which is the most plentiful commodity on the waiver wire.

Morel can stuff the stat sheet in a hurry, as was evidenced when he produced 26 HR+SB in 379 at-bats in 2022 and 32 HR+SB in 388 at-bats last year. He already has 14 HR+SB this season, but his fantasy value has been dragged down by a .197 average. A deeper look reveals plenty of hope for improvement, as he has dealt with a .207 BABIP and owns a .263 xBA. Once he brings his average into the .240 range, Morel will be a valuable contributor with strong power skills and sneaky speed contributions.

Springer falls under the category of “he can’t possibly be this bad”. The outfielder has been awful this season (.595 OPS) and completely unplayable in May (1 HR, .194 BA). Fantasy managers have taken notice, dropping Springer’s roster rate to 74% after he was rostered in virtually every league at the beginning of the season. Those who have bench space could consider a massive buy-low offer for someone who was a 20-20 player last season, but this is a deal that can only be done by managers who have room to acquire Springer without putting him in their lineup until he starts to heat up.

Managers can feel free to replace Contreras’ name with that of Salvador Perez, Adley Rutschman, J.T. Realmuto or Will Smith. The point here is that grabbing one of baseball’s best catchers could pay off in the long run. Most analysts agreed during draft season that the catcher position was deep, but we have now seen that is not the case. Poor seasons from the likes of Bo Naylor, Mitch Garver and Keibert Ruiz have robbed the position of a middle tier that was expected to provide serviceable numbers. Wise managers should be willing to go star-for-star by trading a valuable player at a different position for a top catcher and then working the waiver wire to backfill the vacated spot. Additionally, with the overall theme this week, managers should pursue hitters who contribute in power and batting average, which is the case with all top catchers.

Santander doesn’t fit the theme this week, as his fantasy contributions come through power numbers. But I still like the idea of selling low on the slugger, as his skills have not measured up thus far. Santander is hitting fly balls at a greater rate than ever before (56.4%), but his average exit velocity has experienced significant regression (87.2 mph) and his year-over-year barrel rate has also dropped dramatically (7.1%). Camden Yards is not kind to right-handed power hitters such as Santander, which means that he will either reverse his recent trends or experience a major dry spell this summer.