5 Veterans to Jump Ship On

Five veteran players dynasty manager's need to jump ship on

Heading into the 2024 baseball season, there are plenty of sleepers to pick up late in drafts. But with sleepers, come players that should be avoided or drafted with the last few picks. Age is a big factor for some of the players to avoid, especially for dynasty leagues. Other reasons include a lack of plus tools/stats, playing time, injuries, and much more. Here are a few players that I’m highlighting to avoid in 2024.


Starling Marte, NYM, OF:


Starling Marte has been a consistent fantasy contributor since his first full season in 2013. Providing plenty of stolen bases, a solid OBP, and decent runs/RBI, Marte filled all categories for fantasy owners. Once one of the top outfield options when stolen bases were hard to come, it’s time to avoid drafting Marte.

Marte, now 35 years old, was limited to 86 games in 2023 and is trending in the wrong direction. Marte saw a low sprint speed of 27.1 MPH in 2023, putting him in the 44th percentile of MLB players. Given that the calling card for Marte has been his speed, a drop-off in this department is crucial to his value.

2023 wasn’t just a decline in speed as Marte saw most of his numbers register near the bottom half. Marte registered an average exit velocity of 88.2 MPH, a barrel rate of 5.6%, a hard-hit rate of 39.5%, and a sweet spot rate of 30.6%. The average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage are some of the higher career numbers for Marte. However, his whiff rate of 27.4% was a career-high and his chase rate of 37.4% was his highest since 2016. The poor advanced numbers, paired with a 4.7% walk rate limit Marte excelling in any category.

Marte put up his worst average against breaking pitches since 2016, with a .198 average against in 2023. This is something that has been trending in the wrong direction since 2020 for Marte. While his production was high, his XBA in 2020 and 2021 was roughly 40 points below his actual batting average. 2022 was when Marte saw the first large dip in his breaking pitch average when it lowered to .227, matching his XBA for those pitches. In 2023 his breaking pitch average dropped down to .198 but his XBA was .242. Marte has been a mixed bag throughout his career, but with the trend going downward, Marte is a player I’d avoid as he ends his career.

While the advanced numbers aren’t too far off from his normal season numbers, age, and injury are concerns for 2024. Typically, players with plus speed are at the top of my list but I don’t think Marte can put up enough stats to be more than a late-round risk. My projection for Marte in 2024, if healthy, looks like .265/.330/.401 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases. The questionable reliability paired with so-so season-long numbers is enough for me to avoid despite a good career.


DJ LeMahieu, NYY, UTIL:


A super utility man for the Yankees since he signed, DJ has been able to fill in all over the diamond. LeMahieu has always been a consistent and reliable hitter but has only eclipsed 20 home runs or steals in one of his thirteen seasons. The positive to LeMahieu has always been his multi-position eligibility but his consistent decline since 2021 is too great. LeMahieu was once an elite fantasy option to balance out another hitter with a poor average, but not anymore.

LeMahieu has hit sub .270 from 2021-2023 but until 2023 he was still able to maintain a solid OBP in the mid-.300s. In 2023, he saw a large drop off in runs scored, average, and OBP. Given that LeMahieu has average power and below-average speed, his value comes from his plus average. When he hits for a plus average at the top of a lineup, the number of runs gives him value.

LeMahieu failed to hit over .300 against fastballs or breaking/off-speed pitches each of the last three seasons. With the Yankees acquiring Juan Soto, he seems to be targeted as a bounce-back fantasy player in 2024. With Soto and Judge in the same lineup, it’s clear other players will see better pitches. If LeMahieu hits at the top of the order, the opportunities for runs are there but the average is still a concern. LeMahieu can’t be counted on to hit well above .300 anymore, but even a return to the .300 range isn’t enough for fantasy value.

His BABIP has dropped consistently to .301 or less since 2021, his lowest since 2018 when it was .298. LeMahieu also saw a career low in xBA at just .255 in 2023, which decreases the odds of him being unlucky. LeMahieu has had trouble with hitting fastballs in the last three years, which to me is a sign of decline. A .300 to well over .300 hitter on fastballs for most of his career, LeMahieu is no longer hitting that pitch at the elite rate.

Much like Starling Marte, the age and lack of plus advanced tools seem to have caught up with LeMahieu. He could bounce back with the addition of Soto, but still, we’re looking at .285/.365/.395 with 85 runs. No longer a top option, I’d trade LeMahieu in dynasty if possible and maybe draft him with one of my last picks.


Brandon Lowe, TBR, 2B:


A massive 2021 season made Lowe a top option at the thin fantasy baseball position of second base. Thirty-nine home runs with a .340 on base moved Lowe toward the top of second-base options heading into 2022. Since that massive output in 2021, Lowe has yet to come close to those numbers. Even in that monster 2021 season, Lowe was a three, borderline four-category player with that OBP. Lowe had a good half of a season in 2020 but his other four seasons have left much to be desired.

Playing time has been another issue for Lowe as 2023 was just his second season playing over 100 games. When Lowe is on the field, the calling card and fantasy value is his power. Home runs come with a solid RBI total most of the time, but Lowe is limited to those two categories as a fantasy option. A career .245 hitter, with a decline in average the last two seasons, Lowe is a two-category player.

Lowe hits the ball hard, he put up an average exit velocity and hard-hit percent towards the top of the league. The issue is the high chase, whiff, and strikeout rates for Lowe. A chase rate of 30%, a whiff rate of 32%, and a strikeout rate of 27.3% are likely never going to raise that average to above .270. Lowe may also be headed toward a platoon role as he hit just .170 against LHP in 2023. It’s not a knock against him, but the Rays have Junior Caminero and Curtis Mead ready to impact in 2024. Without much room in the infield, Lowe is even more destined to play only against RHP in 2024.

Lowe is a mixed bag of positives and concerns, but he needs plus power output to become a fantasy option again. The concerns here are playing time, productivity expanding to more than two categories, and breaking the declining production. Lowe needs to walk at or near a 14-15% rate, like Max Muncy in order to have multi-category value. Until the role of the Rays infielders is determined, I’d stay away from Lowe as an everyday option.

Lowe has big power ability, but I’d avoid drafting him with the questionable production and prospects waiting. If Lowe plays a full season, we’re now looking at a .245/.330/.450 player that can add in 25 home runs. Caminero and Mead might push Lowe out of an everyday role before the decline in production.


Salvador Perez, KCR, C:


One of the biggest comeback seasons by a player in recent years is the 2021 of Salvador Perez. An unbelievable career-high 48 home runs, to go along with 121 RBI in his age 31 season was a tremendous rebound. Perez has always been a power-hitting catcher, but he nearly doubled his best home total previously in 2021.  Catcher is the toughest position in fantasy baseball because there are so few all-around talents. This gave Perez a good amount of value for his career because he often hit 20-plus home runs. But a one to two-category player isn’t going to cut it and it’s time to avoid the near 34-year-old.

Perez has never been able to maintain a high average or OBP for fantasy users, thus limiting him to that home run total. With a career .300 OBP, Perez has been sub-.300 in the last two seasons. The counting and surface stats already prove that Perez is just a power/RBI category player.

Looking into some advanced concerns, a 47% chase rate in 2023 put him at the top in all of baseball. A high chase rate, matched with a low walk rate, gives Perez that low OBP year in and year out. Next is the high whiff rate at 30.2%, which also puts Perez in the bottom 20% of the league. This ultimately ties into his high strikeout rate of 23.3% and low walk percentage of 3.3% in 2023. Combining the aggressive swinging, which has resulted in more swing and miss, with the lack of patience has made Perez a non-option at catcher. A .250/.300/.440 hitter with 25 home runs and 80 RBI isn’t horrible for a catcher, but Perez is declining.

Perez has always been this free-swinging type of player, as he often attacks fastballs. In the last two seasons, Perez has hit nearly 100 points higher off fastballs compared to breaking and off-speed. Perez attacks fastballs early and often, but that’s all he’s hit at a high clip the last two seasons. Perez saw a decrease in barrel percentage in 2023 to 8.8%, his lowest since 2016. The advanced numbers aren’t needed to understand the decline, but it clears up Perez being a late option at catcher.

Perez has been a two-category player, but his age and declining production have him outside the top 10 options. The power numbers will most likely still be there for Perez as he finishes out his career, but it won’t be enough value as catching options have gotten stronger.


Daulton Varsho, TOR, OF:


A trade that made me scratch my head from the jump was the Blue Jays trading away Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for Daulton Varsho. Admittedly, this was because I was very high on Moreno as a prospect, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Varsho. Now losing his catching eligibility for fantasy purposes, the value for Varsho is nearly non-existent for me.

Ironically enough, I was a huge fan of Varsho as a catching prospect. But after a slow start to his career and rumors of moving off catcher, I wasn’t sure the value was there. Varsho is now a full-time outfielder that has 20-20 potential. Being a fan of power/speed combo players, this might be hypocritical but it’s time to give up on Varsho as a fantasy player. Outfield is a position that has more options but also requires more output. A close to 20-20 outfielder is desirable but Varsho really only had value as a catcher.

A .220/.285/.389 slash last season with 20 home runs and 16 steals, Varsho was relied on for his defense. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the fantasy community. In 2023, Varsho had an average exit velocity of 87.8 MPH, a barrel rate of 7.3%, a hard-hit rate of 36.1%, and a sweet spot rate of 34.3%. These were all in the bottom half of the league last year. 2023 was only his second full season and Varsho has never had an average above .250. Varsho had a disappointing 2023 with a 23.2% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. Both the walk and strikeout rate put him in the bottom 40 percent of the league as well, limiting his value to a two-category player.

Varsho was able to provide plenty of fantasy value in 2022 because he was at the thin position of catcher. Drafting him as a full-time outfielder should be avoided until the end of the draft similar to Starling Marte. In 2024 fantasy drafts, Varsho is close to the range of prospect outfielders who should get decent MLB time. Personally, I’d rather take a risk on a top prospect being able to go 20-20 with a .310 OBP.

Without having catcher eligibility, Varsho does not hold much fantasy value despite the 20-20 potential. 2024 could be a bounce back for Varsho with a potential line of .239/.306/.399, 23 home runs, and 18 stolen bases. However, this still might not be enough value unless the league is 12 or more teams.


Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram

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