Buy & Sell 4/25 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

Ben Pernick recommends the hottest and coldest hitters to add and drop.

Welcome back to Buy & Sell, I know I must be an active manager at the end of April because I have several crazy-sounding moves I’m happy with and also several overreactions I’m kicking myself for. Still, the samples are bigger now, which is my way of saying I still haven’t learned my lesson, and never will. Still, if I wasn’t always looking for buy and sell signals on players I probably wouldn’t be writing this article, and my winning record is good enough that I must be doing something right (I have won more championships in the Pitcher List leagues than any other writer, though I did get relegated out of the Legacy League one year and had to win my way back in). This week has some especially spicy new developments, so strap in because it’s time for the list!





Taylor Ward (OF, Los Angeles Angels)

If you want to get 1st place, you deserve a Ward. The 30-year outfielder has a relatively high roster rate even in shallow leagues given his relatively modest draft day price, as he was drafted at pick 210 but his roster rate has jumped to 78% in ESPN leagues. But given his lack of name value and the fact he’s coming off a down week in which he hit .185 with no homers, now may be the time to buy high on him.

Compared to past years, there is no one thing about Ward’s profile that screams improvement, but there are a few smaller things that quietly suggest it. While he hasn’t yet displayed the raw power (108 mph MaxEV) he did in his breakthrough 2022 year (113 mph EV), he has improved his game power, with a career-high 13% Barrel%. His Ideal Plate Appearance rate (IPA%) is 20th in baseball at 35%, and his 35% HC% rates 32nd, but what I really like about Ward this year is his plate skills. He’s more aggressive on strikes than ever with a 74% Z-Swing% (previous best 69%) without a rise in his great O-Swing% (26%), and from this alone has a career-best contact% of 84%. Oh, and he’s also running more, with 2 SB in 3 attempts, which puts him on pace for double-digit swipes.

Although the Angels were expected to disappoint, the resurgence of Trout combined with Ward in the #3 spot has made him one of the league’s best run producers, as he ranks 14th in baseball with 14 R and 4th with 21 RBI. He also deserved slightly better production with a .294 xAVG and .366 wOBA. The two things I’d love to see is him hitting a ball 110 mph or higher to show his raw power is still there, and more pulled flyballs, as he’s hitting a career-high 39% of balls the other way. Still, while he may seem a bit boring (he also suffers from Boring Name Syndrome), he could easily finish the season hitting .290 with 30 homers, double-digit SBs, and being one of the top run producers in the game, provided he doesn’t take any fastballs to the face. Add in all leagues, and target in trades if you can.

Travis D’Arnaud (C, Atlanta Braves)

His bat was relatively asleep and then suddenly woke up like a football-headed cartoon’s alarm clock shouting “Hey D’Arnaud! Hey D’Arnaud! Hey D’Arnaud!”.  Now, here we are, with him leading NL catchers with 5 homers, all of them coming in 14 AB this week, making him one heck of a FAABapalooza in Sunday-only FAAB leagues in which he’s available. But is this just one crazy hot week going to cool off as soon as it begins? Maybe. Maybe he’ll get hurt, because, like, this is Travis D’Arnaud. But his underlying stats are D’arn good.

One thing you gotta love is his 51% Hard%, which is his best rate since his career year 2020 for Atlanta in which he hit .321 with a .535 xSLG (partial season, mind you), and his 14% barrel% is also a career-best. But what I’m most intrigued by is more pulled flyballs, an “old man skill” that helps hitters maximize power, and his current 47% pull% marks a career-high. He’s selling out a bit for it with a career-worst 71% Contact% and 15% SwStr%, but thanks to career-high strike aggressiveness (78% Z-Swing%), he still has a strong CSW% of 28% in line with his career mark (27% CSW%).

Sure, all of this is boosted by the fact that the dude walloped 5 dingers in a week. But also, consider that this may still be the beginning of a bigger breakout, as his surface stats (.273 AVG, .980 OPS) are still considered unlucky by Statcast (.295 xBA), and even more by PL’s direction-sensitive metrics (.311 xAVG, and a .475 xwOBA that ranks 4th in baseball). Oh, and for those who don’t care for new-fangled stats, he’s a hitter performing well on the friggin Braves, who have Albies due back and Murphy still a ways away, meaning oodles of runs and some added Braves hitter magic. I’m adding even in leagues where I like my catcher since in the meantime he can be a great utility hitter.

Honorable Mention: Francisco Lindor (SS, New York Mets) – Buy low on him, as most of his peripherals indicate he’ll be fine (.257 xBA), and he’ll run more once he’s actually on base.


Luis Garcia Jr. (2B, Washington Nationals)

If you already scooped up LG, you’re feeling like Life’s Good. I scooped him in the late rounds of many leagues simply due to the fact that he’s 24 entering this season and already displayed a good feel for contact with signs of improvement in the rest of his game, and that improvement has indeed continued beyond my most optimistic expectations.

He’s been underrated being labelled as a “low-power bat” given that he’s averaged a 37% HardHit% over the past 2 years and also has managed an above-average MaxEV of 110 mph every year of his career including spiking a 113 mph MaxEV in 2022. The problem has been his launch angle with a career launch angle of 4 and GB% of 54%. So far this year he’s made only mild improvement in that with a launch angle of 7%, but he’s still managed a career-best barrel% of 14%, more than double his career mark of 6%. This is mostly due to replacing medium-hit balls with hard-hit ones. In 2023, he had a  30% hard% and 54% medium%, but this year, it jumped to 43% hard% with just 40% medium. Even if he’s hitting groundballs, that definitely helps explain the .317 batting average even if it’s with just 1 HR.

Then again, perhaps I’m burying the lede here by not yet mentioning that Garcia Jr. has already stolen 5 bases. With April yet to have finished, he has already stolen more than half the bases he did in 2023 (9 SB), which was a career-high. That has him tied for 17th in the MLB in SB, alongside a player with a few surprisingly similar surface stats: Michael Harris II. Yeah, he has 3 homers and produces more runs, but he’s hitting .315/.351/.478 to Garcia Jr’s .318/.357/.470 with 5 bags apiece. Just putting that out there. Garcia is a viable add if you need a second baseman in 10-team AVG leagues, and at this point should be added in all 12-team leagues for the average and speed, if he can up that launch angle, he could break out into a five-category stud.

Maikel Garcia (3B/SS, Kansas City Royals)

Sometimes you need a Garcia who’s rising, and sometimes you need one who’s falling, but you should be grateful for both and say Muchas Garcias. Maikel was the epitome of confirmation bias with a big power output the opening week, but he’s just kept slipping since, with a .178 AVG in 73 AB the past 21 days to drag his season line down to .194/.245/.376 with 4 homers and 4 stolen bases in 93 AB. While the overall line may look good, it’s possible shallow league owners are getting panicky that he’s peaked, as His ESPN roster rate has dipped from 25% to just 16%.

He still has an excellent barrel% of 11%, though I acknowledge that many of the barrels came in the first week, it still matters that he’s above average in that as well as just about every Statcast hard contact metric, with 75th percentile or better in hard hit%, barrel%, xSLG%, as well as plate discipline stats with 19% Chase% (90th percentile) and also 19% Whiff% (77th percentile%). One stat sticks out like a sore thumb: .179. That’s his BABIP, which is hilariously just 1 point above his actual AVG of .178. Given he hits hard and runs fast, that’s not going to last.  Scoop up in all 12-team formats, and target in trades for anyone thinking about making a statement with a Maik drop.

Honorable Mention: Amed Rosario (2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays) – Hitting .359/.367/.526 with 2 HR and 3 SB, but what intrigues me most is a career-best 9% barrel%, 51% HardHit%, and most notably, a 22% CSW% (previous best 26% CSW%).


   Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels)

His playing time has been sporadic, but in no time he’ll no longer be rolling in the deep leagues. For one, his surface stats already look intriguing with a .281 and 2 homers to go with 6 stolen bases (3 CS). I mean, given his prospect pedigree, shouldn’t that be enough to set him head and shoulders above the likes of Mickey Moniak? Don’t forget that he still has some elite tools and he may be finally putting it together.

Or maybe not. There are mixed signals here, as he’s rocking an awesome and unsustainable 36% Line Drive%, but also a 43% IFFB%. He has a career-high 44% HardHit%, but also a career-worst 40% soft% (different hard-hit metric). But there’s one thing that matters most for a player like Adell (also acknowledging his sample is still small): a career-best 73% Contact%. That may not be much for most hitters, but for a player with Gallo-ian contact issues, that’s a big improvement, and he’s improved his swing decisions as well. Thanks to a career-low 11% Called Strike%, he’s rocking a CSW% of 25% that’s actually better than the league average. And to top it off with some nice PL metrics, his IPA and HC of 36% apiece rank 17th and 28th in the majors, with an xAVG of .316.

It could be the case that his playing time will continue to be sporadic and he’ll be frustrating to roster, but the upside remains star-level and I’m betting on skills over roles here. He could be a surprise .270 25-25 player by season’s end, and with a player as talented as Adell, the range of outcomes is as huge as the upside. Add in all 15-team leagues but I also recommend him as a sneaky spec add where you can in 12-team AVG formats.

Tyler Freeman (2B/SS/3B/OF, Cleveland Guardians)

He may be far from Freddie, but on the bright side, he’s free, man. His numbers certainly don’t jump off the page with a .217 AVG masking the fact that he’s been decent on the power/speed front with 3 HR and 2 SB, but I think he’ll finish the season as a regular being one of the solid oatmeal players filling in the cracks of many championship rosters.

For one, he’s long been reputed as a high-contact, low-power bat, but he’s swung a bigger stick this year, rocking a 49% Hard Contact% and 11% Barrel%. Given he’s managed just league average raw power of 108 mph this year and every year, it seems he’s taking the Zack Gelof approach of focusing on increasing the quantity of hard-hit balls instead of focusing on raw power (it may not be a choice). One thing he can control however is his flyball rate, which has jumped from 28% to 45%, which could dent his batting average but give him the ability to smack 15+ longballs if he can maintain it.

He also has improved his swing decisions with an aggressive 73% Z-Swing% and a patient 29% O-Swing%, resulting in above-average SwStr% of 8% and decent CSW% of 27%. But what’s most valuable is his positional flexibility… well depending on your league settings. He’s now up to 18 games at outfield, giving him an especially handy 3B/OF combo in 20-game eligibility leagues (10 in-season) especially given the sorry state of the hot corner in deep leagues this year and injuries galore. However in leagues with less strict eligibility requirements like Yahoo, he already has eligibility at 2B and SS as well (and 1B in 1-game eligibility formats). He’s playing most days, making him a nice utility spark plug who’s still widely available.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Bailey (C, San Francisco Giants) – It’s time to give him his due in 1-catcher leagues, as he’s hitting the ball very hard (50% Hard%) while putting the ball in play often (24% CSW%). Also, he is 12-team viable IMO.

Deep Leagues

  Andy Pages (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)

This stinkface he gives on his profile page is from you pronouncing his name (“Pah-heys”) like the things you flip in a book. But he will turn the page from his 45% early K%. The well-known trade chip minor leaguer has impressed in the minors and hit a robust .372 with 5 HR and 2 SB in 73 PA in Triple-A in his age-23 season, and what was most encouraging was his improved 18% strikeout rate there.

Given that he’s always had big power but never hit below 23% K% at any level, that’s meaningful, and I also don’t think the 45% K% in the majors will last long given his decent 77% Contact% and passable 31% CSW%. I also love that in just 20 PA he’s already hit a ball 110 mph (I expect him to top that rather quickly) with 2 barrels. I think in many ways he profiles similar to Josh Outman but obviously younger and I see both a higher ceiling as well as a higher floor given his contact rate improvements. There’s still some competition there of course, but I think soon he’ll be the guy and Outman will fade into the Pa-ges. Yeah, see it doesn’t work saying his name correctly in my head out loud.

Michael Massey (2B/SS, Kansas City Royals)

He did just tear up the minors, which is great, but just don’t anticipate a Massey Effect. In Triple-A he walloped a .433/.469/.800 line with 2 homers in 32 PA, and despite the small sample size, I was intrigued by the excellent 7% K%. He hasn’t done much in his cup of espresso in the majors since returning from the IL, hitting 2-for-11 with no homers or SB yet, but in this tiny sample, I see more of that great contact improvement.

He has a career SwStr% of 11% and a CSW% of 25%, but thus far his SwStr% is an Arraez-esque 2.5% and his CSW% a league-leading 13%. Again, 11 PA is WAY too early for this to be stabilized, but given the minor league K% drop, there’s some fire to the smoke. If he can even keep some of these gains, he could become a Jeff McNeil type, perhaps with more pop. And even if he fully regresses, don’t forget that he hit 15 dingers last year and stole 6 stolen bases, which alone is good enough for AL-only leagues. I’d add if he’s still around in AL-only but also add in 18-team formats and consider as a spec in deeper 15-team batting average leagues.

Honorable Mention: Abraham Toro (3B/OF, Oakland Athletics) – I still think his bat is pretty mid, but playing most days and being the leadoff hitter still gives him value in AL-only formats for the time being.





Evan Carter (OF, Texas Rangers)

In my preseason predictions, I was planning to do a bearish prediction on Carter but instead chose Castellanos. Now I’m asking myself “Why not both?”. I love Carter as a player with grade-A makeup, but he can’t use concealer on his lack of power. Again, he did hit for power in the majors last year in the season and playoffs and does have 3 homers this season, so the alarm bells are likely not yet sounding, but his MaxEV of 105 mph and average EV of 85 mph have me a bit spooked.

The bar for production is very high in 10-teamers, and a player with such weak hard contact metrics (his 21% IPA% and 21% HC%) are 275th and 268th in the MLB) confirms my suspicions that his 2024 power projections of 18+ homers may have been too rosy. His contact% did at least improve, with a 77% Contact% and a 9% SwStr%, but if I put his peripherals side by side with Tyler Freeman without the names attached, we’d all be taking Freeman 10 times out of 10, at least in batting average formats.

The season is young and he could get better, but I think that in redraft formats, he’s not worth waiting around for. Even with the most bullish projection system on him, ATC has him for .254 with 14 HR and 16 SB going forward (Steamer projects .241 with 13 HR and 11 SB). In 10-team formats, you can almost certainly do better than that on the wire, and I’d still much rather have the homerless and stolen base-less Wyatt Langford if you can manage that, as he’s at least displayed the raw power. See if you can trade but if not I’m willing to cut in 10-team AVG formats.

Dishonorable Mention: Luis Campusano (C, San Diego Padres): He regressed from his hot start and then some, as his new career-high MaxEV of 110 mph is overshadowed by below average Hard Contact, contact rate and poor expected stats (.247 xBA, .271 xwOBA). Sorry for hyping him early.


Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds

You can’t hit home runs if you can’t hit. He’s been one of the bigger disappointments given his cushy home park, hitting just .188/.278/.377 with 2 homers in 79 PA. While normally I’d say “It’s just April”, I’m more bearish here given that I’ve never thought he was very good to begin with.

He’s having issues all over his game, but let’s start with the power or lack thereof. His average exit velocity is an anemic 85 mph, with a MaxEV of just 107 mph, below league average, with only a 30% HardHit% and 2 barrels on the year (4% barrel%). Last year he performed better, but Statcast warned that he outperformed his peripherals, as his .251 AVG and .471 SLG% belied a mediocre .236 xBA and .407 xSLG. This year, Statcast thinks he completely deserves his struggles with a .195 xBA and a significantly worse .308 xSLG. His contact% is down a lot to just 71% (career 77%), so it’s not like he’s choking up, though it’s possible he’s struggled with the illness he had more than he let on. Still, the opportunity cost is simply too high to stick with a player whose only real asset was the home park. Drop in 10-team formats and I’d cut in most 12-teamers as well that don’t have a deep bench.

Dishonorable Mention: Nelson Velazquez (OF, Kansas City Royals): The surface stats (.257 AVG, 2 HR, 1 SB) may seem fine, but his K% has spiked to 34% and his weak contact% (188th in HC% and IPA) make him a sell-medium candidate I’m moving on from in redrat.

Brett Baty (3B, New York Mets)

I’m afraid Baty’s bat is abating. He was a popular late-game sleeper due to the Ke’Bryan Hayes bet of “if he could just raise his launch angle” but we forget that it can also veer in the opposite direction. His groundball rate is up to a troublesome 55%, and to make things worse, he’s not even hitting the ball hard anymore. His IPA of 23% and HC% of 21% are very poor ratings as 214th and 262nd in the majors, respectively, with a HardHit% of just 28%.

While it’s good that his contact rate has risen from 71% to 79%, it’s nerfed somewhat by a higher O-Swing%. The thing is, due to his youth and the fact that his surface average of .268 with a homer doesn’t seem so bad, it masks that he’s deserved a considerably worse .232 xBA and .292 xwOBA. I still believe in at least the hard contact to rebound somewhat, but I see a relatively low floor with a relatively low ceiling (around 15 homers with full playing time), so I think you can try to trade and move on in shallower 15-formats, especially AVG formats.

Dishonorable Mention: Ramon Laureano (OF, Cleveland Guardians): I predicted he’d be a bust in my preseason Cleveland Guardians preview even given his modest 460 ADP, and aside from his 3 SB, he’s indeed looking like a DFA candidate with a career-worst 70% Contact% and 0 barrels. He can still be the team coffee boy.

Deep Leagues

Gavin Lux (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers)

His power is looking like as big as Luxembourg (relative to other countries, anyway). He has managed to rack up playing time, dragging along to the tune of  .148/.224/.164 with 0 HR and 0 SB, and at this point, you have to wonder what the Dodgers have to lose calling up a random guy from the minors. He also has no barrels, and it’s not like he’s even become a pure-contact hitter with a relatively plain 78% contact%. He does deserve better than this as his MaxEV and launch angle have at least been intact, but I just don’t see enough upside to roster him over a guy like Abraham Toro or Josh Smith. Cut Lux in NL-only formats, but add in 10-team formats if you’re trying to throw the season without being too obvious.

Dishonorable Mention: Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Kansas City Royals): He couldn’t repeat last year’s dead cat bounce with zero power this year, and with Massey back, he’s returned to backup status. Frazier can still be the team psychiatrist.

Photos courtesy of Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@kurtwasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

One response to “Buy & Sell 4/25 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop”

  1. J-Dawg says:

    Mickey Moniak was the number one overall pick in 2016 (Adell went #10 a year later), so I’m not sure he’s the best example of pedigree deficiency. Nonetheless, great column, as usual.

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