Buy & Sell 4/6 – 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, and I say welcome back assuming you were with us last season but if you weren’t, well, then welcome! In case you are new, I’ll try to clarify that Buy & Sell doesn’t mean who to buy low and sell high, especially since if you try to send an offer like that in the first week of April, you’ll be laughed out of your home league. Trust me, I’ve tried it before.

Basically, I’m just trying to examine the hottest and coldest players to see if I think the results are actionable! It’s been a crazy offseason in that it’s been a normal one, for the first time in what feels like forever. That means lots of unsettled roles, and even as we near one week in, many of them have yet to be clarified! So I’ll do my best to keep it simple and relevant for all kinds of leagues, well maybe except for defense-only leagues and leagues where you have to draft only players with the same first name (1st round picks include Jose, Mike, Julio and Shohei, still.). Anyway, on to the list!




Brendan Donovan (2B/3B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals)

I don’t usually feel like a player can convert me in one offseason into a believer, but this Spring turned me into a Donovangelist. After the formerly punchless hitter went to Driveline, he surprised everyone by hitting .296 with four homers in Spring Training, nearly as many as the five homers he hit last season. While players having a big spring training only to regress to mediocrity in the regular season is nothing new, Brendan Donovan has kept the train rolling with two more homers in 20 AB this season. So now he passed the total.

But how is he doing this? Well for one, he’s increased his max exit velo, already hitting 109 mph this year, two mph beyond last year’s best, which is huge considering the small sample size. In addition, he’s trying to pull everything, going from 36% Pull% in 2022 to 69% so far in 2023. The only downside is that so far, while he’s hit more flyballs, it’s been at the expense of his line drive rate, but his groundball rate is still 50%. While pulled flyballs are the best-batted balls, pulled groundballs are the worst, so that could drag down his batting average and make him more like Yonder Alonso when he shifted to the flyball revolution.

Still, I’m intrigued as he seems to be playing every day with the ability to hit for both power and average, plus multi-position eligibility (which could expand even further). While I doubt he suddenly becomes a 30 HR bat, I could see him hitting .270 with 20+ HR, a handful of stolen bases, and most importantly, a great OBP and lots of run production. Donovan is a must-add in 10-team OBP and 12-team AVG leagues.


Adam Duvall (OF, Boston Red Sox)


He’s hitting like a Norse god trying to hammer his way into Duvalhalla. After a fantastic power season in 2021 with 38 home runs and triple-digit RBI, he fell apart in 2022 and ended the season hurt. His move to Boston seems like a promising marriage as he loves to hit pulled flyball moonshots that are well-suited to clearing the Monster. And now, he’s off to a sizzling start, hitting .588/.650/1.235 with two HR in 20 AB. While, as a very streaky hitter, that may just be a hot streak, that’s not to say I think it’s a fluke, and there are some other aspects that intrigue me.

The most surprising thing looking at Adam Duvall’s line is his 10% BB% and 15% K%, which is uncharacteristically good for him. While I would jump to assume it’s going to regress immediately, it’s at least a little telling that his per-pitch metrics support his plate discipline and contact improvement with a 25% O-Swing%, much lower than his 38% average O-Swing% from 2021-2022. Also quite surprising is his Contact% which jumped from 72% last year up to 85%. That gives him an overall 7% Swinging Strike rate which is half of his 14% Swinging Strike rate from 2022, and even with the small sample, that is pretty wild.

Of course, it’s been 20 AB, a sample so small that people can in a single day change their opinion on a player (see Trayce Thompson, Joey Gallo, AJ Pollock, etc.). But Duvall has demonstrated he can be a huge run producer when he’s on, and his league-leading 29% Barrel% (or put more simply, four barrels this season) shows us that his power bat is very much still there. While I expect the average to dip under .230, he can still be extremely valuable in the heart of a potent lineup, with at least a chance of a career fantasy year that will ease your nerves like Duvalium.


Miguel Vargas (2B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers)


He’s filtering out balls like he’s wearing Bane’s Vargas mask. After a spring training in which he wasn’t allowed to swing, he reportedly told teammates “You merely adopted the base on balls, I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see a strike ’til I was already a man, and by then it was nothing to me but blinding!” That’s a long way to say, Miguel Vargas‘ walk rate is 50%, that is not a typo, I repeat, 50% (fifty) percent. And with an insane 8% O-Swing%, I expect to see a lot more walks.

Fortunately for him, he can actually hit the ball now when it crosses the plate, and his 66%, while about average for a typical player, is excellent for him considering his passivity on balls. It’s enabled him to punish the strikes he does swing at, with a 60% HardHit%, which has helped him achieve his current .375 AVG. Although he may not be a Statcast darling with merely adequate exit velocities, he should continue to play quite regularly and hit in a prime spot in a (still) loaded Dodgers’ lineup. My guess would be hitting something like .290/.420/.460 with 15-18 HR and 10 SB, which at a scarce 2B position makes him a must-add in 10-team formats in which he wasn’t already drafted (I get that may not be many of them, but in shallow formats, you never know.)



Anthony Volpe (SS, New York Yankees)


Happy Volpening Day! Yes, I know many of you have pounced in your later drafts on the fact that Volpe, a dark horse to make Opening Day, ended up earning it and sending incumbent prospect Oswald Peraza to the minors. Yet, for those of you who drafted early, some league owners in shallower formats, casual leagues and ESPN leagues (this is redundant) still might have him on your wires. While he’s the most added player in ESPN, he’s still only 56% rostered, which means that 44% of you have a chance to get a potential star for free on waivers!

Sure, the 21-year-old phenom is far from a lock to succeed just because he was solid in Spring, and being the #9 hitter, even on a stacked offense like the Yankees, does reduce his opportunities to acquire playing time volume. He also does appear unlikely to be a batting average asset, as he did hit under .250 across Double-A and Triple-A. Then again, let’s not forget that he also hit 21 dingers and stole 50 bases… as a 20-year-old. With a favorable home park, new MLB stolen base rules that should be more familiar to him than most, and the potential for a double-digit walk rate, he could be this year something similar to what Jonathan Villar was at his peak, or perhaps a healthy Adalberto Mondesi if the walk rate doesn’t carry over.

While there’s always a chance he struggles and gets sent to the minors, in a 10-team format, you have to roll the dice on the upside and hope you get a Bobby Witt Jr.-lite type season from nothing. The talent is electric, so in all formats (at least all formats that count stolen bases) pull the switch that says “Danger! High Volpage.”


Brice Turang (SS/2B, Milwaukee Brewers)


He may not be the Ford F-150 of prospects, but he’s still solid as a Dodge Turango. Despite having a good shot at a starting lineup spot in March, he was generally overlooked with a March ADP of 372, but he’s rewarding his backers, hitting .357/.471/.643 with a homer and two SB in his first 17 PA. He had a big year in Triple-A, hitting .286 with 13 HR and 34 SB in 603 PA in Triple-A, and he can continue to bring wheels with a surprisingly solid OBP, if he can hold onto a role.

Why do I think he can? First of all, his early contact and plate discipline looks extremely promising. He is rocking a strong 87% Contact% with a 100% Z-Contact%, but what really sells me is his eagle eye with an O-Swing% of 22% and a Z-Swing% of 76%. Usually, a player is passive with low O-Swings and Z-Swings or aggressive with both, but it’s quite rare to see someone who is this stingy on balls and aggressive on strikes. So even though it will regress some, I think the fact he currently is rocking an 18% BB% and 6% K% isn’t such a fluke, and he could end up looking rather Vinnie Pasquantino-esque.

The power may not be fantastic, but it’s encouraging that he already has a barrel, and even with a lower MaxEV of 104 mph, I like his chances of keeping up a strong HardHit% (currently 39%). Given he’s already demonstrating he’s not afraid to run, he could end up hitting around .270 AVG with 10-15 HR and 20-25 SB with one of the best middle infielder OBPs in the game. He still needs role security, but even now he’s a must-add in 12-team OBP leagues and 10-team AVG leagues.



Dylan Carlson (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)


I like to remain player agnostic in that I try to reevaluate players every year with a fresh set of eyes. So while I predicted, correctly, that Dylan Carlson would be a bust in 2022, I’m intrigued enough to buy back on the discount price as if I’m shopping for Valentine’s Day chocolates on February 15th. Carlson hasn’t made the same big splash as some others on this list, since he’s hitting .444 but in only nine PA without any homers or stolen bases, but I think a breakout could be imminent and the payoff could be big.

For one, he’s seeing the ball better than ever (tiny sample size alert!) with a fantastic 90% Contact%, which is far better than his 2022 mark of 79%. Although still way too early to stabilize, Carlson has actually improved his contact rate every year since his debut in 2020 with a 72% mark, so I think this is a good sign that it will continue even with regression. It also hasn’t come at the expense of his power, as he’s already hit his MaxEV from last year of 109 mph in just nine PA, making it likely he’ll surpass it at some point. While he’s yet to hit a barrel. his 56% HardHit% is excellent, which is notable for a player who only hit 30% HardHit% last year. And yes, I have to mention what ties it all together, he went to Jared- I mean Driveline.

The biggest challenge for him is that there are so many mouths to feed with St. Louis’s suddenly offense-oozing lineup, but Carlson is still just 24 and more defensively versatile than most of his competitors, so I think he’ll carve out full-time ABs if he keeps hitting.  I’m also hoping against evidence that the runner-friendly new rules convince him to utilize his plus speed and become the 20-20 player with a solid batting average we hoped he could be in his prospect days. Remember, he’s still the age of many prospects. Zig where your league zags and take Carlson instead of the latest guy with a two-homer game, and you’ll probably be rewarded in the long run in deeper 12-team AVG formats and 15-teamers.


Josh Lowe (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)


It’s really a shame the Rays didn’t hold onto Nathaniel Lowe, because they could have really played mind games on opponents with three Lowes in their lineup. Josh Lowe may have a reputation as being one of the biggest FAAB busts of 2022, as he didn’t deliver on his power/speed hype with a massively disappointing .221/.284/.343 line with just two HR and three SB in 198 PA. But the 25-year-old has quietly been one of the more impressive bounce-back prospects, hitting a cool .429 /.467/.857 with a homer and three doubles in his first 15 PA. That’s more doubles than singles! Too bad there’s no category for doubles.

Still, I’m not impressed so much by the doubles, but by the discipline. After looking like a power/speed bust who strikes out too much and walks too little to be relevant (the list of those goes on and on), he is looking like he might have gotten some Rays magic, with a fantastically aggressive 80% Z-Swing% (that’s good) with only a mild increase in O-Swing% (33%, which is great given that high Z-Swing%). Not only that, but he’s making a lot more contact on both the balls and strikes, with a 91% Contact%.

Last year, his contact rate was 70%. So small sample be darned, given that huge gap, even though it’s still too early for even per-pitch metrics like Contact% to stabilize, given the huge gap, I think there may very be some signal to that noise. I mean, Josh Lowe, with a 5% SwStr% which is Luis Arraez-esque.

Again, it probably will regress, but this should be enough for him to garner the lionfish’s share of playing time in the Rays’ lineup carousel, at least against righties. While what he’s done isn’t as flashy as the triple taters of Luke Raley or power/speed shenanigans of Jose Siri, I think Lowe’s early performance looks more sustainable over the course of the season, and could hit for a surprisingly respectable average (like .250) with 15-15 and possibly even 20-20 if everything breaks right. That’s well worth targeting in 15-team formats, and if he’s rostered, I hope you can grab J-Lo from the block.


Deep Leagues

Matt Vierling (OF, Detroit Tigers)


I really wanted to write up a non-outfielder, but after seeing the fantasy upside here, I couldn’t go Vier-ing off track. Matt Vierling seems to have earned the early inside track to regular playing time in a rather talent-depleted, mix-and-match lineup after getting off to a rather hot start, hitting .350 with one HR and one SB in his first 21 PA. Well for a Detroit Tigers hitter, that’s white-hot. He was a smart acquisition for Gregory Soto, among a few other names, and looked to enter the season as a fourth OF or platoon, but I think we’re already past that being a likely possibility.

The most exciting thing about him is that he hits the ball pretty hard, with a MaxEV of 112 mph last year, and he already hit 111 mph this year. While he doesn’t yet have a barrel, he does have five hard-hit balls, although the lack of barrels is probably mostly due to his unseemly 55% GB% rate. Of course, with the shift ban, hard-hit groundballs have better outcomes than before, which might explain how he can have a good batting average with a strikeout rate just under 30%.

About that… his strikeout rate isn’t due to a lack of contact, as his 86% Contact% mark is great. It’s because he’s laying off strikes like he’s an anti-union business tycoon who also decided to change his logo to an outdated meme dog, inexplicably. His 32% O-Swing% is normal, but his 49% Z-Swing% is mind-bogglingly awful. It’s just too weird to see an elite 6% SwStr% alongside a lousy 33% CSW%. Swing the bat, man!

I’m optimistic that he can make that change since it’s a lot easier to become more aggressive than more patient, and I think it’s worth it, even if it causes his O-Swing% to jump. Assuming he gets that in order, he’s a solid bet for a .260-15-15 campaign and also could garner more run production if he can hold a spot at the top of the lineup. He’s a must-add in all AL-only formats and 18-teamers, and a solid spec add in deep (5 OF) 15-team leagues.


Franchy Cordero (1B/OF, New York Yankees)


I’m still reeling years later from my prediction that he would break out several years ago, which hopped harder than me when I try diving from a diving board. I don’t like being upside-down at altitude, okay? But just like the Red Sox, I’m ready to be hurt again.

Franchy Cordero’s still just 28, and he actually showed some promise last year despite lackluster surface numbers of .219/.300/.397 with eight HR and four SB in 275 PA. For one, yet again he was truly elite in raw power with a maxEV of 118 mph, but it was also the only time in his career he managed to get his groundball rate under 40%.

He tore the cover off the ball in the spring for the Orioles, hitting .413 with two HR in 47 PA, yet was unceremoniously cut on a team that sent down Grayson Rodriguez for a poor spring because they’re such a “meritocracy”. Fortunately for him, the Yankees offer a much friendlier home park, and although Rotoworld says his playing time is expected to be “sporadic”, I see here an opportunity for him. As whiff-prone as Franchy may be, his competition is looking worse and with a lot less upside. Oswaldo Cabrera is striking out 50% of the time and has options remaining, Josh Donaldson (not direct competition but affects Cabrera) looks like toast and is likely to get a season-hampering leg injury any day now, and Aaron Hicks is, well, Aaron Hicks.

Even if he’s the same ol’ Franchy, he offers intriguing power and speed for an AL-only wire even if it comes with a .220 average, at least until he gets hurt. But if he can carry over some of those flyball rate gains from last year with his elite raw power in the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium, with the increased stolen base opportunity… hoo boy I think I need a cold shower. Despite that being an unlikely fantasy in a game where fantasy is not at all relevant, in AL-only and deeper 18-team formats, I encourage you to be bold and take one more chance on the enigmatic Franch fry and hope he hits you some taters.


Gary Sánchez (C, San Francisco Giants)


Look, I just really needed to write about someone who wasn’t an outfielder. If you’re a masochist like me who plays in two catcher AL or NL-only formats, you deserve the pain of rostering Gary Sánchez. Seriously though, he still does have power, and this is a hedge bet shorting the ever-popular Blake Sabol. Sabol has yet to even hit a ball at 100 mph, his contact rate also looks like trash, and I’m sure that the Giants probably had their own concerns post-Joey Bart injury when they picked him up. He should still at least post solid OBP and solid power for the position on a per-at-bat basis. Don’t sleep on this Giant.




Nick Castellanos (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)


Look, I don’t think it makes sense to go into all-out panic over a player’s performance in literally one week in April, but in this case, maybe it makes sense to go into semi-out panic?

Nick Castellanos is a weird player in that, going from his surprisingly mediocre surface numbers last year, in which he hit just .263 with 13 HR and seven SB over 558 PA, you’d never think he’d have had a March ADP of 118. But if you look under the hood, wait that’s also bad. He had just a 6% Barrel% and 35% HardHit%, and that’s supposed to be, like, the one thing he actually does well.

But I guess you were all betting on the track record, hoping he rebounds. I’m here to let you know that the early returns don’t look good. He’s clearly trying an approach change of being more patient, with a solid O-Swing% of 28% for the first time in his career, though it brought his Z-Swing% down some to 66%.

That should be considered a worthwhile tradeoff, since swinging at fewer balls should help improve his contact rate, right? Well, last year, his contact rate was a near career low at just 70%, so now it’s improved to… 50%? Yeah, he’s making 50% Contact%, also the same as Miguel Vargas‘ walk rate. So despite his improved batting eye, he was a career-worst swinging strike rate, and combined with his higher called strike rate, gives him a CSW% of 38%, which is the worst in all of baseball.

Now, MJ Melendez is also having a lousy April, but he at least somewhat made up for it by clocking a ball at 114 mph. But Castellanos’s MaxEV so far this year is just 102 mph, with a career-worst average EV of 82 mph, and oh, by the way, he’s also hitting GB% at 60%. I’m probably going to get called crazy for telling 10-teamers to jump ship after one week of games, but really I’m not jumping ship as I didn’t draft him in any of my 10 leagues as I never saw the rebound as likely. But unless this is all due to an injury that clears up soon, there’s just too much going wrong here for me to bet on a change when there are so many alternatives on a 10-team wire.

Cut in all 10-team formats (though I’d try trading him if you can) and I’d also start exploring my options if I rostered him in a 12-team OBP format.



Jose Siri (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)


I bet he uses Cortana. Jose Siri has been a flashy pickup lately despite a rather modest March ADP of 343, since in April he’s been looking like a stud, hitting .333 with two HR and one SB, leaving us to wonder if he’s the second coming of Randy Arozarena. There are definitely some exciting signs, most notably the two barrels and the 70% HardHit%, which is what you should emphasize when you sell him in a trade.

Why trade him? The answer has something in similarity to Castellanos… a Contact% of 50%. But even worse, his Z-Contact% is just 55% HOW? Again, it’s still too early for this to stabilize, and it’s good to see that Siri looks to have playing time security- I initially wanted to write him as a buy for this reason before changing it to sell.

He’s always had high strikeout rates, but this is another level, even if not yet apparent in the surface stats like K% or even worse, Barrel%. Even though he’s tried to be more patient at the plate, there’s one number he can’t escape: a league-worst CSW% of 43%. Yuck.

As Gallo discovered, there is a certain limit in which even power and amazing tools can’t overcome bad contact skills, and while perhaps he’s still shaking off the rust and will kick things into gear, I think the risk in 12-teamers is still too high. Somewhat like Steven Souza, Siri could be a boom if it all breaks right, but with a K% potentially over 35%, he might do so much damage to your batting average that the power/speed totals don’t even matter anymore. Even if you jumped to acquire him after the hot start, cutting him in all 12-team formats warrants Siri-us consideration.



Brandon Belt (1B, Toronto Blue Jays)


I get why, despite a terrible 2022, drafters still wanted to strap in with Belt. But sometimes, when the ride you’re on is about to go off a cliff, you’re better off pushing eject. Sure, it’s early, but Brandon Belt is fighting for at-bats with two offensively talented catchers on the roster (three if you count Daulton Varsho, but I’m not), and despite optimism about finally leaving the pitcher-friendly Giants home park to hitter-friendly Toronto, the early returns look like garbage.

He’s usually known for being patient. His 32% O-Swing% is both league-average and a career-worst. His Contact% has been in a multi-year decline but was still above 70%. Right now, it’s 56%. He usually hits the ball hard at least! His MaxEV so far is 99 mph. Maybe he’s hurt, but whatever it is in his first 13 PA, I think it’s wise to look elsewhere at a position that’s arguably the deepest in the game. I’d rather roll with some later-drafted 1B like Garrett Cooper, Carlos Santana, and even Jesús Aguilar, to name a few. Cut in 15-teamers, even OBP leagues, if you have any of the above options available.


Deep Leagues

Bubba Thompson (OF, Texas Rangers)


Well, this one is pretty easy. They often tell speedsters “You can’t steal first”. But even more so, you can’t steal your way to the batter’s box. Bubba Thompson was a popular 15-team endgame pick due to his game-changing speed, but so far, he hasn’t had a chance to show it, with just three ABs (he went 1-for-3). Basically, he’s a backup and not even a pinch runner, which feels like a waste of his abilities. Until playing time opens up, it’s time to Bubba Dump Shrimp.


Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login