Buy & Sell 6/6 – Identifying Who to Add and Who To Drop

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

Welcome back to Buy & Sell – June trading time edition! This is usually an ideal time to find your targets in trades as teams are really starting to get worried about underperforming players, but it still may not be too late to sell high on established players who are less likely to bounce back than the community assumes. On to the list!





Taylor Ward (OF, Los Angeles Angels)

When it comes to trading, you may be able to subdue the trade partner without fighting. That’s the Art of Ward. He is my favorite kind of buy low in that he doesn’t really have name recognition and is mired in a “cold stretch” that under the hood is actually quite hot, kinda like the Hot Pockets I made last week that caused me to rename them “snow volcanoes”. Ward’s past week has felt rough with a .095 AVG this week with nary a homer nor even RBI, and hitting .158 over the past two weeks. That brings his line down to a solid but unspectacular .257 with 11 HR and 2 SB. For all the early season hype, that extrapolates to a season a notch or two below his breakout 2022 campaign. But the real breakout may still be among us. No, not Among Us the game. I hated it because I could never not act sus when I was the imposter. It’s hard, okay?!

In actuality, Ward’s expected production has never been better, and he’s been bitten a bit by luck dragons as his surface stats are belied by a much better .277 xBA and .530 xSLG. This is mostly thanks to elite launch angle sweet spot of 44% (96th percentile), which helps him max out a 15% Barrel% despite non-elite exit velocity and well below average bat speed. I think that the Angels’ offense, while it has certainly been dreadful thus far, should rebound with some injured players returning, and in any case, I think Ward will continue to be an elite run producer with his high walk rates and rare convergence of batting average, OBP, and power. Now could be your best time to “buy high” on his earlier production, and I wouldn’t try too hard to get a big discount, but I expect him to finish the year hitting at least .270 with 16-20 more dingers and a few more bags from here on out.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Mountcastle (1B, Baltimore OriolesThis one is a bit tough and not a buy-low, but he may still be available in many slower-to-react leagues since just a week or two ago he was riding the pine more frequently with Ryan O’Hearn stealing reps. He’s been volatile intra-season but very reliable inter-season (xBAs of .273 to .277  and xSLGs of .502 to .509 each year from 2022-24). He should hit .260+ with another 18 home runs, but the run production this year is much higher and makes him a strong second-tier 1B.

Honorable Mention: Nolan Gorman (2B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Forget strikeout rate, he’s one of the game’s streakiest hitters and he’s en fuego with 14 dingers on the year, and a solid bet to finish the year with 35+ of them. 


Starling Marte (OF, New York Mets)

Starling Zergcraft may seem quiet, but he’s preparing to rush your bases. Although he lacks the 40+ SB potential of yesteryear, he has sacrificed some of his contact to hit the ball harder this year, and it seems like a good trade. Although his overall season line of .276/.326/.414 with 6 homers and 10 stolen bases won’t wow anyone, he’s been especially hot lately hitting .455 with 2 SB this week, and .321 over the past 3 weeks. Although he’s 35, he’s rocking the highest HardHit% since 2015 (and probably his career?) at 46%, which is actually the first time he’s breached 40% HardHit%.

I expect the good times to continue as he’s underperforming his Statcast metrics with an xBA of .299 and xSLG of .454. After all, a player who is so groundball and line drive-oriented like himself certainly benefits from the harder contact, and he’s doing it at better launch angles with a career-best 39% LA Sweet Spot%. And it’s not like he sacrificed too much contact quantity for the quality boost, with a still solid 22% K% (just 2% up from last year). Given his age and injury history, there’s always the risk he gets hurt, but I also think it’s overstated fantasy baseball is rather ageist, which is why I think most teams will be happy to pawn him off, and you can ride his sneaky five-category production to the other side of the chessboard. Target for trades in 10-team AVG leagues and all 12-team formats.

Honorable Mention: Colton Cowser (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – His playing time situation has made him a headache to roster, but Cedric Mullins‘ utter collapse and Jorge Mateo’s unfortunate concussion give him the best opportunity yet to take over full-time; he still has the massive pop to make him worth targeting before that becomes obvious.

Honorable Mention: Alec Burleson (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – He’s been doing the Brandon Nimmo/Alex Verdugo approach better than either of them, with a .286 xBA and .487 xSLG, and despite hitting just .154 this week, it came with 3 longballs and just 1 K (2 BB) in 26 AB.


Miguel Andujar (OF, Oakland Athletics) 

If a door won’t open, you just wait a while, jiggle the handle andujar it open. When his spring opportunity for PT closed with an untimely meniscus tear, he didn’t take long to kick down the door of opportunity, hitting a studly .368/.359/.579. You gotta love those early season lines when the AVG is higher than the OBP. But what I love more is his apparently crazy new penchant for contact: Since his callup, he hasn’t whiffed on a single strike, with a 100% Z-Contact% and 93% contact% overall, with a 1.4% SwStr% that leads baseball. This reminds me a bit of the legendary tortuga Willians Astudillo, but unlike him, he doesn’t swing at everything (this year), with a career-best 35% O-Swing%. Oh, and also, he has some pop.

He was a favorite sleeper last year of fantasy expert Nando de Fino, noting that he rediscovered his power stroke in the minors, and he showed it in Spring Training, where it’s easy to forget he blasted several homers. And he managed to blast two homers in the majors with ease with an impressively above-average 110 MaxEV. And also then, he didn’t strike out once until the injury struck. So given that, it’s at least conceivable he really could keep a K% around 10%, in which case I think that he could almost be an outfield version of Vinnie Pasquantino with worse OBP, or a Ryan O’Hearn who actually plays full-time. Either of those optimistic outcomes makes him 12-team viable, and I think the floor is high enough that it’s worth targeting him in all 15-team leagues with aggressive bids, but I think he’s also a fine spec add in deeper 12-team formats.

Honorable Mention: Connor Norby (2B, Baltimore Orioles) – He doesn’t have a long runway, but the chance to take over the keystone in the short term is appealing since even a No. 9 hitter in Baltimore can be a big fantasy asset.

Honorable Mention: Willie Calhoun (DH, Los Angeles Angels) – I got some ridicule for my Calhoun take but I stand by it. His 38% IPA% remains best in baseball, and his Hard Contact% of 35% ranks 24th overall. Could be a .300 hitter, with much more value in leagues where he has 1B and OF eligibility

Honorable Mention: Corey Julks (OF, Chicago White Sox) – He’s continuing to show an impressive power/speed combo but now with a higher Hard Hit% (42%) and slightly higher Contact% (78%) than last year, with playing time security increased with Tommy Pham’s untimely injury.  

Deep Leagues

Will Brennan (OF, Cleveland Guardians)

Look, I get why he was dropped and left for dead in my AL-only home league until I scooped him. He’s oatmeal. But sometimes oatmeal is good. Fills you up, at least on days when lefties aren’t pitching. One look at Brennan’s Statcast page reveals a lot of slight blue and not much to get excited about, but I try to see his production in the context of last year. In 2023, he was overall solid, hitting .266 with 5 HR and 13 SB in 455 PA, but with a .286 xBA. This year, he’s increased his HardHit% from 29% up all the way to 39%, and he tripled his 2023 barrel rate from 2.4% to 6.5%. That’s a big deal when you make as much contact as Brennan does (13% K%), and, by the way, he also nearly doubled his walk rate from 4% to 7%.

Over the past two weeks, Brennan has hit .350 with just 1 K (3 BB) in 20 AB with 1 SB. While I get that the volume and run production has been lacking, I consider him a semi-spec add as I am bearish on the Guardians’ remaining options for outfield and expect the homerless Brayan Rocchio to get demoted which could move Tyler Freeman off outfield to shortstop. Although it’s a bit surprising and disappointing that Brennan hasn’t used his legs as much this season, he could surpass the double-digit homer plateau with solid volume and a plus batting average. Add in AL-only formats but also as a spec in 18-teamers that use AVG.

Honorable Mention: Trey Cabbage (1B/OF, Houston Astros– I know that we were already burned by Cabbage once, and his 35% K% in Triple-A was ugly. That said, he’s hitting the ball better in the majors this year and has a real chance to seize PT with Jon Singleton slumping and José Abreu doing… uh, José Abreu things. A high-risk flier with big deep league upside.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Bliss (SS, Seattle Mariners) His playing time has remained irregular, but he’s a true speed demon (28 SB in Triple-A), and unlike fellow M’s OF Jonatan Clase, he’s made good contact, with the unsustainable .111 BABIP shoving him under the radar. 





Manny Machado (3B, San Diego Padres)

His overall stats give people the security that he’s still an elite hot corner, I think that’s Machado About Nothing. Given that I was asked to include more sell highs for trading, please note that I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO CUT Machado, because the hot corner remains a wasteland. But his name value and what happened last year after early season struggles may steel the nerves of fantasy managers too much when some of the problems here are very real.

Machado is hitting just .251/.315/.379 with 6 HR and 5 SB, and while the nabbed bags are a welcome surprise, this is six homers in 248 PA. That means the 30-homer metronome Manny is currently on track to hit about 15 homers. His wRC+ is 101. He has been, thus far, a league replacement-level player. While his batted ball quality metrics are similar to last year, he’s hitting too many wormburners with a 47% GB% that is not doing him any favors.

The problem with selling him, which you could probably still do pretty close to draft day value, is that there are very few adequate 3B-eligible studs right now, but you could try to use him to target a buy-low stud at a different position. Sell medium now, since once his power outage gets noticed more, you’ll have to take a discounted player. Sell in 10-team, as in try to trade him for an established star.


Nolan Arenado (3B, St. Louis Cardinals)

The recent batted balls of Nolan Aren’tadoquate. Unlike fellow corner infielders like Paul Goldschmidt and Alex Bregman who seem to show signs of turnaround, Arenado started bad and got worse, going from a .339 xwOBA in his previous 100 PA to just .259 in his past 100. He was always in Colorado a player who defied Statcast, but St. Louis is one of the biggest pitcher’s parks, and he’s just flat-out weaker this year.

His raw power is in decline with his Max eV down nearly 3.0 mph, which is definitely significant at this point in the season and given concerns about Arenado’s health. But his game power is also down to a truly surprising degree, with a sub-3.0% Barrel%, an 86 mph average exit velocity that’s in the bottom 7.0% of the league, and his HardHit% dropping from 38% to 30%. Sure, he’s never been a Statcast darling, but he’s never been this bad, and the contact isn’t enough to compensate. Even his Hard Contact%, which goes on a per PA basis, still has his 22% HC% and 274th in the MLB. Oh, and as for the plate skills, they’re also worse. Although his Contact% is steady, he’s swinging at fewer strikes than ever at just 60% Z-Swing%, leading him to have a career-worst league average CSW% of 28% (career 24% CSW%).

It would seem to me he’s probably playing through an injury, though at age 33, he could just be having a decline on the early side given a long career of wear and tear and rarely missing time. As crazy as it sounds, and yes I know it sounds crazy, I’d rather have Matt Vierling, who right now appears superior at every asset of the game and has everything but name value. If you roster Arenado, the six homers and solid .265 xBA (never mind the worse .351 xSLG) can probably still help you recoup 80-90% on the dollar, which I think is better than what you’ll get if you hold him.

Dishonorable Mention: Jackson Chourio (OF, Milwaukee Brewers– It’s not entirely his fault, but he’s simply riding the pine too much given his struggles, and Roster Resource has him listed on the bench.


Alex Kirilloff (1B/OF, Minnesota Twins)

His production has really been Kirilopped off. In the past week he racked up just 10 AB, and although Edouard Julien took the bullet for him by getting demoted (I believe Kirilloff is out of options), he’ll keep trying to go out there, but I think his past days of fantasy intrigue are long gone. The guy who was supposed to help out averages is rocking a .219 xBA, and despite a solid 7.0% Barrel%, the power isn’t much better. I think I’d rather take my chances with Carlos Santana at that point, especially since we know his wrists aren’t made of glass.


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.

Leave a Reply

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

Account / Login