Deep League Waiver Wire Players To Add – Week 1

These four players can bring added value in deeper leagues.

Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players whom fantasy managers should consider picking up in deeper fantasy baseball leagues. Many of these players will have the most value in larger leagues where waiver wire options aren’t as plentiful. Still, they could also occasionally be useful additions in other, more standard-sized leagues depending on your options at their position.

This week it’s Mitch Haniger, Anthony Rendon, Colin Poche, and Andrew Nardi who are worth your time as potential additions in deep leagues.

All roster percentages mentioned in this column are via Yahoo fantasy leagues as of Friday afternoon.

All 2024 stats are as of the beginning of play on Friday.


Mitch Haniger – 20%


This number both needs to and will likely, jump considerably. In reality, it probably needed to jump yesterday. Ok, so not quite exactly yesterday. Haniger, back in Seattle with the Mariners, did hit a home run in his first regular season back with the Pacific Northwest club on Thursday. The encouraging start was the latest sign that Haniger is very much worth adding in most all fantasy formats, not just a singular plot point.

The veteran mashed in Spring Training, batting .385 with a .442 on-base percentage, five home runs, and three doubles in 43 plate appearances. If you’re counting along at home, that’s good for a .462 ISO.

And to be honest, Spring Training stats aren’t the be-all, end-all. But Haniger’s strong spring, when paired with his underlying metrics from 2023, certainly presented a foundation for fantasy optimism to be built on and grow from.

Despite an injury-shortened season with the San Francisco Giants in 2023, the outfielder’s barrel rate, xwOBAcon, and hard-hit rate were all right in line with what he’s done for the entirety of his career – though the xwOBA did drop somewhat.

Overall, he hit just .209 with a .266 on-base percentage, six home runs, and a career-low .156 ISO in 229 plate appearances for the Giants.

Mitch Haniger By Season

Admittedly, the walks were a bit lower and the strikeouts were a bit higher, but it was still a somewhat smaller sample size. Furthermore, and more importantly, in terms of Haniger connecting on pitches, there was plenty to be encouraged about what he did last season despite it not being a full season.

Pair all that with Haniger hitting in the top half of a Mariners lineup that also includes Julio Rodríguez, Jorge Polanco, Cal Raleigh, Mitch Garver, and J.P. Crawford, and you have a hitter poised and primed for a bounce-back fantasy season. If Haniger posts barrel rate, xwOBAcon, and hard-hit rates like he did last year with a full complement of plate appearances this season, the slugger should have no problem clearing the 60% or 70% bar in terms of rostered rate by the end of the season. Make your waiver claims now.


Anthony Rendon – 4%


Rendon, like Haniger, had an injury-shortened 2023 season.

Rendon, like Haniger, showed well in a limited sample size in terms of when he made contact.

It was only 183 plate appearances, but Rendon posted a .357 xwOBA while also walking nearly as much (13.7% walk rate) as he struck out (14.8%).

Now, there were obvious unideal numbers here. Rendon’s barrel rate in the injury-shortened 2023 campaign was just 4.8%, and his .081 ISO would’ve been his lowest in a full season by more than .100 points. There’s also the fact that it was only 183 plate appearances. He’s also yet to log more than 250 plate appearances since departing Washington and the Nationals to join the Angels.

All that is relevant and worthy, and should not be glossed over, but, the upside here is considerable if Rendon can stay healthy.

One key reason? Shohei Ohtani is no longer playing for the Los Angeles Angels.

You might have heard.

And with his departure comes a ton of plate appearances now up for grabs near the top of the Angels’ lineup. Plate appearances that, at least for the time being, might be going to Rendon.

The infielder hit leadoff on Opening Day for Ron Washington and company, and despite Ohtani’s departure, hitting in the top third of the Angels lineup still means batting either before or after one Mike Trout.

Trout himself has missed time due to injury in the past handful of years as well. In the last three years, he’s yet to play more than 120 games in a season and played nearly as many games (119) in 2022 as he did in 2021 (36) and 2023 (82) combined.

But, and this is the crucial bit, if both hitters can stay healthy, you’re looking at the type of impact players who can help swing fantasy pennant races. Rendon rattled off xwOBAs of .369, .384, .414, and .390 from 2017 through the 2020 campaign. If he’s even remotely near those hallowed metrics in something approaching a season’s worth of plate appearances, he’d be a surefire top-100 overall hitter.


Colin Poche – 10%


Fantasy managers in search of elite options for saves+holds league need to look no further than Poche.

From 2022 to 2023, the 30-year-old left-hander ranked first in the league among relievers in pitcher wins (16) and fourth in holds (45). The pitcher wins, many of which last year when he logged 12, might be on the unsustainable side of things, but they also speak to his standing as one of the more trusted options in the Tampa Bay bullpen.

Only Pete Fairbanks logged more high-leverage appearances than Poche for Tampa Bay last season.

High-Leverage Appearance Leaders Among Rays Relievers In 2023

Of the group shown above, just Fairbanks, Adam, Armstrong, and Kelly remain in Tampa Bay’s bullpen alongside Poche, leaving perhaps even more high-leverage opportunities for the left-hander to absorb this season.

And while Poche ticks the counting stat boxes (he also logged career bests with a 2.23 ERA and a 3.34 FIP in 60.2 innings) he also brings strong underlying metrics to the table, particularly in terms of limiting quality contact.

The reliever sports a Statcast page featuring plenty of red, including (and most crucially), 80th percentile rankings or better in xwOBA, xSLG, barrel rate, and hard-hit rate. He was one of just 23 pitchers to achieve that feat last year. Of that group, only 21 are relievers, and a number of those relievers (Matt Brash, Brusdar Graterol, Félix Bautista, and Devin Williams) began the 2024 regular season on the injured list.

Colin Poche In 2023

Poche’s swing-and-miss metrics leave a bit to be desired, especially as he doesn’t induce a ton of ground balls or limit walks at an elite rate. However, he does enough in the strikeout department – Poche hasn’t seen his strikeouts per nine-inning rate dip below the 9.00 mark in a single MLB season – to assuage those concerns from a fantasy perspective.


Andrew Nardi – 13%


Speaking of relievers with 80th percentile or better marks in xwOBA, xSLG, barrel rate, and hard-hit rate, we move to Nardi who like Poche was one of the 23 pitchers to achieve the statistical feat last season.

Like Poche, Nardi is locked into a late-inning role with his current club. However, his ceiling may exceed that of his counterpart in Tampa Bay.

Unlike Poche, Nardi offers elite strikeout potential. He struck out 73 batters in 57.1 innings last season, finishing in the 92nd percentile with a 30.8% strikeout rate, thanks in part to a slider that sported a 35.5% whiff rate.

That in itself gives the Marlins reliever a promising fantasy upside as a reliever, especially considering that of the eight Miami relievers who logged at least 10 high-leverage appearances last season, only Nardi and Tanner Scott are currently both on the active roster and in the bullpen.

And while it seems unlikely that Scott will vacate the ninth-inning role any time soon in Miami after an excellent breakout season in 2023, it does position Nardi as one of fantasy’s best backup closers, not to mention as a strong option for ancillary saves. If he were to step into the ninth-inning role for any extended amount of time, the 25-year-old would possess immense fantasy upside, that of a top-10 closer.

Pitcher A, for reference, is Tanner Scott. Andrew Nardi, as you may have guessed, is Pitcher B.

For fantasy managers who punted on saves in the draft, Nardi makes for an ideal early-season waiver option. At worst, he’s a decidedly above-average saves+hold league option. At best, he could be a reliever who helps decide fantasy pennant races, regardless of scoring setting, if he closes games for any extended period.


Photos by Adobe Stock | Adapted by Carlos Leano

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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