Take a deep breath. Although we are still having flashbacks to the 2020 season, which would have been reaching its midpoint with many teams around the 30-game mark, the 2021 campaign it only in its infancy. While there is a strong urge to panic on disappointing players or a floundering team, the reality is that we have plenty of time to win our leagues. This week’s trade list is full of players who have under or overachieved thus far.
Players to acquire
Dominic Smith (1B/OF, New York Mets)
Like many Mets, Smith is off to a dismal start. But his batted-ball luck has been poor, with notable year-over-year drops in BABIP and HR/FB percentage. The slugger and his teammates seem to generally be stuck in neutral, with a series of poor weather games that have not helped their cause. Checking the Yahoo Trade Market page shows that Smith has recently been swapped for the likes of Gavin Lux and Kendall Graveman. I expect those deals to be major victories once his bat heats up.
Francisco Lindor (SS, New York Mets)
Speaking of slumping Mets, no one on the team can match the struggles of Lindor. Expected to be the centerpiece of the club’s offense for many years, Lindor has been among the most disappointing players in baseball (.478 OPS). The good news is that the shortstop has maintained his control over the strike zone, resisting the urge to hack his way out of his slow start. Seeing that Lindor has recently been traded in Yahoo leagues in one-for-one deals for the likes of Nate Lowe and Rhys Hoskins tells me that this is the time to pounce for his services.
Tommy Pham (OF, San Diego Padres)
Wise managers will create a narrative that multiple offseason setbacks have robbed Pham of his considerable skill set. Because the truth is that all of his Statcast numbers — xBA, xSLG, xwOBA — are in line with the outfielder’s career norms. Pham has experienced little change in his strikeout or walk rates, and he should soon start contributing to a Padres lineup that has considerable talent. The 33-year-old has been recently acquired in Yahoo leagues for the likes of Adam Eaton and Adam Frazier. That’s grand larceny.
Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros)
Tucker has been fine in terms of power (five homers) and will further showcase his speed as soon as he collects a few more base knocks. The 24-year-old’s BABIP has been the problem, as his .183 mark is among the lowest in baseball. This is all you need to know: Tucker’s .284 xBA is 19 points higher than his mark last season. Go trade for this stud at a discount.
Players to trade away
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
In recent days, the hot-hitting Winker has been traded in Yahoo leagues for the likes of Bo Bichette and Carlos Rodon. The slugger is admittedly off to a good start, but there are two main causes for concern. First, his .422 BABIP is due for massive regression. Second, Winker still can’t hit lefties, which caps his upside. I believe his 2021 trade value is currently at its peak.
Nate Lowe (1B, Texas Rangers)
After an incredibly hot start to the season, Lowe his produced three homers, 10 RBIs and 10 runs across 27 games since April 7. That’s right, someone who started the year as waiver-wire fodder in shallow leagues has played at the expected level for most of the campaign. But the hot start continues to impact his numbers, as Lowe sits fourth in baseball with 24 RBIs. Smart managers will use that RBI total to trade the slugger for a more proven player.
Dylan Moore (2B/3B/SS/OF, Seattle Mariners)
I get it — you won’t get much for Moore. Still, I believe that his six steals could allow smart managers to trade him to a steals-needy team for at least a useful return. My advice is to package Moore in a 2-for-1 deal that leads to an upgrade at another position. With a 34 percent strikeout rate, this late-bloomer is proving that his 2020 breakout was predictably not sustainable.
Marcus Stroman (SP, New York Mets)
Wise managers will market Stroman as a new man after his year off. But the truth is that the right-hander is the same pitch-to-contact starter that he has always been. Stroman has not experienced growth in his strikeout rate, and his 2.10 ERA is mostly the result of a lower BABIP despite giving up hard contact at a higher rate than usual. The lack of whiffs caps Stroman’s ceiling, and he will soon return to being someone who doesn’t make a notable impact in ERA or WHIP.