I’m excited to pinch-hit as the fantasy waiver column writer this week. During the early part of the season, wise managers will scour the waiver wire for players who could be long-term solutions. Readers will see me often promote “Mr. Right Now” when I write these articles in August, but in May, we are still searching for “Mr. Right.”
With that in mind, here are my favorite options who remain available in the majority of Yahoo leagues:
Tanner Bibee (SP, Cleveland Guardians, 33%)
I’m not sure how the Guardians are going to handle Bibee in the coming weeks, but I want to add him now and figure out the rest later. Simply put, the kid is good. He owns a lifetime 2.13 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in the minors and struck out eight batters across 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in his MLB debut. He should be rostered in virtually every league.
Logan Allen (SP, Cleveland Guardians, 36%)
Allen is on par with his teammate Bibee, though the latter has generated more fantasy discussion in recent days. Allen has struck out eight batters in each of his initial two starts, with his most recent outing coming in a difficult venue, Fenway Park. Wise managers will be happy to roster both of Cleveland’s rookie hurlers.
Brandon Pfaadt (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 25%)
Pfaadt has similar prospect pedigree to Bibee, and while Pfaadt hasn't been called up yet, his promotion seems to be imminent. Arizona desperately needs rotation depth, and the odds are very high that Pfaadt will get the call in the next seven days. Managers who don’t add the right-hander now will soon be kicking themselves.
Matt Strahm (SP/RP, Philadelphia Phillies, 46%)
Those of us with a good memory will recall Strahm being an exciting relief prospect when he debuted in 2016. He has had some respectable high points across his eight-year career, perhaps none more intriguing than the start of this season, which has included a 32:7 K:BB ratio across six outings (five starts). While I’m not ready to give Strahm a full endorsement, I’m willing to stream him this week against the Dodgers.
Tyler Wells (SP, Baltimore Orioles, 25%)
Wells is the opposite of the pitchers who preceded him in this article, but he might turn out to be just as valuable. The right-hander is as boring as they come, having logged a lifetime 7.8 K/9 rate. But he limits walks and plays for a competitive team with an offense-supressing home park, which should allow him to help fantasy teams’ ratios while racking up his share of victories.
Shea Langeliers (C, Oakland A’s, 34%)
Langeliers could be this year’s version of Cal Raleigh, who rode a combination of power and playing time to overcome a low batting average and have an impactful 2022 season. The A’s proved with Sean Murphy last year that they are willing to play their No. 1 catcher often, and Langeliers, who has 12 homers and 232 career at-bats, sits eighth among fantasy catchers in at-bats this season.
Josh Naylor (1B/OF, Cleveland Guardians, 33%)
Naylor has been among the unluckiest players in baseball this year. Statcast currently assigns the slugger a .290 xBA, which dwarfs his .212 average. And the gap between Naylor’s xwOBA (.362) and wOBA (.264) is among the largest in baseball. He should soon experience a correction on his .217 BABIP and 9.2% HR/FB rate.
Esteury Ruiz (OF, Oakland A’s, 45%)
Having laid claim to the leadoff spot, Ruiz is now more than a one-category speedster. The A’s have far from a great lineup, but they have been more productive than a handful of teams, meaning that the 24-year-old could post a decent runs scored total from this point forward. Ruiz currently sits in a tie for second in the majors in steals, and the guess here is that he can hold that lofty ranking all season.
Ji Hwan Bae (2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, 44%)
Bae has a similar skill set to Ruiz. My guess is Ruiz will finish the season with more steals, but Bae will also have a sizable total (he has 11 so far) and a few more homers. Ruiz enjoys a better lineup spot, while Bae benefits from playing on a better team. Overall, it’s a mostly a wash, with Bae possibly getting the edge due to his multiposition eligibility.
Jose Siri (OF, Tampa Bay Rays, 9%)
I was a big fan of Siri during draft season and was ready to do some victory laps when he produced two homers and a stolen base in his initial six games. An IL stint dulled our collective enthusiasm, but the power-speed threat returned to action April 25 and is ready to resume his dynamic role in Tampa’s productive lineup. Factoring in his roster rate, Siri is my favorite position player to grab from the options in this article.
Jarren Duran (OF, Boston Red Sox, 35%)
As Yahoo colleague Scott Pianowski often reminds us, if you wait for all the stars to align before grabbing a player, he will already be on another team. Such is the case with Duran, who has excelled across 13 games with Boston (1 HR, 2 SB, .396 BA) while enjoying an unsustainable .486 BABIP. There is enough upside in Duran’s profile for me to recommend him while we wait to find out if he can thrive with normal luck.