Many fantasy managers don’t properly assess the specifics on 2-for-1 trades. Some see the deal as Players X and Y for Player Z, but there is more than that to the trade. In reality, a 2-for-1 trade consists of Players X and Y for Player Z and the player who can be added to the newly vacated roster spot. As I detailed in a recent article on the topic of Spot Streaming, having an open roster spot can eventually lead to finding a waiver wire gem.
Making a 2-for-1 trade is always worth considering, but there are two times on the MLB calendar when I am especially looking to streamline my roster. The first is in April when the waiver wire is full of players who are off to hot starts to the season. Although most of these players eventually cool off, having extra roster space in April can lead to landing someone such as Carlos Rodon or Adolis Garcia.
The second time where I especially pursue 2-for-1 trades is in July. We are currently less than five weeks from the MLB Trade Deadline, which means that we should soon see some significant players on the move. And when good players switch teams, better roles are created on the clubs they leave behind. Fantasy managers who have a couple of roster spots for streaming can take advantage of these opportunities by pouncing on players who get expanded roles. And even better, they can get ahead of the game by monitoring the rumor mill and adding players before their leaguemates become interested.
As you can see, making a 2-for-1 trade in the next two-to-three weeks has the added benefit of creating roster space when you need it most. Plus, by acquiring a superstar player, you create a more exciting roster. Although these players won’t be easy to acquire, here are some stars who could be available right now.
Juan Soto (OF, WSH)
Expected by some to be this year’s top fantasy asset, Soto is hitting just .273 with eight homers and 32 RBIs. And preseason proclamations that he would run the bases more aggressively this year have turned out to be false, as he has tallied just three steals. Still, the 22-year-old is a rare talent who combines elite plate discipline with a strong ability to hit for average and power. I still see him as a top-10 player.
Mookie Betts (OF, LAD)
Betts is a similar case to Soto — a true superstar who has been more good than great so far in 2021. The Dodgers leadoff man is on pace for roughly 20 home runs, 60 RBIs, 100 runs, and 15 steals. All of those numbers are fine, but they would be his lowest totals over a 162 game season since 2015. He also owns a disappointing .253 average. I expect Betts and the Dodgers lineup to go on a heater at some point in the second half, making him a great option to acquire right now.
Gerrit Cole (SP, NYY)
Some Cole managers are panicking out of concern that the MLB crackdown on pitching substances has ruined their first-round pick. The right-hander entered June with a 1.78 ERA before producing a 4.65 mark while under increased scrutiny. His strikeout rate is down, and acquiring Cole right now definitely requires a leap of faith that he will soon figure out a way to return to his dominant form. Still, for fantasy managers in the middle of the pack in pitching categories, acquiring Cole in a 2-for-1 deal is a risk worth taking.
Jose Abreu (1B, CWS)
Abreu was stellar in May (1.053 OPS) before hitting .181 with one homer and single-digit totals in runs and RBIs during the initial 28 days of June. But Abreu has been one of baseball’s most consistent players during his eight-year career, and the odds are high that he will soon get on track.
Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, KC)
With 21 steals, Merrifield is running away with the stolen base crown. But the 32-year-old has been more of a contributor than a dominating force in the other four standard roto categories. In some leagues, the Merrifield manager has jumped out to a massive steals lead and will consider trading him for help in other areas.
Kevin Gausman (SP, SF)
Gausman has been incredible this year, posting the best ERA among qualified pitchers not named Jacob deGrom. And unlike some of his positional counterparts, the Giants right-hander has shown no signs of slowing down since the MLB crackdown on pitching substances. But because of his draft value way back in March, Gausman can likely be acquired for less than more famous hurlers such as Cole, Max Scherzer, or Brandon Woodruff. Fantasy managers could make a great deal by adding Gausman in a 2-for-1 and hoping he maintains his current rate of success the rest of the way.
A similar plan could be hatched to acquire overachievers such as Carlos Rodon, Freddy Peralta, or Trevor Rogers, but Gausman has a better chance of not running into late-season innings limitations.
Liam Hendriks (RP, CWS)
We need to face the reality that closer options are popping up on the waiver wire far less often than they did in previous seasons. Some MLB managers are committed to sharing the closer’s role all season, and it has become standard practice for a team to immediately pivot to a committee if their usual ninth-inning man lands on the IL. For these reasons, those who are hoping to use the waiver wire to make up ground in saves are likely to be disappointed in their progress by the end of September. In some situations, it makes sense to pay the premium for elite closers such as Hendriks, Josh Hader, or Craig Kimbrel, and then use the waiver wire to plug the holes created in other areas.