Fantasy Baseball: Trade for these struggling stars because they can't be this bad

In this space, I often use advanced stats to urge fantasy managers to acquire or trade away players who have been especially fortunate or unfortunate in recent weeks. But there are times when, even though the numbers add up, the storyline does not. Players are human, and for a variety of reasons, good players sometimes don’t play well for extended stretches.

The players recommended for trade acquisitions this week all fall into the category of “they can’t possibly be this bad.” All of the names below have enough of a track record that managers would be wise to expect a rebound in the coming weeks, even if I struggle to give statistical support for them today.

As always, wise managers will check the Yahoo Trade Market to get a better idea of the current value of these polarizing players.

George Springer (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)

I won’t waste my word count on Springer this week, as I offered a buy-low rationale on the outfielder a week ago. The 33-year-old has been bothered by illness of late, which has likely contributed to a .616 OPS. In each of his nine previous seasons, Springer finished with an OPS over .800. His bat will come around.

Alex Bregman (3B, Houston Astros)

I mentioned on the Rotowire podcast eight days ago that I would consider cutting Bregman in 10-team points leagues. I remain committed to that stance, but at the same time, I can see a rationale for acquiring the third baseman in leagues of 12 teams or more. Like his former teammate Springer, Bregman currently has an OPS (.672) that doesn’t compare to that of his worst previous season (.777). His Statcast metrics resemble those from previous years, and his strikeout and walk rates are slightly better than usual. Bregman is bound to improve.

Starling Marte (OF, New York Mets)

The easy narrative in Marte trade talks is to convince his manager that the outfielder simply isn’t healthy after undergoing double-groin surgery in the offseason. But when looking at his advanced stats, Marte doesn’t seem too far off the player who was a significant fantasy asset for many years. His .236 average is being dragged down by a .288 BABIP, and his strikeout and walk rates are consistent with his career marks. Statcast believes that Marte should have better power numbers, as his .403 xSLG is more than 100 points higher than his actual mark. Roto managers who need steals should try to buy low on Marte right now.

Sandy Alcantara (SP, Miami Marlins)

Looking back, Alcantara was slightly overrated in draft season after posting a wild innings total (228.2) last year. But even a more conservative projection would've counted the right-hander as a low-end ace, which is significantly different from the pitcher (4.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) he has been this year.

Alcantara hasn’t shown his best skills, but his strikeout and walk rates are similar to those from past seasons, and his 60.3% strand rate is definitely holding him back.

Dylan Cease (SP, Chicago White Sox)

Although the knee-jerk reaction to Cease’s bloated ratios is that his high walk rate (10.4% in 2023) has finally caught up with him, a closer look at his game log casts some doubt on that conclusion. The right-hander has walked at least four batters in three of his nine starts, but in those games, he surrendered a total of seven earned runs. And in the two games in which Cease was really hit around, he walked a total of three batters.

Lance Lynn (SP, Chicago White Sox)

Lynn owns the third-highest ERA (6.66) of any qualified pitcher. He has mostly earned that embarrassing mark (4.77 FIP) but has also been hurt by bad luck (.360 BABIP, 61.3% strand rate). There have been other fluctuations in the right-hander’s 12-year career, but nothing to this degree, which leads me to the conclusion that he will eventually get on track. A simple look at Lynn’s 19.2% K-BB ratio is enough reason to acquire him at a significant discount.

Did not make the list

Jose Abreu (1B, Houston Astros)

Abreu perfectly fits the criteria for this article, but he still didn’t secure a spot on the list. In short, I believe the 36-year-old has hit the wall. He struggled to hit round-trippers (15 HR) in a prime power environment last year. And this season, Abreu has yet to go deep in 41 games. First base is a deep position in mixed leagues this year, which means there is no reason to use a roster spot on the potential of Abreu finding his power stroke.

Alek Manoah (SP, Toronto Blue Jays)

On Monday, Manoah became the first pitcher since 2016 to allow seven walks and two home runs in one start. The outing served as the exclamation point on a dismal start to the season that includes a 35:32 K:BB ratio and eight homers allowed in nine starts. Manoah out-pitched his peripherals in his initial two major-league seasons, and he was overvalued in 2023 drafts.