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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Brandon Belt Still Has Room to Grow

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 5/9/2021 Shawn Childs

Five-time high-stakes champ Shawn Childs helps you at the waiver wire to bolster your fantasy squad

Weekly Waiver Wire Report

Note: My waiver wire report digs a little deeper and is slanted toward high-stakes leagues (15 teams)

Catcher

Danny Jansen, TOR

The Blue Jays placed the rising Alejandro Kirk on the injury list with a hip issue. They expect him to miss a couple of months. Toronto will be forced to give Jansen the majority of starts. His bat projected to have upside coming into the majors, but he only hit .189 over his last 530 at-bats with 66 runs, 21 home runs, and 67 RBI. Jansen will take walks (9.7 percent) while being about league average in his strikeout rate (20.8). Over two games coming into Saturday, he hit a pair of home runs with three RBI. The catching pool lacks talent due to some injuries, giving Jansen some attention in the free-agent market as a C2 in deep leagues.

William Contreras, ATL

Travis d’Arnaud suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb that required surgery. They expect him to miss at least three months. Contreras project to receive the bulk of playing time if his bat is up to the task. He flashed in 2018 at Single-A (.293 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI over 307 at-bats). The following season, Contreras took a step back offensively (.255 over 381 at-bats with six home runs and 39 RBI) between High A and AA. His brother (Willson Contreras) has been a top catcher for the Cubs, which helps the intrigue with his game. Over his first three starts with Atlanta, he had four hits in 10 at-bats with three runs, one home run, and three RBI. Contreras is viable C2 in all formats.

First Base

Brandon Belt, SF

Belt is owned in only 40 percent of 12-team leagues in the high-stakes market. His counting stats (19 runs, six home runs, 18 RBI, and two steals) over his first 88 at-bats grade well, but he does have 34 strikeouts with risk in his batting average (.216). Belt has a minimum of one home run in each of the past five weeks. He is a must-own in 15-team leagues while being better than many of the corner infield or DH options in 12-team formats. I expect a correction in his batting average, making his overall package much more attractive.

Rowdy Tellez, TOR

The Blue Jays optioned Tellez to AAA after George Springer came off the injured list on April 28th. With Springer hurt again, he gets a second chance in the majors. Tellez only hit .172 over his first 64 at-bats with five runs, one home run, and three RBI, but his swing looked on the rise in 2020 (.283 with eight home runs and 23 RBI over 113 at-bats). He’ll see minimal at-bats against lefties, making Tellez only viable in deep leagues as a DH option or short-term injury replacement at first base. With 450 at-bats, he has the power to deliver 25+ home runs with a chance to surprise in batting average.

Second Base

Starlin Castro, WAS

Fantasy owners have started to launch Castro back into the free-agent pool in 12-team leagues (39 percent owned) after a slow start to the year (.253 over 83 at-bats with three runs, one home run, and 13 RBI in April). Heading into Saturday, he has quietly strung together a five-game hitting streak (7-for-19 with two runs, one home run, and three RBI). With Juan Soto back on the field, Castro will have plenty of RBI chances, and his career resume paints him as a 20+ home run hitter. A correction in his stats is coming.

Cesar Hernandez, CLE

Hernandez should be a much more productive hitter based on his approach (18 walks and 22 strikeouts over 133 at-bats), but he is only hitting .200 with two home runs and five RBI. Over his previous six games, Hernandez hit .292 with three runs, one home run, and four RBI over 24 at-bats. Cleveland will bat him at the top of the batting order on most nights, which helps his counting stats. He projects to be only a steady player with a 15/10 type skill set. Hernandez looks ready to find his rhythm, and he can be found in 70 percent of 12-team leagues in the high-stakes market.

Third Base

Brian Anderson, MIA

After an 11-game stint on the injured list with an oblique injury that appeared to be most serious, Anderson found himself in the free-agent pool in 65 percent of leagues in the 12-team high-stakes market. His season started with only 12 hits over 60 at-bats while delivering one home run and five RBI. Anderson has a three-game hitting streak (3-for-10 with three runs, one home run, and four RBI) since returning from the injury list. He should be own in all formats.

Miguel Andujar, NYY

Over the last week, the Yankees lost Rougned Odor, and Gio Urshela looks to be on a path for a trip to the injured list. They recalled Andujar on Friday night (6-for-13 at AAA with three home runs and five RBI), earning him a start at first base. His bat hit the ground running in 2018 (.297 with 27 home runs and 92 RBI over 573 at-bats), but a shoulder injury derailed his next two seasons (.193 with one home run and six RBI over 109 at-bats). His window to start looks short with Luke Voit expected back next week, and the injury to Urshela may be minor. Either way, Andujar is worth a one-week look as a hot bat could put him one injury away from full-time at-bats. For now, he looks like a buy-and-hold in deep leagues.

Marvin Gonzalez, BOS

The Rex Sox placed Enrique Hernandez on the injured list with a hamstring issue, creating a bump in playing time for Gonzalez. He has a five-game hitting streak (6-for-21 with a run and three RBI) heading into Saturday night. His bat has been quiet in 2020 and 2021 (.211 with six home runs and 31 RBI over 266 at-bats) while being much more serviceable from 2017 to 2019 (.271 over 1,369 at-bats with 54 home runs, 213 RBI, and 11 steals). Gonzalez looks ready for a hot ride while working as a replacement player in deep formats.

Shortstop

Amed Rosario, CLE

Despite sitting out a pair of games over the past 10 days, Rosario shows signs of breaking out of his slump. He has eight hits over his last 28 at-bats with five runs, one home run, four RBI, and a steal. The slumping Andres Gimenez has opened up more playing time at shortstop. Rosario has a balanced skill set, but he needs to be productive to hit higher in the batting order. The chance at a bump in steals is his attraction to a fantasy team.

Niko Goodrum, DET

Over his last 45 at-bats, Goodrum amassed a frustrating 23 strikeouts. Despite his ugly stat line, his bat has picked up over his past seven games (10-for-27 with four runs, one home run, five RBI, and three stolen bases). He is playing better, but Goodrum is only a flash player in deep leagues while offering help in home runs and steals.

Outfield

Hunter Renfroe, BOS

A favorable schedule for Boston over the last week helped Renfroe up his form. He has nine hits over his previous 27 at-bats early in his matchup against the Orioles with six runs, two home runs, and eight RBI. His power is streaky, and he’s flashing that pattern in May.

Josh Naylor, CLE

I may be Naylor’s biggest supporter in the high-stakes market, but I doubted my research and opinion in April (.254 over 71 at-bats with six runs and three RBI). His power stroke looked playable over the first week in May (7-for-27 with four runs, two home runs, and six RBI) while also chipping in with a steal. I see a .280+ hitter with the potential to hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 runs. Not quite ready to be a play in 12-team leagues, but I would snap him up if he somehow slipped through the cracks in deeper formats.

Kevin Pillar, NYM

After earning starting at-bats, Pillar made the most of his opportunity when Brandon Nimmo landed on the injured list with a finger issue. He has nine hits over 25 at-bats with four runs, two home runs, five RBI, and one steal. Pillar is two years removed from a .259/21/88/14 season. His only downside next week is that the Mets only play five games.

Starting Pitching

David Price, LAD

The Dodgers won’t need a fifth starter until May 15th, which looks like enough time for Price to return from his hamstring issue. He’s back working off the mound, suggesting his return isn’t that far off. His season started with two disaster showings (five runs, 11 baserunners, and three home runs over 3.2 innings) before looking much sharper over his next five games (one run over five innings with nine strikeouts). I would look to roster him in 12-team leagues or smaller.

Alek Manoah, TOR

Injuries have cost the Blue Jays the back of their starting rotation. They should have Nate Pearson back this weekend, but they still need another upside arm if they want to stay in the playoff hunt. Manoah dazzled in his first AAA start (no runs over six innings with a dozen strikeouts). In his limited experience in the minors in 2019, he posted a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings with seven walks and 34 strikeouts. Manoah is a player to follow for now.

Elieser Hernandez, MIA

The Marlins hope to have Hernandez back in a couple of weeks after making progress with a right biceps issue. Fantasy owners pushed up his value in the late draft season after pitching well in spring training. In 2019, Hernandez posted a 3.16 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 25.2 innings. For a fantasy owner looking for help, he should be available in about 40 percent of 12-team leagues in the high-stakes market. 

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