I know that Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss discussed their experiences with the trade market in the wake of the Biogenesis news, but since this column is about the stock of players rising and falling in the MLB universe, I figured that my two cents couldn't hurt.
While we all know that a player's trade value can be a very subjective thing, we can all agree that with the news of the Biogenesis PEDs scandal, several important players are losing significant value on the fantasy trade market. It really doesn't matter who you believe here. MLB is coming off like a bunch of big-talking bullies who are making threats and deals they don't really have the authority to make, Tony Bosch doesn't exactly seem like some saintly or remorseful guy coming forward "for the good of the game," and who knows how you want to mix Carlos Acevedo in there, but it sounds like he's ready to cooperate if there's a big pay day involved. But no matter what you or I think of these guys or the higher-ups at MLB headquarters, the fact remains that the cloud of potential suspensions is turning the fantasy trade market upside down.
By now the offers have been circulating through your league. Owners of players like Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and Everth Cabrera are likely trying to sell at the highest price possible still while those who own the likes of Melky Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Bartolo Colon are just trying to squeeze out whatever they can get. Even a guy like Yasmani Grandal who, at one point, probably had great trade value in keeper leagues, isn't likely to fetch much in the way of return value these days. And don't forget, there are a number of players involved whose names have yet to be highly publicized (Yes, Gio Gonzalez, I'm looking at you right now.). Everyone is scrambling and unless you've got some big risk-takers in your league, very little is probably happening.
So what's a girl to do if you own one of the Biogenesis-25? It's a risk either way. Stand pat and you could get saddled with a player rendered useless for almost a third of the season (possibly even more). Trade them and risk getting shorted on value should nothing major come to fruition. It seems like a "lose-lose" situation doesn't it? I wish I could tell you it wasn't. I wish I could tell you that there's a cleverly found silver lining to all of this. I wish I could just give you a big hug and tell you it's going to be all right. But I can't. It's a lousy place to be and it would appear as if your best bet is to cut your losses while you can.
Major League Baseball seems hellbent on laying down the law here. They want heads to roll and they want them to roll now. They are tired of the stigma baseball has gotten. They are tired of being publicly embarrassed. The black eye known as steroids has lingered on the face of baseball for far too long now. They want this cleared up and to go away as quickly as possible.
So maybe that's your silver lining. We're officially a week into the scandal and with the All-Star Game, Bud Selig's baby, taking place in the media circus known as the Big Apple, the shroud of a steroids scandal and impending suspensions is not something MLB wants when they dance on the main stage in July.
Action will be taken and if suspensions are being handed down, they will come sooner than later. Should you own one of the big boys involved, assume at least a 50-game ban, take a good, long look at your team and see where help is most needed. Shop them hard for a week and get the best deal possible. Don't go nuts and just take the first offer you get, but you also shouldn't sit on your hands for too long. Accept the fact that you're selling low and just do what you can.
Now I'm not saying that you should accept Daniel Nava and Rick Porcello for Braun. There's selling low and there's being stupid. Should your league unintentionally conspire against you and the offers you get make the word ‘lowball' look like a pillowcase full of candy on Halloween, then you may just have to stand pat. A little more than a month's worth of production from Braun at the end of your season may be more valuable than some of the potential garbage you may have to endure. But in truth, someone in your league believes that MLB is just blowing smoke. Find him (or her) and help yourself while you can.
Now let's take a look at some stock risers and fallers who aren't involved in this mess.
Wil Myers, OF TB - The rumor mill is buzzing and fantasy owners who have stashed the slugger all this time are champing at the bit. With the Super-Two status milestone about to pass, the word is that Myers will be called up within 10 days, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. The move definitely makes sense if you figure the Rays will drop Luke Scott and use Matt Joyce as a full-time DH, so they can play Myers full-time in the outfield and add that right-handed power bat to the middle of the lineup. He's currently batting .286 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs and 52 RBI through 57 games at Triple-A Durham. His .515 slugging percentage may have been run-of-the-mill in the Pacific Coast League, but in the International League, that actually means something.
Ervin Santana, SP KC - I continuously rub my eyes and do a double-take every time Santana's numbers flash across the screen when he takes the mound. Then as he continues to throw quality start after quality start (8-of-12) and lowers his ERA to 2.99 on the season, I just shake my head in disgust for tossing him into a deal back in April as throw-in. Not only does his ERA look good, but his 68:13 K:BB looks pretty tasty and if you check his peripherals, you'll see an xFIP of 3.43 and a 3.44 SIERA which indicates a slight drop-off from his current totals, but not by much at all. He may not be racking up the wins in Kansas City, but he's certainly going to help your strikeouts and ratios moving forward.
Jim Henderson, RP MIL - The Brewers reliever has been officially activated from the disabled list and according to manager Ron Roenicke will regain his job as the team's closer. He was pitching beautifully before pulling his hamstring, posting a 0.92 ERA with a 10.93 K/9 and nine saves, so there's really no reason he shouldn't be handed the job back. One caveat to pay attention to but not for long-term concern is that Francisco Rodriguez is sitting on 298 career saves and Roenicke said he will do what he can to get him to 300. He'll likely play some match-ups early on to get K-Rod to his milestone, but it should be Henderson the rest of the way.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF NYM - Though he was only batting .232 with 10 home runs and 18 RBI for Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets still saw enough in him to designate Rick Ankiel for assignment and make the roster switch. Nieuwenhuis struggled early in the season which is what led to his demotion, but there was a lot of talk after a recent two-home run game about changes in his approach at the plate and the ability to hit for more power. With a starting job, NL-only league owners should look to add him if you need outfield help, and should his progress translate to the big league level, mixed league owners will want to add him to their watch-list.
Erasmo Ramirez, SP SEA - Now fully healthy after dealing with an elbow injury, Ramirez has pitched very well in his last two starts at Triple-A Tacoma, giving up just two runs over 12 innings with a 11:4 K:BB. Couple that with Aaron Harang's struggles and it looks as if the Mariners are on the verge of making a switch. Ramirez has tremendous strikeout potential and dominates against left-handed hitters. Like any pitcher who throws for the Mariners, wins may be tough to come by, but he'll still be a nice boost in three of the five standard roto categories.
Brandon Beachy, SP ATL - Yes, Beachy is due to come off the disabled list after another start in the minors, but before you go mortgaging your future to obtain his services, remember a few things. Pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery still need time to get themselves going. Remember Adam Wainwright's struggles when he first returned. Beachy may need to take things slowly and he may struggle for a little while before he's right. Also, the Braves rotation is solid right now. Sure, Kris Medlen is disappointing based on his pre-season projections, but he's still pitching well. And none of the other hurlers are deserving of a bump from the rotation. The team won't, nor should they, go to a six-man rotation, so my gut tells me that unless they have a trade working, Beachy could, and should, start in middle relief.
Tony Cingrani, SP CIN - With Johnny Cueto back on the disabled list, Cingrani is expected to get the call again soon. Based on the way he pitched his first time around (3.27 ERA with a 41:9 K:BB over 33 innings) and the way he's pitched in the minors this season (1.15 ERA with a 49:11 K:BB over 31.1 innings), he should most definitely be owned and used while he's available. With any luck, the Reds will have sorted things out once Cueto returns and find a way to keep this lefty flamethrower in the big leagues.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B SF - The injuries continue to pile up for the Kung Fu Panda and with that your fantasy concerns should be growing. It was an elbow problem first, a foot problem now and all the while a concern that he's again scarfing down too many Double-Double Animal Styles at In & Out Burger. He's headed for an MRI on the foot right now and is expected to miss a couple of games if it's not too serious. But as an owner, you should be cognizant of the fact that it will remain a bumpy ride with Sandoval the rest of the way, so throwing him onto the trading block just might be your best course of action.
Chris Coghlan/Justin Ruggiano, OF MIA - With both Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison returning from the disabled list this week, the at-bats for both Coghlan and Ruggiano are likely to be extremely limited. Yes, they both play center field, but with the way Marcell Ozuna has played, there are now rumblings that he will move over to center. Ozuna is working off a .400-plus BABIP and he hasn't shown much in the way of power, so they may start a big platoon once he cools off, but the bottom line is that your time spent with Coghlan and Ruggiano may be coming to an end.
Juan Francisco, 3B MIL - The trade that sent Francisco over to Milwaukee had some promise as he figured to fill in for a banged-up Aramis Ramirez and then float over to first base once the big slugger came back. And while that might be the case right now, it should all come to a close by the end of the month when Corey Hart returns. It may take a bit of time, possibly until just after the All Star break, for Hart to be ready for full-time duty, but once he's in there, Francisco has nowhere to go but the bench. Sure, Ramirez is always a ticking time bomb ready for a DL stint at the drop of a hat, but Francisco's value takes an obvious hit as you can't bank on the poor health of another player to get you through.
Kevin Gausman, SP BAL - Listen, sometimes a guy just isn't ready for the big leagues no matter how phenomenal his skill set may be. Gausman made the jump right from Double-A and has struggled mightily in three of his first four starts. There's nothing wrong with him and keeper league owners should obviously continue to stash him away, but for the purposes of winning your league right now, Gausman should not be used. His numbers right now are so bad that I don't even have to list them and for those who want to know what his peripherals look like, they indicate improvement, but not enough that you're going to continue to risk it by starting him every week. Once the Orioles rotation is back to full health, you can expect to see Gausman sent down to hone his craft at the triple-A level. It may come even sooner depending on what the Orioles want to do.
Michael Cuddyer, OF COL - While a .339 average with 10 home runs, 37 RBI and five stolen bases is a delight for fantasy owners, the often-underrated Cuddyer is likely due for a fall here. I've always been a fan and have used him often throughout the last several years, but between the rib injury and the strong likelihood that an eventual Rockies fire sale could usher the 34-year old slugger out the door, I'm thinking sell, sell sell! The team debated whether or not to put him on the DL with his recent injury, but opted not to in the end. That doesn't mean they can't/won't change their mind should he not be ready in a couple of days. And should he miss time and Tyler Colvin gets to put his skills on display again, the team may see him as expendable. Where he ends up will come down to need, but should he land in a park that is deemed unfriendly to right-handed power, Cuddyer's value could take a significant hit.