Giants SS Marco Luciano leads us off today after getting promoted to Triple-A last week and then San Francisco today. He played just six games at the pit stop but slashed .292/.370/.625 with two home runs despite a 29.6 percent strikeout rate, a mirror image of his 29.8 percent rate in 56 Double-A games. His season-long line at that level doesn’t tell the whole story, as he was improving throughout the year and slashing .305/.407/.576 in his last 32 games there. All this is to say he’s in rhythm right now and has a better chance to stick than the stats imply.
Atlanta has enjoyed an early-mover’s advantage in several aspects of the game these past few years, and they’re a morning bird again this season, swapping cash and arms for Taylor Hearn and Pierce Johnson in separate deals. RHP Victor Vodnik now has an inside lane on a big league bullpen spot, but it’s a Rockies bullpen spot. RHP Tanner Gordon comes to Colorado along with Vodnik, but he’s a 25-year-old starter who was demoted from Triple-A after a rough start and hasn’t been much better in Double-A. Perhaps the Rockies can fix him . . .
I keep hearing about how Reds SS Elly De La Cruz hits too many ground balls to be a sustainable fantasy force, but then I keep seeing him smash baseballs and steal bases. I guess the truth could be somewhere in the middle, but I remain firmly in the camp that he’s a fantasy monster, now and always. Sure, he’ll slump at some point, but with the shift ban doing its work and leaving scorching singles behind, the hard-hit ground ball is back in action.
The Reds have been good enough with Elly that they’re leading the wild card race as I’m compiling this post on Tuesday morning, and they’re just 1.5 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central even though they keep losing to the Brewers. The lineup looks strong with Christian Encarnacion-Strand in the mix, but the pitching is a little shaky.
Noelvi Marte could be moved if Cincinnati saw a way to acquire a big-time arm for more than one season. They’ve reportedly floated the idea of moving Jonathan India, so they’re well aware of their infield depth.
The Brewers got their own boost over the weekend in the form of Sal Frelick, who has quickly announced his arrival as their best outfielder. What they’ve needed most this whole season is a tough out or two in their low-OBP lineup.
The Diamondbacks could stand to add some pitching and are reportedly thinking it might be Shohei Ohtani. They do have a stockpile of young bats to offer, including Dominic Canzone, Ryan Bliss, and Jorge Barrosa, who would all make for interesting redraft pick-ups if they got an opportunity. In Double-A, Ivan Mendoza has six home runs in seven games despite his on-going strikeout problems. AJ Vukovich has had a nice bounce-back season (18 HR, 9 SB, 118 wRC+ in 74 games). He’s not blocked by any means, but LHP Yu-Min Lin’s off-speed command is working just as well as it did in High-A through 13 innings (0.54 WHIP). He doesn’t throw hard and probably needs to add a tick or two before he breaks into the majors, but he’s intriguing.
The biggest backlog belongs to Baltimore, of course. Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz are obvious trade candidates, and the fantasy world would be thrilled if that happened, so the smart money suggests it won’t. We haven’t seen this front office manage a window like the one they have in 2023, but they’ve been mostly focused on the long term in their approach to roster building. I doubt they’d move Coby Mayo or Heston Kjerstad or even Low-A catcher Samuel Basallo.
Tampa intrigued me as a potential match for Ohtani at one point because they’ve always got a 40-man pinch in the coming winter and have been taking some bigger swings the past few seasons. The lesson from dealing Joe Ryan for Nelson Cruz is probably not to try that again, but what if Joe Ryan returns Shohei Ohtani for a playoff run? Moot point now, I realize. Hard to imagine the Angels trading him for anything less than a fate-changing haul. Hard to imagine them trading him at all.
The Rays could trade Curtis Mead into an everyday role on our rotisserie teams. Same goes for Jonathan Aranda. Vidal Brujan, Kyle Manzardo and Oslevis Basabe would all intrigue me in any league if they had a chance to play.
Oswald Peraza has been playing in New York but isn’t hitting yet. Feels like they’d prefer to keep him around, given that they’ve held him so far. Gleyber Torres is under contract through 2024, but they’ve got nothing at third base. DJ LeMauhieu is 35 and somehow locked in through 2026, his age 38 season. They’re going to have to eat that contract at some point. That 40-man clog is part of the reason we haven’t seen guys like Everson Pereira or Andres Chaparro yet this year. Both would make me redraft-curious in a new setting.
Texas is kind of a wild card in this scenario because they too moved early and could do better than Brad Miller at DH. Luisangel Acuña in particular would have more opportunities elsewhere. Dangerous game though, trading a guy with that last name.
St. Louis says they’ll trade some veterans, and they’ve always got a backlog of interesting hitters. Luken Baker leads the list this time around. He’s mostly a DH, so conditions would have to be perfect for him to fall into a regular role. His Triple-A line of .328/.440/.676 with 24 home runs in 69 games demands a longer look at the next level.
Last thing I’ll mention, Atlanta SS Vaughn Grissom could be traded. Anyone could be traded, I realize, but Grissom is hitting .320 with a 14.5 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A and could be fun again if it seemed like he might play someday.
Thanks for reading!