Week Four Trade Possibilities

Hopefully sometime last week you were able to pull off a Jarrod Washburn for Justin Verlander trade. But even if you stood pat there are still plenty of trade targets and trade bait guys out there for you. So, here are five guys to pick up and five guys to move.


Justin Upton – A terrible start to the season, where he opened 0-15, has kept Upton’s overall numbers low. But last week he had five hits, including two home runs. Upton likely won’t contribute much in SB but otherwise he should be a four-category star. Last year he was sidetracked by numerous injuries but when healthy in September he had a .919 OPS in 85 PA, having just turned 21 the previous month.

Francisco Liriano – The electric pitcher from 2006 may never come back. However, Liriano has pitched much better than his 7.06 ERA indicates. He has a 4.96 FIP and a lot of the discrepancy can be explained by his dismal 50.4 percent strand rate. His peripherals are slightly worse than both last year and the pre-season projections. You should not trade for him thinking he is a No. 1-type SP. But if his current owner is disgusted with his early-season poundings, he could be a nice No. 2/3-type SP the rest of the season.

A.J. Burnett – The second time through the order against the Red Sox this past Saturday, Burnett got lit up. But the highly-publicized meltdown is obscuring his three other outings this year, in which he had a 3.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20.2 IP. Burnett gave up eight ER twice last year and his main value is not ERA anyway. He is a wins and strikeouts guy and should provide plenty of both for the remainder of the season.

Howie Kendrick – Okay, he is not going to walk and he is not going to appear on the HR leaderboards. But let’s focus on what he can do. Kendrick’s main asset is an AB-heavy high average. His overall AVG sits at just .258 but, much like Upton, he started off the year in a funk, going 10-51. In 1,011 career at-bats, Kendrick has a .303 average in the majors. His ISO sits at .167 which would be a career best. As always with Kendrick it comes down to health. But I like the breakout potential if he can somehow manage 150 games played.

Jon Lester – The 4.88 ERA is not pretty but the FIP is almost exactly what it was a year ago for Lester at 3.66 so far. He is striking out more batters and walking fewer but his HR rate has nearly doubled. Last year’s HR/9 of 0.60 was unsustainable so we should assume that this year’s 1.13 mark is here to stay. But the .384 BABIP should come down significantly, which should help his other numbers.


Aramis Ramirez – The five projection systems all agreed on Aramis Ramirez, seeing him before the season basically as a .287 hitter with 28 HR. Right now Ramirez has a robust .358 AVG thanks to a .372 BABIP. All of the projection systems showed Ramirez with a BABIP between .289 and .299 for the year. He is not off to a great HR start. Ramirez could still easily meet his HR projection, but it would be nice for his chances to once again top 30 HR if his hot start included more than three homers.

Kosuke Fukudome – Congratulations if you had Fukudome in your lineup so far! Now do yourself a favor and sell. He simply is not going to have a .273 ISO or a .348 AVG or 15+ RBI months going forward. Last April he had a .327/.436/.480 line in April and those numbers declined each month.

Chris Volstad – In the last three seasons, the highest K/9 in Volstad’s career was the 6.64 he posted in 126 innings in the Hi-A Florida State League. He currently has an 8.49 K/9 without a significant increase in velocity or the addition of a new pitch. Additionally his ERA is a nifty 2.70 but his FIP stands at 4.66 so far. If the strikeouts disappear at the same time the hits start falling in, this could get ugly quick.

Brandon Phillips – Many touted Phillips as a top-3 second baseman heading into the season. So you would think a .172 average at the end of April would qualify him for the “Acquire” part of this list. But Phillips was overrated coming into the year based on his 2007 season. Plus this is getting into Robinson Cano territory from last year where the first month was so bad that the rest of the season could not compensate. Obviously, the .189 BABIP and the .078 ISO will go up significantly in the weeks and months ahead. But now is the time to cut your losses if anyone offers good talent in return.

Matt Cain – The past two seasons have been pretty similar for Cain. In 2007 he had a 3.65 ERA and a 3.78 FIP and last year he had a 3.76 ERA and a 3.91 FIP. This year his FIP checks in at 3.97 yet his ERA stands at 2.08. He is succeeding thanks to an 89.7 percent strand rate, which is likely to come down quite a bit. Also, his velocity is down nearly a full point, from 92.4 to 91.5 and his K/9 has dropped from 7.69 to 6.23.

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23 Responses to “Week Four Trade Possibilities”

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  1. Brian Recca says:

    Wow this site has helped me so much in my fantasy leagues this year. I joined the site during the offseason and was able to educate myself before the season. Now I’m picking up on trends and I am recognizing players who are good trade targets as well as waiver pick ups. Even before this article came out I was already shopping Cain and Ramirez, and I knew to hang on to Liriano. I was able to get Verlander in a trade earlier in the week, that paid off so far.

    One question though: I have Scott Baker on my team. What should I do with him? I noticed his BABIP is only a little bit higher than his career rate, but his HR/FB rate is ridiculously high. His K/BB rate is good and his last start was very promising as he only had one walk, 6 hits and no homers. He’s a fly ball pitcher, should I trust him?

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    • Joe says:

      I like him to return to form. While his LD% is a bit troubling so far (30.8%), I’m not convinced this isn’t just an SSS problem or just being a little shaky after missing some early time. Regardless I wouldn’t panic about that.

      His FB and SL velocities are actually a little higher this year than last, plus he usually plays with 2/3 of a very good defensive outfield behind him, and there is no way his astronomical 29.2% HR/FB ratio stays where it is. I say keep him unless his peripherals get out of whack.

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  2. Greg says:

    Think you made a mistake. Liriano’s FIP was 3.87 in 2008. His current FIP, unfortunately, is 4.96, thanks to an underwhelming 7.06 K/9, 3.74 BB/9, and a 1.25 HR/9. The last of those numbers does not seem likely to improve, either, as he is giving up a higher % of FB this season and his HR/FB is at a very average 10.7%.

    While I agree that he could be had on the cheap, he is not showing the kind of peripherals to suggest that he is back to good form.

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  3. Brian Joura says:

    Thanks Greg – I’ve updated the numbers in the post.

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  4. Mike Grisso says:

    Nice article here Brian. I think the Morgan kid from Pittsburgh has been a great pick up for me when Vlad went down. Great for runs scored and RBIs, and even some stolen bases.

    Verlander was undrafted by our 10 team league this year because he is so sporadic. It was an ongoing conversation in our draft.

    Still #1 in my league, for now.

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  5. Josh says:

    Trying to trade Volstad for Armando Gallaraga in a 16 team points Keeper. He said no to the straight up deal, should i offer another player with Volstad? and is it Good idea to get Gallaraga?

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  6. Choo says:

    Kendrick put on a laser show against the Mariners over the weekend. His swing got a bit long when the season started but he tightened it back up. Better get him while you can.

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  7. Adam says:

    I was actually able to pull off a Kevin Millwood for Verlander trade late last week. His velocity’s been there, now it seems he’s putting things together. Another tough game this week coming up, but I like Verlander’s chances over the long haul better than Millwood’s.

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  8. Rory says:

    Should I make the Verlander for Cain trade?

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  9. Rory says:

    Meaning I have Cain. Sorry if that was unclear

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    • Brian Joura says:

      Generally I don’t want to comment about individual trades. I’d rather have everyone reading chime in and get the “wisdom of the crowd.”

      I think you would get the better of that deal but at the same time I think you’re dealing from a position of strength, with Cain having the better numbers.

      I would see if you could make a 2-for-2 with you getting the better player of the throw-ins.

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  10. Rahul says:

    Any thoughts on Alex Rios?

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  11. R M says:

    How is Kendrick’s average at-bats heavy? He has never had more than 340 at bats in a season, due to injury, not lack of playing time.

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    • Brian Joura says:

      It’s at-bat heavy because he doesn’t walk a lot. Last year over 94 percent of his plate appearances were at-bats. A guy who walks a lot, like Adam Dunn, had 79 percent of his plate appearances as at-bats.

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  12. Nick says:

    About Kendrick, his career BABIP .356. I’m no BABIP expert, but that does seem a little high, especially for someone who has only hit 17.2% line drives. He has a small enough sample size, so that it might imply some lucky. This year his BABIP is .300, which seems more reasonable considering his LD% in 17.6.

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  13. Brian Joura says:

    The Dutton and Bendix model for predicting BABIP showed Kendrick with expected BABIPs the past two seasons higher than the old method of just adding .12 to his LD%

    It still doesn’t close all of the gap, so the point you raise has merit. But Kendrick has had high BABIPs in the minors, so it’s not something which I find overly concerning.

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  14. Zach Piso says:

    Quick question that has been interesting me:

    Many of the Twins pitchers have been struggling in the early season, between Liriano, Baker, and Slowey. Liriano’s struggles have been well-publicized, and many attribute that high LD% to a disproportionate number of fastballs. Now I know he’s throwing that pitch for health reasons, but what if the game calling on the part of the catcher is causing him (and the others) to get rocked? As a cubs fan, Soto’s game calling was a big factor in his value last season, and I imagine Mauer’s return may boost the value of all of the Twins pitchers. Any thoughts?

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  15. Corey says:

    I’m looking to sell Kosuke Fukudome. What do you think I could get straight-up for him? I have Chipper at 3rd and I’m looking to upgrade there. I might package him with Chipper and upgrade or I do like scott Baker.

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  16. Kevin S. says:

    Not sure where else to ask this, but what do I make of Nolasco? His peripherals all appear to be fine; indeed, he would seem to be suffering from an atrocious BAbip and LOB%. That said, his LD% is 28%. Did he just become an eminently hittable pitcher, or can I expect a major correction? And do I trade Joba Chamberlain for him?

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    • Choo says:

      I’ve been wondering the same thing for two weeks now. And am I the only one who hears that little Nabisco jingle from the 80’s everytime I read Nolasco’s name? I might avoid him based on that alone.

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