Top 10 late-round outfield trade candidates

Opening Day is upon us—and with it, the conclusion of most fantasy drafts. Now, it is time to start the transition from draft prep-mode to in-season acquisition mode. The time for trade heists and free agent acquisitions is upon us!

To celebrate, here’s a list of outfielders who went low in drafts, have considerable value, and should come at a very low price for what they are worth.

To qualify for the rankings, a player must have been drafted, on average, at the 200th pick or later in either ESPN standard leagues or at At that point, most of these guys are probably fourth or fifth outfielders, if not utility players, so they won’t cost much to obtain, and could even be a toss-in for a trade.

A few more notes:

{exp:list_maker}Steamer projections were used for a player’s triple-slash line and projected home runs and stolen bases. We’ll take some liberties with the final rankings, but this is the baseline.
Playing time was set to a player’s lineup spot as per, with players given 150 games played.
Player value was calculated as per’s roto points calculator for 12-team leagues.
Runs and RBI were calculated by regressing the Steamer triple-slash line against a player’s lineup batting order and lineup strength. {/exp:list_maker}

Here we go:

1. Alejandro De Aza
Projected stat line: 94.7 R, 14.4 HR, 63.4 RBI, 27.7 SB, .267 AVG value: 1.023 points above average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 231.12

If you read my article a couple weeks back, you know that I’m a huge, unapologetic fan of Alejandro de Aza. He’s getting his first crack at a full-time job this season, so a lot of people will take the wait-and-see approach with him. I think you should go straight for him.

I think he can surpass his above line and expect him to be closer to 2-3 points above average than 0.5. I have a bet with a friend that, valuewise, he will finish ahead of Andrew McCutchen at the end of the season.

Much of his value is predicated upon him holding onto the leadoff role. If he can, he’ll be one of the best bargains in fantasy this year.

2. Brennan Boesch
Projected stat line: 99.6 R, 23.4 HR, 86.8 RBI, 7.82 SB, .261 AVG value: 1.668 points above average
ADP (ESPN): 216.4

If Boesch weren’t already a popular sleeper in the fantasy realm, I would be tempted to rank him higher. Problem is, many owners who have rostered him will be wary of letting him slip away, so he’s likely to be the most expensive player on this list.

Boesch, more than anyone else on this list, is dependent on the talent around him. Hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder does a lot for his runs scored projection, which is reflected in the gaudy total above. No matter, he’s a great candidate for a solid year. In some ways, I can see him having an Alex Gordon-2011 year of sorts. If he can post an above-average BABIP and outperform Steamer’s batting average projection, he could finish the year a very similar player.

3. Delmon Young
Projected stat line: 75.6 R, 19.7 HR, 90.9 RBI, 3.1 SB, .284 AVG value: 0.486 points above average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 218.32

I had to cheat a little bit to get Young onto this list—he’s actually a shade under 200 if you ask ESPN (197).

Sure, he had a disappointing 2011 campaign. But, much of that was the product of a low batting average and low home run total.

The “R” in WAR
How a person can be a hero by being a zero.

Both Steamer and Bill James think he can turn it around, so I’m inclined to agree with them. Another factor working in his favor is the fact that he hits fifth in a powerful order. That doesn’t mean that fifth is an overly desirable position. Rather, he is less dependent on batting order than anyone else on this list. Once you get to sixth in the order or lower, you start doing some real damage to your value (see, Colby Rasmus). Fifth borders on that line. However, he’s got more room for growth in that department than the other guys on this list, so you won’t have to cut him if he gets demoted.

4. Jose Tabata
Projected stat line: 89.6 R, 10.1 HR, 59.9 RBI, 27.8 SB, .279 AVG value: 0.445 points above average
ADP (ESPN): 222.5

If you’re a fan of MLBDepthCharts, like I am, you’ll notice that this list has a number of speedy guys who bat at the top of the order (De Aza, Tabata, Presley). That’s no mistake. Tabata doesn’t have much power, but he makes up for it with a boatload of runs and steals that come from the extra opportunities supplied from hitting in the two-hole.

He’s 800 plate appearances into his major league career, he hits for a reasonable average, and he will get you a number of steals. He won’t win championships, but if you can plug a league-average outfielder into your No. 5 slot, you’re doing very well.

I can’t find many fantasy owners who are overenamored with Tabata, so he shouldn’t be difficult to pry away via trade. Many will overlook him, and few know his true value. Now, you won’t be one of them.

5. Nolan Reimold
Projected stat line: 98.5 R, 25.5 HR, 73.6 R, 11.2 SB, .251 AVG value: 1.041 points above average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 296.76

Reimold, if he can lock down the playing time, has a chance to be among the most valuable and cheapest on this list. You should be able to get him for almost nothing in any league. In fact, I just picked him up off the free agent wire. has him listed as the team’s probable leadoff hitter, which is a huge boost to his value. Whether he can hold down that spot in the lineup is anyone’s guess, but if he were able to (like J.J. Hardy did for much of last season), he’ll be a huge asset to your team.

He’s worthy of a starting spot in most leagues, so if he’s on free agency in your league, you have to pick him up. If he’s already owned, target him as a toss-in— you shouldn’t be willing to give up much for him in a trade because his ownership rate is so low (not because he can’t play).

6. Alex Presley
Projected stat line: 94.9 R, 13.1 HR, 56.4 RBI, 31.9 SB, .275 AVG value: 1.234 points above average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 256.4

I admit, I needed to break away from the Steamer line to get Presley on this list (I used the Bill James line, which is more optimistic in many cases). His Steamer line alone places him closer to 1.5 points below average, but I agree more with the Bill James line for this player. He’s got a good amount of speed, a little bit of power, and hits leadoff. That’s a combination for a valuable player. If Steamer liked him more, he’d be higher up on this list. But, no matter, he deserves to be here.

Some really like Presley, but he doesn’t seem to be getting credit for how big a sleeper he really is. His value is predicated on him leading off, but he can handle the job. He shouldn’t cost much in a trade, as he is available on free agency in many leagues.

7. Alfonso Soriano
Projected stat line: 76.5 R, 27.5 HR, 91.9 RBI, 4.6 SB, .245 AVG value: 0.099 points above average
ADP (ESPN): 202.9

Soriano has become a forgotten man in fantasy circles. In a lot of ways, he deserves it. Let’s face it, he can’t stay healthy, he hasn’t hit for average since 2008, and he can’t steal bases anymore.

That’s a lot of negatives.

However, good owners tend to focus on what a player can do instead of what they can’t do, and what Soriano can still do is hit for power. With that, he’ll drive in a lot of runs from the five-hole and bat himself home enough times to have a reasonable run total.

The above line assumes over 600 plate appearances, which might be a little much to ask at this point. Either way, he’ll be a nice player to own until he goes down.

If he weren’t still “Alfonso Soriano,” he’d probably go higher on this list. Unfortunately, his name sounds like someone who used to be famous, so someone who already owns him might get a little sentimental. However, he’s still available on free agency in a lot of leagues, so see if you can get him.

8. Bryan LaHair
Projected stat line: 81.7 R, 27.5 HR, 95.3 RBI, 2.0 SB, .254 AVG value: 0.759 points above average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 244.4

He’s a powerful hitter with big-time potential, and there aren’t many cleanup hitters out there that are so freely available. Sure, the Padres’ Jesus Guzman is available, but he’s not much with
the stick.

LaHair is a pretty serious sleeper due to his power potential, but a lot of fantasy players seem agree, so you might have some trouble prying him away depending on the owner. Give it a shot though, then be unapologetic about how cheap you got him this year. The above projection gives him a little leeway in the average department, which means he shouldn’t have too much trouble reaching these totals.

Make him a priority target in your league.

9. Lorenzo Cain
Projected stat line: 87.1 R, 10.0 HR, 67.8 RBI, 23.0 SB, .255 AVG value: 0.877 points below average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 224.7

He’s got speed, can hit for a reasonable average, and is hitting for a ton of power this spring. Hitting in the two-hole, he’s also got the opportunity. Many owners already have him pegged as a sleeper, which will make him harder to acquire and bumps him down this list.

The above line, which is prorated for Steamer’s projection, leaves a little to be desired. However, for what his potential hints he could be, he’s worth a flyer, and could easily outperform the above.

10. Alex Rios
Projected stat line: 66.9 R, 17.2 HR, 69.8 RBI, 17.2 SB, .262 AVG value: -1.201 points below average
ADP (MockDraftCentral): 219.6

Rios is on this list more for what he’s done than for what I think he’ll do. You don’t need me to recount his story: He was spectacular in 2010 but fell flat on his face in 2011.

Perhaps the best news about Rios is that he’s currently slated to hit out of the six-hole, with third baseman Brent Morel slated to hit No. 2. Now, who do you think finishes the season as the ChiSox’ No. 2 hitter?

If the answer is Rios, he instantly becomes league average just from the extra plate appearances.

If he performs the way he has shown he is capable, he’ll be a world beater at this price. If not, well, you didn’t lose a whole lot. Love him for the potential, but be ready with a backup option.

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I drafted De Aza for my fantasy team so I hope you are right.  I did my own analysis and agree with you.  My only concern is De Aza was Ozzie’s guy, right?  I’m afraid if he slumps, Ventura might not have as much patience with him as Ozzie would.

Mike Silver
Mike Silver
I don’t disagree—a short leash, especially for a player whose projection depends on plate appearances, is something to always be concerned with. But that’s also adding to the reason why he’s going later than he rightfully should. Either way, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. De Aza isn’t your typical first time starter. 2012 will be his fifth stint in The Show and he’s already posted a .280/.337/.410 line in 388 PAs. In terms of Ventura and the ChiSox management, I think one thing in de Aza’s favor is that the team doesn’t have a true leadoff hitter… Read more »

A lot of these guys are FA in my 12 team mixed league.  Who would you grab:  De Aza or Lahair

I have Allen Craig and can put him on the DL or drop him entirely.  Is there more potential in Craig than these guys?

Mike Silver
Mike Silver
If you can find a way to roster both, do it. Assuming you can’t, I think this one comes down to your needs. If you could use some depth at the corner infield slots, LaHair’s your guy since he should gain eligibility there. If you don’t have any specific needs to address, go with de Aza since he’s the more valuable player overall. At this point in the season, I would also try to roster de Aza over LaHair unless you’re woefully in need of power or are way out-gunning your opponents in speed. I’ve always been of the opinion… Read more »

I’m rooting for Lahair, but how confident are you he gets a full season of ABs.  Injured now, and with Rizzo breathing down his neck for a May/June callup.  I’m worried he needs to start out hot, and stay hot, or he could be done.

Mike Silver
Mike Silver
Definitely agree that Rizzo is a concern. However, I don’t think that the Cubs are going to rush Rizzo. He proved last year he isn’t ready for Major League pitching, so I don’t think it’s the same case as 2011 where, if he hits in AAA, they’re going to call him up right away. LaHair’s leash is definitely shorter than you’d like, but hey, that’s why he’s going undrafted in so many leagues. But you’re right, if he hits—he stays. If he doesn’t, he could lose the job. But if he’s that bad, maybe he’s doing you a favor by… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

No stock in Reimold’s absolutely atrocious spring? I’ve always pegged him to breakout, but it never seems to be in the cards

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

Ditto on Rios. I know he had a good Sept, but:

Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson
Cain shouldn’t be a sleeper. This is almost certainly an instance where the ranking services and uninformed leagues are pulling down the average numbers. Cain’s a mid-round/$6-11 pick from what I’ve seen. There’s not too much upside to outperform that. I’d also call him the best player on this list by a wide margin. He’s a poor man’s Cameron Maybin. Boesch is the only guy I expect to be similarly ranked by the end of the year, but his skill set (R/HR/RBI/AVG vs righties) is much easier to find. Out of curiosity, where does Eric Thames fall? Without consulting the… Read more »

Surprised that David Murphy didn’t make this list.

Between the ballpark, the lineup and the fact that Cruz and Hamilton are mortal locks to get injured at some point…Murph could easily see 500 plate appearances this year.