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Stock Watch: Open for Business

In one of my fantasy leagues (like you care, I know), I've had a top team all year--first place in my division two weeks ago. Since then, I've lost all my matchups and dropped at least 10 games in the standings (yes, our format is unusual). I say "at least" because I'm afraid to look at the standings page too closely. Clearly, mine is exactly the sort of team that should be making changes, so I'm open for business. Hopefully, not everyone in that league reads this article and finds out how many lemons are hidden on my roster.

With the trading deadline coming up on the 19th (in many leagues at least), I suspect there are quite a few teams out there in desperate need of doing business. Whether you and a trading partner can set out to offset each other's category weaknesses, or you need to swap pitchers for hitters, or veterans for prospects, now is the time to get a deal done. 

Trade For

Alex Rios was just dealt to the Rangers, and he'll see a modest bump in value thanks to the new lineup and even friendlier park. I don't yet know where he'll slot in the batting order, but expect his Runs or RBI's to go up, but probably not both. Don't expect the Ballpark in Arlington to ratchet up his power output, since U.S. Cellular was already a great place to hit homers.

Speaking of White Sox hitters and trades, Adam Dunn is smacking the ball for a great average and OBP this month and just passed through waivers. A new team environment might be just what the slugger needs, and he's got more than enough power not to worry about which park he's hitting in.

Manny Machado and Nick Markakis have endured pretty brutal months, so maybe these talented players will come at a discount just in time to revert to form. Dustin Pedroia's strong brand might keep his price up, but maybe you can persuade a trade partner that his production drop is thanks to that fat new contract and he'll just laze his way through the rest of the year. Okay, maybe not, but it's worth a shot.

Jose Altuve and Nick Franklin have had bad months in the average department, but Altuve has continued to steal (eight bags) and Franklin has kept up the power (four homers). Evan Longoria is the superstar version of that, putting up just a .200 BA in the last 30 days, but still clubbing five homers. Pedro Alvarez spent the last month on the downswing of his boom-and-bust cycle, which tells me he might just catch fire for the pennant run. It's better he does that on your team than on your opponent's.

Ben Zobrist and Brett Lawrie have disappointed their owners all season long, but both are hitting the ball well lately. Maybe they've finally hit their stride. Their upside is definitely worth the risk.

Some big names in pitching to trade for this time. Speaking of big, CC Sabathia is up first. He hasn't been quite right all year, and he's been downright dreadful for the last month (8.33 ERA). The good news is that his FIP is just 5.23 and his xFIP 4.46. Still plenty bad, but much more reasonable. Combined with CC's years of success, there's a good chance he helps a lot of teams down the stretch.

Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez haven't looked like aces for a while (4.94 and 4.97 ERA's), but their strikeout rates are both over 10.00. Strasburg has a healthy 3.27 FIP and an excellent 2.71 xFIP. There's no better time to buy him than now. Gonzalez is the lesser version with a 3.57 FIP and a 3.10 xFIP.

Kris Medlen might be my top target in trades right now. Between his disappointing season numbers, the rumors that he might hit the bullpen, and his 5.40 ERA in the last month, I have to think a lot of owners will be happy to deal him away. But he's got a 3.68 FIP and a 2.77 xFIP to go with a K/BB of 5.20. In short, he's pitched really well lately and has gotten terrible results in ERA. It happens. Trade for him. Unfortunately for those of us who want to trade for him, he has won his last three starts, despite the ERA. So if his owner likes wins, this deal might not come to pass. At least, it didn't for me when I tried to finagle him out of my father.

Trade Away

Kyle Lohse is one of my top trade-aways this week, thanks to the differences in his ERA and FIP on the season (3.23 to 4.16, sixth highest among ERA qualifiers) and in the last month (2.37 to 3.87). Since ERA and WHIP are his only strong categories, I'd move him. Lohse had a pretty big differential last year too, so maybe he can keep it up, but the upside isn't worth it in most fantasy formats. (Unless healthy Brewers pitcher is a category.)

Mike Leake is in a similar situation as Lohse, though he's a better bet for wins. With a 2.94 ERA and a 4.04 FIP, he's got the fourth-worst such differential, just a little behind the trade-worthy and oft-mentioned Jeff Locke. Chris Archer is a little banged up right now, but he's coming off a luck-happy run, and Rays pitchers always seem good in trade offers.

Francisco Liriano may be having a renaissance year with the Pirates, but that doesn't make his 4.09 BB/9 over the last month very good. He's a good one to trade off if you need WHIP help, but hang onto him if you need the whiffs. Speaking of strikeouts, Dillon Gee isn't getting any: his K/9 is just 3.57 over the last month, which might be why he's rocking a 4.32 FIP to offset his shiny 1.53 ERA. Zack Greinke is another good arm to move, as his reputation belies his 6.95  K/9. With a 2.29 ERA in the last month, he should look good to trade partners. (And be good--just not ace-level.)

Just as Pedro Alvarez is on the downswing of his cycle, Justin Upton is back to the top of his. It's a good time to trade him for a more stable producer. Please not that my comparison of Alvarez and Upton does not mean that I condone a one-for-one swap of these guys. Upton owners should hold out for a substantial return.

Brandon Belt is hitting the ball with authority...but he's put together months like this before. I say sell. Maybe he's breaking out and maybe he isn't, but if you can deal him for an established player do it. If it turns out he broke out and he keeps hitting through September, you'll have still used him to fill a need.

Chase Headley looks like he's finding his old stroke with a .293/.396/.451 triple-slash line over the last month of play. The key is "looks like," because he's he hit just one home run in that time and sports a BABIP of .434. If you drafted him and you've been waiting for him to hit like this all year...well, the time has come to cash in your chips, because that BABIP could take everything else down when it crashes.

Pick Up

I'm always a little afraid to tell people to pick up Chris Capuano, because he's been a favorite of mine for a long time. (I'm a sucker for lefties that don't throw hard but do strike people out, what can I say?) But this time, I've got a Fangraphs article to back me up, and yeah, it looks like a good month to own Capuano coming up. Speaking of my favorites, Marco Estrada is back from the DL and pitched well in his return. (Yes, I'll probably be picking him up, and other deep-leaguers should too. In a shallow league, I'd probably give it another start before nabbing him.) 

I don't usually suggest one-off pitchers (also known as streamers, I guess), but Bruce Chen has been pitching well and gets to face the Marlins in his next start. It's a match made in heaven. Just don't keep Chen around too long. Michael Wacha may (or may not) be back into the Cardinals' rotation for good, so he's worth an add. He should spend more time on your team than Chen. Charlie Morton has been rather shockingly good lately, with an 8.33 K/BB in the last month.

I don't usually talk relief in this spot, but Dane De La Rosa got the most recent save for the Angels. I have a feeling there will be more.

For hitters, Avisail Garcia looks to be the beneficiary in Chicago of the Alex Rios trade. He doesn't have power upside, but talented rookies could always have a hot month and be worth a lot. Travis D'Arnaud looks like he's coming up for the Mets, so there might finally be some catching help on the waiver wire to go with Yan Gomes, who seems to be able to hit and might get more playing time in the wake of Mark Reynolds' release. 



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