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Stock Watch: The Real Trading Deadline

Major League GM's now have to try passing their players through waives if they want to make any moves. We learned last year that big trades can still happen in the Big Leagues, but still, their choices have been severely limited.

Ours are about to be gone altogether.

That's right, the real trading deadline is August 18 -- the fantasy deadline. It may vary from league to league, but that's the average in my representative sample.* I've made the mistake of letting the deadline sneak up on me before, but with a slate of teams on the fantasy playoff/money bubble, I feel kind of like the Orioles: I need to make some deals. Chances are, you've got some holes to fill too.

Whether you drafted Albert Pujols in the first round (did that) or you've got Nelson Cruz and Everth Cabrera waiting for Biogenesis suspensions, or Jose Veras and Ernesto Frieri were the last closers left on your team, chances are you've still got some holes to fill. Get your trades in while you can.

For this reason, Stock Watch will be focusing on trade targets for the next couple weeks, but shift exclusively to waiver wire catches after that. 'Cause what good will trade suggestions do after that?

Before we get right into the Trade For's and Trade Away's, what you really want to deal for and give up depends highly on the situation. I just completed a trade of Mike Trout for Clayton Kershaw and Austin Jackson because I was leading most hitting categories and running away with a minimum of second place in steals...and dead last in ERA. In another league, I shipped off Adam Wainwright and change for Troy Tulowitzki and someone else because I had the opposite problem. 

Trade responsibly (or don't), but check out last week's article and the one from the week before for mildly out of date category-specific advice. (Canny readers will note that steals and saves are absent from these articles; this author trusts your ability to identify which players will produce in those areas.)

*My three Yahoo! leagues comprise this statistical survey.

Trade For

Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder are the biggest trade targets, with Fielder coming off a lousy month, and Bautista's batting average fluctuating again towards its nadir. Neither slugger will come at bargain price, but a modest discount might be possible.

Nationals teammates Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon were supposed to spend July improving, but both were snakebit by .175 BABIP's. Both are talented players and could be had for low cost at the moment.

Mike Moustakas and Jason Heyward are both showing signs of life; those interested in taking a risk could pry them from owners happy to sell high.

J.J. Hardy and Brandon Phillips have been high-value players all year, but low BABIP's in recent weeks make them viable trade targets.

Jurickson Profar may get increased playing time for the rest of the season if Nelson Cruz is indeed suspended for 50 games. He may or may not capitalize on it, but it's worth checking out.

Speaking if suspended players, if you're looking to replace some of Everth Cabrera's steals, consider Eric Young, who nabbed 13 in the last month. Actually, he's probably on the waiver wire. Too bad he won't give you that sweet 2B/SS eligibility....

Tim Lincecum, Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos, and Chris Sale have all been putting up great strikeout numbers recently and good or better xFIP's. Also, they've all put up mediocre or worse ERA's in that timeframe. Don't expect consistency from Lincecum or Gonzalez, or wins from Sale, but any of these pitchers look like good bets for the rest of the season.

For the cost-conscious, Ivan Nova has pitched quite well lately, but doesn' come with much reputation. Ian Kennedy has not pitched terribly well, but getting traded to San Diego should help his rate stats.

Trade Away

If this list ends up looking a lot like the best players of July, don't be shocked. I'm not predicting that most of these guys have their value crater--just that they're probably worth more now than at other points in the season

Jonathan Lucroy and Brian McCann are good catchers, but slugging over .600 is probably more than we should expect in August.

Kyle Seager and Hanley Ramirez were two of the top three hitters by WAR (Fangraphs-style), with the other being Mike Trout. Seager is a great trade candidate if you actually have 3B depth, because chances are most of your league has a serious need at the position. Ramirez is trickier, because he's been carrying fantasy teams since his return from injury, and he's got first-round history. I'm not trading him unless I get superstar-level return.

Jose Iglesias might be the odd guy out on this list, as he hasn't hit very well of late. I'd deal him anyway, because his hot start may still be remembered and the trade to Detroit isn't likely to help his luck return.

Colby Rasmus has been unbelievable lately. I mean, really. I don't believe he'll continue hitting like this. Your trade partners won't either, but they might be tempted to take the risk. Veterans Jayson Werth and Torii Huner might have more value, and are similarly unlikely to continue hitting with the best players in baseball. 

The best outfield trade chip might be Wil Myers, as there's nothing like a stud prospect tearing the cover off the ball to net a large return in trade.

Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, and Jose Fernandez are all likely to face innings limits or restrictions of some kind. I don't know the details of such plans, but I know I'd rather these guys play for other teams when we find out.

Matt Moore and Jeff Locke have had success thus far with matching BB/9's of 4.15. They may continue to be good, but walk rates like that are better left to other peoples' fantasy teams unless they come with elite strikeout numbers.

Mike Minor, Patrick Corbin, and Hiroki Kuroda are good pitchers coming off too-good-to-be-true months. Deal them to your pitching-needy leaguemates.

Pick Up

Rookie Junior Lake is smacking the ball around the park for the Cubs with SS/OF eligibility. He's well worth a pickup anywhere he's still available.

Oswaldo Arcia is back from the minors, where he was hitting well. He could perform as a 5th fantasy OF.

Xander Bogaerts may hit the Boston's lineup sometime soon, with Iglesias traded to Detroit. Top shortstop prospects are always worth adding to your team.

Back from Injury

They probably aren't on your waiver wire, but Curtis Granderson and B.J. Upton are back from the DL. Those in shallow leagues should check on their availability, while those in need of some more risk and potential may want to trade for them just in case they come back hot.

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