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Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Where to turn with Yordan Alvarez on the IL

The Astros — and fantasy teams — will be without Alvarez’s services for a while after the star was placed on the injured list with oblique discomfort.

Yordan Alvarez of Houston Astros celebrates a home run with Alex Bregman against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fourth inning in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on June 5, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The injury bug struck again on Friday, as news broke that the Houston Astros have placed MVP candidate Yordan Alvarez on the 10-day injured list with right oblique discomfort. It’s brutal news for the Astros, who now have to try and stay within striking distance of the red-hot Texas Rangers in the AL West without the services of one of the best hitters in baseball. But it’s also a tough break for fantasy baseball owners who spent a first-round pick on Alvarez in drafts this spring — and now find themselves with a huge hole in their outfield.

Luckily, we’re here to help. While there’s obviously no replacing Alvarez’s numbers — the man was leading the Majors in RBI while slashing .272/.384/.579, after all — there are plenty of intriguing outfielders available on the waiver wire who can at least keep you afloat while the All-Star is on the shelf for (hopefully) the next few weeks.

Fantasy baseball: Yordan Alvarez replacements

Bryan de la Cruz, OF, Miami Marlins

de la Cruz is the likeliest of this group to have been snatched off the waiver wire already, but if he’s still available, go add him right now. The 26-year-old started breaking out down the stretch of last season, and that’s only continued in 2023: He’s hitting a ridiculous .355/.426/.624 over the last month, with six homers in his last 25 games. (He’s even chipped in a couple of steals for good measure.) His sky-high hard-hit and line drive rates support those numbers, and he should remain squarely in the middle of a sneaky-strong Marlins lineup — making him a great source of counting stats, particularly RBI.

Nolan Jones, 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies

It’s always a good idea to get a piece of someone calling Coors Field home, but Jones has been raking just about everywhere since getting the call to the Majors last month. Once a top prospect, Jones struggled in his first taste of the bigs, eventually being shipped to the Rockies. He tore up Triple-A this spring, though, and his second go-round at the highest level has been far more successful: Jones currently boasts a 1.005 OPS with two homers and three steals in his first 12 games with Colorado. He’s still striking out too much (32.6%), but his .306 expected batting average, 11.1% barrel rate and 94th-percentile exit velocity show how much damage he’s doing when he makes contact, and again, you’ll never go broke betting on Coors Field.

Luke Raley, 1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

We’ve been banging the drum about Raley for a while now, and he just keeps on hitting for the league-leading Rays. The 28-year-old was an afterthought entering the year, but he’s lighting it up so far, with a .257/.348/.586 line that includes 11 homers and a surprising seven stolen bases. He’s got one of the highest barrel rates, hard-hit rates and xwOBAs in the game right now — seriously, his Statcast page is nothing but bright red — and there’s no better lineup in which to compile counting stats right now. He often sits against lefties, which could be a concern in leagues with weekly moves, but he’s been productive enough that it doesn’t matter.

Jack Suwinski, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

The rest of Pittsburgh’s offense may have tailed off after their delightful start, but Suwinski has kept on swinging a hot bat, slashing .273/.347/.591 with four homers over the last two weeks. The K rate is still very high — and he’ll sit some against southpaws — but so is the walk rate, making him hugely valuable in OBP leagues. Even if you aren’t in one of those, though, his top-of-the-scale barrel rate, sprint speed and expected slugging percentage will certainly play.