The calendar has flipped to August, and the trade deadline has come and gone. This is winning time in fantasy baseball leagues: time to throw out any illusions that you’re going to win your league with all of your brilliant draft picks intact; time to throw out what you thought you knew around draft time and make adjustments; time to decide whether you’re in it to win it this year, and what you might need to make that happen; time to check narrative and sentiment at the door.
Which means that it’s also time for some dead weight on your roster to get cut loose, no matter where you picked them and no matter what they did for you over the first 2-3 months of the season. Here are four widely owned players who simply haven’t been performing well enough to justify a roster spot any longer.
Fantasy baseball waiver wire
Player to drop
Alex Verdugo, OF, Boston Red Sox
Despite a homer to start his August earlier this week, Verdugo has been mired in a miserable slump for over a month now, slashing .158/.236/.263 over 26 games dating back to June 28. A fluky-low BABIP certainly has something to do with that, but the outfielder also just isn’t driving the ball with much authority, and he hasn’t really shown any signs of pulling out of it.
The case for dropping him, though, is about more than his current funk — it’s about Verdugo’s fantasy profile overall, and what it can do for you so late in the season. He doesn’t hit for much power, and he’s not much of a threat on the basis; he’s mostly an accumulator, contributing a little bit across the board while racking up counting stats thanks to spending most of his time at or near the top of Boston’s order. That has value over a full season, but this 162-game marathon has now become a six-week sprint to the finish; unless you’re really in need of batting average, the potential Verdugo rebound isn’t worth the current slump.
Tommy Edman, 2B/SS/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Edman finally returned from the IL earlier this week, and with Paul DeJong shipped off to Toronto and Brendan Donovan potentially done for the year, you may think the speedster’s path to everyday playing time is pretty clear. Think again, though: The Cardinals still have a logjam of position players, with Nolan Gorman at second base and Tyler O’Neill and Alec Burleson pushing for playing time in the outfield (and at DH) alongside Jordan Walker.
That really just leaves shortstop for Edman, and there’s a problem there, too: St. Louis’ top prospect, Masyn Wynn, is beating down the door for a late-season promotion, and he just so happens to also play shortstop. Edman’s primary fantasy utility is his speed, which requires regular at-bats to really tap into. His path to get there seems awfully murky right now, not to mention his current struggles at the plate.
Willy Adames, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
The case for dropping Adames, on the other hand, is much simpler: He simply hasn’t been very good for a long time now. Over his last 66 games — the majority of the fantasy season — the shortstop is slashing just .186/.265/.356 with 10 homers. In the past, we’ve been willing to overlook his diminishing batting average due to the damage he did on contact, but Adames’ quality of contact is the worst its been at any point in his entire career. He’s still capable of barreling up mistakes, but his average exit velocity, hard-hit rate and weak contact rate have all dipped dramatically. His defense (and Milwaukee’s lack of better options) will keep him on the field, but this looks like a player who’s lost at the plate right now.
Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Speaking of lost: Keller was a first-half darling, a former top prospect who seemed to finally be figuring it out after years in the wilderness. The righty’s last six starts, though, have been all kinds of ugly, with 28 runs allowed in his last 33.2 innings. He’s leaving the ball in the happy zone far, far too much right now, and his long track record of giving up loud contact prior to this season has me skeptical that his first half was anything more than a happy accident.