With the All-Star break nearing, the Fantasy Baseball season is starting to reach an important stretch, where depending on your league format, owners likely need to start searching for some key free agency additions or sneaky trade options.
Regarding the free agency front, here are seven players that are not only solid value additions, but also likely to be available in your Fantasy league.
Fantasy Baseball: Free Agency Finds (June 23, 2013)
Koji Uehara (RP – Boston Red Sox)
With a 4.03 ERA, three blown saves (since June 10th) and runs allowed in four of his last five outings, Andrew Bailey has been bounced from the closer role in Boston. Replacing him will be Uehara, who has nasty stuff and top-notch command of multiple pitches. He doesn’t own the high-octane fastball like most closers, but he still strikes out a lot of batters. He also plays for one of the best teams in the AL, which means he could see a lot of save opportunities. Be forewarned, as John Farrell will have to be careful with Koji, in order to keep him healthy. That’s why Uehara was so successful in Baltimore, because Buck Showalter was so smart in using him and the bullpen. If you need saves, you better add him now, because he’s going fast.
Stats: 2.10 ERA, 42 K’s in 30 IP, Available in 49% of ESPN Fantasy leagues
Joaquin Benoit (RP – Detroit Tigers)
Much like Uehara, Benoit will be the new closer for the Tigers, replacing Jose Valverde, who was recently designated for assignment. Like Boston, Detroit is one of the best teams in the American League, which should lead to a number of save opportunities. So, if you are in need of saves, Benoit will be a quality option, as he long as he pitches well and stays healthy. He’s being picked up rather quickly, so you may want to nab him right away.
Stats: 1.80 ERA, 4 saves, 35 K’s in 30 IP, Available in 28% of ESPN Fantasy leagues
Anthony Rendon (2B, 3B – Washington Nationals)
Rendon is one of the hottest hitting prospects not named Wil Myers or Yasiel Puig, and better yet, he officially counts as a second basemen in any league that qualifies the position after ten games played. Second base is arguably the weakest position in Fantasy Baseball, so adding him to your team is a good idea, as he’s only going to get better. That is, if he can stay healthy, as there is an injury history that comes along with him. Still, Rendon is definitely worth the risk, especially if you need help in your infield. He’s an especially solid addition in keeper leagues.
Stats: .329 average, 8 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI in 85 AB’s, Available in 45% of ESPN Fantasy leagues
Nick Franklin (2B, SS – Seattle Mariners)
Like Rendon, Franklin is another solid keeper league addition, and one that qualifies at two of the weaker positions, second base and shortstop. He plays for the Mariners, a team that has struggled offensively, but Franklin does have hits in 10 of his last 11 games, as well as 7 RBI over his last three.
Stats: .295 average, 7 2B, 4HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB in 88 AB’s, Available in 41% of ESPN Fantasy leagues
Mitch Moreland (1B – Texas Rangers)
Moreland recently returned from the disabled list, and is once again starting in a very solid Texas lineup. Before landing on the disabled list, he showed that he had plenty of pop, with 12 HR and 30 extra base hits, so if you need depth, or someone to rotate in your utility position, he would be a wise choice.
Stats: .283 average, 17 2B, 12 HR, 30 RBI in 205 AB’s, Available in 49% of ESPN Fantasy leagues
Roy Oswalt (SP – Colorado Rockies)
Oswalt struggled last season with the Rangers, yet carries a big reputation and a power arm. Many will be standoffish due to last year’s numbers, combined with the fact that he’s pitching in Colorado, a hitter’s park. But after his first start with the big club, Oswalt struck out 11 batters, proving that he can still mow down hitters. National League pitchers frequently do not have to deal with facing a DH, which will be another plus for him. Depending on the league you’re in (teams, stats, depth, etc.), he’ll either be a must add now, or someone that you should monitor in the upcoming days and weeks.
Stats: 2.16 ERA in 5 minor league starts, 11 K’s in first start with Rockies, Available in 97% of ESPN Fantasy leagues
Joe Saunders (SP – Seattle Mariners)
His regular season numbers aren’t pretty, but you may want to ride the hot streak while it’s there. It’s important seek out key stats like quality starts, and Saunders has 5 over the last 30 days, one fewer than the league leaders, Max Scherzer and Bartolo Colon. He’s allowed one earned run in four of his last five starts, pitching 6 1/3 innings or more in each of those appearances. Next week (starting July 2), he’ll get you two starts, so if you’re in a head-to-head league, you may want to keep him in mind.
Stats: 4.48 ERA on regular season, 5 quality starts and a 2.95 ERA over the last 30 days, Available in 99% ESPN Fantasy leagues
Note: All stats from ESPN.com and ESPN Fantasy leagues (and as of June 23, 2013)