Fantasy baseball leagues come in all shapes and sizes, but one common thread that runs through many of them is the search for quality players at multiple positions of eligibility. Being able to still play Joe Mauer at catcher and Miguel Cabrera at third base certainly benefits their owners if another quality first baseman is on the roster.
We see players pick up eligibility at multiple positions in-season as well, and that can lead to the opportunity to be more creative with roster construction. I've owned Buster Posey in a dynasty league for years, and I've had to slide him over to first base at times due to injuries and the presence of a quality backup catcher on my roster. This year, Todd Frazier picked up eligibility at first base, and that allowed me to be a little more comfortable trading Posey in a deal for a marquee player at another position, since I knew Frazier could slide into my first-base position in a pinch for the remainder of the season.
Another one of my players could be close to gaining the five games he needs to gain eligibility at another position. The injury to outfielder Jose Baustita led to the Blue Jays using Edwin Encarnacion in left field Wednesday to allow Baustita to DH. The first baseman is back in left field Thursday, and if the trend continues, he could pick up outfield eligibility by next week. This is no small thing in my league's format, where first base is the easiest position to find quality players for cheap -- case in point, the top three free-agent hitters in this league are all first baseman.
Encarnacion and 12 other players who may gain extra eligibility in five-appearance leagues are listed below, ranked roughly according to how much value they would gain by having their new positions in tow. If you're an owner of one or more of these players, you may soon be gaining additional roster flexibility.
DH Victor Martinez: Catcher (two games). Martinez received two games at catcher early in the season due to the Tigers' interleague slate. The team plays three games at Arizona in late July and another two at PIttsburgh in mid-August. The odds aren't particularly strong Martinez picks up three appearances at catcher in those games, but it's certainly possible. He could also see spot duty behind the plate in the wake of an injury to Alex Avila.
1B Chris Davis: Third base (two games). Davis has had a huge let-down season compared to his preseason value, but if he bounces back in the second half and sees a few more games at third base, his value could rise exponentially. Davis manned third base twice in June, and though he has committed one error in his nine innings at the position, the team may not be ready to give up on the experiment yet, especially if Manny Machado's bat continues to remain cold.
1B/OF Michael Cuddyer: Third base (three games). Cuddyer is sidelined with a shoulder injury, and with Nolan Arenado coming back from the disabled list Thursday, Cuddyer may not have much of a chance to add time at third base when he returns. Or maybe he will. The Rockies' outfielder has been outstanding this season, with breakthrough campaigns from Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson. The only way to play both with a healthy Carlos Gonzalez and first baseman Justin Morneau is to stick Cuddyer at third. At the very least, he may get a little action at the position when he returns just on double-switch shifting.
DH David Ortiz: First base (two games). Waiting on Ortiz to pick up first-base eligibility is a common occurence each year in Fantasy baseball. In each of the last two seasons, he received the five games needed to open up the option of moving him to first base and going with another quality bat int the utility slot if possible. He's still stuck on two games this season, but the Red Sox play three at St. Louis and two at Cincinnati in early August. Circle that on your calendars, Ortiz owners.
1B Edwin Encarnacion: Outfield (two games). His bat plays at any position, but you may be in a scenario like I am where it would be very beneficial to have the OF option on the table for Encarnacion. While it certainly isn't the same as the first baseman adding third-base eligibility last season -- and don't count that out for this year either, by the way, with the team struggling to find offense at the hot corner -- Encarnacion could be a big help to owners in standard 23-player leagues who sometimes have trouble finding five quality outfielders but have good first basemen at 1B, CI and UT. There's no telling when Bautista's hamstring will be cleared for a return to the outfield, but if Encarnacion isn't a disaster in left, the Blue Jays could allow Baustita to remaining at DH through the All-Star break.
IF Mookie Betts: Outfield (four games). It's pretty easy to determine when Betts, a highly-regarded infield prospect who is seeing time in the outfield at the major-league level, will pick up eligibility at his new position. While he'll be more vaulable to owners in the middle infield, the rookie could still be an asset in the outfield in some Fantasy situtations. In the roto league in which I own Betts, I could certainly plug him into one of my five OF slots, as I've been cycling players at the position while remaining steady with Dustin Pedroia, Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick in my middle infield.
OF Kole Calhoun: First base (two games). 1B Adam Dunn: Outfield (four games). 2B/3B Matt Carpenter: Outfield (two games). All three of these guys may or may not be more valuable at their new positions in your particular league. Calhoun saw two appearances at first base in June. Dunn is just a game away from picking up outfield eligibility, but who knows when that will come. Carpenter seems unlikely to get the last three games needed to become a tri-eligible player, but stranger things have happened. Owners would likely stick with him in the infield even if he were to get there.
2B/OF Grant Green: Third base (four games). 1B Yonder Alonso: Third base (three games). 1B/3B Mark Reynolds: Outfield (three games). SS Didi Gregorius: Second base (four games). These four guys may or may not have any relevance in your league at any position, based on league and roster size. If they do, they are only one or two games from having even more value. Alonso in particular could benefit if the Padres finally decide to deal Chase Headley.