One of the areas I'm weakest at as a Fantasy player is in making roster moves immediately after the draft. I fall so in love with my late-round sleeper picks that I struggle to make moves I know I probably should in the first waiver run because I don't want to lose out on those late-round sleepers. Or, I'll put in too low of a bid in that first FAB run and end up undershooting because I don't want to spend too much too early. After all, for 95% of the players, very little has changed about their value since you drafted.
But that 5% could be huge. It's a long season and you don't want to spend too much of your budget too soon, but hitting on a player on waivers early on also has a bigger impact than any other time of the year. Finding that balance between being too aggressive and being so passive you miss out on everyone is tough, but it's worth identifying the players who might be worth breaking the bank for, at least.
At this time of year, that's usually going to mean a lot of top prospects and a lot of players who won position battles, plus a few players who are looking to get an opportunity due to early injuries and are hoping to catch on. Many of you still have drafts to go, but for those of you who already have your rosters set, here are nine players to consider adding for your first waiver run:
I'll start with Trammell because he's been one of the most exciting players in spring training and he really could be one of those players who end up making a huge difference all season. Trammell has been a top prospect for years, but numbers have never matched up to the scouting reports or the lofty rankings -- and the scouting reports and lofty rankings have been sliding back toward the numbers lately. However, remember, there was no minor-league season last year. What should have been Trammell's age-22 season at Triple-A was instead spent at the Padres and Mariners alternate sites, playing every day, but outside the view of most scouts and without stats being made public. For all we know, Trammell had a year when everything clicked and he turned his prodigious tools into tangible skills -- it would be very hard to know for sure. However, his .302/.388/.627 line in spring training as he forced his way into the Opening Day lineup was a good start. Trammell could be a really good source of steals and for that reason alone, he's worth putting in an aggressive bid in a Roto league.
There doesn't seem to be much question about Kirk's bat skills -- all he's done since becoming a pro is hit, with a .315/.418/.500 line in 151 minor-league games (all before the age of 21) and then a 9 for 24 start to his MLB career late last season. He earned a spot on the Blue Jays roster this spring and figures to back up Danny Jansen behind the plate at first. However, he could hit so well that he forces his way into a bigger role, perhaps even seeing time at DH. There are questions about Kirk's long-term fit behind the plate, but he has the skills to be a top-10 guy in Fantasy this season if he gets the playing time.
Chisholm is a lot like Trammell. Scouts have always loved the very loud physical tools, despite the fact that he has struck out more than 30% of the time in the minors. He's strong and very fast, averaging 26.7 homers and 23.3 steals (80.3%) per 150 games in the minors, and that profile would obviously play very well in the majors if it clicked. It didn't in 2020, as he was predictably overmatched in his first 21 games, but Chisholm was also just 22 with no playing time above Double-A, so let's not hold it against him too much. The most likely outcome is he's once again overmatched and makes contact too infrequently to play every day, but the profile is such an enticing one for Fantasy that you have to at least give him a chance to see if he can make it work. A Trent Grisham-esque outcome isn't out of the question.
India's physical tools don't make scouts drool in quite the same way Chisholm or Trammell's do, and his minor-league numbers haven't been much more impressive. However, he's impressed the Reds enough that it looks like they are going to at least open the season with Eugenio Suarez playing shortstop and Mike Moustakas at third in order to give India a chance to play every day at second. The questions here are mostly about the power, as India has just 17 homers in 165 minor-league games, however, he's also walked 87 times and stolen 17 bases, so there's a solid underlying skill set there if the power comes. He's below the three at the top for obvious reasons, but if he can at least be an average power hitter, his profile could play in both H2H points and Roto leagues, and he'll have 3B and 2B eligibility before long.
We've seen flashes from Alzolay, especially last season as he struck out 29 in 21.1 innings over six appearances, including four starts. The Cubs seem pretty confident that he can help their rotation out because he made the Opening Day roster despite learning in recent days that he has a fourth minor-league option year they can use this season and despite the fact that they don't need a fifth starter the first turn (possible two) through the rotation. He will start the fifth game of the season, Tuesday, April 6, against the Brewers, and though his innings may be limited early on, there's really solid potential here -- especially as Alzolay continues to grow comfortable with his slider, a pitch he introduced last year at the alternate site.
Is either of these guys a strong bet for a ton of saves this season? Definitely not! However, if you are like me, you probably came out of your draft with essentially no save sources, so you need to find them where you can. Ottavino should be the Red Sox closer at least for the first weekend of the season with Matt Barnes likely out due to COVID-19 protocols, and there is at least a chance he ends up the long-term option -- I think Ottavino is a better pitcher than Barnes, for whatever that's worth.
Sims, on the other hand, seems like he will enter the season in a closer committee with Amir Garrett, and that's not a bad place to be in for a guy who was likely undrafted in most leagues. Sims took a big step forward in 2020, but there's always been very good stuff here, so it may not have been a fluke -- his quality of contact and swinging strike numbers looked very similar in 2019, too. Garrett is, of course, a fantastic pitcher in his own right, so it may just come down to whichever one of them falters first. However, Sims may have an inherent edge as the right-hander of the two -- that matters to some managers, whether it should or not. Either way, Sims should get at least some save opportunities early, and when you've gotta make up ground, he's a good way to start.
Strikeouts have been an issue for Lowe so far in his career, though the Rays also gave him pretty inconsistent playing time, so it's fair to wonder how much that impacted him. Lowe should have no problem sticking in the everyday lineup for the Rangers, and he's going to get his sink or swim moment here. Lowe has posted strong barrel rates across two seasons and had a max exit velocity of 114.8 mph last season, good for 19th in the majors, ahead of Bryce Harper and Franmil Reyes, among others. You could be looking at a 30-homer hitter available on waivers, here.