There's never a good time to break a hamate bone. The end of August may be the worst time.
A realistic recovery for that injury is at minimum six weeks. Only five weeks remain in the regular season. Rotten timing, but there you have it: Jose Ramirez is done.
And oh, how those who've rostered him will miss him. In a turnaround just as stunning as the collapse that made it necessary, the consensus No. 3 pick in this year's drafts had hit .320 (57 for 178) with 15 homers, six steals and a 1.045 OPS in 46 games since the start of July, doing so with a perfectly reasonable .309 BABIP. It didn't completely redeem his season-long numbers, but it was giving him the expected impact at just the right time.
So what now? Well, third base is arguably the deepest position at a time when every infield position is impossibly deep, so chances are your best replacement for Ramirez is already on your roster. If he's not, though, we'll have to make the best of a bad situation. We should at least be able to do better than the version of Ramirez we saw over the first three months.
Wait, that's not even true. That version had 18 stolen bases, giving him 24 for the season. Stolen bases, as you may have heard, are the scarcest of the traditional 5x5 commodities. Any reliable source of them who might be available in leagues where they matter would have serious limitations otherwise. Jarrod Dyson is fifth in the majors with 27 steals and may get to play more with David Peralta on the shelf, but there's no power to speak of. Same goes for Delino DeShields, who has piled up 20 steals despite being in and out of the lineup. Kevin Kiermaier has 19 steals, but getting on base has been a major issue since his return from a sprained thumb in late July. And now he's dealing with a rib cage injury.
In most cases, their overall offensive production is too limited for you to sell out for the steals, particularly if it's Head-to-Head league and you can't rest on your laurels in the other categories. And besides, you may need the help at third base more.
To that end, I have three tiers of potential replacements based on ownership percentage in CBS Sports leagues.
Kyle Seager 3B
SEA Seattle • #15 • Age: 33
Given how hot he's been, having homered 11 times in his past 29 games with a batting average around .350, Kyle Seager will be the trendy pickup. With a slight reduction in strikeout rate and what appears to be a more optimal launch angle during that time, it's possible he's reintroducing himself as a viable starter in Fantasy. But if you want a shot at something more than just viable, your best bet is ...
J.D. Davis LF
NYM N.Y. Mets • #28 • Age: 27
J.D. Davis has had a down week, allowing his ownership rate to stagnate, but he's still batting .333 (29 for 87) with six homers and an OPS near 1.000 since taking over as the Mets' primary left fielder (one who's eligible at third base, of course). And the supporting numbers suggest he's even better than the .303 hitter with the .868 OPS that he's been so far.
Luis Arraez 2B
MIN Minnesota • #2 • Age: 23
Beyond the first tier, Luis Arraez is a great choice for anyone looking to replace what Jose Ramirez offered (at least from July 1 on) in batting average. With a microscopic strikeout rate, all-fields approach and line-drive tendencies, a mark over .300 shouldn't be difficult for him to sustain.
MIN Minnesota • #9 • Age: 31
Marwin Gonzalez is no offensive standout, but he has adequate plate discipline and moderate power. And his numbers look much better (a .286 batting average and .797 OPS) since a miserable April in which he hit .167.
ARI Arizona • #19 • Age: 25
Josh VanMeter has been productive when he's been in the lineup, which has been more regular with Joey Votto on the IL. You have to watch out for the left-handers with him, which often force him to the bench, but otherwise, he's maybe an even better version of Gonzalez.
SF San Francisco • #10 • Age: 35
If you're angling for purely a hot-hand play, Evan Longoria is indeed on fire, batting .396 (19 for 48) with four homers in his past 12 games, and happens to have favorable matchups this week. But mediocrity has become the norm for the 33-year-old, and you can expect you'll be swapping him out soon enough.
HOU Houston • #31 • Age: 23
Abraham Toro is only 3 for 15 in four games since coming up to the big leagues but has been the starter at third base for every one of those games. He has put the bat on the ball, as he did in the minors, and the Astros clearly have every confidence in the 22-year-old, who they're essentially using as Carlos Correa's replacement. Opportunity is meeting upside here, and absent any clear reasoning it won't work, there's always a chance that it will.
Now that we've addressed the third base situation, here are some other players of interest on the waiver wire:
ATL Atlanta • #26 • Age: 29
Friday's outing represented Mike Foltynewicz's first quality start in four chances since returning from the minor leagues, but none of the others was by any measure disastrous. His slider, which he wasn't throwing with the same conviction following a spring elbow injury, has indeed looked better, but on Sunday, it was a darting two-seamer that made him so difficult to square up — another weapon for a pitcher who has already proven to have far more to offer than most anything else you'll find on waivers.
Mitch Keller SP
PIT Pittsburgh • #23 • Age: 24
Opportunity meets upside, right? Well, Mitch Keller, who has three times appeared in the Baseball America top 100, showed the extent of his upside Friday, not only striking out nine but doing so on 19 swinging strikes. More than half came on a particularly effective slider. The Pirates intend to keep Keller in the rotation for the rest of the season, so while he'll need a decent follow-up to justify a starting nod in Fantasy, the opportunity is there.
Mark Canha LF
OAK Oakland • #20 • Age: 31
Presumably because of his reputation as a platoon bat, Mark Canha's work as an everyday player has gone sorely overlooked in Fantasy. Between center field, right field and DH, he has started every game but one for the Athletics since July 7, batting .322 (46 for 143) with 10 homers and an OPS near 1.000 during that time. His two-homer game Sunday is just the latest cry for attention.
Matt Magill RP
SEA Seattle • #61 • Age: 31
Though winning isn't so much the Mariners' M.O. these days, they did us all the favor of taking a couple of close ones over the weekend and therein confirmed what we had all come to suspect: Matt Magill is indeed their closer. He had three saves in all for the week, with no one else getting a single opportunity, and that's even with him blowing one Wednesday. The numbers are pretty uninspiring, apart from a high K/9, and it may be another Luke Jackson situation wherein which you're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it's hard to argue the Mariners have anyone better, and in the mindless pursuit of saves, a little clarity goes a long way.