Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Likely Available Wavier Wire Talent: Andre Ethier, Denard Span, Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera, Byron Buxton

Andre Ethier (17%)

At this point, Ethier's value is down for 2014 but I think that has more to do with him likely losing playing time. If you look past the albatross of a contract he's in the middle of (6 years, 95.95 million), he has produced reasonably consistently over the last six years (OPS+ of at least 121 in each of these seasons).

If he ends up getting traded or is somehow able to get 500+ plate appearances, he could be a quiet but consistent contributor as a utility or bench player.

His most similar player through age 31 is Rondell White. He had a decent age 32 season .270.337/.453 109 OPS+ 19 homers in 2004. Ethier is likely to continue to not have the most exciting numbers but he's still a useful player that could reasonably hit .275-.280 and throw in around 20 homers.

Denard Span (14%)

If only triples were a fantasy baseball category, maybe he would be owned in more than 14% of leagues. As it stands, while he is good enough to hold down a starting job with whatever team he plays for as an about league average hitter with above replacement level defense, for fantasy purposes, there are better options. He does provide some stolen bases and moderate average/obp numbers (.279/.327) in 2013 but you just can't by with single digit homer totals from the outfield position.

His most similar player through age 29 is Jerry Mumphrey. At age 30, he had a line of .298/.352/.372 108 OPS+ 4 homers and a career year in steals with 50. I could see Span having a similar slash line but I think that about 30 steals would be a best case scenario for him.

Nate McLouth (13%)

McLouth didn't go too far in the postseason going from the Orioles to the Nationals. With him, the only possible plus value is in steals and even there it may be a bit much to ask for a repeat of the 30 he got last year. Beside that, it's unlikely that he gets more than 300-400 plate appearances as he looks slotted to be the 4th outfielder.

Melky Cabrera (13%)

With as long as Cabrera has been in the bigs and all the controversy surrounding his 2012 season, its tough to believe that he's still only 29. His first post-suspension year was cut short due to injury at 88 games and came with an uninspiring line of .279/.322/.369 88 OPS+ that was in line with this career numbers prior to 2011-2012.

Whether his 2012 numbers would have happened with or without breaking the rules is up for debate but even if you looked at his numbers without knowing the context of him getting in trouble, the 2011 & 2012 season still look different that his other seasons.

One area of hope (small sample size alert) is that he's gotten off to a good start in spring as he has a .942 OPS in his first 25 plate appearances.

His most similar player through age 28 is Mark Kotsay. In his age 29 season, he put up a .280/.325/.421 & 15 homers. For Cabrera, a season like this is possible but highly optimistic. I think he'll put up similar avg/obp lines but double digit home run totals may be too much to ask.

Byron Buxton (13%)

The future is definitely bright for the 2012 second overall pick as he's been listed as the #1 prospect by Baseball Prospectus. In the minors, he showed why people have high hopes for him as he hit for a high average, threw in double digit home runs and drew a bunch of walks.

However, he hasn't played a game above A+ ball and is struggling so far in spring against what has been deemed to be the equivalent of AA caliber competition based on baseball reference's Opponent Quality scale.

Unless your in a keeper league, I don't think having Buxton on your team this year will yield much returns. I think he'll start out in AA but is probably a couple years away from being the star that he has the potential to turn out to be.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on baseball-reference.com