Ottoneu Cold Right Now: Most Cut Players

The season is just two weeks old, but that doesn’t mean fantasy managers are sitting on their hands. We are busy overreacting to three-inning samples of relievers, two starts for starters, and a single hot (or cold) streak for hitters. And that means rosters are churning and cuts are being made. Here are the players cut in at least 10% of leagues in the last week, along with advice on how to handle them if they are on your roster or if they are now free agents in your league.

John Means – Cut in 23.5% of leagues – The most cut and, for my money, one of the easiest decisions. I wasn’t particularly high on Means before the season and any time a pitcher has an elbow issue, there is a good chance their season is over. The Orioles are still figuring out the timeline for Means, but they have said they are unsure if he’ll be back this year. He’s on the 60-day IL, so he isn’t taking up a roster spot, but he isn’t helping you either.

If you roster Means: Feel free to cut to get the cap space back. If you don’t need the cap and want to sit on him while he is on the 60-day, fine.

If he was cut in your league: Leave him be. This isn’t a Tyler Glasnow situation where you could grab and sit on an ace for the rest of the season. The upside doesn’t justify a stash, in my opinion.

Mike Moustakas – Cut in 21.5% of leagues – Moustakas is on the IL with a biceps issue, but there was a chance he would avoid the IL, so it’s reasonable to expect him back soon. The bigger issue, however, is that Moustakas is off to a cold start, so managers are likely moving on due to performance more than injury. Getting worked up over 32 PA (even with a -38 wRC+, which I didn’t even know was possible), is a bit silly. But it has been a long time since Moustakas has been good. Even in 2020, when he posted a 106 wRC+, he really just had a hot week: He had an 87 wRC+ with a week left in the season before getting eight hits and three home runs to close out the season.

If you roster Moustakas: Cut. If you are desperate for 3B depth, there are probably better options available. Among 3B-eligible bats under 50% rostered: Hunter Dozier who is off to a hot start; Evan Longoria who is also hurt but at least performed when healthy last year; Sheldon Neuse who has 3B to himself for a bit with Kevin Smith out.

If he was cut in your league: If you are desperate for 3B depth, put him on your watchlist, but I am not adding him until I see him hit.

Nick Pivetta – Cut in 16.9% of leagues – Pivetta is off to an awful start, with a 10.03 ERA and 8.13 FIP through three starts. He had a decent season last year, when his velocity went up, his ground ball rate went up, and his HR/FB rate went down. This year, in a small sample, those numbers have reverted to his 2020 levels. That said, Pivetta has had three tough starts – at Yankee Stadium and vs. Minnesota and Toronto. You really only should have considered Pivetta for the start against Minnesota anyway. And with the shortened Spring Training, he may still be working out some kinks and building up his velocity (it was highest in his most recent start).

If you roster Pivetta: Pivetta was never more than rotation depth and that hasn’t really changed. What has changed is a number of surprise performances from other SP – Brad Keller, Paul Blackburn, Merrill Kelly 켈리, among others – who may be available to you. If there are better options for backend rotation options, upgrade. If not, keep him on your bench for now.

If he was cut in your league: If you really need SP, go get one of the other guys I mentioned. Miles Mikolas, Justin Steele, and Bruce Zimmerman are all also under 50% rostered and at least pitching well.

Hyun Jin Ryu 류현진 – Cut in 14.9% of leagues – Like Moustakas, Ryu is both being cut for both performance- and injury-related issues. He put up just 5.07 points across 7.1 innings in his first two starts, before hitting the IL with a dreaded forearm issue. The signs are mostly concerning but not entirely. Yes, his velocity is down, but it’s very close to his 2020 velo, and he was very good in 2020. His barrel rate is way up, but his ground ball rate is up as well, after dipping in 2021. He had maybe the weirdest ramp up to 2022 of any pitcher, as he spent the lockout at home in South Korea and then caught COVID and had to stop his ramp up before he ever really got going.

If you roster Ryu: I would ideally like to wait a few days to see if we get more clarity on his timeline and when he might get a rehab start or two, which would effectively serve as the end of his Spring Training. But with so many other SP hurt or missing time or ramping slowly, you can cut him without concern.

If he was cut in your league: Leave him be, but add him to your watchlist. He’s worth tracking given what we know he is capable of, even without elite velo.

Cavan Biggio – Cut in 14.9% of leagues – As of the end of the 2020 season, Biggio had 159 MLB games under his belt, and in 695 PA he had a 117 wRC+ driven by a .368 OBP and aided by 24 home runs. He looked like he was destined for great things. He basically put up a full season of what Steamer currently projects for Steven Kwan. Then he barely had a job in 2021, and everything fell apart. He posted an 84 wRC+ in sporadic playing time last year and is down to a 31 wRC+ in the early going this year. That said, there are some good signs. His strikeout rate is way up, but his swinging strike rate is down. His walk rate is over 14%. His BABIP is just .125, though part of that can be attributed to a lack of hard contact. The biggest change since 2020 is in his chase rate. After posting a 15.9% o-swing his first two years, it is 22.4% the last two years, and has gone up every season. I can’t help but wonder if he is pressing, perhaps trying to get back his regular job, and just needs to settle back into being himself.

If you roster Biggio: I am holding. I believe in the on-base skills and I am not ready to move on just yet.

If he was cut in your league: He is playing too sporadically to be counted on for your lineup, but I would watch him and act at the first sign of life. If he gets hot, he’ll be in high demand with that 3B/OF eligibility.

Huascar Ynoa – Cut in 13.2% of leagues – Ynoa was a revelation last year. His 91 MLB innings were not only a big improvement on his 2019 and 2020 cups of coffee, they were better than anything he had done in Triple-A. Maybe even Double-A. He was getting K’s and grounders while avoiding the walk issues that had hounded him in the high minors. In two starts this year, the strikeouts remained, the ground balls remained, but the walks came back with a vengeance. A 16.2% walk-rate just won’t cut it. And so Atlanta sent him back to Triple-A, presumably to work on his control. In yesterday’s Mining the News, Jeff Zimmerman pulled a note in which Atlanta manager Brian Snitker called Ynoa “not a finished product” and noted that time in Triple-A would help.

If you roster Ynoa: At this point, he is like any other pitching prospect, except he has 91 innings of MLB success just last year. Rosters only have so much space for pitching prospects, and you have to decide if Ynoa is worth one of those spots. While he lacks the upside of a Grayson Rodriguez or Daniel Espino, he’s a safer bet than many others and should have a relatively near-term ETA, as he could be next in line for a return to Atlanta when they need a starter.

If he was cut in your league: I wouldn’t rush to add him, but there are worse uses of the end of your roster than speculating on Ynoa.

Michael Conforto – Cut in 11.2% of leagues – Patience is running thing for managers with Conforto on their rosters and it’s hard to blame them. Conforto not only hasn’t signed, there is no evidence he’ll sign soon – no rumors, chatter or anything. His agent, Scott Boras, mentioned that Conforto is building up strength in his shoulder after an injury in January. In addition, Conforto is attached to a qualifying offer and the team that signs him will have to give up a draft pick to do so, unless they sign him after the draft in July. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if Conforto waited until July, let the qualifying offer compensation expire, had a showcase to demonstrate his shoulder is healthy, and then signed.

If you roster Conforto: MJ Melendez has a 121 wRC+ Steamer projection, should be up this year, but there is no good way to know when, and is 91.4% rostered with a $3 median salary. Conforto has a 121 wRC+ Steamer projection, should be playing this year, but there is no good way to know when, and is 75.3% rostered with a $13 median salary. Melendez is catcher-eligible, but much higher risk than the established Conforto. I think I would sit on Conforto at under $7-$8, but at $13, I can understand moving on for cap space.

If he was cut in your league: I would not start an auction on him until there is more noise that he’ll sign, but if an auction is started, I would rather have Conforto at under $8 than most prospects at the same price.

Lane Thomas – Cut in 11.2% of leagues – While some regression from his torrid second half with Washington was to be expected, the fall-off has been harsher than anticipated. His K-rate has jumped to more than 30%, his walk rate has fallen below 10%, and his ISO has fallen into “slap hitter with no power” territory. His swinging-strike rate is up, but not very much. His issue is really that he is swinging less often at strikes and slightly more often at balls, while making more contact with the balls and less with the strikes. All of that said, it has only been 44 plate appearances.

If you roster Thomas: I don’t think you should drastically change your perception of him based on less than two weeks of games, but that K-rate is getting concerning. I wouldn’t rush to cut him, but I don’t think his expected production is elite enough to suffer through a slump. I wouldn’t be using him until he shows us more, and if your bench isn’t deep enough to leave him out of your lineup, you might need to replace him.

If he was cut in your league: If I have a deep OF and can be patient with him, I would pick him up cheap now and see how things go for another week or two. If the plate discipline doesn’t improve, I’d move on again.

Carson Kelly – Cut in 11.2% of leagues – Kelly was really solid last year, but so far this year his K-rate has doubled and his walk-rate is a quarter of what it was. He’s chasing more, making less contact and is falling behind 0-1 in almost 75% of his plate appearances. The good thing is that first-strike rate is obscenely high and will come way down, and the difference between 0-1 counts and 1-0 counts is huge. Getting another 20% of his plate appearances to start 1-0 could be game-changing.

If you roster Kelly: Catcher is never a strong position and you really need two of them, and I just don’t know what you are cutting him for. Looking at widely available catchers, I don’t see anyone I would prefer. Jonah Heim or Zack Collins could be interesting short-term. Austin Nola is a fine option. But I like Kelly more than them.

If he was cut in your league: Unless you have two excellent catchers already, I would gladly grab him as my C2 and wait out the slump.

Abraham Toro – Cut in 10.6% of leagues – Toro has long intrigued the analytics community and when he got off to a red-hot start with Seattle last year, it seemed like he was breaking out. But he fell on hard times after that and by the end of the year, his wRC+ with Seattle was just 99. He puts the ball in play, but isn’t doing so with enough authority to be that exciting. When the BABIP runs hot, he’ll be good; when it doesn’t, he won’t.

If you roster Toro: I have no problem moving on.

If he was cut in your league: I think there are more interesting names to speculate on, though that 2B/3B eligibility is enticing if he gets hot again.

The Relievers – Jorge Alcala (Cut in 14.3% of leagues) and Robert Suarez (cut in 12.0% of leagues) – I am putting these two together because, strategically, I think churning through relievers is a solid approach. Suarez had an atrocious first appearance and a not-much-better second one, and I can’t blame anyone for moving on. But his last three appearances have been 3.2 IP, 6 K, 1 BB, 2 H and no runs. Alcala has been fine, if unimpressive, and now is on the IL.

If you roster Suarez or Alcala: No reason to wait through an IL stint for Alcala, so cut away! Meanwhile, if you still have Suarez, might as well stick with him now that he has put that rough start behind him. But if there are better options on the wire, that’s fine.

If they were cut in your league: Alcala can be ignored until he is healthy and performing well. Suarez is a good target if you need to upgrade your pen.

 





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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Bill
3 months ago

Good read! More Otto please…