Waiver Wire Targets: Week 1

There are many different available player types available this week from prospects to closers to decent two-start pitchers to old boring vets. It’ll be interesting to see how the market focuses its resources to balance needs and wants.  Some teams need to add a couple of closers while others are dealing with hitters who are day-to-day. Others might have several Nats on their team and could be losing one or more to the IL. It’s going to be exhausting but diligent FAAB prep this weekend.

In the following article, I’m going to at least cover the players in demand using CBS’s (40% or less initial ownership) and Yahoo’s ADD/DROP rates. Both hosting sites have the option for daily and weekly waiver wire adds. CBS uses a weekly change while Yahoo looks at the last 24 hours. Yahoo is a great snapshot of right now while CBS ensures hot targets from early in the week aren’t missed. The players are ordered by my preference grouped by starters, relievers, and hitters.


  • Kyle Isbel: If Isbel is good, this will be the one and only shot to roster him and not spend the bank to do it. He has 15 HR and 25 SB upside with his line-drive swing. While he has a little more swing-and-miss than Whit Merrifield, it is a decent comp. Note: This season, I’m going to recommend prospects more than normal. There is no way to know the progress they made last year. Maybe Isbel would have made it to AAA and he would have been drafted in all leagues this off-season. Someone like Hunter Renfroe will always be on the waiver wire. That’s not so with Isbel.
  • Josh Rojas: Rojas is no longer a sleeper since everyone is hyping him, but for good reasons. Few hitters available on the waiver wire have the potential for 20 HR and 30 SB. Rojas is one.
  • Cesar Hernandez: Steady bat hitting at the top of Cleveland’s lineup.
  • David Peralta and Jesús Aguilar: Steady bats who provide a little bit of everything but steals.
  • Justin Upton: Batting fifth behind Trout and Rendon so there should be plenty of RBI chances.
  • Austin Hays: While not as talented as some of the outfielders I have ranked over him, he has the potential to steal a dozen or so bags.
  • Michael A. Taylor: He’s tough to rank but he has the upside of a 20/20 season (e.g. 2017). I was a little worried he’d get off to a slow start, but a 1.800 OPS calms those worries. Also, he hasn’t struck out yet (career 31% K%).
  • Jay Bruce: He’s likely a better hitter than everyone ranked ahead of him, but he’s just going to be a fill-in until Luke Voit returns from the IL.
  • Enrique Hernández: Dual-position qualified and leading off for the Red Sox.
  • Tyler O’Neill: Some preseason signs pointed to him having a breakout, but it still needs to happen. Gamble away.
  • Taylor Trammell: The most talented of the three prospects ranked here. He’s a power-speed threat who can take a walk. And Seattle will let him run.
  • Jonathan India: The Reds second base prospect is getting a chance to show off his dual-threat capability. It’s tough to gauge his progress without any minor league games last season.
  • Jazz Chisholm: I don’t get all the hype. I just see another Lewis Brinson clone (i.e tons of skills, but can’t hit the ball). Also, see Monte Harrison.
  • David Bote: Bote’s OK, but he doesn’t have the upside of the three prospects I ranked above him.
  • Adam Frazier: Dual qualified and hitting at the top of the Pirates lineup.
  • David Dahl: Batting second for the team projected to have the league’s worst offense.
  • Evan White: Batting fourth so he should get a decent number of counting stats.
    Garrett Hampson: Hit 9th against a left-handed starter and sat against a righty. Bench stats don’t count.
  • Hunter Renfroe: A poor man’s Justin Upton.
  • Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier: They look to be in a center field timeshare while hitting in the bottom half of the lineup. If either one gets the full-time job, they could steal 10 to 20 bags.
  • Kevin Newman: He hit .308 with 12 HR and 16 SB in 2019. Worth a shot.
  • Willy Adames: Adames has started about every game at shortstop for the Rays over the last few seasons, but Joey Wendle started the season’s second game. Monitor to see if Adames keeps the job.
  • Alejandro Kirk: If there is any catcher that should be targeted, it’s Kirk. While the playing time is not there yet, he could hit like the top five.
  • Jake Fraley: A year ago, I would be hyping Fraley the same as Rojas, but he’s proven he can’t handle MLB pitching. He’s doing better with a 1.167 OPS so far.
  • Nate Lowe: The starting first baseman for the Rangers.
  • Miguel Cabrera: It’s so tough to find room on a roster for a replacement-level utility-only bat.
  • Yermín Mercedes: The 27-year-old DH has shown above-average power and hit tool with no other skills. The White Sox are trying Andrew Vaughn in left field so Mercedes may continue to get at-bats. Starting the season eight for eight will have the hype train up, but I’d still prefer Cabrera as a DH-only.
  • Evan Longoria: Is he dead yet? I guess if he’s the only option.
  • Jose Iglesias: Boring.
  • Max Stassi and Omar Narváez: Standard replacement level catchers in a 1-C league.
  • Akil Baddoo: A keeper or dynasty stash for now. Baddoo is the rule-5 pick for the Tigers. He hit the ball well in Spring Training (.325/.460/.750) and might come into play in a few months.
Week 1 Hitter Ownership Changes
Name Prev Current Change
Cesar Hernandez 2B  CLE 40% 46% 6%
Justin Upton LF  LAA 38% 48% 10%
David Peralta LF  ARI 38% 43% 5%
Jesus Aguilar 1B  MIA 35% 42% 7%
David Dahl CF  TEX 32% 38% 6%
Garrett Hampson 2B  COL 32% 37% 5%
Omar Narvaez C  MIL 31% 37% 6%
Jose Iglesias SS  LAA 30% 37% 7%
Manuel Margot CF  TB 29% 38% 9%
Austin Hays CF  BAL 28% 35% 7%
Alejandro Kirk C  TOR 26% 34% 8%
Miguel Cabrera DH  DET 26% 31% 5%
Tyler O’Neill LF  STL 25% 33% 8%
Hunter Renfroe RF  BOS 23% 29% 6%
Willy Adames SS  TB 22% 30% 8%
Max Stassi C  LAA 20% 26% 6%
Jonathan India 3B  CIN 19% 35% 16%
Jazz Chisholm 2B  MIA 19% 33% 14%
Evan White 1B  SEA 19% 24% 5%
Josh Rojas 2B  ARI 18% 27% 9%
Enrique Hernandez 2B  BOS 17% 31% 14%
Nate Lowe 1B  TEX 16% 21% 5%
Taylor Trammell CF  SEA 15% 40% 25%
Adam Frazier 2B  PIT 12% 19% 7%
Evan Longoria 3B  SF 11% 18% 7%
Kevin Kiermaier CF  TB 10% 16% 6%
Kevin Newman SS  PIT 7% 14% 7%
Akil Baddoo CF  DET 4% 10% 6%
Michael Taylor LF  KC 4% 9% 5%
Jay Bruce LF  NYY 4% 9% 5%
David Bote 3B  CHC 4% 9% 5%
Kyle Isbel LF  KC 1% 9% 8%


  1. Freddy Peralta: Adding a curve and 2 mph will move him on top of this ranking.
  2. Mike Minor: He added some velocity in spring training and should be a decent accumulator.
  3. Trevor Rogers: Another Spring Training darling who pitched well enough to join Miami’s rotation.
  4. Adbert Alzolay: Alzolay has the best chance of these starters to be a top-30 arm next season after adding a slider late last season. Add for the upside before his price skyrockets.
  5. Yusei Kikuchi: Continuing to be a steady starter with nothing too fancy up his sleeve.
  6. Adrian Morejon: Two-starts versus San Francisco and at Texas. Yea baby.
  7. Logan Allen: The opponents could not be any nicer for his two starts (vs KC, vs Det). I guess it could be the Giants and Rangers.
  8. Carlos Rodón: He looked fine in Spring Training and will have a nice two-step at Seattle and versus Kansas City.
  9. Logan Webb: He’s added a cutter and velocity to make him a nice long-term add.
  10. Tanner Houck: Houck is a tough one to rank because it’s unknown how long he’ll be in the rotation since he took Eduardo Rodriguez’s spot.
  11. Matt Shoemaker, Rich Hill, and Garrett Richards: Start them until their arms fall off.
  12. Chad Kuhl: While the walks were concerning, I thought he was decent and he’d be even higher if he was on a good team.
  13. Anthony DeSclafani: One game at San Diego (bad) and one at home versus Colorado (good)
  14. Trevor Williams: While it’s two versus Milwaukee and at Pittsburg, it’s still Williams and his 4.43 career ERA.
  15. Jose De Leon: He has two starts (vs PIT, at AZ), but I don’t have a good read on his talent level. Also, Tejay Antone might follow his start and vulture any Wins.
  16. Brett Anderson: I’m a little on the insane side, but depending on each league, I’d start him with his two-step at the Cubs and Cardinals.
  17. Nick Pivetta: Limited talent and two hard starts (vs TB, at Bal)
  18. Michael Wacha: Possible two-step, maybe as the follower, at Boston and versus the Yankees.
  19. Luis Garcia: Garcia has one start against the Angels (Quintana). It might be a good week to roster but bench him and see how he throws.
  20. Taylor Widener: He’s starting today, so his ranking and cost could move based on his performance.
  21. Jose Quintana: The league’s most boring starter.
  22. David Peterson: The only information a person needs to know is that I value Quintana more.
  23. Johnny Cueto: I just can’t find a reason to start him.
  24. Kohei Arihara: Kansas City lit him up like a Christmas tree. A wait-and-see.
  25. Merrill Kelly 켈리: Already lost and has a start at Colorado. I expect him to be on the drop list next week.
  26. Cole Irvin: Struggled on Saturday giving up four runs over four innings after earning the starting rotation job. He might not be keeping the job for long.
  27. Daulton Jefferies: Optioned to the alternate site.
  28. Josh Fleming: Optioned to the alternate site.
Week 1 Starter Ownership Changes
Name Prev Current Change
Freddy Peralta RP  MIL 40% 71% 31%
Mike Minor SP  KC 40% 50% 10%
Yusei Kikuchi SP  SEA 36% 47% 11%
Jose Quintana RP  LAA 34% 42% 8%
Trevor Rogers SP  MIA 33% 57% 24%
Matt Shoemaker SP  MIN 28% 36% 8%
Carlos Rodon SP  CHW 24% 51% 27%
Rich Hill SP  TB 21% 25% 4%
David Peterson SP  NYM 17% 31% 14%
Michael Wacha SP  TB 15% 25% 10%
Garrett Richards SP  BOS 13% 17% 4%
Johnny Cueto SP  SF 12% 18% 6%
Adbert Alzolay SP  CHC 11% 23% 12%
Daulton Jefferies SP  OAK 11% 15% 4%
Brett Anderson SP  MIL 10% 14% 4%
Adrian Morejon RP  SD 9% 13% 4%
Trevor Williams SP  CHC 9% 16% 7%
Logan Webb SP  SF 8% 45% 37%
Merrill Kelly SP  ARI 8% 28% 20%
Tanner Houck SP  BOS 8% 24% 16%
Anthony DeSclafani SP  SF 8% 12% 4%
Josh Fleming SP  TB 7% 19% 12%
Logan Allen RP  CLE 6% 41% 35%
Nick Pivetta RP  BOS 5% 9% 4%
Kohei Arihara SP  TEX 5% 11% 6%
Chad Kuhl SP  PIT 5% 10% 5%
Luis Garcia RP  HOU 4% 11% 7%
Taylor Widener RP  ARI 1% 6% 5%
Jose De Leon RP  CIN 1% 5% 4%
Cole Irvin SP  OAK 1% 5% 4%

Closers: Ranked of potential for accumulating Saves over the entire season

  1. Alex Reyes: Closer’s job with some talent
  2. Mark Melancon: Most likely has the closer’s role
  3. Hector Neris: Closer’s job with some talent
  4. Jake Diekman: Closer’s job with some talent, replacement coming when Rosenthal is healthy
  5. Ian Kennedy: Most likely has the closer’s role
  6. Cesar Valdez: Part of a closer committee, but with the first two Saves. I can’t see him keep the role for long.
  7. Tanner Scott: Part of a closer committee
  8. Nick Wittgren: Part of a closer committee
  9. Emmanuel Clase: Part of a closer committee
  10. Adam Ottavino: Next inline with a subpar closer
  11. Gregory Soto: Most likely as closer’s role, subpar talent
  12. Julian Merryweather: Outside looking in for now
  13. Pete Fairbanks: Part of a closer committee
  14. Lucas Sims: Next inline with an average closer
  15. Wade Davis: Outside looking in for now
  16. Blake Treinen: Outside looking in for now
Week 1 Closer Ownership Changes
Name Prev Current Change
Mark Melancon RP  SD 32% 62% 30%
Gregory Soto RP  DET 27% 34% 7%
Ian Kennedy RP  TEX 25% 33% 8%
Hector Neris RP  PHI 23% 56% 33%
Alex Reyes RP  STL 23% 41% 18%
Tanner Scott RP  BAL 21% 29% 8%
Adam Ottavino RP  BOS 20% 28% 8%
Peter Fairbanks RP  TB 19% 27% 8%
Blake Treinen RP  LAD 17% 20% 3%
Jake Diekman RP  OAK 16% 28% 12%
Nick Wittgren RP  CLE 16% 23% 7%
Lucas Sims RP  CIN 14% 25% 11%
Emmanuel Clase RP  CLE 13% 17% 4%
Cesar Valdez RP  BAL 2% 7% 5%
Wade Davis RP  KC 1% 5% 4%
Julian Merryweather RP  TOR 0% 8% 8%

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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2 years ago

is there anyone you didn’t mention…?

2 years ago
Reply to  Dooduh

Hate to say it, but the content on this site is not what it used to be. In March (pre-draft), we used to get a daily diet of stuff to chew on. This year it was bordering on sporadic. Posts like these fail to account for different leagues. I’m in deep NL- and AL-only leagues. Most all of these players are owned.

2 years ago
Reply to  MikeInNJ

To each their own. I find these types of articles insanely helpful for many of my leagues.

2 years ago
Reply to  Goob

I agree 100%

2 years ago
Reply to  rustydude

Agreed. I actually found this to be a relatively positive Zimmerman article, with some motivational news from some of these players that I didn’t really know too much about. For all levels of fantasy league, I thought this was a pretty good thorough read. Not every article has to be about deep analytics, so this one’s fine by me.

Long Suffering Tribe Fanmember
2 years ago
Reply to  MikeInNJ

MikeinNJ, you’re complaining about the content on this site and you’re not even a member? Really?

2 years ago

Well, I don’t know of being a non-member disallows anyone to share their opinion, so he/she is welcome to it. Being a member, though, allows the website to continue to improve (or continue to be great) if one frequents it enough. Becoming a member helps everyone!

2 years ago
Reply to  MikeInNJ

Heck, I was able to not only realize that Morejon had a 2 start this week against subpar offenses, but also was able to get him in my league because of this post. I’m very grateful for it.