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2021 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Nate Lowe, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Julian Merryweather, and more!

Heath scours the waiver wire for fantasy baseball diamonds in the rough.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Another week, another edition of who to add from waivers from yours truly. The same thresholds apply—no player over 50% owned on the Yahoo platform. And instead of splitting up 1B/3B and 2B/SS, I’ll be converting that to CI and MI chatter...I’m endeavoring to make this as readable and helpful as possible, okay?

Hopefully there’s something for any league size and format in here. Let’s do this...

CATCHERS

Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (46% rostered)

Yadi has started all three games for St. Louis. He’s yet to get going, but volume and consistency are underrated at this position. It appears that Andrew Knizner is a true backup option at this point, so trust the veteran Molina to continue to produce until further notice.

Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks (21%)

Kelly has started two of four games for Arizona, and he pinch hit in one of the games he didn’t start in. The Opening Day game was a Madison Bumgarner start, though—and it seems we can expect Stephen Vogt to work as MadBum’s personal catcher this year. Aside from MadBum’s starts, I still think Kelly’s playing time is pretty safe. All he’s done in his two starts is muster a pair of hits in each of them. Do the right thing, Arizona.

Pedro Severino, Baltimore Orioles (9%)

Severino has started a combined 4-for-8 with two runs in Baltimore’s first two games, then took a seat on Sunday in favor of Chance Sisco. I think he’ll come by more playing time than a guy like Alejandro Kirk, for example. Like Kelly, in both of his starts so far he has managed multi-hit games...I like him as the superior offensive option to Chance Sisco, and hopefully the playing time splits will continue to reflect that. Think of Severino as a .250 hitter with decent pop—add in a quality Orioles offense and the home park, and that’s a solid recipe for a second catcher. It’s noteworthy to me that Severino drew the first two starts of the season against right-handed pitching, though Sisco is the left-handed stick in this timeshare. If Sisco isn’t getting more time against righties, that bodes well for Severino’s value.

CORNER INFIELDERS

1B/3B Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros (46%)

Gurriel is nearly as old as his ownership (okay not really) but he still knows how to hit. He’s a batting average asset as we all know, but the ability to yank the ball into the Crawford boxes at his home park means he could also chip in with 20+ home runs if everything breaks right. Add in Houston’s potent offense, and that’s not nothing. He’s a solid corner infielder.

1B Nate Lowe, Texas Rangers (24%)

Lowe has started all three games for Texas so far, and is 5-for-14 with a home run and nine RBI. I wasn’t sold on his playing time heading into the year, but Texas made the move to acquire him and it appears they’ll be letting him have a real chance as the first base starter. The power is for real, the question is the batting average due to lots of strikeouts. We shall see.

1B/3B Jeimer Candelario, Detroit Tigers (15%)

I mentioned him last week. So far he’s started all three games for Detroit and batted second in the order in all three. He’s 4-for-12 with a homer already this year, and the switch-hitter had a lot of red in his Statcast profile last year. He’ll get plenty of playing time and probably won’t kill you in any one area. He’s a safe play as a corner infielder.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

SS Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins (47%)

He hasn’t done anything with his opportunity yet, but Polanco is setting the table for the Twins. He’s batted third, second, and second thus far through three games. If he keeps that role, he’s a candidate for double-digit homers and steals in 2021. He should also add eligibility at second base soon enough. We haven’t seen it yet, but I think he’s a solid MI option. The Twins do have a pair of lefties on tap this week, and that’s typically Polanco’s weaker split, FYI. I still think this “compiler” will pay dividends by season’s end, though.

2B/3B Ty France, Seattle Mariners (44%)

France has batted second in all three games for Seattle so far, and should be a sneaky source of 20+ homers for your MI slot this year. He has one hit in each game, and hit his first home run on Sunday. Remember, France had the crazy Triple-A performance in 2019, when he slugged 27 homers in only 76 games. The ability to hit for power is there, and for some reason France is being ignored as a key cog for Seattle.

1B/2B/3B Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies (29%)

Look, it makes me nervous to recommend a Rockie. McMahon got Rockie’d once already, on Opening Day in favor of Chris freaking Owings (when the lefty Kershaw was on the mound). But in game No. 2 he swatted a home run, and has received two more starts since that time. He has batted sixth, sixth, and seventh in the order. You’re hoping for a .250 average and 25-30 home runs from a play like this. And maybe you manage him a bit if the Rockies are on the road, or if they are facing a lefty...but overall I like his pathway to playing time given his versatility. And I like the home backdrop in Coors. He’s scored a run and gotten a hit in all three of his games so far, so maybe the Rockies will keep rolling him out there. Colorado has three games over the first four days of this week, and one of those is against the southpaw Bumgarner. So if you’re using him for the Mon-Thurs slate at the NFBC, it’s possible he only sees two games for the first part of this week. But mostly here in this space I am talking of long-term value...I still think McMahon offers that if you need power.

2B/SS Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miami Marlins (21%)

The man with the best hair in baseball already has a pair of stolen bases under his belt. He has batted sixth, seventh, and sixth thus far—so at least he isn’t mired at the very bottom of the order. He’s scored a run in two of three games already, but his .200 average leaves something to be desired. And that’s a microcosm of what to expect from the youngster this year. If you can live with that, add your speedy middle infielder and cover for that batting average.

2B/SS Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates (8%)

I can’t quit Newman just yet. He literally set a record for hitting during Grapefruit League play, and he’s free on most platforms. He has batted fifth, fifth, and second thus far, and the Pirates get a favorable beginning to this week. A three-game set in Cincinnati is a nice recipe for some cheaply owned Pirates to round out our fantasy rosters for the first part of this week.

OUTFIELDERS

Mark Canha is 53% owned on Yahoo and therefore does not meet my eligibility requirements. But he has batted leadoff in all four games for Oakland, and he carries 1B/OF eligibility. On top of that, fellow tablesetter Ramon Laureano is a bit banged up. Canha is underrated.

OF Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees (45%)

He’s getting a legitimate shot at No. 3 hitter duties for New York, so I won’t continue to ignore him.

3B/OF Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins (41%)

I like him better as a glue guy in my outfield. Third base was crazy-deep this year and a spot where I typically drafted hitters with more power potential. But Anderson as an underrated “compiler” in my outfield is just fine by me. The Marlins get a healthy four games to begin this week, two of which are against lesser St. Louis starters (DPDL, Gant). This is a “set it and forget it” sort of play, not a “boom” pick.

OF Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays (39%)

George Springer can’t return until at least April 8th, so that means you’ve got four more days of Grichuk at sites like the NFBC (where you can adjust hitters on Fridays). The Blue Jays get a full four games for the Monday-Thursday part of the week, with a couple of plus matchups in Mike Foltynewicz and Kyle Gibson. Grichuk is buried in Toronto’s deep batting order, having batted eighth, eighth, and seventh thus far. However, he did swat his first home run on Sunday (yesterday). Ride the wave for at least four more days if you need power, and maybe longer if Springer isn’t back in action as soon as he is able.

OF Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (37%)

After somersaulting up draft boards during the latter stages of fantasy baseball draft season, Senzel’s stock took a hit after the oft-injured youngster hurt his shoulder at the very beginning of the season. However, he was a defensive replacement two days later (Saturday), and he started Sunday’s game and seemed to make it through without incident. So the arrow appears to be trending back upward. Add in Jesse Winker’s illness, and it would seem that Senzel’s at-bats are pretty assured heading into the coming week. The Reds get a three-game set at home against the suspect Pittsburgh pitching staff to open up the week...

OF Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets (25%)

Nimmo is a stud on-base man, and a low risk that I’ve taken in tons of drafts this year. The Mets should finally get to begin their season this week, and I think Nimmo’s playing time is assured. The average may be pedestrian, but I’m expecting the ability to push for 20 homers and 10+ swipes, with plenty of counting stats. Call me crazy if you like...but I don’t think Nimmo’s playing time is in jeopardy.

OF Michael A. Taylor, Kansas City Royals (21%)

Power, speed, and strikeouts. Oh, and he’ll probably lose his job in May to one Bobby Witt Jr. sometime in May. If you can eat the batting average, take the category juice while you can.

OF Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates (12%)

He should offer batting average and counting stats as Pittsburgh’s No. 3 hitter, and the Pirates have a solid four games to start this week, as previously stated.

OF Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles (9%)

He’s fresh off of a 5-for-5 outing on Sunday, and Austin Hays’ injury only further opens the door. Mullins is probably one of the biggest outfield priorities right now—I think you have to add him everywhere due to his ability to hit for some power and to steal bases. He has at least two hits in all three games for Baltimore this year, and should continue in the leadoff role moving forward.

STARTERS

LHP Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners (42%)

He’s an absolute priority pickup for your fantasy teams after spinning a gem at home against the Giants. Six innings and only one walk against 10 strikeouts will garner some attention. Encouragingly, his fastball topped out at 97.4 MPH, too. I’ll take that in the first start of the season!

LHP Jordan Montgomery, New York Yankees (39%)

Montgomery was a buzzy late-round draft pick this year, and this week he lines up for a two-start week against the Orioles and the Rays. You could certainly do worse if streaming. He pitched to a 5.11 ERA last year, but that came alongside a 3.87 FIP and 3.65 xFIP. He’s got decent strikeout stuff but really limits free passes—only a 4.7% walk rate last year, alongside a 24.4% strikeout rate.

RHP Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox (31%)

I LOVE TANNER HOUCK. His frisbee slider is devastating. This kid has big strikeout stuff, as evidenced by his first turn against the Orioles...he managed five innings against Baltimore, and allowed a pair of runs but finished with a whopping eight strikeouts. He should get a rematch this Thursday against Baltimore, but this time at their place. I’m all over Houck at this early point of the season, and hoping he’ll pitch so well that Boston has to keep him in the rotation.

RELIEVERS

RHP Julian Merryweather, Toronto Blue Jays (52%)

Yep, he’s over the 50% threshold, but he wasn’t yesterday and he’s the hot add right now. Odds are he’s still going to split time with Jordan Romano, at least in my opinion. But you never know with these things, and Merryweather basically averaging 99 MPH on his heater and already securing two saves is noteworthy. You’ve got to make the add and see where this train goes.

RHP Cesar Valdez, Baltimore Orioles (34%)

As a closer, he’s unconventional—at least in that he isn’t overpowering and relies heavily on his changeup. Really heavily, like over 75% of the time. Long-term I don’t think that’s a recipe for success, but right now he appears to clearly have the role so I think you have to dip your toes into the water and see how far this goes.

RHP Bryan Garcia, Detroit Tigers (7%)

If you’re on a budget (or desperate), you can consider part of what looks like a bit of a timeshare in Detroit. Garcia logged a four-out save on Saturday, acquitting himself well by shutting down Cleveland on only 14 pitches. He’s more of an RP3 type in my book—but hey, you came here to dumpster-dive, right?