By now, you probably already know that I'm a believer in aggressive FAAB spending early in the season. Yes, a premium must be paid for potential difference makers who have the luxury of several months to make a meaningful contribution to your fantasy squad. When it comes to non-mixed leagues, however, a more conservative approach is common in anticipation of the MLB trade deadline, when a number of high-end players from the AL can be traded to the NL, and vice versa. You may want to have enough FAAB dollars remaining to win at least one of these players. Still, if you're in a NL-only league, for example, there's no guarantee that this frugal strategy will pay off. Maybe all of the big names switching leagues will be heading to the AL, and there are few things more depressing in fantasy baseball than overpaying for mediocre waiver wire options simply because you have a wad of unspent FAAB. So, while I do practice more restraint in my non-mixed leagues, I'm not one of those owners who sticks to $0 or $1 bids during the first half of the season. There's simply too much downside involved in that strategy.
Anyway, with the trade deadline now in the books, let's take a look at the top players who switched leagues and instantly became must-have waiver wire targets. Note that I already discussed Aroldis Chapman, Melvin Upton Jr. and Eduardo Nunez in last week's column.
Drew Pomeranz - After a rocky start to his big league career while with the Rockies, Pomeranz is finally living up to his former top prospect status. The 27-year-old southpaw strung together two straight highly successful seasons with the A's from 2014-2015, splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, and he was dominant during his time in the Padres rotation this season. But since his trade to the Red Sox, Pomeranz has alternated poor starts with strong outings. Aside from the inconsistency, another cause for concern is that he's already allowed five home runs through his first four starts for Boston, this compared to eight homers allowed in 17 starts with the Padres. While Pomeranz is likely to show improvement going forward, AL-only owners who were counting on continued ace-level production despite the unfavorable change of scenery might have been asking for too much.
Matt Moore - Speaking of former top prospects, Moore has quietly rebounded well from a dreadful 2015 campaign, sporting a decent 4.04 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 7.7 K/9 rate through 22 starts this season. Moving from the last place Rays and the AL East to the first place Giants and the NL West can only be considered a good thing. Moore began his Giants career on a mostly positive note, tossing six innings of two-run ball while striking out seven, though the six walks are a bit alarming. Regardless, new owners of Moore in NL-only leagues can safely activate him and not worry about that starting slot for the remainder of the season. And in a non-mixed league, there's value in that.
Rich Hill - I remember owning Hill back in 2007, viewing him as an emerging ace who would be deserving of an early-round selection for years to come. Not quite. In fact, 2007 happens to be the only season in which Hill has logged at least 100 innings, as a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness have derailed him. But a late-career resurgence, first as a reliever and then as a starter, has once again placed him on the fantasy map. In 14 starts for the A's this season, the veteran lefty went 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 76 innings. But injuries have been an issue yet again, and his Dodgers debut is on hold as he deals with a blister on his throwing hand. Those who spent big bucks on Hill in NL-only leagues simply need to be patient.
Josh Reddick - Although Reddick's 32-homer campaign in 2012 can now be safely called an anomaly, the former A's right fielder has been a useful fantasy asset in recent years, when healthy. And he was healthy last year, finishing the season with 20 homers and 77 RBI. He's been mostly healthy this year, though the stat line isn't as strong.
The new Dodger is indeed a useful fantasy asset, but a true difference maker? Not exactly.
So go ahead, save all of your FAAB dollars for the trade deadline. But don't complain when the grand prize is Josh Reddick.