The Game Day’s Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Report is a comprehensive rundown of the latest free agent recommendations and related player news that requires analysis. So check in for all the top fantasy baseball players to add and put on your free-agency watch list.
Note: Our Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire bid suggestions are given as a percentage so you can adjust to your league’s FAB settings.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
NOTE: St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker is rostered in 76 percent of CBS leagues. I usually do not include players who are over 60 percent rostered, but will recommend bidding approximately 15 percent of your Free Agent Budget if Walker is available in your league.
Jake McCarthy, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (47% rostered in CBS leagues)
After being sent down in late April, McCarthy is back with the Diamondbacks, and he should play regularly in the outfield. In 22 games at Triple-A, the 25-year-old hit .322 with 17 RBI and 17 runs scored.
McCarthy has seven hits and four runs scored in his last four games. He has the potential to hit for a good average with double figures in steals for the rest of the season.
➕Jake McCarthy Free Agent Budget Bid: 12% of your available budget
Find the top MLB player props
Want to bet on some of your favorite fantasy players? Find our top odds for MLB player prop bets.
Casey Schmitt, 3B/SS, San Francisco Giants (49%)
A top-five prospect for the Giants entering the season, Schmitt is capable of playing multiple infield positions as a quality defender while offering some power potential as a hitter.
In 93 games at High-A ball last season, Schmitt hit 17 home runs and batted .273 before quickly vaulting up the organizational ladder. In his first 22 MLB games, the 24-year-old has hit .325 with two home runs, 16 RBI, and 12 runs scored.
The Giants have been willing to quickly promote Schmitt and will likely give the 2020 second-round pick every chance to stay in the MLB lineup. He has longer-term promise to hit for a decent average with some pop.
➕Casey Schmitt Suggested Free Agent Budget Bid: 10% of your available budget.
Owen Miller, 1B/2B/3B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers (40%)
Miller was a complete afterthought at the beginning of the fantasy baseball season. Heck, I added him for a dollar in an NL-only league at the start of the regular season, hoping he would get a decent amount of at-bats for some streaming usage.
Miller burst on to the fantasy scene with a strong surge in the month of May. He hit .363 with four home runs, 12 RBI, and 13 runs scored.
Maybe it’s about returning home for the Wisconsin native, as he has earned regular playing time at third base. Miller had displayed the potential to hit for power and average in the minors, so his “sudden” rise is not a major shock.
The 26-year-old is hitting .328 with a .500 slugging percentage. His .284 xBA and .421 xSLG point to regression, but Miller can remain a respectable fantasy lineup option, and he has obvious extra appeal due to his terrific positional versatility.
➕Owen Miller Suggested FAB Bid: 10% of your available budget
Zach McKinstry, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Detroit Tigers (38%)
At the beginning of the season, the former Dodger and Cub was not on the fantasy radar. Yet a guy who seemed headed for journeyman status is now a viable and versatile fantasy pickup.
McKinstry has settled in as Detroit’s leadoff hitter and he offers obvious and valuable multi-positional fantasy eligibility. In the month of May, the 28-year-old hit .301 with 16 runs scored and two home runs.
The new Detroit lineup topper’s .288 batting average is actually 15 points lower than his xBA. While he may not offer too much in terms of power and RBI, the steals, batting average, and lineup flexibility makes McKinstry an appealing add.
➕Zack McKinstry Suggested FAB Bid: 9% of your available budget
Willi Castro, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins (20%)
Castro was an afterthought in the preseason, yet he is getting into the Minnesota lineup regularly at multiple positions. Since May 24, the 26-year-old has boosted his average from .241 to .280 with five steals, 10 runs scored, and a bonus two-homer game.
Some skepticism on Castro is natural, as he is a career .243 hitter. But his xBA is at .267 and he has displayed stolen base promise in the minor leagues, so add the multi-positional surprise and see if you can ride a wave of some more possible success,
➕Willi Castro Suggested FAB Bid: 8% of your available budget
Ben Lively, SP, Cincinnati Reds (28%)
Lively has allowed four earned runs with 20 strikeouts in his last three starts. He did have a career 3.21 ERA in 10 minor league seasons, as well as a K/9 rate of over 9 in each of the last two years.
Even at 31 years old, Lively is worthy of an add to see if the success can continue. The xFIP of 3.31 is encouraging.
➕Ben Lively Suggested FAB Bid: 8% of your available budget
Nolan Jones, OF, Colorado Rockies (22%)
A Kris Bryant heel injury should keep Jones in the Colorado lineup. He excelled in the minors this season and can now continue to get quality at-bats in an obviously great hitting environment.
In 39 games at Triple-A, Jones has hit .356 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI. He did not make much of a dent at the MLB level last year, but he has nothing left to prove in the minors and has hit .318 in his first seven games with the Rockies in 2023.
➕Nolan Jones Suggested FAB Bid: 7% of your available budget
Louie Varland, SP, Minnesota Twins (51%)
Varland is still widely available despite emerging as a quality fantasy baseball performer. Some fantasy players may be hesitant to add Varland as his rotation spot appears to be in jeopardy with Kenta Maeda possibly returning from a triceps injury soon.
Still, take what you can get from Varland in the meantime. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in his last five appearances and is coming off a seven-inning shutout of the Astros.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has struck out five or more batters in four of his last six turns.
➕Louie Varland Suggested FAB Bid: 7% of your available budget.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Cheap Bids & Watch List
Players are listed in order of preference for overall pickups at pitcher and among hitters, but do consider your positional needs as a possible overriding factor when making decisions in these ranges.
- Braxton Garrett, SP, Miami Marlins (36%): The Miami starter seems prone to the occasional shaky outing and has just one win. But he has allowed four runs in his last four starts with three seven-strikeout performances and the window to get him on the cheap may be closing.
- Griffin Canning, SP, Los Angeles Angels (17%): He has started to flash the form that tempted fantasy players in previous seasons, as Canning has allowed three runs in his last two starts, with 14 strikeouts.
- Jared Shuster, SP, Atlanta Braves (43%): Shuster was enticing during the spring, and he has not allowed more than three runs in four starts since being recalled. He has battled walk issues (seven in his last two starts), but Shuster should stay in the Atlanta rotation for at least a few more starts.
- Tommy Henry, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (12%): Henry has allowed two runs with 12 strikeouts in 12.2 innings in his last two starts. But his 3.73 ERA has a 5.45 xFIP behind it, so some bumpier turns could be ahead.
- Miguel Castro, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks (41%); The 6-foot-7 reliever has a share of the closing role in Arizona. Castro earned four of his five saves in May. Get more info about the Diamondbacks’ situation and more from around the league’s bullpens in the fantasy baseball closer report.
- Adbert Alzolay, P, Chicago Cubs (9%): The Chicago reliever has not allowed an earned run in six of his last seven outings and he struck out four in two innings on Tuesday. Alzolay might move past Mark Leiter Jr. as a preferred save option for the Cubs.
- AJ Smith-Shawver, P, Atlanta Braves (20%): Atlanta has called up the 20-year-old top prospect to initially work out of the bullpen, but stash him now if you have the room. Smith-Shawver might get a chance to start at some point.
- Carlos Carrasco, SP, New York Mets (40%): The 36-year-old has allowed one run in 12.2 innings in his last two turns. Carrasco also does not have strikeout upside, though, and he should be utilized as a streaming option. Blowup starts in which he gets hit hard are possible
- Jose Siri, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (26%): He will be a drag on your batting average, but Siri has hit six homers since May 16 and has chipped in with four steals this season.
- Marcell Ozuna, OF, Atlanta Braves (49%): The Atlanta DH, who thankfully qualifies in the outfield, regained his past form in May. He hit .297 with nine home runs and 20 RBI last month, so Ozuna should be added for his proven power to see if the recent resurgence is sustainable.
- Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers (6%): Since May 14, Baddoo has elevated his batting average from .241 to .262, and his three homers and five steals in 43 games make him worthy of a pickup. The 24-year-old may be recapturing a good chunk of his promising 2021 form.
- Kody Clemens, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies (3%): Injuries have pushed Clemens into frequent playing time for the Phillies. He hit .333 in May and displayed some decent pop in the minor leagues.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Tips And Strategies
Stay Ahead of the Pack
We will provide forward-looking fantasy baseball waiver wire recommendations every week in this space. It’s always best to add possible minor league call-ups, new closers, and potential new MLB starters ahead of the rest of your league whenever possible.
An aggressive approach to who may be the next hot pickup can save FAB dollars. Keep a close watch on player news, possible promotions in the near future, and lineup or rotation changes, and you won’t have to spend top dollars in a free-agent bidding battle.
Balance the Budget
Very often throughout the season, especially earlier on, you will see some players in your league spend large amounts of their FAB budgets on one player. These large bids are frequently for young players and top prospects.
Yet we have seen many new major leaguers struggle early in their careers, and some are even sent down after a short stint in MLB. Always remember that a FAB budget must last for a whole season and is needed in case of injuries or when guys on your current roster lose playing time.
Take the Longer View
Resist the urge to jump on hot streaks with aggressive bids on less-proven players. It is very possible that as soon as a guy who is on a tear is added, he may cool off and not regain that form for a while.
Advanced statistics can always help tell us if a hot player is overachieving or is truly for real. The advanced numbers can also reveal if a slumping player should not be cut yet.
It is harder to be patient in Head-to-Head fantasy baseball than Rotisserie formats. Baseball is a game of peaks and valleys, though, and your most proven players will often get back on track, and cutting them too soon can turn out to be a regrettable move.
Always Have Contingency Plans
You will always go into the weekly bidding process with an eye on the top players desired. Yet there should always be contingent bids listed for every player, and the list of contingent bids can go up to five or six players at a time to assure that a quality player is acquired to fill a need.
To avoid a situation where you may end up with a lineup hole, always list at least a few contingent bids as alternatives to the top players targeted. Also, check that you have properly separated the bid groups before finalizing your waiver requests for the week.
Never Make Assumptions
Do not assume that you won’t be able to land a player because so many others in the league will be after him. Always make sure to put a bid on a highly desired player, even if your FAB budget is limited.
Many fantasy players will be surprised to see a top waiver target land on their roster when they didn’t expect to end up with the winning bid. Never pass on an opportunity to bid on any player, assuming you will be outbid.
Know Your League and Team
Make sure to always stay on top of the bidding tendencies in your league. Carefully reviewing the waiver wire reports every week will help you properly budget for waiver pickups.
Also, it is best to re-assess team needs every week before bidding on players. Don’t spend too much for that prime first base pickup if there is no room for him in your lineup and he may not even get off the bench.
Be Aware of Positional Trends and Needs
Monitoring the free-agent list every week can provide a good picture of positional scarcity. As the season wears on, quality starting pitching will become more scarce.
Depending on the size of your league, there may not be room on a roster for some desired players. In a 10-team league, some players simply cannot fit on the roster, and in a 15-teamer, you can always take a flier on a dollar player that could turn out to be a quality contributor.