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Buy-low candidates to consider right now

June 6, 2018

Writing a weekly buy-low column sometimes feels like being an infomercial pitch person.Fantasy roster got you down? Tired of waiting for your team to improve by itself? Looking to shake things up, but you just can't figure out how? … Well, you're in luck!Same as every week, here's a batch

Writing a weekly buy-low column sometimes feels like being an infomercial pitch person.
Fantasy roster got you down? Tired of waiting for your team to improve by itself? Looking to shake things up, but you just can't figure out how? … Well, you're in luck!
Same as every week, here's a batch of players whose performance has either been less than expected or slowed by injury so far. Go trade for one of them -- right now. Heck, go trade for two.
Follow these steps, and you'll be on the way to turning things around in no time!
Noah Syndergaard, SP, Mets
Syndergaard has had a nice season overall. Certainly, his owner isn't complaining about a 3.06 ERA, 1.18 WHIP or 10.6 K/9. And yet, it still sorta feels slightly disappointing -- maybe because we all have such high expectations for the flamethrowing superhero.
Then again, a peek at "Thor's" game logs shows he hasn't had even one truly dominant outing. Blame an elevated .339 BABIP -- tied for fourth highest among qualified pitchers -- as well as the Mets, who have not let Syndergaard exceed 7.1 innings or 103 pitches in a single start this season after he threw all of 30.1 frames in an injury riddled 2017. Add the recent strained ligament in his right index finger to the mix, and there's certainly an small window of opportunity to trade for the 25-year-old.
That window is open just a crack because Syndergaard is scheduled to return Sunday. The fact that the start is against the Yankees -- MLB's highest-scoring offense -- might be something else to use to your advantage in talks.
If you want a shot at a potential fantasy SP1 at a slightly discounted price, the time to act is now, while there's still some uncertainty surrounding Syndergaard. After a strong start or two, the cost of acquisition will return to preseason value.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF, Phillies
Hoskins was one of the most popular players around back in March, when everyone wanted a piece of the slugging sensation who mashed 18 homers and drove in 48 over 50 games as a rookie first baseman a year ago. That hype catapulted his draft status into the early rounds, requiring all-in owners to reach for a not-fully-proven commodity who also has been learning a new position (left field).
And how has that worked out? Well, in 52 contests to date this year -- just two more games than 2017 -- the 25-year-old has managed just six long balls and 28 RBIs while hitting .233. Oh, and he's currently on the DL with a fractured jaw after fouling a pitch off it.
All of which is to say, Hoskins' owner's patience is being tested to the fullest extent. Why not make an offer to see if you can score the still-promising hitter with an elite 15.7 percent walk rate and high-end 13.7 percent barrel percentage (top 20 in MLB). Based on his batted-ball data, Hoskins has a .379 xwOBA and .504 xSLG -- numbers that indicate that, while his 2017 performance was unsustainable, it wasn't completely outlandish. Trade for Hoskins now, while he's sidelined and cheap, then enjoy the hot streak once he's back and bashing baseballs.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees
Tanaka is one of the more frustrating pitchers in fantasy. Despite getting past that whole partially torn elbow ligament thing from 2014 -- he's thrown just under 600 innings since the start of 2015, 25th most in baseball -- some amount of doubt always sneaks into the picture when discussing him.
Then there's the fact that the 29-year-old has been among the most homer-prone pitchers in the sport since coming over from Japan. Making matters worse, his career 1.3 HR/9 rate entering this year has spiked to a ridiculous 2.0 in 2018.
The good news? Tanaka's 3.85 xFIP, which normalizes home-run rate to league average, suggests there's plenty of room for improvement in his 4.79 ERA. In other words, if he can get just a little more fortunate on fly balls, Tanaka should start thriving based on his strong 1.14 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 and 3.6 K/BB ratio.
Plus, as alluded to above, the Yankees are scoring 5.6 runs per game -- highest in MLB since the Bombers put up 5.7 per in 2009 -- so you know Tanaka will get support, which should lead to wins.

Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins
One of the few productive Marlins players not to be traded this past offseason, Bour feels like a forgotten man on a rebuilding team. Given that Bour's fantasy upside in the runs and RBI categories could be capped because of the rest of the roster, his fantasy owner likely doesn't have much attachment to him. The .235 batting average also leaves a lot to be desired.
If you can sneak in with a very low-ball offer, Bour could be worth the minimal cost it'll take to acquire him. The 30-year-old is sporting a career-high 17.2 percent walk rate, which is promising, and his .266 BABIP should start course-correcting closer to his .299 career mark and bringing his average up with it.
Don't expect any miracles here, but Bour has it in him to hit .260 with 15-20 homers the rest of the way. That's helpful as a corner-infield option in fantasy leagues, especially NL-only formats or those with 12 or more teams.

Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for