Fantasy Baseball Trade Analyzer: Deal Tanner Bibee, nab Yusei Kikuchi and more

After focusing on hitters in this column during recent weeks, this edition will be entirely focused on hurlers who can make a difference in the trade market. In comparison to early-season stats for hitters, those generated by pitchers can be even harder to trust. After all, some starters have yet to reach 10 appearances, which means that a few bad innings still have a major impact on their overall ratios.

Also, some starters have often faced the weakest lineups thus far while others have regularly been tasked with silencing the toughest offenses.

Kikuchi’s hot start to the season is fully supported by skill improvements. The left-hander has posted normal luck rates (.290 BABIP, 78.6% strand rate) while taking another step in control skills that improved last season by logging a 4.8 BB% this year. Statcast has assigned Kikuchi a 2.77 xERA that lines up with his actual 2.64 mark. Additionally, his fastball velocity has ticked up slightly and is now a career-best 95.6 mph.

One final note: Kikuchi and his teammates may benefit from the fact that their home park can now be considered a pitcher-friendly venue after playing as a neutral or hitter-friendly park at times in previous years.

Snell fits two categories in terms of buy-low players right now. First off, he has struggled this year, posting an 11.57 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP in three starts. Second, he is currently on the IL, which makes him of no immediate use to impatient managers. But there is clearly plenty of upside in someone who won a Cy Young Award last season, and Snell should be given some grace for enduring a poor start to the season after haggling over a contract until late March.

There is a chance that the lack of a normal spring routine means that Snell will never get on track this year. But for managers who need to take a risk to turn around a floundering pitching staff, this is exactly the type of player to target.

Hader becomes the first player to appear in this article twice in 2024, as his disappointing start to the season has surprisingly continued all the way to the middle of May. The left-hander ranks 22nd in baseball with five saves, which is mostly caused by the Astros having a 17-25 record. Of course, Hader deserves some of the blame (4.74 ERA), but he has posted a 1.59 ERA across nine outings since April 17 and has not blown a save since April 2.

To get his fantasy season back on track, Hader simply needs his talented teammates to produce more narrow leads.

Berríos endured some luck correction when he gave up eight runs in 3.2 innings against the Phillies last Wednesday. But unfortunately, there may be more regression coming to his 2.85 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. The right-hander has benefited from a .256 BABIP and an 86.7% strand rate while logging a 20% strikeout rate that is 3.1% lower than his career mark and a 7.9% walk rate that's his worst since 2020.

Berríos is a solid workhorse, but he continues to profile as a 4.00 ERA hurler, which is vastly different than how he has fared thus far.

Overachieving setup men are always among the most obvious sell-high players. Such is the case with Garrett, who ranks fourth in the majors with five wins and owns eye-popping ratios (0.43 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). The right-hander deserves credit for pitching well to this point in 2024, and there is likely a market for sending his services to managers who are struggling with their pitching ratios. His value is at its peak right now, as he has little chance of earning saves in the coming weeks, and his high win total is mostly a product of luck.

There are also plenty of relievers who can produce helpful ratios and a strong strikeout rate. My plan with Garrett would be to use him to sweeten the pot on an otherwise 1-for-1 deal where I am getting the better player.

It’s concerning that Bibee has been unable to take advantage of favorable matchups. After all, the right-hander owns a 4.34 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP despite making four of his nine starts against the White Sox, A’s and Tigers. Bibee is controlling the strike zone at a similar rate to last year, but hitters are barreling up balls against him at a 10% rate, which is significantly higher than the mark from his rookie season. I see a scenario where the 25-year-old makes some improvements in the coming weeks, but even a better version of Bibee will likely fall short of the expectations that managers had for him during draft season.