Should you deal rookie star Elly De La Cruz?

Trading an exciting young player is one of the hardest things for fantasy baseball managers to do. After all, watching youngsters arrive on the scene as stars is one of the most thrilling parts of sports fandom, and having had the foresight to acquire that player for a fantasy roster makes the experience that much more thrilling. But selling high on a red-hot rookie can sometimes be a league-winning move.

Remember when James Outman was tearing up the league (.966 OPS) in April? He has logged a .562 OPS since May 1. A more famous example is the 2022 version of Julio Rodríguez. Those who had the guts to trade the Mariners star when he was valued as a potential No. 1 overall player last summer missed out only on good-but-not-great production (10 HR, 4 SB, 18 RBI) after Aug. 1.

I’m merely asking managers to keep their minds open to accepting sky-high offers when they read the two paragraphs that follow this one.

Players to trade away

Elly De La Cruz (3B/SS, Cincinnati Reds)

De La Cruz is a great prospect. He should have a memorable rookie season. And I don’t want his inclusion in this article to be construed as a flag-plant that I don’t believe in his talent. But I have heard plenty of conversations regarding De La Cruz since he arrived in the majors, and I’m here to tell you that his hype train is speeding out of control.

The 21-year-old has the power-speed combination that fantasy managers covet, and he could be a first-round pick in a few years. That said, there is no chance that I’m taking De La Cruz over veterans such as Corey Seager or Francisco Lindor for the remainder of 2023. The youngster has a high ceiling, but he also has a low floor due to his inexperience and high strikeout rate.

Trading De La Cruz for an outstanding veteran could be a league-winning move. To view recent De La Cruz trades in other leagues, check his Yahoo Trade Market page.

Corbin Carroll (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)

I won’t argue with managers who wish to keep Carroll. After all, the 22-year-old is among the most exciting players in baseball and has been an absolute fantasy star this season (fourth on the Yahoo Player Rater). But those who stick with the youngster in the face of appealing trade offers should know that he is among the leaders in outperforming his Statcast data so far.

With a .264 xBA (.313 actual mark) and a .358 xwOBA (.422 actual mark), Carroll’s advanced stats show signs that he could be headed for a downturn this summer. And as with any young player, there is a chance that he hits the wall at some point in his first full season.

Thairo Estrada (2B/SS, San Francisco Giants)

It pains me to write this paragraph, as I drafted Estrada in many leagues and have enjoyed excellent production thus far. But overall, the infielder is a less famous version of Carroll, having earned an xERA (.249) that is 45 points below his actual mark and an xwOBA (.310) that is 50 points below his actual mark. As is the case with Carroll, I would want a strong return in order to part with Estrada, but I’m ready to listen if a steals-needy manager comes calling.

Players to acquire

Kyle Schwarber, OF / J.T. Realmuto, C (Philadelphia Phillies)

When it comes to acquiring Schwarber, my advice is to target managers in a very specific situation. Wise traders will check their league standings to find out if the manager who rosters Schwarber is sitting near the bottom in batting average. There will be plenty of leagues in which this is the case, as the slugger’s .177 BA is dragging down many clubs. At that point, managers should send a buy-low offer while noting that removing a player with such a poor average could serve as an addition by subtraction for their rival. Having thus far earned a .231 xBA, Schwarber has the potential to combine his elite power skills with an improved batting mark this summer.

Realmuto has been the seventh-most valuable fantasy catcher thus far, which is a far cry from where managers expected him to rank in the middle of June. But the veteran continues to steal bases at a high rate, as his 10 swipes lead all players at his premium position. The low overall ranking comes from a combination of Realmuto’s lack of power (6 HR) and the overall mediocrity of the Phillies offense. I expect Realmuto and his lineup-mates to be more productive in the summer months, at which time he will reestablish himself as one of the few game-changers at his position.