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Opportunity Knocks: MLB fantasy transaction analysis for May 24 - 31

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Highlighting some notable transactions from the last week with commentary on each. We also take a closer look at some under the radar players who have seen a bump in playing time of late.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries, Trades, Promotions, Demotions from May 24 - May 31...

AL East:

  • Blue Jays activated SS Jose Reyes from the 15-day DL.
  • Blue Jays placed INF Steve Tolleson on the 15-day DL. They also had to shut down 2B Devon Travis during his rehab assignment. That means some combination of Ryan Goins and fan-favorite Munenori Kawasaki will man second base for at least the next couple weeks.
  • Orioles DFA'd OF Alejandro De Aza. This has opened up more playing time for Travis Snider and David Lough. Neither has been setting the world on fire although Snider has been seeing some time in the two-hole, putting him in play as punt option on daily fantasy sites if a favorable matchup comes up this week.
  • Orioles are giving another start to RHP Mike Wright who faces the K-happy Astros on Tuesday, fresh off getting shutout by John Danks. He's in play as a punt option on daily fantasy sites.
  • Rays placed 1B James Loney on the 15-day DL and recalled INF Tim Beckham and INF Jake Elmore.
  • Rays have been starting Logan Forsythe at 1B and alternating Nick Franklin, Beckham, and Elmore at the middle infield positions. UPDATE: Tim Beckham headed to the 15-day DL now.
  • Let's talk about Forsythe real quick. He is quietly having something of a breakout year (.286/.363/.458) and is always in play when he's facing a LHP due to that .391 wOBA. His strikeout rate is 14.7%, easily a career low so I think his breakout could be for real.
  • Red Sox placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL. Opportunity knocks for: Rusney Castillo, who has been starting in RF of late.
  • Red Sox acquired OF Carlos Peguero from Rangers and activated him, placing OF Daniel Nava on the 15-day DL. He has yet to play but he brings some big power from the left side but also some big wiffs.

AL Central:

  • Royals placed LHP Danny Duffy on the 15-day DL and activated LHP Jason Vargas to take his place in the rotation.
  • Royals activated RF Alex Rios who should be a nice upgrade over Paulo Orlando, who was optioned to AAA.
  • Tigers placed LHP Kyle Lobstein on the 15-day DL, opening a door for Buck Farmer. Farmer's 1st outing of the year did not go well; 5 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 HR, BB, K.
  • Indians activated C Yan Gomes, one of the better hitting catchers in the AL, especially versus LHP (.361 career wOBA).
    AL West:
  • Angels promoted Cam Bedrosian, former 1st round pick in the 2010 draft. He can rack up the K's (15.87 K/9 at AA last year) out of the bullpen.
  • Angels promoted INF Grant Green, another former 1st rounder. He's been hitting well down at AAA (.329/.351/.457) and has gotten a chance to play in 4 of his first 5 games.
  • Angels acquired OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets and placed OF Collin Cowgill on the 15-day DL.
  • Angels FDA'd 1B Marc Krauss and recalled 1B/OF Efren Navarro.
  • A's activated 2B Ben Zobrist from the 15-day DL and optioned OF Craig Gentry to AAA.
  • A's recalled RHP Kendall Graveman who rejoined the rotation.
  • Rangers activated LF Josh Hamilton. Should be interesting to see how he impacts the lineup. Jeff Bannister has been batting him 5th so far, favorable for fantasy purposes.
  • Rangers traded to Carlos Peguero to the Red Sox.
  • Rangers optioned RHP Phil Klein to AAA, opening the door for RHP Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez to make his MLB debut, which he won.

NL East:

  • Braves acquired 3B Juan Uribe and RHP Chris Withrow from the Dodgers and sent INF Alberto Callaspo and LHP Eric Stults to LAD. Odd exchange.
  • Braves activated 3B Chris Johnson who is back to his lefty killing ways in 2015 (.427 wOBA versus LHP).
  • Marlins placed 1B/OF Michael Morse on the DL, opening the door for Justin Bour to continue getting regular playing time at first base. We'll examine him below.
  • Prospect RHP Jose Urena joined the rotation with Mat Latos and Henderson Alvarez on the 15-day DL. John gave him a B- coming into the season, noting a strong level of performance to date in the minors, despite a lack of a strong breaking pitch to pair with his 92-95 MPH fastball.
  • Mets called up INF Danny Muno and traded OF Kirk Niewenhuis to the Angels.
  • Nationals placed RHP Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day DL. RHP Tanner Roark has also rejoined the rotation.

NL Central:

  • Brewers placed OF Khris Davis and RHP Wily Peralta on the 15-day DL. They did get SS Jean Segura back and C Jonathan Lucroy has begun his rehab assignment.
  • Cardinals placed 1B Matt Adams on 15-day DL. Big blow to their lineup as he's likely out until at least August. Mark Reynolds has been starting at 1B since the injury. Cardinals also activated OF Jon Jay.
  • Pirates activated Charlie Morton from the 15-day DL. His first start back went swimmingly against the Marlins.
  • Reds placed C Devin Mesoraco on 15-day DL, opening door for Brayan Pena to start at catcher.
    NL West:
  • Dodgers activated C Yasmani Grandal and INF Alberto Callaspo (trade with Braves). They also optioned LHP Eric Stults (trade with Braves) to AAA.
  • Diamondbacks have a new catcher in town: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. We'll see if his name can fit onto yet another MLB uniform and whether he can perform better than he did with the Marlins. Salty was brought up from AAA to replace Tuffy Gosewich, who hit the 15-day DL.
  • Giants DFA'd Casey McGehee and he accepted a minor league assignment. This opens door for Matt Duffy to stake his claim to the 3B job. We'll examine him in detail below.
  • Rockies called up LHP Chris Rusin who pitched well (7 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 BB, 5 K) in his first start against the Reds.

Opportunity Knocks - Let's get to know a little more about these following players...

Joey Butler - OF/DH - Rays

Butler has now started in the two-hole in each of the Rays last five games and has started in seven straight games overall. He's batting .342/.377/.548 in 77 PA and the opportunity has knocked for him to move into his starting role of late due to injuries to Desmond Jennings and James Loney.

Who is this guy? He's a 29 year old rookie who previously got a sip of coffee with Rangers in 2013 and another sip with the Cardinals in 2014. He was a college senior drafted in the 15th round out of New Orleans in 2008. He made steady progression up the Rangers ladder with his best season coming at AAA in 2012 (.290/.395/.435, 20 HR, 79 BB, 128 K, in 584 PA). Despite this, he hasn't made the cut for John's prospect book since 2009 and most would consider him a Quad-A type at this point.

A simple glance at that shiny .429 BABIP, along with an unfavorable 2.8% walk rate and 31.8% strikeout rate, makes it easy to write off his hot start. However, opportunity is there for him to keep playing in the short term, he has some decent pop (.205 ISO), and continues to be listed at dirt-cheap prices on FanDuel (2.2 K) and DraftKings (2.1 K).

Matt Duffy - 3B - Giants

Duffy has taken reign over the starting third base job this past week for the Giants. He's batting a respectable .285/.326/.390 with 3 HR, 6 BB, 29 K, in 134 PA. He was a 18th Rounder out of Long Beach State and had himself a very nice year statistically at AA in 2014, posting a .332/.398/.444 line with 3 HR, 42 BB, 66 K, and stole 20 bases.

John rated him a Grade C prospect coming into 2014: "I think he'll make a good utility infielder but there's some chance he can go David Eckstein on us and have a long career."

John bumped him up to Grade C+ coming into 2015: "He continued to show solid line drive hitting skills, good strike zone judgment, good use of speed on the bases, and a reliable glove at shortstop." He also said, "A long career seems more likely now, at least as a bench guy, and there is still some chance Duffy could be a taller, more physical David Eckstein and play regularly under certain conditions."

He's getting his chance to play regularly now but not really running away with the job just yet. Over the last two weeks, he's batting .265/.308/.388 with an unimpressive 1.9% walk rate and 23.8% strikeout rate. I agree with John's assessment that he's probably a solid utility guy that can hold his own with the bat as a starter if needed but not a true everyday player. I like Justin Turner of the Dodgers as a possible comp for Duffy. This week, I'd probably avoid Duffy in fantasy as he has some tough matchups with the Pirates top pitchers coming up but perhaps he could be a value play this weekend versus Seattle if he gets to face one of their lefties J.A. Happ or Roenis Elias.

Billy Burns - CF - Oakland Athletics

Don't look now. I'll look for you. Billy Burns is kinda off to a real nice start for the A's (.311/.360/.425) and has taken over the leadoff spot in the lineup. Burns is known for his burning speed and has lived up to the hype with 7 stolen bases in 26 games. Burns has been hot of late with a .370 wOBA, 2 HR, and 4 SB over the last two weeks of play.

Burns was originally drafted in the 32nd Round by the Nationals in 2011 but was sent to the A's in a trade for LHP Jerry Blevins during the 2013 offseason. Here's what John had to say about the rookie heading into the 2015 season: "Billy Burns is one of the fastest men in professional baseball. This was enough for him to thrive at the lower levels: slap the ball, run, and hit .300." He also said, "He was overmatched in a month of AAA and will have to try their again in 2015. His speed and defense could earn him a bench role at some point but he'll have to show more pop to get beyond that. Grade C."

Well, something interesting is going on here because he already has two homers in the majors, matching his minor league career total. He was hitting much better at AAA prior to his callup as well (.315/.378/.404). I'm not sure what adjustments he has made at the plate but I like the hot streak he's on right now and I think he's a legitimate fantasy option in the short term thanks to his ability to get on base and rack up steals at the top of the A's order. He's cheap on daily fantasy sites too and should remain so at least another week.

Justin Bour - 1B - Miami Marlins

Another unheralded prospect getting his chance to shine. Bour is a former 25th round pick out of George Mason and the fact that the Marlins were able to acquire him through the minor league phase of the Rule V draft should tell you all you need to know about where he stood on the totem pole. But, an opportunity has knocked for him now as the left handed half of the Marlins platoon at 1B with Michael Morse on the DL.

Here's what John said about him coming into 2015: "His defense is not as bad as you might assume given his size [6'5", 275] and his track record as a hitter is solid. He keeps his strikeouts under control and has actually improved his feel for hitting as he's moved up the ladder. Although Bour isn't going to run marathons for you, he can hit home runs and get on base and could be a very useful role player. Grade C."

Bour is off to a scorching start, batting .361/.409/.607 in 66 PA. He's keeping the strikeouts under control too thus far, whiffing at a respectable 15.2%. His bat has certainly been useful to the Marlins. While he likely won't keep this up, he does look like a legitimate play at 1B in the short term in fantasy, particularly on Tuesday versus Kyle Hendricks, who sports a .330 wOBA against left handed bats.