2024 Dynasty Baseball Trade Targets: MJ Melendez and Cade Smith.

by Josh Stevens
2024 Dynasty Baseball Trade Targets: MJ Melendez and Cade Smith

Welcome to our next 2024 Dynasty Baseball Trade Targets: MJ Melendez and Cade Smith!

As we’ve established throughout the Trade Target series, under the radar impact players can come from all different backgrounds. There can be guys like Jo Adell, top prospects who have taken longer than expected to find their stride. There are also guys like Alex Vesia, players who have stepped into big roles after years as more of a supporting cast.

In Fantasy Baseball, production can truly come from all types of players. This couldn’t be more true than our next two 2024 Dynasty Baseball Trade Targets: MJ Melendez and Cade Smith.

2024 Dynasty Baseball Trade Targets: MJ Melendez and Cade Smith.

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MJ Melendez: OF/C, Kansas City Royals

We become enamored with top prospects, especially in Dynasty Baseball. Unfortunately, the instant production of top prospects like Paul Skenes, Adley Rutchsman, and Bobby Witt Jr. have led fantasy managers to clamor for results right away. However, most young players take time to develop and reach their true potential. Expect the same with Melendez.

Melendez’s numbers look brutal on the surface.  He has a .190 batting average, .256 OBP, and a negative war. It's not very appealing to have on a roster, much less trade for. However, the time has never been better than to buy low on such a tantalizing young player.

What makes Melendez so promising?

“Melendez has serious raw power that even the Royals say might be the best in the system. In 2020, he toned down the big leg kick that causes him to over-rotate with his upper half and commit to pitches earlier -- which hurt pitch recognition and had been a reason for his 39.4 percent strikeout rate in the Minors. The Royals don’t want to take away the leg kick completely and have worked with Melendez to improve his posture in the box, trying to get him to be squarer with the pitcher and calm the movement in his swing down. He worked hard to improve his contact point and reduce the amount of pitches he chases out of the zone.”

This is MLB.com’s overview of Melendez back before the 2022 season, which was his rookie year. While the power has been there (20 homers  and 30 doubles in a 162 game average), the Royals are still waiting on the rest of his bat to show up.

Cause For Concern or Rough Luck?

However, there is a lot of optimism for Melendez to turn it around. He is a (not so) proud owner of a top worst difference between BA (.190) to xBA (.240), and wOBA (.272) to xWOBA (.316).

Now, even if these expected numbers were Melendez’s actual numbers, it still wouldn’t be super impressive. However, it’s way better than what his current numbers are. The current numbers will start to mirror the expected numbers with a larger sample.

Another positive is Melendez’s lack of strikeouts. While he struck out 301 times in just 277 games in his first two seasons, Melendez has only fanned 71 times in 80 games this year. While he still needs to walk more, cutting back on the strikeouts is a good start.

The Royals, a surprise contender in the AL, have had enough confidence to start Melendez in almost all of their games. You should too.

Cade Smith, RHP, Cleveland Guardians

Are the Guardians becoming the new Rays? Despite not having a ton of name recognition on their team (outside of Jose Ramirez and Steven Kwan), they do the little things in order to sit atop of their division. Among these little things is a shutdown bullpen, one that Cade Smith has had a big hand in.

Smith is the other side of the rookie coin that Melendez is on. Unlike Melendez, Smith has jumped straight into action in his rookie year, immediately making an impact deep in games.

In his first 39 innings, Smith has posted a 2.50 ERA and 1.66 FIP. He has allowed 29 hits, and nine walks while striking out 53 batters.

While most relievers now have no troubles striking guys out, Smith’s 34.6 K% especially stands out. It’s in the 97th percentile in the MLB, absolutely racking up points.

The downside to a dominant strikeout pitcher is usually a ton of walks. However, Smith has also had great control, with a 78th percentile walk rate of 5.9.

A Diverse and Nasty Arsenal

Smith uses a nasty three pitch arsenal to get hitters out. His 96 mph fastball sets the tone, and is his best pitch, with guys only hitting .179 against it. This has led to a run value of 14 on his fastball, making it one of the most valuable in the sport.

Smith’s splitter is also a great offering, as its 33 inches of drop is 1.7 inches above league average, one of the best marks in baseball. The sweeper is a quality third offering as well.

Having three pitches as a reliever is a great safety net, as a pitcher has another option if one of the offspeed pitches isn’t working that day. As a result, relievers such as Cade Smith are much safer than two-pitch pitchers.

All in all, Cade Smith’s incredible start to his career has gone overlooked, making him the perfect candidate to booster your fantasy bullpen.

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