Fantasy baseball: Six players to try and trade for while you still can

Early-season stumbles by Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto might have opened a window of opportunity for savvy fantasy managers looking to make a solid trade. AP

May is my favorite time to engage in fantasy baseball trading. Among the reasons are that league standings are beginning to take shape --- yes, you can now look at them and take them more seriously -- while most every fantasy team is still in the championship hunt, and every manager is still engaged and has good reasons to try to make improvements. It's also a time of year when player statistics still haven't yet crystallized, so the seasonal sample size is still small enough to provide pockets of value.

Although the very act of my listing them here will surely increase the level of difficulty I'll face to trade for them in my own leagues today, let's share my list of the six players I'd most aggressively try to acquire right now:

Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals: Sure, the first name may seem like an obvious one, but people might not understand this opportunity at hand. Soto finds himself at only No. 64 overall on the ESPN Player Rater (36th among hitters), and has scored the 16th-most fantasy points among hitters. However, he was the No. 2 player selected overall in ESPN leagues (No. 3 overall in NFBC leagues during the preseason). In other words, he's a foundational player who has probably performed just below expectations enough that his managers have a smidge of doubt about their investment.

Soto, however, is a notoriously slow starter, something those who have rostered him in seasons past probably realize, with .256/.390/.457 career hitting rates in April that are easily his worst in any of the six months. In fact, for his career, he's a .277/.394/.475 hitter through May 31 of the season and .303/.440/.566 from June 1 forward. From that June 1 date forward in 2021, he scored 59 more fantasy points than any other hitter -- and from that date forward in 2019 he was sixth among hitters in points scored.

"Lineup support" on that Nationals team is irrelevant, because Soto is a transcendent hitter. If you have even a shred of a chance at acquiring him for anyone from Lucas Giolito/Mike Trout in my rest-of-season rankings down, make the deal instantly.