This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals for this article:
- Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
- Try to estimate how much of your free agent budget you should bid on them.
One size doesn't fit all, and we could never hope to encompass all league structures, so we have to have a set of base assumptions. Those assumptions are:
- League size of 12 players (either NL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 FAAB budget
David Bush - Bush pitched 6.1 innings of two-run ball on Saturday and earned the win over the Pirates. He surrendered six hits and two walks while striking out five batters in the game. Bush was in danger of losing his rotation spot just a few weeks ago, but he has stepped up his performance since. Bush hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last five starts and has won three games over that time to improve to 4-6. However, keep in mind that Bush was skipped over twice during this stretch. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Doug Davis – The Brewers activated Davis from the disabled list on Tuesday. Davis, who had been out since May 10 with a minor heart condition, took the roster spot of Yovani Gallardo (oblique), who was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. Davis allowed four runs over five innings in his first start in two months Friday against the Pirates. He had a 7.56 ERA in seven starts before being placed on the DL, so it would be best to take a wait-and-see approach and have him scrape off some rust before deciding whether to bid on him. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Matt Maloney – Maloney, who made seven starts for the Reds last year, was called up to start in place of the injured Aaron Harang Tuesday against the Mets. Maloney held the Mets to three runs in 5.2 innings Tuesday, but he took the loss in his season debut. Maloney, who had a 68:20 K:BB ratio and 3.50 ERA in 82.1 innings for Triple-A Louisville, will get another start Sunday, but he will likely be sent down shortly thereafter with both Harang and Edinson Volquez expected to be ready after the All-Star break. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Ross Ohlendorf - The Pirates believe Ohlendorf, who has given up just two earned runs in his last 20 innings, is returning to the form he showed in 2009. Ohlendorf has just one of the 16 wins by a Pittsburgh starter this season, but manager John Russell sees plenty of encouraging signs. "He's found his niche again," Russell said. "He's much more compact, using his lower half much better, driving the ball down. His velocity has crept back up, and there's sharpness to his breaking ball. This is what he's been building toward, and I think he's back on track now." Ohlendorf was an underrated second half option last year and could be poised for a similar run in 2010 - just don't expect too many wins. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Wandy Rodriguez – After struggling earlier in the season, especially with his control, Rodriguez made a small mechanical adjustment that has paid great dividends. Rodriguez fanned 10 over seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday to win his third straight start and has posted a 19:4 K:BB ratio with just two runs allowed over 20 innings in those three outings. While it may be premature to pronounce Rodriguez back to the level he pitched at last year, he looks to be inching closer and might be available in leagues where his previous owner soured on him. Mixed: $8; NL: $25.
Alejandro Sanabia – Sanabia will make his first MLB start for the Marlins Sunday. He threw three strong innings of relief Tuesday behind Chris Volstad, the same pitcher he replaces in the rotation. Sanabia posted a 2.03 ERA and 0.892 WHIP as a starter at Double-A Jacksonville, but the majors are quite a bit different than Double-A. However, he has posted a 10:1 K:BB ratio and 1.11 GB/FB ratio (two HR) in 8.1 major league innings. Sanabia's first matchup against Arizona is not very scary; but it's unclear how long he will hold this spot because the Marlins may choose to promote Sean West if Sanabia struggles. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Sean West – Alejandro Sanabia is getting the start Sunday in place of the demoted Chris Volstad, but West could enter the picture after the All-Star break. West had another strong outing Wednesday for Triple-A New Orleans, giving up just one run on four hits over seven innings. Since missing the first two months of the season with back problems, West has gone 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA for the Zephyrs. The key for West has been his improved control. He has posted a 35:11 K:BB ratio in 40 innings, and if he can continue to throw strikes, a call-up may come shortly. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Mitch Atkins/Burke Badenhop/Justin Berg/Sean Gallagher/Carlos Monasterios/Joseph Martinez/Dan Meyer/Jordan Norberto - This week’s cast of middle reliever/end of bullpen fillers are in player alpha order: Chicago, Florida, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Florida and Arizona. The only ones with some potential value are Gallagher and Martinez. Gallagher will begin in middle-relief, but may become a starter later in the season for the Pirates, while Martinez will pitch in long relief for the Giants and could rack up a healthy amount of strikeouts in that role. All except Gallagher and Martinez - Mixed: No; NL: $0. Gallagher and Martinez - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Juan Gutierrez – After Chad Qualls imploded again on Saturday, Gutierrez came in and shut the door to record his second save of the season. The closer’s job in Arizona has been a revolving door, but Gutierrez will likely get the next chance thanks to his most-recent performance. Gutierrez has not been that great this year either, but his ERA has steadily dropped since the beginning of June and he has done a good job keeping the walks down. He’s the guy to target in the Arizona bullpen this week. Mixed: $4; NL: $14.
Ryan Madson – We profiled Madson two weeks ago when he began his rehab assignment. Madson was activated Thursday and pitched on both Thursday and Friday. Madson has resumed his setup role, but Brad Lidge is still al little shaky and Madson should see an occasional save opportunity. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (go higher if you think he will get a chance to close).
Chad Qualls – Qualls may have had the inside track to reclaim the closer's role in Arizona a week ago, but he fell apart again on Saturday and gave up three earned runs in his previous appearance. Aaron Heilman has continued to struggle for the D-Backs, but Juan Gutierrez will likely get the next shot to close after cleaning up Qualls’ mess on Saturday. Qualls still has a shot at closing and could be traded to a contender before the deadline, but he’s certainly not inspiring much confidence in anyone at this point. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Ryan Hanigan – We profiled Hanigan when he began a rehab assignment two weeks ago with Triple-A Louisville, but we’ll touch on him again this week. Hanigan didn't hit well with Louisville, but he was raking prior to the injury and should see the lion's share of the catching duties over the next couple weeks after Ramon Hernandez (knee) replaced him on the disabled list. Even when Hernandez does return to action, it would not be surprising if a playing time split went back into effect. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.
Brad Eldred – The Rockies called Eldred up from Triple-A Colorado Springs Wednesday to take the place of Todd Helton, who landed on the DL with a sore back and slightly pulled hamstring. Eldred, a 2010 Pacific Coast League All-Star, hit .267 for the Sky Sox this season, smacked a league-high 22 home runs, and also drove in 64 runs. At one time, Eldred was a solid power-hitting prospect for Pittsburgh, but he struggled making contact and has bounced between several organizations since being released by the Pirates in 2007. Look for him to see limited action with Jason Giambi receiving most of the playing time while Helton is sidelined. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Nick Evans - The Mets called up Evans from Double-A Binghamton on Friday. Evans hit .290 (88-for-303) with 54 runs scored, 24 doubles, 15 home runs and 46 RBI in 77 games with the B-Mets and was named to the Eastern League All-Star team. He will provide a right-handed bat off the bench but may be sent down once Carlos Beltran returns to action, which could occur shortly after the All-Star break. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jason Giambi - GIambi has taken advantage of the absence of Todd Helton and has seen consistent playing time at first base. Giambi is 10-for-17 over the past week and should continue to see most of the action while Helton is sidelined. That said; look for Brad Eldred to all see a few starts given Giambi’s past health issues. Mixed: $4; NL: $14.
Placido Polanco – Polanco originally hurt his left elbow when he was hit by a pitch on April 21. He took several cortisone shots to mask the pain until landing on the DL on June 29, but he will start a rehab assignment at High-A Clearwater Monday and then return to Philadelphia briefly for a re-evaluation. The Phillies are hoping Polanco will for good in about two weeks. Hopefully the time off gave Polanco enough time to fully heal. If he is healthy, he should again be one of the more valuable second baseman the last half of the season, especially playing half his games at Citizens Bank Park. Mixed: $16 (in case for some reason he was waived in shallower leagues, should be owned in all NL-only formats).
Ronny Cedeno – Cedeno started at shortstop and batted eighth Friday and Saturday night in Milwaukee. Cedeno fell into the doghouse about a month ago but is slowly climbing back out of it. The team tried starting Bobby Crosby at short but the results weren't much different. Playing time for Cedeno figures to grow once again. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Omar Infante – Infante, the Braves' jack-of-all-trades All-Star, had three hits and drove in a run starting in right field Saturday, a day after recording four hits and a home run starting in place of the injured Chipper Jones at third base. Infante is now hitting .328 and continues to see action at several positions, especially in right with Jason Heyward out and at third with Jones banged up. Infante now qualifies at four positions, which adds to his growing value. Most of his production centers on batting average along with some counting stats, though he doesn't excel in those categories. Mixed: $4; NL: $14.
Domonic Brown – To give you a gauge for the hype, some scouts are already comparing Brown to a young Darryl Strawberry. That may be too high a bar, but Brown is a five-tool prospect and is considered by many the best prospect in the Phillies farm system. Brown finished last season hitting .299/.377/.504 with 14 home runs, 21 doubles and 23 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A. He has not slowed down at all this season, going .318/.391/.602 with 15 homers and 46 RBI in 236 at-bats at Double-A to earn a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Brown has continued his fine play with the Iron Pigs, batting .364/.390/.636 with four homers and 12 RBI in 55 at-bats. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that he won't call up Brown until he is ready to be an everyday player for the team, but that time appears to be approaching soon. With the rumors that Jayson Werth is on the block, Brown could be called up soon. Even if Werth isn't dealt, Brown could see time in left field if Raul Ibanez slumps again. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (much much higher in keeper leagues if you expect a call up soon).
Justin Maxwell – The Nationals recalled Maxwell for the third time this season on Friday. He served as outfield depth this weekend but is a candidate to get sent back down when the Nationals recall starting pitcher Luis Atilano after the All-Star break. Mixed: No; NL: $0.