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
Jhoulys Chacin – With Aaron Cook going on the DL, Chacin will be recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to replace Cook in the Rockies rotation. Chacin threw 72 pitches for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday, so his first start will not come until Tuesday or Wednesday. Chacin posted a 4.04 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 116.1 innings earlier in the season for Colorado. He was sent down to the minors on July 24 but the injury to Cook opens the door for a move that possibly should have been made even if Cook hadn’t suffered an injury. Mixed: $6; NL: $20.
Casey Coleman – The Cubs purchased Coleman's contract from Triple-A Iowa last Monday. Coleman made 20 starts for Iowa this season, posting a 4.07 ERA and a 59:35 K:BB ratio in 117.1 innings. He's a groundball pitcher who doesn't generate a lot of strikeouts, but he's polished and understands how to pitch. With Carlos Silva on the DL, the Cubs may give Coleman a chance in the starting rotation; though for now, he is being used in relief. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jordan Lyles - The Astros promoted Lyles, who is only 19 years old, to Triple-A Round Rock last week. Lyles had a superb campaign at Double-A corpus Christi, posting a 3.12 ERA and 115:35 K:BB in 127 innings. Lyles is a command pitcher who throws a low-90s fastball that has late life, a solid curveball, and a developing changeup. Astros GM Ed Wade previously said that Lyles wouldn't reach the majors this year, but he appeared to open the door ever so slightly when announcing Lyles' promotion. Lyles projects to be a Number 3 starter and may get a shot at filling that role this season. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Jason Marquis – We profiled Marquis, who has been out since April and had surgery in May to remove bone chips from his elbow, two weeks ago when he began his rehab assignment. Marquis made five rehab starts and started his first game since April on Sunday. Marquis wasn’t particularly sharp in the minors, posting a 4.71 ERA in 21 innings, but he did post a 21:5 K:BB ratio. Marquis will need to pitch well to stay in the rotation because the Nationals staff is getting healthier, so there could be a lot of juggling over the next week. However, Craig Stammen is being moved to the bullpen indefinitely, which may lock up a rotation spot for Marquis. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Mike Minor – Minor will be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and start Monday against the Mets. Minor was 4-1 in five starts for Triple-A Gwinnett and posted a 1.99 ERA and 35:10 K:BB ratio, this coming after he went 2-6 with a 4.03 ERA and a 103:34 K:BB ratio in 87 innings with Double-A Mississippi. The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, Minor has an upper-80s fastball with excellent movement, a plus-changeup and a curveball in his arsenal. His top attribute may be his above-average command, control, and poise on the mound. Minor should get a chance to stick in the major league rotation even with Kenshin Kawakami moving back into a starting role at Triple-A. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.
Stephen Strasburg – Strasburg, who has out of action with right shoulder inflammation since July 21, will be activated and start Tuesday. Strasburg will be limited to 90 pitches but you don’t need us to tell you what to do. (just an FYI as should be owned in all formats).
Todd Wellemeyer – The Giants activated Wellemeyer, who had been on the disabled list since mid-June with a quadriceps strain, before Thursday's game in Atlanta. Wellemeyer was scheduled to make a rehab start on Wednesday, but after Denny Bautista flopped earlier in the afternoon, the Giants scrapped those plans and activated Wellemeyer right away. He will be used as a long reliever. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Mitch Atkins/Carlos Fisher/Jeff Fulchino/Chan Ho Park/Chris Resop/Fernando Salas/Ramon Troncoso - This week’s cast of middle reliever/end of bullpen fillers are in player alpha order: Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Pittsburgh (2x), St. Louis and Los Angeles. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Mike Adams – The Padres activated Adams, who had been out since mid-July with a strained oblique, from the disabled list Saturday. Adams is a big reason why the Padres' bullpen has been successful this year, so they'll be glad to have him back. He's striking out more than a batter per inning and has 22 holds, so those in leagues that count that stat will welcome him back with open arms. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (though likely owned in NL-only formats).
Aroldis Chapman – There was speculation last week that Chapman was going to be recalled from Triple-A Louisville if Russ Springer landed on the disabled list. Well, Springer did land on the DL, but Cincinnati decided to bring back Carlos Fisher instead of Chapman. Despite not getting the call, Chapman is on the verge of landing with the Reds and could be up before the September 1 roster expansion. Chapman has been on fire over his last 10 games at Louisville, giving up just one unearned run over 11.1 innings. He's given up just six hits and has a 16:4 K:BB over that span while also hitting 102 mph on the gun. For the year, Chapman has 107 strikeouts in 86.1 innings, and while he will be used in the bullpen this year, he projects to be a starter down the road. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (much higher in keeper leagues).
Aaron Heilman – Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson has not named a closer, but Juan Gutierrez's trip to the 15-day DL means more save opportunities for Heilman. Chad Qualls, Gutierrez, and Heilman have all been used in the ninth inning, but now Qualls is in Tampa, Gutierrez is on the DL, and Heilman is the last man standing. Heilman had been pitching well, putting up eight straight scoreless appearances and picking up the save on Friday, but he served up two home runs to the Padres on Saturday and blew the save (he was credited with the victory when Chris Young hit a walk-off in the bottom of the inning.) Rafael Rodriguez was just recalled, so he may also factor in the mix, but Heilman, despite Saturday’s meltdown, should still see the lion’s share of the save opportunities. Mixed: $8; NL: $22 (likely owned but gets a bump with Gutierrez injury).
Clay Hensley/Brian Sanches – Leo Nunez has blown back-to-back saves and been scored on in three straights outings, which has prompted Marlins’ manager Edwin Ramirez to say he might make a change at closer. Ramirez believes Nunez has been using his changeup too much and needs to go back to throwing his 95-mph fastball more often. If Ramirez does make a change, even in the short-term, Hensley, who notched the win Saturday, would likely be first in line to fill that role. Hensley has been one of the better setup men in the league, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.226 WHIP along with 55 K and 17 holds in 50.2 innings. Sanches also might factor in the mix, but Hensley would likely be the first to get the call if a change was made or committee approach used. Hensley - Mixed: $3; NL: $11. Sanches – Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Brad Ausmus/A.J. Ellis – The Dodgers recalled Ellis on Wednesday with Russell Martin landing on the disabled list. Ellis and Brad Ausmus will split the playing time behind the plate with Martin out for the year, but look for Ausmus to get a smidge more playing time due to his experience. Ausmus - Mixed: $1; NL: $4. Ellis – Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Ryan Doumit – Doumit, who was out with a concussion, was activated off the 15-day disabled list Saturday. With Chris Snyder now the primary starter behind the plate in Pittsburgh, the Pirates have stated they will move Doumit around the diamond, giving him time at first, in the outfield, and at catcher, most likely in an effort to build trade value before the August deadline. If the Bucs don't trade Doumit they'll have $10 million tied up in the catcher position (between he and Snyder) heading into the offseason - an unlikely scenario for a team with a payroll of their size. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Brett Hayes – Hayes, who had been out with a left wrist contusion, was activated off the 15-day disabled list Thursday. Prior to being sidelined, Hayes was used as a backup to Ronny Paulino, but his role may change slightly going forward. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said that he plans to give Hayes a good amount of playing time moving forward as Paulino has worn down from handling most of the action behind the plate since John Baker was sidelined since mid-May. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
John Hester – The Diamondbacks recalled Hester from Triple-A Reno last Sunday. Hester will back up Miguel Montero due to the trade of Chris Snyder to the Pirates. Hester will see limited action behind Montero, but has shown the ability to hit in the minors and could surprise if given playing time. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Freddie Freeman – Though he did drive in two runs Saturday, Troy Glaus has been in a massive slump over the last six weeks, prompting speculation that he could lose his starting job. Erik Hinske has filled in nicely for Glaus, but Freeman may be Atlanta-bound if Glaus’ struggles continue. Freeman is hitting .298/.362/.497 with 15 home runs and 67 RBI at Triple-A Gwinnett. He is solid defensively and ha shown a better eye at the plate, one of the last pieces he needs to be a consistent hitter at the next level. Even if the Braves don't decide to call him up this year, Glaus' recent struggles make it more likely that Freeman will take over the first base job for the Braves next season. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (pure speculation bid, go higher in keeper leagues).
Eric Hinske – Hinske started a third consecutive game at first base and went 1-for-4 with a home run in Thursday's win over the Giants. Troy Glaus is struggling (though he did start Friday and Saturday) and Hinske could get more playing time at first base and possibly platoon with Glaus going forward. If that does happen, Hinske will need to hit or the Braves could turn to Freddie Freeman. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Mike Sweeney – Sweeney was traded to Philadelphia for cash or a player to be named later. He'll serve as the regular first baseman while Ryan Howard is on the DL, but Ross Gload will also see some time there. Howard is only expected to miss the minimum 15 days, so Sweeney’s opportunity will be somewhat brief and he will then be relegated to a pinch-hitting role. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Ruben Tejada – Tejada was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo Saturday and is replacing Luis Castillo as the team’s everyday second baseman. Tejada hit just .212/.297/.250 in 35 games earlier this season but batted .280 with 11 doubles in 65 games for Buffalo. He provides some energy, athleticism, and range at second base that had been lacking with Castillo in the lineup. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Diory Hernandez – Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and will serve a utility role while Martin Prado is on the DL with a broken finger. Hernandez missed the first two months of the season after surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. He was hitting .319/.344/.414 with 17 RBI in 116 AB with Gwinnett, but don’t expect him to see much playing time with the Braves. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Paul Janish – Janish should be the primary beneficiary of Orlando Cabrera’s stint on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique. He should see the majority of the action at shortstop while Cabrera is sidelined. It's worth noting that Juan Francisco is with the big league club right now as well and he could enter the mix at short if the Reds are looking for a little more offense. Janish won’t hot for a ton of power but has shown a good eye at the plate and will likely bat eighth while providing slid defense for Cincinnati. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Chris Nelson - The Rockies recalled Nelson for the second time this season before Thursday's game. Nelson has had a fine year at Triple-A and has recovered his prospect status, hitting .333/.389/.553, albeit in the offensive-charged environment of Colorado Springs. His stay might be short, dependant upon what the Rockies do when they replace Aaron Cook in the rotation. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Chad Tracy – Tracy signed with the Marlins and reported immediately to the major league club, but the plan is to use him off the bench. Tracy seemed like a budding star back in 2005 when he hit .308 with 27 home runs as a 25-year-old, but injuries have derailed his career and it's been a number of seasons since he's been an asset at the plate. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Rogeravin Bernadina – Bernadina hit leadoff and started in center field in three of the Nationals’ four games since Nyjer Morgan landed on the disabled list. With Morgan sitting on the DL, both Bernadina and Mike Morse - who had been starting against lefties as part of a right field platoon with Bernadina - should play regularly for the time being. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.
Melky Cabrera – The addition of Rick Ankiel was expected to cut into Cabrera’s playing time, but Cabrera has been one of the hotter Braves since the All-Star break and should continue to see plenty of action at all three outfield positions. After hitting just .259/316/.348 before the break, Cabrera has rebounded to hit .298/.379/.509 since. He doesn’t offer much power or speed but should be a source of decent BA and OBP. Cabrera will need to produce to stay in the lineup, given the options Atlanta now has in the outfield. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.
Lorenzo Cain – We profiled Cain three weeks ago when he was first called up, but his promotion lasted all of a few games. This time, Carlos Gomez’s concussion has landed him on the DL, opening up a spot for Cain. He is expected to split time in center field with Jim Edmonds, seeing time against left-handed starters and possibly more, depending on if Edmonds’ sore Achilles tendon continues to bother him. Cain hit .317 with 26 steals over 380 at-bats in the minors and improved his plate discipline between Double- and Triple-A this season. Cain is expected to be a big part of the Brewers' plan for the future; and if he plays well, he could remain in the lineup at the expense of both Edmonds and Gomez. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.
Allan Craig – Like Cain, we profiled Craig a few weeks ago, and his stint was just about as short as Cain’s. The Cardinals recalled Craig from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday with the thought that he would serve as a reserve outfielder initially, but he could begin seeing additional playing time if Jon Jay starts cooling off a bit. In addition, with David Freese out for the year, he could see time at third base despite his below-average defense. Craig, who had 14 home runs and 76 RBI in 77 minor-league games, may see 3-4 starts per week, a number that could increase if he gets hot at the plate. Mixed: $5; NL: $16.
Chris Dickerson – Dickerson, who had been out since April with multiple injuries in his right wrist, could join the Reds shortly following a trip to California for his grandmother's funeral. The Reds cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for Dickerson Friday by designating Drew Sutton for assignment. Dickerson hit .442/.528/.767 with three home runs and seven RBI during his 13-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. If Dickerson is activated, the likely candidate to be demoted is Drew Stubbs, who was in a 1-for-37 slump but had three hits, including a home run, Saturday. The Reds could use Dickerson’s lefty bat off the bench, though there's no obvious roster spot for him right now. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Nick Evans – Evans, who spent some time with the Mets last season but suffered through so much of a nightmarish season that he was demoted to Double-A Binghamton, has done a 180 this year. Evans was promoted from Binghamton to Triple-A Buffalo in late July and has not stopped hitting. Evans is 9-for-30 with a home run and nine RBI in eight games at Buffalo after ranking in the top five in the Eastern League in doubles (30), home runs (17) and extra-base hits (47) while hitting .294 in 88 games. Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell credits the improvements Evans has made to his swing as the reason for his turnaround. The Mets are 7.5 games out of a playoff spot, and if the team falls out of it completely Evans could be in line for a call-up and some playing time if he keeps hitting like this. Mixed: No; NL: $2 (speculative bid).
Chris Heisey – Heisey has taken advantage of Drew Stubbs’ slump and has seen an extended run of playing time in center field. Heisey has a .294/.376/.549 line and seven home runs; and if he continues to play like he has during this recent stretch, he could see more playing time down the stretch. Stubbs had three hits and a home run Saturday and Chris Dickerson could be activated off the DL soon, so Heisey’s role is in no way a lock. Still, he is at least in a timeshare in center field for now. With Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix only signed for this year, Heisey could possibly be a full-time starter in 2011. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.
Reed Johnson – Johnson, who had been out since mid July with a back injury, was activated from the 15-day DL on Wednesday. Johnson is batting .291 in 127 at-bats this season and should see some time in the outfield with Manny Ramirez (calf) still ailing, though Scott Podsednik is the starter in left field. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Fernando Martinez – Martinez was called up to replace Jesus Feliciano on the Mets’ roster. Martinez was scratched just prior to Friday’s Triple-A Buffalo’s game and there were rumors that he was going to be traded. Instead, Martinez was simply promoted to the major league roster with Jason Bay showing no signs of returning from his concussion any time soon and the Mets’ desire to give some of their younger players a chance. At the time he was called up, Martinez was hitting .255/.321/..466 with 12 HR and 33 RBI, and he also had an ugly 60:17 K:BB ratio in 247 at-bats. Martinez’s plate discipline has shown few signs of improving but he does have some power in his bat and will bring energy to what has been a lifeless Mets team of late. Until the Mets are completely eliminated or decide to sit Jeff Francoeur, Martinez will likely slide into Feliciano's old role as a reserve outfielder who will play both left and right and battle for at-bats. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
John Mayberry – The Phillies recalled Mayberry on Tuesday from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he hit .258 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI in 99 games. The Phillies opted to designate Cody Ransom for assignment on Thursday rather than send Mayberry back to the minors, though Mayberry still doesn't figure to see much action. The Phillies now have plenty of options at first base – due to the acquisition of Mike Sweeney - and in the outfield. Mayberry will likely head back to the minors when Shane Victorino comes off the disabled list in a week or two. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Kevin Mench - Mench was called up from Triple-A Syracuse Friday when Nyjer Morgan was placed on the disabled list. Mench was hitting a mere .249/.331/.338 with three homers and 40 RBI in 281 at-bats at Syracuse. He shouldn't threaten Roger Bernadina or Mike Morse for playing time while he's up. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Mike Morse – With Nyjer Morgan hitting the DL, both Morse and Rogeravin Bernadina should play regularly for the time being, with Bernadina manning center field and Morse playing right. Justin Maxwell will also factor in the mix, though Morse’s fine play should give him the edge in playing time. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Will Venable –Venable was rumored to be the odd man out following the Padres’ acquisition of Ryan Ludwick, but he's clearly been making a case for staying in the team's lineup. While Venable has only hit .239 over his last 25 games, his .950+ OPS over that stretch, shows Venable's batting average is a bit misleading. Since June 20th, Venable has six home runs, 19 RBI, 12 runs scored, and six stolen bases. Regardless of the format you play in, those are valuable fantasy numbers. Mixed: $8.