The FAAB Factor-AL is our weekly look at the American League free agents you should be targeting with your acquisition budget. 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 AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 free agent acquisition budget.
Sean O'Sullivan - Some of you may remember me writing about O'Sullivan a few weeks ago and how I kindly said something to the effect that he wouldn't last longer in the Royals' rotation than a bag of hamburger left on the kitchen counter over night. To further the discussion on that: (1) Yes, I keep my meat in a bag (who doesn't?) and (2) I owe Mr. O'Sullivan an apology, because he's proven to be a surprisingly delicious bag of meat this season. Mr. O'Sullivan, I am sorry that your historically mediocre numbers caused me to doubt you, but it is also your terrible numbers that have kept you available in 100 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite the fact that you have posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.31 WHIP through four starts and 29 innings of work. I'm considering making a modest bid for O'Sullivan in my deepest mixed leagues this week, but I'm treating him like a one-week flier right now. O'Sullivan's career 5.08 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 154 innings at Triple-A scare me and so does his 14:14 K:BB ratio in the majors this season. He's probably already owned in most deep AL-only leagues, but if he isn't, it's worth taking a pull on him as long as he's pitching well. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Andy Sonnanstine - Sonnanstine is scheduled to start Tuesday in place of Jeff Niemann (back) who went on the 15-day DL Friday. However, if he is needed in relief this weekend, the team will call up one of their minor leaguers to make the start. He was used primarily as a reliever last season, but Sonnanstine is a decent short-term option at starter in all leagues. When Niemann is healthy, Sonnanstine will return to his relief role and lose most of his value. Bid on him if you are desperate for a starter, but don't expect him to get many strikeouts. Mixed: $2; AL: $3.
Jake Peavy - Peavy rejoined the White Sox on Saturday, and he's expected to start Wednesday's game against the Angels. We're terrified of his shoulder issues, but we're grabbing him in any leagues that he was dropped on the off chance that he regains his form. He threw 100 pitches in his final rehab start, so there shouldn't be any limitations on him in his start Wednesday. Peavy is currently owned in only 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Mixed: $9; AL: $16.
Carlos Carrasco - Carrasco is expected to rejoin the Indians' rotation this week, but an exact day for his return has not been set. Though he didn't have a very good rehab outing Friday, the Indians just wanted him to throw and come through pain free. He'll likely replace either Alex White or Jeanmar Gomez in the rotation. Carrasco is owned in one percent of Yahoo! leagues. He had a 4.97 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 18:10 K:BB ratio through 29 innings before being put on the DL. AL-only managers will want to see if he was dropped by another team who didn't expect him to rejoin the rotation. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Brandon Gomes - Gomes and I are related, not by blood but, like how Will Smith and Kevin Bacon are related to everybody by six degrees. If I were playing the six degrees game with Gomes, I could reach him in one person. My co-worker's husband (we'll call him Nick) at one of my other jobs (yeah, I don't just sit around reading about middle relievers all day), is Gomes' cousin. Nick knew I worked for RotoWire, so he wanted to know if I knew who his cousin was. He was really excited, because it was Gomes' first trip to the majors. Nick started telling me all about how Gomes had Tommy John surgery while he was in college and how Gomes struggled when he first started out in the minors but got better and better as he moved on to the higher leagues. All of Nick's stories got to me. I'm now obsessed with checking the Rays' box scores to see if Gomes pitched. It's a bit unhealthy. Luckily, my obsession over Gomes isn't completely irrational, like my past obsession over Travis Hafner. In his minor league career, Gomes posted a 4.10 ERA over 43 games in Single-A, a 2.24 ERA over 116 appearances in Double-A, and continued his ascent through the minors with a stellar 1.35 ERA over 11 appearances in Triple-A this season. He has the potential to be a long-term option in the Rays' pen. Through his 11 appearances with Triple-A Durham this season, Gomes struck out 22 batters in 13.1 innings. That's a K rate of 14.8 per nine. Since being called up Tuesday, Gomes has been used in three games and hasn't allowed a single hit. Jake McGee was the darling of baseball writers this preseason and was projected by many to take over the Rays' closer duties at some point, but McGee's struggles ended up getting him sent down to the minors, and Gomes has taken claim to McGee's old spot in the pen. I don't want to get too optimistic about Gomes' prospects, because our relationship makes me a bit a biased on the subject. However, it's worth noting that he was the closer at Triple-A and converted all six of his save opportunities. If Kyle Farnsworth were to struggle, as he so often has in his career, Gomes could be someone the Rays would look to for saves later this season. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Mark Lowe - Lowe was called back up to the Rangers on Wednesday, and the team optioned Pedro Strop to Triple-A. Strop really only had one bad outing this season, but it was enough to get him sent down. Lowe isn't in line for saves and doesn't have much value to speak of in anything but the absolute deepest of leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Scott Atchison - Atchison was called up to put a fresh arm in the Red Sox' taxed bullpen Thursday. He pitched 3.2 innings in relief but was designated for assignment Friday. He'll have to pass through optional waivers before he can rejoin Triple-A Pawtucket. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Rich Hill - Hill was called up by the Red Sox Thursday. He was once a promising starter prospect with the Cubs, but his love of walking batters has perpetually limited his once shining potential as a dominating strikeout pitcher. The Red Sox will use him out of their bullpen while Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks are on the DL. There's an off chance that Hill could pitch his way into a significant role, but that will be contingent on his ability to keep his walks down and the bases empty. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Alfredo Aceves - The Red Sox called up Aceves on Friday, and he was asked to step right in and do some mop-up duty after the Twins shellacked Tim Wakefield. He has a lot of injury concerns, but Aceves has shown the ability to be effective in the majors. Much like Rich Hill, Aceves could stay with the team until Dan Wheeler and/or Bobby Jenks is ready to return. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Jess Todd - The Yankees claimed Todd off outright waivers from the Indians on Friday. He's been added to the 40-man roster, but Todd's struggles with Triple-A Columbus this season don't inspire much hope for the 25-year-old's prospects going forward. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Kevin Slowey - Slowey was activated from the 15-day DL Sunday, and the Twins were considering putting him into the rotation upon his return. However, that consideration was contingent upon Francisco Liriano and Nick Blackburn continuing to struggle. Liriano's no-hitter this week and Blackburn's quality start have given both pitchers a new lease in the rotation. Slowey is still worth a speculative grab in AL-only leagues on the chance that Blackburn implodes in his start against the Tigers on Monday. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Victor Martinez - Martinez returned to the Tigers' lineup Wednesday, and the team has won three of their four games since his return. He's had a hit in all four games but they've all been singles. His groin injury appears to be behind him. Make sure he's in your lineups for the coming week.
Eric Hosmer - Hosmer is in pretty much every scout's 10-top list of prospects. He's been viewed as the Royals' first baseman of the future since being taken third overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and now he's their first baseman of the present. Hosmer was called up Thursday to take the spot of struggling Kila Ka'aihue. With Triple-A this season, the 21-year-old savior hit .439 with three home runs, 15 RBI, and three steals in 98 at-bats. Through his first two games with the Royals, he's gone 1-for-5 with a 3:2 BB:K ratio and a stolen base. Expectations should be tempered for this season in one-year leagues, but keeper-league managers need to make a play for Hosmer this weekend to see how he plays out. It's encouraging to see the Royals are willing to call up their top prospects early this season, because that could mean we see Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, and Michael Montgomery sooner than later. Mixed: $9; AL: $16.
Evan Longoria - Longoria was activated from the DL Tuesday, and he's done some good work at the plate this week. In his 18 at-bats since returning, Longoria has collected six hits (four of which have gone for extra bases), four RBI, and four walks. It was a long first month of the season for his owners, so make sure you have him activated for next week.
Chris Davis - Davis has played in the last four games for the Rangers with Nelson Cruz (quad) out of the lineup. The Rangers moved Cruz to the 15-day DL Saturday, making Davis a great short-term pickup and flier in most leagues. His struggles in 2010 were well documented (one home run and a .192 average in 120 at-bats), but Davis has great power potential and always hit for a tremendous average in the minors. A hot streak could get him regular playing time going forward. He can be used as a short-term option while Cruz is on the DL, and there is the off chance that he could develop into a regular. Davis is currently only owned in one percent of Yahoo! leagues. Mixed: $3; AL: $4.
Scott Sizemore - The Tigers called up Sizemore on Tuesday to take Will Rhymes' spot on the roster. I touched on Sizemore last week and said that the work he was doing at Triple-A Toledo could earn him a promotion. However, we didn't' expect manager Jim Leyland to hand over the reigns to the everyday second baseman job immediately, and he did. Sizemore has been named the Tigers starter at second base, and he's claimed the customary second spot in their lineup as well. He's played in all five games since being called up and has hit out of the two hole every day. So far he's hitting .316 (6-for-19) with three RBI, a steal, and a 3:8 BB:K ratio. The strikeouts are a big concern, but they're not going to deter me from putting in a bid on Sizemore in my deep-mixed and AL-only leagues. Sizemore has shown the potential to hit around .300 and could slug about 15 home runs if given 500 at-bats. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Trevor Plouffe - Plouffe was called up by the Twins on Wednesday with Jim Thome (back) going on the 15-day DL. He was given the start at shortstop Friday, going 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk. The Twins have tired of Alexi Casilla's .173 average and are going to give Plouffe a legitimate look at shortstop, at least until Tsuyoshi Nishioka (leg) returns from the DL. He struggled to hit for a decent averaged in the minors, but Plouffe has some pop in his bat. If you're looking for a short-term option with some long-term potential in a deep mixed league or an AL-only league, Plouffe is a decent guy to take a flier on. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Ramiro Pena - Pena was called up to take Eric Chavez' (foot) spot on the roster. He'll be insurance in case Alex Rodriguez needs some rest, but Pena's .233 average at Triple-A this season doesn't inspire much confidence of him contributing to fantasy in anything but the deepest of leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Aaron Hill - Hill was activated from the 15-day DL Sunday. Mike McCoy was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Make sure Hill is back in your lineups for the upcoming week.
Jose Iglesias - Iglesias is considered the Red Sox' shortstop of the future (Jed Lowrie will move over to third eventually), and he got the surprise call up to the majors Sunday with Marco Scutaro going on the DL. The 21-year-old will backup Lowrie at shortstop while Scutaro is out. He's struggled some at the plate this season, hitting just .253 through 87 at-bats with Triple-A this season. If you're playing in an extremely deep keeper league that doesn't allow you to draft minor leaguers until they've reached the majors, it'd be worth taking a bid at Iglesias based on what the scouts think of his potential. Just don't expect him to stay in the majors all season or be much of a contributor in fantasy at this time. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Ben Revere - The prospects are coming! The prospects are coming! Revere was called up by the Twins on Wednesday with Jason Repko (quad) going on the 15-day DL. He'll share left-field duties with Rene Tosoni until Delmon Young is ready to return from the DL. Revere can hit for average, draw a fair amount of walks, and has good speed. If he's able to get regular time, Revere could be a cheap source of steals for the next couple weeks. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Leonys Martin - The Texas Rangers signed Martin to a $15.5 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus Wednesday, and he was immediately added to the team's 40-man roster. Martin defected from Cuba last summer, and the Rangers pushed hard to sign him. He's a 23-year-old lefty hitter with good speed and defensive skills. Martin has been playing in extended spring training and will move up to Double-A Frisco after he gets acclimated. The Rangers didn't rule out the possibility that he could join the big-league team at some point this year, but that isn't the initial plan. Martin had a career average of .314 over five seasons in Cuba, and the Rangers believe he could be an impact player for them sooner than later. The fact that he's already 23-years-old, was signed to a sizeable contract, and that the Rangers are entertaining the idea of using him in the majors this season bodes well for Martin's chances to contribute in fantasy sometime this season. Unless he falls on his face in the minors, Martin should be appearing in this column again this year, whenever the Rangers decided to give him his first cup of coffee. He's definitely someone you'll want to try and buy on the cheap and stash if he's available in a deep keeper format. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Brandon Guyer - Guyer was called up by the Rays on Friday with Sam Fuld having a tough time at the plate, B.J. Upton's suspension looming, and the team not needing a starter to replace Jeff Niemann until Tuesday. He made the best of his first game in the majors by going yard in the first at-bat of his major league career. Guyer struck out in his next two at-bats and was left on the bench Saturday. He's shown the ability to hit for average with some pop in the minors and swiped 30 bags at Double-A last season. Guyer was hitting .356 with six homers, 18 RBI, and two steals through 104 at-bats at Triple-A this season. I was going to suggest taking a flier on him for the week, but Guyer was sent packing back to Triple-A early Sunday morning. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Craig Gentry - Gentry was called up for positional depth with Nelson Cruz going on the 15-day DL Friday, but he's unlikely to get much playing time with Mitch Moreland moving out to right field and Chris Davis filling in at first most days. He was hitting a paltry .239 with zero home runs in 88 at-bats in Triple-A this season. I'm assuming Gentry is related to someone in the Rangers' front office, because there doesn't seem to be any other explanation for why he was called up. The Rangers could use him for defensive purposes in center and right, but don't expect him to help fantasy teams with his bat. He's starting in right Sunday. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.