The FAAB Factor-NL is our weekly look at the National 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 NL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 free agent acquisition budget.
Vin Mazzaro - Mazzaro was called up to take the spot of Bruce Chen (back) in the Royals' rotation. He started against the Yankees on Wednesday, going four innings while giving up two runs on six hits and four walks. Chen is expected to miss at least three weeks with inflammation in his back. Mazzaro should get three or four more starts while Chen is out, but he's little more than a live arm and should only be used in AL-only and the deepest of mixed leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Jake Peavy - Peavy returned to the White Sox' rotation on Wednesday and struck out four over six innings of work. He's owned in only 53 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but his pedigree requires that he be owned in anything other than the shallowest of mixed leagues. Even if he posts an inflated ERA this season, Peavy's potential as a strikeout pitcher helps keep him valuable in most leagues. Mixed: $15; AL: He should already be universally owned.
Tyson Ross - The news of Dallas Braden's shoulder surgery this week has secured Ross' slot in the Athletics' rotation. Though the team would have been foolish to remove him after his stellar last four starts, it's reassuring to know that a hurdle has been removed from Ross' path this season. Since being moved into the rotation four starts ago, Ross has posted a 1.35 ERA and 18:5 K:BB ratio in 26.2 innings. The K rate isn't all that impressive, but he's made it through the sixth inning or better in each start. He's owned in five percent of Yahoo! leagues, and though he was likely grabbed in most AL-only leagues when he first got the rotation spot, shallower AL-only leagues will want to consider adding him for his ability to eat innings. I'm not expecting him to keep his ERA anywhere near the 2.50 mark he's recorded so far this season, but he's a live arm and should be a permanent part of the A's rotation as long as Braden is out. Mixed: $0; AL: $9.
Jamey Wright - Wright was in line to get the save opportunity with League unavailable Saturday. The 36-year-old reliever appears to be the next guy in line if Brandon League continues to implode on the mound. League blew three consecutive save chances this week. Manager Eric Wedge said on Saturday that League was still his closer, but any further implosions on the mound by League could lead directly to Wright becoming fantasy relevant for the first time in about five years. I'm stashing Wright in all of my deep AL-only leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Frank Francisco - Francisco has been given all of the Blue Jays' save opportunities lately, yet he's only owned in 55 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If you're still hanging on to Jon Rauch in standard mixed leagues, it's time to cut him loose. Francisco is the only Blue Jay to record a save in nearly two weeks, and there have been plenty of opportunities for the team to look in Rauch's direction. Mixed: $15; AL: No bids, as he should be universally owned.
Joe Nathan - Nathan is being moved back into the Twins' setup role alongside Glen Perkins. While Matt Capps will remain the team's closer, this puts Nathan in position to reclaim the closing role if Capps ever struggles or is injured. I'm buying Nathan on the cheap in some of my AL-only and deeper mixed leagues with an eye towards the possibility of him eventually reclaiming his job as the closer. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Kevin Jepsen - Jepsen was recalled Wednesday to take Francisco Rodriguez' (shoulder) spot in the Angels' bullpen. In his first game back with the Angels on Wednesday, he came in with the game tied following a Jordan Walden blown save and gave up two runs in the 10th to pick up the loss. I'm not expecting anything positive out of Jepsen until he has a few good appearances. Through 12 games with Triple-A, he had a mediocre 4.76 ERA. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Matt Thornton - Thornton picked up his first save of the season Wednesday. He was brought into the game in the 10th inning to close out the Angels. Sergio Santos had been used the two previous innings to keep the White Sox close and in position in case their bats came around. A few good at-bats put the White Sox in the lead after the top of the 10th, and Thornton was able to seal the deal for the first time this season. While Santos is the team's unquestioned closer, it appears as though Thornton has worked himself back into the setup role he found fame and fortune in last season. The potential is there for Thornton to pick up random save opportunities like Wednesday's extra-innings save in the future. With that in mind, I'm adding him in deep AL-only and deep mixed leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: $5.
Trystan Magnuson - Magnuson was called up by the Athletics on Wednesday to replace Jerry Blevins in the bullpen. This is Magnuson's first call up to the big leagues. He posted a 1.56 ERA in 12 appearances at Sacramento this season. He's struck out 19 batters over 17.1 innings of work. Magnuson won't have value in anything but the absolute deepest of leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Luis Ayala - Ayala returned to the Yankees on Wednesday, and Lance Pendleton was sent back to Triple-A. He'll be used in mop-up duty and blowouts, keeping him firmly out of reach of most relevant fantasy categories. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Carlos Carrasco - Carrasco was activated from the 15-day DL Wednesday. He was sidelined since April 28 with an inflamed elbow. Frank Herrmann was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus to make room for Carrasco on the roster. Jeanmar Gomez was sent down to Triple-A earlier in the week to open a rotation spot. Carrasco went five innings in his return to the rotation Wednesday and gave up four runs on six hits and three walks. The Indians appear to be committed to Carracso as a long-term part of their rotation. I'm not rostering him in most mixed leagues, but Carrasco is a live arm to use in AL-only leagues. Just don't expect him to challenge for the Cy Young anytime soon. The 24-year-old righty is available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Amaury Sanit - Sanit was called up by the Yankees to provide a fresh arm to the team's taxed bullpen. Ramiro Pena was optioned to Triple-A to clear the roster spot. Through 16.1 innings in Triple-A this season, Sanit posted a 4.96 ERA with a 24:6 K:BB ratio. The 31-year-old reliever could get sent back down once the team is comfortable with the health of Rafael Soriano (elbow) and the status of their bullpen. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Hector Noesi - The Yankees recalled Noesi on Friday to take over Buddy Carlyle's spot in the bullpen. This is Noesi's first trip to the majors. He'll be used in a long-relief role, and there won't be much use for him in anything but the absolute deepest of leagues. In four starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Noesi posted a 3.92 ERA with an 11:9 K:BB. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Jeff Gray - Gray was claimed by the Mariners off waivers from the White Sox on Friday. He wasn't striking anyone out with the White Sox, but Gray had posted a commendable 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings of work for a White Sox bullpen that has had its fair share of troubles this season. Dan Cortes was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to make room on the roster for Gray. The Mariners will use Gray in a middle-relief role that will allow Aaron Laffey and David Pauley to pitch in more late-inning situations. Gray could pick up some holds, but with a mediocre 7:4 K:BB ratio through his first 13.1 innings of work, he can't be counted on to provide much value in most fantasy leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Rene Rivera/Drew Butera - Rivera has been getting more playing time lately due more to the futility of Butera's bat than anything else. Both catchers have combined to record just one hit since May 8. At this point, neither of them have produced enough to justify playing in virtually any fantasy leagues. Twins fans must be pulling their hair out watching Butera and Rivera butcher the offense this season after having the mythical Mauer swinging a magical bat the last seven seasons. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Jayson Nix - Nix is expected to rejoin the Blue Jays on Monday, and leagues that award position eligibility at 10 games or less should have Nix available to slot in at third. His versatility was helping him get in the lineup on most days before he suffered a leg injury that forced him to go on the DL. Through 45 at-bats this season, Nix has hit .244 with two home runs, five RBI, and three steals. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.
Robert Andino - Andino was given a spot start at third in place of Mark Reynolds on Wednesday. With J.J. Hardy back from the DL and reclaiming the everyday shortstop role, Andino was used at third and in left field this week. He was out of the lineup Friday and Saturday, but the Orioles seem intent on finding ways to keep him in the lineup at couple times a week going forward. While filling in for Hardy at short over the last month, Andino recorded a .286 average over 70 at-bats. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Mark Trumbo - Trumbo is owned in only 19 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite hitting six home runs with .256 average and 17 RBI through 121 at-bats. The news that Kendrys Morales will be undergoing season-ending ankle surgery guarantees Trumbo should remain a regular in the Angels lineup and play at first base most days. He's lost some at-bats as the team has chosen to shift Howie Kendrick to first on some days, but with Morales undergoing surgery, Trumbo will have the opportunity to establish himself this season. He's probably owned in all AL-only leagues, but managers in mixed leagues will want to make sure he isn't sitting in the free-agent pool. Mixed: $18; AL: $26.
J.J. Hardy - Hardy was activated from the 15-day DL Tuesday and is only owned in 11 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's hit .400 with a home run and three RBI through his first five games back in the lineup. Some fantasy writers were high on Hardy's potential to regain the magic power he had at the plate in 2007 and 2008 with his move to Camden Yards this season. Though Hardy is likely owned in AL-only leagues, mixed leaguers will want to consider adding him based on his potential to have a bounce back season in Baltimore's hitter-friendly park. Mixed: $12; AL: $18.
Luke Hughes - Hughes has started the last five games at second for the Twins as the team has exhausted their patience trying to get Alexi Casilla hitting. In fantasy, Hughes hasn't proven to be much of an improvement over Casilla. Hughes has hit just .217 over 69 at-bats, but he's getting the starts right now and deserves recognition in AL-only leagues as long as that's the case. Pick him up if you're desperate for a middle infielder. Mixed: $0; AL: $6.
Carlos Peguero - Peguero was recalled by the Mariners on Monday after the team decided to cut all ties with the combustible Milton Bradley. He struggled in his first stint with the Mariners this season, but Peguero will have a chance to develop as a part of a platoon in left field. He displayed prodigious power at the Single-A and Double-A levels, but he also has a talent for striking out. With that in mind, he shouldn't be counted on to post anything more than some decent power numbers with a low average. So far, he's went 3-for-20 with a home run and an 8:1 BB:K ratio with the Mariners this season. If you need outfield help, Peguero is a decent speculative add based on his power potential. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Mike Wilson - Wilson was called up hand in hand with Peguero on Monday as part of the release party the Mariners threw for Bradley and Ryan Langerhans. He'll platoon in left with Peguero, and I'm curious to see if the 27-year-old rookie can play his way into the everyday starter role. Through 16 games with Triple-A Tacoma this season, Wilson was hitting .381 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and seven doubles. He has good power and the ability to hit for a decent average. If the team tires of watching Peguero strikeout and strand runners, we could see the Mariners give Wilson the opportunity to get regular at-bats at some point this season. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Andy Dirks - Dirks was called up by the Tigers on Friday to take Magglio Ordonez' (ankle) spot on the roster. Ordonez was placed on the 15-day DL Friday with right ankle weakness. Dirks was hitting .328/.375/.527 at Triple-A Toledo, slugging six homeruns to go with 20 RBI and 10 steals. With Ryan Raburn, Brennan Boesch, and Austin Jackson locked in as the Tigers' starting outfield, manager Jim Leyland will have a tough time finding at-bats for Dirks. It doesn't help that Casper Wells is also with the big league club and begging for more playing time. Dirks has the potential to be a contributor in fantasy with his power and speed, but the 25-year-old outfielder isn't likely to do much more than provide outfield depth on the roster while Ordonez is out. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Delmon Young - Young was activated from the 15-day DL Friday and was immediately put back into his customary role as the Twins' starting left fielder. He went 1-for-8 through his first two games back, Friday and Saturday. Young should be owned in most leagues, but you may want to check and see if he was dropped during his stint on the DL. Mixed: $16; AL: He should be universally owned.
Endy Chavez - Chavez was called up to the Rangers to platoon with Craig Gentry in the outfield while Julio Borbon (hamstring) is on the 15-day DL. There's no guarantee how long Chavez will stay with the team, and his value will be limited as long as he stays in a platoon. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.