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
Jake Arrieta, BAL - Against the Twins, Arrieta turned in seven innings of shutout ball with only two hits allowed to go with four strikeouts and two walks. Before anyone goes jumping to conclusions, this is the Twins we're talking about here. I'd be very hesitant to use him against the Yankees this week, but if he proves himself there, he'll have to be picked up in AL only leagues. There's nothing to suggest this will happen as Arrieta has battled control issues his entire career (4.33 BB/9 walk rate). Add him at your own risk. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Tommy Hunter, BAL - Hunter pitched seven innings against the Twins and allowed no two runs (both unearned) on 6 hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Like with Arrieta, you have to realize the level of competition with the Twins and their offense, before jumping to any conclusions and I would not recommend using him at Toronto this week. He doesn't have the control problems that plague Arrieta, but rather he has the problem that he simply cannot miss enough bats to be successful. Formerly with the Rangers, his new division will also do him no favors. Hunter will eat innings for you, but so will just about any other starting pitcher. Don't go wasting your FAAB money here. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Bruce Chen, KC - Chen pitched six shutout innings on three hits with four strikeouts and no walks at Anaheim in the Royals season opener. We've seen this before from him in certain spots only to be let down shortly afterward. The fact is that Chen just doesn't miss enough bats to help owners and with middling control, he can't sustain any success he does experience. At Oakland this week, I'd likely take the risk and see what he does in their cavernous park and hope Yoenis Cespdes doesn't get ahold of one. Mixed: No; AL: $4.
Luke Hochevar, KC - Hochevar pitched 6.1 innings at Anaheim and gave up two earned runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Last season after the All-Star break he had a 3.52 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 24 walks over 79.1 innings. This could be the season he puts it all together and starts to live up to some of that former number one overall pick hype. It's probably too much to ask for him to be someone you keep on your roster and start no matter what, but he's someone I would be streaming if I could in mixed leagues. This coming week he faces the Indians, so why not gamble?In AL only leagues he's already taken, but don't be afraid to sell high on him if you think other owners may be overvaluing the buzz he's getting. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Alfredo Aceves, BOS - This week we found out that Aceves would start the season as the Red Sox closer and not Mark Melancon, who most had projected it would be. Aceves hit a batter to load the bases and then gave up the game winning hit in the team's opening game. This shouldn't put a damper on Aceves' potential to take the job and run with it, but so much of doing just that is predicated on early season success. Skills wise, he struck out 80 batters over 114 innings last season as a bit of a swingman. He also showed shaky control, but then again he showed great control in 2009 with the Yankees - relievers are fickle bunch. Aceves holds a career 4.54 xFIP, which sounds scary because it is and I would still hedge with Mark Melancon if given the opportunity and roster space. (Ed Note: This was filed *before* Sunday’s blown save - stay tuned, this isn’t over yet.) Mixed: $9; AL: $19.
Hector Santiago, CWS - Few saw Santiago as the closer of the White Sox, which should make him available to most everyone where the FAAB process goes on. New manager Robin Ventura seems to want to keep Jesse Crain in the seventh inning and Matt Thornton in the eighth inning, thus leaving Santiago to close in the ninth. Addison Reed is still lurking as he is not tied to one of those two setup roles and I think he'll likely end the season with the job, that's neither here nor now. As far as his skills go, Santiago has flashed dominant stuff in the minors with nearly an 8.0 K/9 strikeout rate at Double-A over 83.1 innings last season. He throws a screwball, which is pretty unconventional these days. If you own Thornton I wouldn't drop him just yet because we still haven't seen enough from Santiago and there's no telling if Ventura will change his mind. Mixed: $8; AL: $17.
Joel Peralta & Fernando Rodney, TB - With Kyle Farnsworth on the DL (elbow) likely out for 4-6 weeks, the closer role is up for grabs in Tampa Bay. So far Fernando Rodney has a win and a save to his name, so he's looking like the front-runner to keep the job. He also has experience working in his favor, which is something Joel Peralta does not have. Rodney holds a career 4.86 BB/9 walk rate which should scare owners as he's going to have to really start missing bats to keep runners from getting on. Those who own Peralta shouldn't go dumping him just yet as he misses bats and does not have the control issues that plague Rodney. I have a feeling we're not done talking about the Rays closer situation just yet. Peralta Mixed: $1; AL: $3. Rodney Mixed: $9; AL: $18.
Ronny Paulino, BAL - Paulino started at DH on Saturday and went 4-for-4 with a double and two runs as the O's faced a lefty starter. It's doubtful that he ever takes serious at-bats away from starter Matt Wieters unless he gets hurt. It is however nice to know that Buck Showalter is willing to go to Paulino to get his bat in the lineup when they face a lefty. For his career, Paulino is a .334/.388/.479 batter against southpaws. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Humberto Quintero, KC - Quintero got the start Saturday and went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run, and a walk. He got the start because he's likely to be starter Luke Hochevar's battery mate for much of the season. Brayan Pena will likely remain the starter, but there's room for Quintero to carve a role larger than that of a normal backup catcher. Quintero will likely be a drain on your batting average, so owners shouldn't expect more than someone to help chip in on the counting stats over the course of the season. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Jose Lobaton, TB - Lobaton went 1-for-4 with a double and run in his debut on Saturday. He's set up to serve as the back up to Jose Molina, who is more adept with the glove. Lobaton is nearly 10 years younger than Molina and has the higher offensive upside though. He'll play better in leagues with OBP as he's willing to take a walk. Unless you're in an AL only and in need of another catcher, you shouldn't consider Lobaton as an option. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Ryan Doumit, MIN - Doumit needs to be owned in more mixed leagues because of the position flexibility he offers. He should be in the lineup almost every day as he bounces around from catcher, DH, and outfield. He's had trouble staying healthy in the past, but has still been able to maintain his power stroke. If he can get to 400 at-bats, he should offer double-digit homers. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Chris Parmelee, MIN - I touched on Parmelee last week, but he still needs to be owned in more deep mixed leagues. In 2011 at Double-A New Britain he hit 13 homers with a .287 batting average and .801 OPS. Any enthusiasm those numbers produce should be quelled by the fact that Target Field plays pitcher friendly. He's a decent option for those looking for counting stats, but don't expect miracles here. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.
Kila Ka'aihue, OAK - Ka'aihue is still in the mix with Brandon Allen to be the starting 1B for the A's, but that could change when Daric Barton comes off the DL (shoulder) this coming week. The team will likely opt to go with Allen and Barton leaving Ka'aihue in a familiar role on the outside looking in. For now it's best to leave Ka'aihue on the waiver wire, unless you feel like gambling on Bardon's shoulder not holding up, which is a possibility considering he's coming off surgery and was told by doctors it would take him up to a year to heal. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Eric Sogard, OAK - Sogard started his second game of the season at third base on Saturday and went 1-for-4 with a run. Josh Donaldson still projects as the starter at the hot corner moving forward, so I wouldn't read too much into Sogard's early playing time. He's hit for a good average in the minors, but has yet to show that he can replicate those skills at the major league level. Outside of that, he offers modest speed (career high 16 stolen bases at High-A) and almost no power. Mixed: No; AL: $4.
Chone Figgins, SEA - Figgins has gotten off to a hot start with three hits in each of his last two games out of the leadoff spot in the M's lineup. After a very disappointing 2011 season where he hit .188/.241/.243 it's likely that Figgins was left off most owners’ radars coming into this season. It's worth noting that his BABIP last season was .215, which is well below his career .330 mark. Just getting on base at a .300 clip should help his stolen base numbers. If you think you're in desperate need for speed in a mixed league, I'd be bullish and hope that the 2011 Figgins was a fluke. Mixed: $4; AL: $12.
Kyle Seager, SEA - With Mike Carp on the DL (shoulder), Chone Figgins has shifted to LF and Seager has started at 3B. So far, so good as Seager has had four hits in his last two games with one stolen base. Don't expect much more than that as he's likely to hover around 10 homers and steals if he starts on a regular basis. If Figgins stays hot, Seager will likely be forced to the bench when Carp gets back. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Robert Andino, BAL - Andino has started to generate some buzz in mixed leagues as he has started the season off 3-for-7 with two runs and two RBI. He's starting at 2B for the O's until Brian Roberts can comeback, but right now that date is anyone's best guess as he continues to battle concussion like symptoms. Last season in 511 plate appearances he hit five homers with 13 stolen bases and 63 runs scored. This is about all you're going to get out of him as he doesn't have the power or speed of an elite level middle infielder. You also shouldn't be betting on him to help in the batting average category as doesn't make enough contact. Likely owned in all AL leagues, Andino could help owners in deep mixed leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Munenori Kawasaki, SEA - With Brendan Ryan out (neck), Kawasaki made his MLB debut as SS for the M's and went 1-for-4 with a run, RBI, and two strikeouts. He hits for almost no power, but can steal a base or two as evidence by his 44, 30, and 31 stolen bags in his last three years in Japan. Unless Ryan goes on the DL, which at this point seems doubtful as he slept on his neck wrong, Kawasaki doesn't hold much value. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Yuniesky Betancourt, KC - Chris Getz was thought to be the starter in KC, but in the team's first two games Betancourt has been the one starting at 2B. In those two games he's 2-for-6 with a strikeout. Over the last two seasons Betancourt has hit 16 and 13 homers with no speed or plate discipline. If he continues to see at-bats those in AL formats will likely need to roster him for that power. If you're a Getz owner I wouldn't panic just yet. Mixed: No; AL: $5.
Ryan Sweeney, BOS - Sweeney has started to get a few looks in mixed leagues after he started 4-for-7 with a triple in the Red Sox first two games. He'll be filling in for Carl Crawford likely until the end of the month, so he's worth a flier if you're looking for an extra OF in a deep league. He doesn't offer much in the way of power or speed and is hitting 7th in the lineup, so he might not bring owners many runs. I'd pounce on him in an AL format and likely look for someone with more speed in a mixed league. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Brent Lillibridge, CWS - Lillibridge started Saturday's game and went 0-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts and a run. Manager Robin Ventura may play with his lineup quite a bit this season, so don't be surprised to see Lillibridge in the lineup more than when Ozzie Guillen ran the team. As far as his skills go, last season Lillibridge hit a career high 13 homers and stole 10 bags with a .258/.340/.505 batting line. His strikeout rate is too high to sustain any success, but he'll be likely be useful as a 5th OF in AL only leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $4.
Shelley Duncan, CLE - Duncan has started the Tribe's first two games at LF and gone 1-for-6 with a double, run, two walks, and two strikeouts. He has power as he showed last season with 11 homers in 247 plate appearances and a .224 ISO. If he's unowned for some reason in your AL only league, I'd pounce as he'll likely flash that power once again this season. In deeper mixed leagues he's someone worth considering as well. There's legit potential for profit here, Duncan just needs the at-bats to earn it. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Michael Saunders, SEA - Saunders went 3-for-7 over the last two games with a homer, double, three runs, and a walk. He's currently playing center as Franklin Gutierrez is out (pectoral) and doesn't have anyone challenging him for playing time right now. The problem for fantasy owners is that despite the playing time, Saunders still won't help your counting stats much because he really doesn't have that many offensive skills. He doesn't hit for power or average, he has no real speed on the base paths, and isn't very disciplined at the plate. Plug him in if you're in an AL only league and hope that he doesn't drain your batting average until you find a suitable replacement. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section. You can follow me on Twitter @andtinez.