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 AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 FAAB budget
P.J. Walters, Twins -- Walters made his season debut this week, after Francisco Liriano was moved to the bullpen. Walters pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts against the Blue Jays. This season at Triple-A Rochester he had a 2.70 ERA with 25 strikeouts and six walks over 33.1 innings, all as a starter. He has had control problems in the past, but if he can pitch like he did against the Blue Jays when he visits the Tigers this week, then maybe we can start to take him a little more seriously. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Scott Diamond, Twins -- Diamond had a fantastic debut this week with seven shutout innings against the Angels. He allowed only four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in the win. He's taking Liam Hendricks' spot in the rotation for now, but could hang around a bit longer than expected with his performance. Sunday he takes on the Blue Jays, who are a considerably better offense, so perhaps after that we can have a better perspective on Diamond. In the past he has decent command of his pitches, but hasn't missed enough bats to garner fantasy attention. However, if he can carry over the control he showed this season at Triple-A Rochester where he walked seven batters over 34.2 innings, it might not matter as much. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Eric Stults, White Sox -- Stults was recalled to make a spot start this week for the White Sox in their double-header. He gave up two earned runs over six innings with four strikeouts, four walks, and four hits given up, in the no-decision. With Chris Sale now back in the rotation, it's likely that Stults moves to the bullpen or is sent back to Triple-A Charlotte, where he had a 2.20 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 10 walks over 28.2 innings as a starter. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Andy Pettitte, Yankees -- Pettitte will make his season debut on Sunday against the Mariners. When we last saw him in the majors it was 2010 and he had a 3.28 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 41 walks over 129.0 innings. It's tough to say what to expect considering the layoff and that he got knocked around at his last two starts in the minors (one at Double-A Trenton and one at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), but Pettitte has declared himself ready and it's tough to argue with someone who has pitched over 3,000 innings in the majors with a career 3.88 ERA. As long as the control is there, he should be a fine play in AL only leagues and a decent streaming option in most mixed leagues. Mixed: $9; AL: $35.
Brian Fuentes, A's -- Fuentes was named the new A's closer on Saturday following his save against the Tigers. For the season he has a 3.86 ERA with 12 strikeouts and only two walks over 14 innings. It's worth noting that the velocity on his fastball has jumped up 1 mph from where it has been the last two seasons. I don't know that this explains the control he's displayed this season, but it certainly doesn't hurt. With Grant Balfour struggling with his command (11 strikeouts to 6 walks over 16.1 IP), Fuentes could have this job for quite a while. He has 201 saves to his name and that could carry quite a bit of sway with manager Bob Melvin. Mixed: $15; AL: $35.
Casey Janssen, Blue Jays -- Janssen was named the new Blue Jays closer this week, following yet another Francisco Cordero blown save. Janssen has taken to role nicely so far with two clean outings both of which resulted in saves. For the season Janssen has a 4.38 ERA with 13 strikeouts and just one walk over 12.1 innings. Janssen has had problems with the long ball this season as three of the 10 hits he's given up have gone over the fence, but that's likely a product of an unlucky HR/FB ratio that should normalize for him. However, if it does not, this could be a short stay in the closer role for Janssen. Either way, Sergio Santos (shoulder) will likely reclaim the role as his when he's ready to come back from the DL in a few weeks. Mixed: $9; AL: $25.
Addison Reed, Matt Thornton, & Hector Santiago, White Sox – Here we are again talking about the White Sox closer role. This time last week we thought that Chris Sale would be the team's closer as he had complained of soreness in his elbow and the team thought it would be best if he was moved into a role where he would throw less innings. After a MRI came back "clean" on Friday, it was announced that Sale would move back into the rotation and the team would go closer by committee. Addison Reed is the likeliest candidate to take the job and run with it, but at this point anything could happen -- just look at how we got to this point and we're only one month into the season. Reed has 14 strikeouts to just three walks over 10 innings with no homers given up. The no homers given up is what separates him from Hector Santiago, who also has a nice K/BB rate, but has given up five homers, which have helped lead to his two blown saves. Matt Thornton is just as nasty, but has given up two homers at the wrong time and has blown one save. I think we eventually see Reed the closer, Thornton the set up man and Santiago lurking in the 7th inning should anything happen to Reed. How long this takes us to get there? We’ll keep watching, maybe we'll be talking about this mess again next week. Reed -- Mixed: $9; AL: $25 Thornton -- Mixed: $8; AL: $20 Santiago -- Mixed: $5; AL: $15.
Bobby Wilson & John Hester, Angels -- With Chris Iannetta (wrist) expected out for the next six to eight weeks and Hank Conger (elbow) still on the mend in Triple-A Salt Lake, Bobby Wilson is set to get the majority of the starts behind the plate for the Halos. For those unfamiliar with Wilson's game, let me fill you in: he can't hit. He has a .210/.275/.331 career batting line with five homers over 280 plate appearances. As for Hester, who was called up to serve as Wilson's backup, he will be of little use to even AL only owners. He hit .251/.324/.341 last season at Triple-A Norfolk with five homers over 310 plate appearances. Wilson -- Mixed: $1; AL: $8. Hester -- Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Brandon Inge, A's -- I dismissed Inge last week in this spot, but that was before he had four home runs and 16 RBI in the span of five games. And after all that, well, I'm here to dismiss him all over again. Even after his binge power display, he's still hitting just .197/.242/.492 for the season and striking out in over a quarter of his at-bats. Heck, he's making contact at almost a career low rate of 70.8%. So, no, I'm not buying his feats of strength (and luck) this week. What I am buying however is the idea that the A's will give him more at-bats than originally planned. For that, he deserves another look in AL only leagues and a nice pat on the head in mixed formats. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Steven Tolleson, Orioles -- Tolleson was called-up this week from Triple-A Norfolk, where he hit .265/.357/.361 over 101 plate appearances. Tolleson does not have much power, but he does have some speed as shown by his 24 stolen bases last season in the minors. Only in the majors to provide team depth, it's unlikely Tolleson is worth your time, even in deep AL only leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Irving Falu, Royals -- Falu has seen two starts at third base this week as Mike Moustakas continues to deal with a sore hamstring. So far he's 6-for-12 with a double, triple, and three runs scored. This season at Triple-A Omaha he hit .306/.346/.403 with a homer and six stolen bases over 72 plate appearances. Considering he's 29 years old and has repeated Triple-A three times, he's not a prospect, so don't go reading into his numbers too much. He could be demoted at week's end when Yuniesky Betancourt (ankle) makes his return from the DL. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Trevor Plouffe & Jamey Carroll, Twins -- With Danny Valencia getting demoted to Triple-A Rochester this week, the Twins third base job has opened up. Trevor Plouffe has gotten the first crack at the job, but with his .137/.279/.216 batting line, it's unlikely he keeps the job for long. He could platoon with Jamey Carroll, but that would move Carroll away from 2B, where he's been filling in for Alexi Casilla, who has been out with a shoulder injury. Carroll has hit .212/.310/.257 this season and offers no power and very little speed. Realistically, the Twins don't have a good option to play 3B and will have to make do until Valencia proves he's ready to hit in the majors again. Plouffe -- Mixed: $1; AL: $6 Carroll -- Mixed: No; AL: $4.
Eric Chavez, Yankees -- Chavez came off the 7-day DL this week, after he had to sit due to a concussion. He's hitting .294/.306/.559 this season with three homers over 36 at-bats. It's unlikely that he gets enough playing time to help in any mixed leagues, but in AL-only leagues, he'll be somewhat helpful as a corner infielder. Mixed: $1; AL: $6
Bill Hall, Orioles -- Hall was recalled by the Orioles on Saturday to start in left-field for them against the Rays. Left field has been something of a revolving door for the team since Nolan Reimold (neck) hit the DL. In his season debut, Hall went 1-for-3 with a solo homer, walk, and two strikeouts. It's not known when Reimold will rejoin the team, so Hall may have some decent short-term value in AL only leagues. Last season over 199 plate appearances he hit .211/.261/.314 with two homers and three steals, so expectations need to be held in check. He's more prone to strike out than anything. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Johnny Giavotella, Royals -- Giavotella was recalled this week from Triple-A Omaha to serve in a platoon role against lefties at second base for the Royals. He'll also most likely be used against lefties off the bench, so while his promotion is a nice boost to his stock, he might not see consistent at-bats right away. This season at Triple-A Omaha he hit .331/.408/.504 with five homers and one steal over 152 plate appearances. So far he's 0-for-8 with a walk and two runs, which is not a good sign as Yuniesky Betancourt (ankle) will be eligible to come off the DL on Friday. If Giavotella does not start swinging a hot bat soon, he might be back in Omaha by week's end. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Collin Cowgill, A's -- Cowgill was recalled this week from Triple-A Sacramento, where he was hitting .282/.349/.423 with two homers and four stolen bases over 86 plate appearances. With Yoenis Cespedes (hand) hitting the DL and Coco Crisp (ear infection) out, most thought that Michael Taylor would get more playing time, but he was instead sent back to the minors. Cowgill hit .354/.430/.554 with 13 homers and 30 stolen bases last season at Triple-A Reno with the Diamondbacks organization. He should see regular at-bats for a while in center as Josh Reddick moves over to right. Once Crisp and Cespedes are back the Oakland outfield will be full once again and Cowgill will likely be sent back down, so don't bet on him having much long-term value right now. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Xavier Avery, Orioles -- Avery should be called up on Sunday from Triple-A Norfolk, where he was hitting .273/.373/.469 with five homers and eight stolen bases over 153 plate appearances. Last season between rookie ball and Double-A Bowie, he stole 45 bases, so he has some speed. He'll most likely be used as outfield depth as Nolan Reimold (neck) and Endy Chavez (oblique) remain on the DL. Those desperate for speed should take a look at him. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Brandon Guyer, Rays -- Guyer was recalled this week, when Jeff Keppinger had to leave the team for personal reasons. Upon Keppinger's return, Brandon Allen (quad) was put on the DL, so it looks like Guyer will hang around a little bit longer than originally thought. He hit .312/.384/.521 with 14 homers and 16 stolen bases last season in Triple-A Durham. He's unlikely to have much fantasy value unless Desmond Jennings' knee continues to bother him. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Daniel Nava, Red Sox -- Nava was recalled this week to give some outfield depth to the Red Sox and so far so good as he's been on base eight times in his first 12 plate appearances. This season at Triple-A Pawtucket he was hitting .316/.421/.505 with three homers and a stolen base. Right now Nava has been playing LF with Cody Ross shifting to RF and hitting in more of a platoon role with Ryan Sweeney. Once Scott Podsednik joins the team things will likely change again and either Nava or Darnell McDonald will be forced back to Pawtucket. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Scott Podsednik, Red Sox -- The Red Sox made a trade with the Phillies this week to get Podsednik, who offers organizational outfield depth. Right now Pods is in Pawtucket with the Triple-A team, but he could join the major league squad soon. While he is 36 years old, he's only two seasons removed from stealing 35 bases for the Royals and Dodgers. With all the different outfielders the Red Sox are trotting out there, it's doubtful that Podsednik has any serious value, but those in desperate need for speed should take note of this acquisition. Mixed: $1; AL: $8.
Darin Mastroianni, Twins -- Mastroianni was recalled this week from Triple-A Rochester as the Twins continue to look for a right-fielder (he's the seventh guy they've tried there this season). This season at Rochester, he Mastroianni was hitting .346/.393/.423 with ten stolen bases. Last season between the Blue Jays Double and Triple-A affiliates he stole 34 bases, so he has some speed. So far he's gone 2-for-10 with three RBI, but if he shows any signs of life he'll continue to see playing time. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section.
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