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
Trevor Bauer – Bauer was dominant for Double-A Mobile, posting a 1.68 ERA and striking out 60 batters in 48.1 innings, to earn a promotion this past week to Triple-A. In his Reno debut, Bauer struck out 11 and walked one while holding Oklahoma City to one run on four hits over eight innings Friday. Bauer, who has a five-pitch arsenal, including a plus-plus curveball, may not be far from making an impact in the big leagues. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for him now is the crowded Arizona rotation, which figures to become more difficult to crack with the expected return of Dan Hudson from the DL in the coming weeks. If he is available, grab Bauer now and stash him in your reserves as the potential reward far outweighs the risk of owning him. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early speculative bid)
Jeremy Hefner – Hefner filled in admirably in a Saturday call-up after Miguel Batista’s back injury forced him into duty. He threw five innings of relief, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks, striking out five. Hefner is a candidate to take Batista's spot in the rotation if he's forced to miss his next start or head to the DL. Realistically, he will need to but together a string of solid performances to stay in the rotation, as more experienced options in Chris Young and Jenrry Mejia are currently rehabbing in the minors and are candidates to start when they are activated -- if Hefner does slide into the rotation, his stint might only last a start or two. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Kyle Kendrick – Kendrick came out of the bullpen in place of Vance Worley (arm) on Wednesday to make the start and pitched solidly in the Phillies win. Kendrick went six innings, allowed two runs, one earned run and hung up four. Worley's injury is just elbow inflammation, the best possible case in this situation. He should be off the DL near the end of May, meaning that Kendrick might only get one more start before heading back to the bullpen. Mixed: $0; NL: $2
Jordan Lyles – I profiled Lyles last week when it looked as if he would get called up to start Tuesday. Lyles did get that call and gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out four in six innings against the Phillies. The Astros decided that Lyles will remain in the rotation and is scheduled to make his third start of the season Sunday against the Rangers. Lyles has worked on his delivery to get more tilt and angle on the ball, resulting in more groundballs, and to use his frame to get the most out of his motion. So far, the adjustments have seemed fruitful. Lyles's velocity has been up and he got off to a fast start (he was 5-0 for the Triple-A RedHawks), which helped him earn the promotion. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Jenrry Mejia – Mejia made his third rehab start Saturday in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, allowing one run on six hits in three innings for Double-A Binghamton. He was capped at 50 to 60 pitches and felt fine during the outing. Mejia is supposed to make one more rehab start before the team decides if he can help the parent club out of the bullpen or in the rotation. Many in the organization feel he would be better served pitching in the bullpen, but there is still a possibly he gets a chance to start. Mixed: $1; NL: $5 (early speculative bid).
Eric Stults – Stults, who was just claimed on waivers by San Diego, reported to the Padres, taking the roster spot of the injured Tim Stauffer. With Stauffer landing on the DL due to a right elbow sprain, Stults, who was solid in Triple-A for five starts while with the White Sox, notching a 2.20 ERA and 2.6 K/BB, started and was solid against the Angels on Saturday. His new home should be a better situation than the one he left in Chicago, as the Padres' lack of healthy starting arms should ensure Stults receives an extended look in the rotation. Pitching in Petco will not hurt either. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Travis Wood – The Cubs will call up Wood in time to make a start Tuesday against Houston. He is taking the place of the slumping Chris Volstad, who was sent to the minors. Despite a 39:11 K:BB in 41.1 innings with Triple-A Iowa, Wood has carried a 4.57 ERA thanks in large part to 48 hits allowed including five homers. He relies on having sharp command of his pitches and tends to get hit hard on days where he misses his spots. Chicago also could turn to Casey Coleman, who is already on the roster, but it looks like Wood should get the nod. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jose Arredondo/Aroldis Chapman – Arredondo worked out of a ninth-inning jam to close out the Yankees and record his first save of the season. Arredondo, who has a solid2.29 ERA and 0.966 WHIP induced two groundouts to finish off the game almost given away by Sean Marshall, who surrendered four hits and two runs before being replaced. Although not official, Marshall seems headed out of the closer's role, but manager Dusty Baker seems more inclined to use Aroldis Chapman in that role than Arredondo, who struggles with walks, going forward. With an ERA of all zeros, 38 strikeouts in 21.1 innings and just 14 baserunners allowed in all, we may finally be seeing the beginning of Chapman's ascent to the closer's role, particularly with the recent struggles of Sean Marshall. No official word has been given but a change looks to be in the air. Arredondo – Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Chapman – Mixed: $8 NL: $25 (likely already owned but value gets another spike this week).
Robert Carson/Brandon Dickson/Blake Parker/Eduardo Sanchez/Joe Savery/Nick Vincent/Randy Wells – This week’s batch of middle relief promotions/activations took place in New York, St. Louis, Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. None of them should play prominent roles for their teams. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Carlos Marmol – Marmol (hamstring) anticipates that he'll be ready to come off the DL when first eligible on May 27. Marmol, who had a 6.35 ERA and 2.206 WHIP when he was placed on the disabled list, is slated to throw three to four outings on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs might come to a different conclusion regarding his readiness, however, depending on how well he pitches on that assignment. Marmol could regain his closer role, as Rafael Dolis has not done a great job of locking up that spot, so be prepared to jump if he struggles again. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early speculative bid)
Bobby Parnell – Parnell has been able to use his off-speed pitch to compliment his fastball, which has resulted in him issuing just three walks to go with his 18 strikeouts. Manager Terry Collins is sticking with Frank Francisco as the team's closer, but if Parnell (2.00 ERA, 1.280 WHIP) continues to pitch well and Francisco falters, a change in the bullpen pecking order could occur. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Rob Barajas – After a horrific start to the season, Barajas has shown signs of life lately, getting a hit in each of his last six starts. Don’t expect much batting average from Barajas, but he should at least be source of power from the catching position. Mixed: $5; NL: already owned
Wellington Castillo/Koyie Hill/Blake Lalli – The 25-year-old Castillo, mainly known for his defense, had been hot of late, with five hits in his last 13 at-bats, including a long ball and four RBI. He looked to be in line to see most of the action behind the plate with Geovany Soto slated to miss 3-4 weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee but Castillo will now be sidelined for 4-7 days with a right MCL sprain. To fill the gap with Castillo out, the Cubs acquired Hill, a former Cub, from the Reds for cash considerations on Saturday. Look for Hill to be the primary catcher until Castillo returns. To take Soto’s spot on the roster, the Cubs called up Lalli from Triple-A Iowa. Lalli -- hitting .178 (13-for-73) with three homers and 11 RBI with Iowa to date -- gives the Cubs another catching option behind Castillo and Hill. Castillo - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Hill – Mixed: No; NL: $2; Lalli – Mixed: No; NL: $0
Matt Adams/Matt Carpenter – The Cardinals pulled Adams from his Triple-A game in Memphis in the fourth inning nearly immediately after Lance Berkman's knee injury Saturday night. Adams, who has shown he can hit for power and average and is at least average defensively, has been considered the Cardinals' first baseman of the future, but for the notion that Allen Craig will need to play first base to avoid injury in the field. He and Carpenter, who saw additional playing time when Berkman was first injured, could share time at first base if Berkman needs to go on the DL. Adams - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Carpenter – Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Greg Dobbs – With Gaby Sanchez getting sent down to Triple-A, Dobbs is the likely candidate to fill his first baseman spot. Logan Morrison could also see time there, as it might ease some of the issues he has been having with his knee, but Dobbs looks to be the main candidate for that position. His inability to hit lefties will limit his playing time somewhat, so keep that in mind when setting your daily rosters. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Ryan Howard – Howard (Achilles) has increased the amount of activity in his workouts in Clearwater. “He's done well," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Ryan has been fielding, throwing to all the bases, covering first, hitting, he's doing some running now. He's doing a lot of things. He's basically doing everything. He's not doing everything full speed yet or 100 percent, but a lot of it right now is about getting his strength back in his calf. He's done well. He's progressing pretty good." Amaro did not offer up a timetable for Howard's return, but his time in Clearwater is essentially a personal spring training, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him take another four-plus weeks to prepare for his return. As a result, he could remain sidelined until late June or even early July. Howard’s numbers the past two years were down from his 2006-2009 peak production, so his days of 40+ home runs in a full year are likely over, but he is still a weapon at the plate and will be welcomed with open arms when he returns to a struggling Philly offense. Mixed: $4; NL: $13 (early speculative bid)
Alexi Amarista – Amarista, who came to San Diego two weeks ago from the Angels, was promoted this week with Orlando Hudson release. Amarista’s value will be almost solely dependent on his ability to steal bases. He is unproven against big league pitching, and he has very limited power potential, but that speed potential and possibility of playing time makes him intriguing. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Charlie Culbertson – Culberson, who was promoted last Sunday, will be deployed in a straight platoon with Emmanuel Burriss until Ryan Theriot returns from the DL. Culberson bats right-handed, while Burriss is a switch-hitter who bats much better from the left side of the plate. Thus, Culberson is likely to see most of his at-bats against lefthanders. In any case, the platoon won't last long, as Theriot figures to be back sometime next week. Culbertson needs to work on drawing more walks, limiting strikeouts and learning to hit right-handed pitching, which is something he will do when he is back at Triple-A. Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (mainly for keeper leagues).
Logan Forsythe – Forsythe (foot) began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson on Monday. Forsythe is playing as a utility infielder on the rehab assignment, a good clue about his potential usage once he's off the DL. However, with Orlando Hudson waived, Forsythe could split second base with Alexei Amarista in the short term. Mixed: $0; NL: $2
Jedd Gyorko – Gyorko, whom some analysts rank among the Padres' top five prospects, had been raking at Double-A San Antonio, where he's gotten on-base at a .356 clip while contributing six homers and 17 RBI. Gyorko has seen time and both second and third base this season but likely will play second base for Triple-A Tucson following his promotion there this past week. There's some question as to whether the power he showed at High-A will translate beyond those hitter-friendly environments, but Gyorko's bat will definitely play at second base if he proves to be defensively adequate. He could get a shot there in the majors this year with Orlando Hudson no longer there and Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe his main competition there. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid).
Freddy Sanchez – Sanchez (shoulder) hopes to play in an extended spring training game this weekend. Sanchez would likely have to spend a week or two at extended spring training before taking part in minor league rehab assignments. He would appear to have a decent chance at returning sometime in June, but has already suffered a few setbacks in his rehab. You know what you get from him when he does play and there is a good chance that he will regain his starting second base job whenever he is finally able to remain on the field. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early speculative bid).
Everth Cabrera – I profiled Cabrera last week, but he deserves another mention as he was officially called up from Triple-A Tucson on Thursday when Jason Bartlett was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right knee. Cabrera is hitting .333/.389/.410 while going 15-for-15 on the basepaths in 34 games at Triple-A Tucson. Given Bartlett's struggles and knee injury, Cabrera, who seemingly grabbed the starting job in SD in 2009 but gave it away the past two seasons, may just have a chance to run with the job once again. Even if he can't keep up the hitting in the bigs, Cabrera is probably a nice cheap source of steals if he can at least get on base at a modest rate. Mixed: $2; NL: $7
Ivan DeJesus Jr. – The Dodgers recalled DeJesus from Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday. He takes Mark Ellis' spot on the active roster, who will head to the DL with a knee injury. DeJesus was on an eight-game hit streak at Albuquerque prior to the recall, and he should see time at second with Ellis as well as several other Dodgers’ infielders out. Even if DeJesus does get time, don’t expect much for him as he had been struggling somewhat at Triple-A Albuquerque, though he is coming off two solid minor-league seasons. Mixed: No; NL: $2
Elian Herrera – The Dodgers called up Herrera on Monday. He offers speed and versatility, which is useful to the Dodgers with Juan Uribe landing on the 15-day DL with his persistent wrist issues Monday night. Herrera is being used as a utility player by LA. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Justin Sellers – Sellers may be in line for additional playing time after receiving the call-up in favor of the injured Jerry Hairston Jr. Dee Gordon is in a major slump while Mark Ellis was also placed on the DL, which should leave an infield spot open for Sellers on most days. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Joaquin Arias – Arias was named San Francisco's starting third baseman this past week while Pablo Sandoval (hand) is out. However, he has just a .310 OBP and has zero homers over 316 career major league at-bats. The Giants are playing him mostly because they value his defense and have few alternatives. In addition, Kung Fu Panda may be back in three weeks, so even though Arias is in the lineup almost daily, don’t overvalue that playing time. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Josh Harrison – Harrison is the beneficiary of the designated hitter as manager Cling Hurdle has been able to find a spot for him in the lineup against Detroit. That said, even prior to that, Hurdle has been using Harrison at third base and shortstop in a way to get his bat in the lineup. Harrison won’t hit for much power but should provide a decent batting average when he does play, Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Adam Kennedy – Kennedy has been filling in at third base for the injured Juan Uribe and Jerry Hairston Jr. Kennedy won’t offer much power or speed but he will at least provide some production in counting stats when he plays. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Jordan Pacheco – With Chris Nelson landing on the disabled list due to an injury, Pacheco, who opened the year in Colorado only to be sent down on April 15 and then recalled on May 5, should be the everyday third baseman. He'll likely be spelled by Jon Herrera and is just holding the job warm for Nolan Arenado, but he should the majority of the playing time at the hot corner. Pacheco hit .433/.479/.627 with three homers and 10 RBI in 17 games after being demoted by the Rockies. He has hit in five straight for Colorado, but doesn’t possess great power or speed or have a great glove, but playing time is playing time and he should contribute nicely to some of the counting stats. Mixed: $4; NL: $13 (likely already owned in the NL, but value gets a bump with Nelson sidelined).
Jason Bay – Bay, sidelined with a fractured rib, hit off a tee Saturday and remains on track to resume full batting practice Monday in Pittsburgh. He is likely a few weeks from returning to the Mets and we will need to see if he regains his starting job when he does comes back. Manager Terry Collins seemed to indicate that would be the case, but if Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres are still hitting well, where does Bay fit in? One option may be to move Lucas Duda to first for the slumping Ike Davis, but New York has been reluctant to take him out of right field, where there are trying to get him comfortable. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid)
Adron Chambers/Shane Robinson – The Cards recalled Chambers on Friday to replace Allen Craig on the roster, and he may see a start or two per week working off the St. Louis bench and also serve as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement. Chambers was hitting .308/.377/.391 with four stolen bases in 37 games at Triple-A Memphis this season. Robinson, sent down less than a week ago, was called back up with Jon Jay landing on the DL. Robinson should see some time in the outfield due to all the Cardinals’ injuries. Chambers - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Robinson – Mixed: $1; NL: $4
Gregor Blanco – Manager Bruce Bochy named Blanco the team's starting right fielder earlier this week, which wasn't a surprise since he had started five of the previous six games before the announcement. It's hardly a sure thing it's a long-term situation, but Blanco has been hitting leadoff, showing solid on-base skills along with the ability to steal bases. Ride the wave while it lasts. Mixed: $3; NL: $11 (probably owned in NL-only leagues, but gets a bump in value)
Tyler Colvin – Colvin has seen time at first base, center and left field over the past week as the Rockies find a way to get him in the lineup as often as possible. Injuries have afforded Colvin that additional time, but he has made the most of it. Look for that situation to continue, especially if Dexter Fowler continues to struggle. Mixed: $0; NL: $3
Chris Coghlan – The Marlins will likely recall Coghlan from Triple-A New Orleans in the wake of Gaby Sanchez's demotion. Coghlan was not in the lineup against Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday, and the Marlins are in need of an extra outfielder with Emilio Bonifacio (thumb) hurting and possibly landing on the disabled list. Coghlan had slashed .275/.311/.362 at New Orleans since the club optioned him in late-April. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Carlos Gomez – Gomez, on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury, is expected to be activated Sunday. Gomez probably didn’t need the full 15 days, but the Brewers were already playing a few hurt players and didn't want to be shorthanded, which is why he landed on the DL. With Norichika Aoki playing well and splitting time with Nyjer Morgan in center field, it remains to be seen how much time Gomez will get, though Gomez will likely be part of a righty-lefty platoon with Aoki and Morgan battling for time against righties. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Gorkys Hernandez – Hernandez was called by from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. He heated up at the plate recently at Triple-A, hitting .342 with two homers, five RBI and two stolen bases in his last 10 contests, earning a look with the Pirates as the Bucs began a three-game series with the addition of a DH in their lineup against the Tigers on Friday. If he plays well, with Alex Presley down in the minors, Hernandez could stick and see some time in left field. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Austin Kearns/Bryan Petersen – Logan Morrison’s knee injury is preventing him from playing every day while Emilio Bonifacio likely will be placed on the disabled list due to his thumb injury. Each of those two situations means that Kearns will be a semi-regular for the near future. When Kearns or Chris Coghlan does not play, look for Bryan Peterson, who was just recalled, to see time in left or center field. Kearns - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Petersen – Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Yamaico Navarro – Navarro went from Boston to KC last year before getting dealt to Pittsburgh in December. Navarro has played five different positions this year, but appears to be getting the first chance at replacing Alex Presley in left field. Nate McLouth and now Gorkys Hernandez should also see time there, but Navarro is getting the first chance to fill the open lineup spot. Even if he doesn’t lock up the job, his versatility will give him value. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Jerry Sands – The Dodgers called up Sands after Monday's game, replacing the injured Matt Kemp on the roster. Though Sands was assumed to be a part of the left field picture before the season, he hasn't done much to persuade the Dodgers to play him more. Keeping in mind he played for a team in high altitude at Albuquerque, Sands was hitting .241/.331/.444 in 133 at-bats there, though he had been hot lately. He has been used as a backup outfielder and probably will be shipped back to Albuquerque once one of the plethora of DL'd Dodgers returns. Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (mainly for keeper leagues)
Blake Tekotte – Tekotte was called up to the majors on Saturday. The call-up was a result of Mark Kotsay's back injury, but Tekotte may be good enough to stick around for a while. His minor league statistics show an interesting combination of power, speed, and plate discipline but he hasn’t had a real chance to show those skills in the majors. Tekotte may not see regular playing time this year, and could be sent down when Carlos Quentin is ready to return, but he is probably a big part of San Diego's plans for the future. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.