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)
Each team has a $100 FAAB budget
Nathan Eovaldi – Eovaldi started for the Dodgers on Tuesday and is scheduled to make at least a couple more starts in place of Ted Lilly (shoulder, 15-day DL). Last season, was a breakout season of sorts for Eovaldi. After 103 Double-A innings (2.62 ERA, 8.65 K/9IP), injuries led to his big league debut in August. He fared well in five of his six starts, ultimately posting a 3.63 ERA to go with a below-average 23:20 K:BB in 34.2 innings. Eovaldi has shown the ability to miss bats, so roll with him for the two or so additional starts he makes in place of Lilly. Mixed: $0; NL: $3
Michael Fiers – Fiers was covered in the comments last week but gets a formal mention this one. He was promoted to fill in for the injured Marco Estrada and tossed seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday to beat the Dodgers, 2-1. Although he's posted impressive numbers in the upper levels of the minors, Fiers gets by with good control and a mediocre arsenal and may struggle to translate his success against big league hitters. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jeremy Hefner – Hefner picked up his first career win Tuesday against the Phillies, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings. He also collected his first major league hit -- a home run. Hefner will remain in the rotation for at least one more turn, but after that it's tenuous. With Chris Young getting called up and Jenrry Mejia looming as well, look for Hefner to either pitch out of the bullpen or be sent down to the minors. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Kyle Kendrick – Kendrick moved into the Philly rotation in mid-May to replace the injured Vance Worley. With Worley expected back Monday, the expectation was that Kendrick would move back to the bullpen. However, those plans changed with Roy Halladay landing on the DL -- possibly through late-July -- meaning that Kendrick should continue to get regular turns in the rotation. Don’t overrate Kendrick -- he should be a serviceable starter, but one without a lot of strikeouts. Mixed: $2; NL: $7
Brad Lincoln – Lincoln is expected to start Tuesday in place of Charlie Morton, who was placed on the DL on Friday. Lincoln won his only start May 14 against Miami, but his pitch count will be restricted against the Reds. With a 1.04 ERA, 0.920 WHIP and 26:8 K:BB ratio in 26 frames, Lincoln is enjoying success in the majors for the first time in his career. If he can maintain some semblance of this success as a starter, he could remain in the rotation for a while. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Jason Marquis/Kip Wells – Marquis and Wells are candidates to fill the Padres' fifth starter spot beginning June 9. Marquis, who flamed out in Minnesota, is coming off of his Padres’ organizational debut Thursday at Double-A San Antonio where he struck out five and allowed one run in seven innings. Wells, who has bounced around the past several seasons, has a 7:4 K:BB with 15 hits allowed in 16 innings at Triple-A Tucson (three starts) this season. Neither one are great options, but you could do worse pitching half your games at Petco Park. Both - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Kris Medlen – Medlen was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. The move was made to give him a chance to stretch out before joining the Braves' rotation. Medlen will make a few starts in the minors before rejoining the Braves in a couple weeks. While he's pitched well out of the bullpen in his career, he looked like a future star once he joined the Atlanta rotation in 2010 with a 3.86 ERA and 62:16 K:BB ratio in 84 innings over 14 starts. Medlen has strikeout stuff and good control, so keep an eye on him and be ready to pounce when he is promoted. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early speculative bid, will be higher when he is promoted)
Josh Outman – Getting his first start of the season, Outman pitched 3.1 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out five against the Dodgers on Friday. The Rockies knew they were going to have to go with a pitcher-by-committee approach as they didn't have a genuine starter to replace the recently DFA'd Jamie Moyer. Outman was solid, but after throwing 55 pitches, his night was over. There's a chance the team goes this route one more time, stretching out Outman a little more, but they'll likely bring somebody up in the near future as Outman had not gone more than one inning since September 11, 2011. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Vance Worley – Worley, who has been out since mid-May with an elbow injury, remains on track to come off the disabled list Monday. The current plan for Worley is to pitch through the pain and undergo offseason surgery to remove the bone chips in his elbow, though that may depend on if the chip moves at all and his level of pain tolerance. Worley felt good after a 50-pitch bullpen session Friday and the Phillies will see how he feels this weekend before making an official decision. Mixed: $7; NL: $19 (in case he was waived when it looked like he might be headed for TJS)
Chris Young – Young will now skip his next two scheduled minor league starts and join the Mets' rotation. With the need to push Johan Santana back a day or two following Friday's no-hitter, Young will continue his audition in the big leagues as he looks to secure a rotation spot after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder last May. His fastball has only been in the low-80s, though that is not much below the 84.7 he averaged with it the past two years with San Diego and the Mets. Young is way ahead of the return pace that Johan Santana had with a similar surgery, so we will need to see if he continues to progress in a linear fashion or has some bumps along the road, especially now that he is back in the majors. Mixed: $2; NL: $7
Michael Antonini/Jairo Ascencio/Pedro Beato/Rex Brothers/David Carpenter/Xavier Cedeno/Maikel Cleto/Sam Freeman/Elvin Ramirez/Michael Schwimer/Doug Slaten – This week’s batch of middle relief promotions/activations took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Colorado, Houston (2x), St. Louis, (2x) New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The only ones that could play prominent roles for their teams are Brothers and Carpenter. Brothers, who posted a 13:3 K:BB ratio and 1.69 ERA over 5.1 innings with Triple-A Colorado Springs, could set up Rafael Betancourt. Carpenter, who opened the year in Houston and pitched well after he was demoted, could possibly set up Brett Myers All except Brothers and Carpenter- Mixed: No; NL: $0. Brothers and Carpenter – Mixed: $0; NL: $3
Javier Lopez/Sergio Romo – Santiago Casilla, who left Friday’s game, was not available to pitch Saturday and was diagnosed with a bruise just below his tibia. For now, consider Casilla day-to-day while the Giants have declined to provide a specific timetable for his return. Romo, who hadn’t pitched in six days, retired the only batter he faced to earn his first save of the season Saturday against the Cubs. He has been magnificent this season, posting a 0.60 ERA while striking out 20 and walking only five. Lopez got the final two outs Friday night to get the save after Casilla injured his knee. If Casilla is sidelined for a bit, Romo and Lopez will share the closer role, but given how well Romo has pitched, look for him to get most of the save chances with Lopez seeing ones where a tough lefty has to be retired. Romo – Mixed: $3; NL: $11; Lopez – Mixed: $1; NL: $5 (both likely already owned in NL-only leagues, but each gets an upgrade)
Huston Street – Street, out since May 4 with a shoulder injury, tossed a scoreless inning Friday night to begin his rehab assignment at High-A Lake Elsinore. He may only need a few appearances before the Padres will bring him back from the disabled list. Once he's ready, Street, who was off to a strong start to the year before he was sidelined, should immediately replace interim closer Dale Thayer as the Padres' ninth-inning option. Mixed: $12; NL: $35 (if for some reason not still owned)
Steven Clevenger – Clevenger was profiled last week when he was close to returning. Now that he is back, he gets another mention. Clevenger has started all three games since coming off the disabled list, where he was sidelined with an oblique injury. He is not an elite prospect but with Welington Castillo sidelined for a few more weeks with his knee injury and Geovany Soto out probably two more weeks with his, Clevenger should see most of time as Koyie Hill is the main back up in Chicago. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Yasmani Grandal – Grandal was promoted from Triple-A Tucson on Thursday. Grandal was the top prospect received by San Diego from Cincinnati in the Mat Latos trade. He should see regular playing time, but he may be eased into his role as he works to improve his defense. Grandal hit .317/.421/.500 with four home runs and 23 RBI in 120 AB in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He is now going from one extreme to another in Petco Park, and he remains unproven against major league competition. That said, he eventually projects as a high-average hitter with the potential to hit 20 homers at the major league level who is solid defensively. With Nick Hundley struggling mightily, a changing of the guard could occur shortly in San Diego. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (go much higher if think he gets the starting job ASAP)
George Kottaras/Martin Maldonado – Maldonado was called up by the Brewers to replace the injured Jonathan Lucroy, who has a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand and will miss about six weeks. Maldonado is hitting just .198/.270/.347 at Triple-A Nashville, and his career track record suggests he's just a depth player. He may be pressed into more action than what might be expected, however, given that George Kottaras is dealing with a hamstring injury and not yet 100%. When Kottaras is healthy, look for him to see most of the playing time until Lucroy returns. Kottaras - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Maldonado – Mixed: $0; NL: $3
Erik Kratz – The Phillies called up Kratz to take Roy Halladay’s spot on the roster. Kratz, who has been on the Triple-A/ major league shuttle a few times this season, should serve as left-handed power off the bench. He hit 15 homers in 358 at-bats for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jhonatan Solano – Solano was called up on Monday due to the Nationals needing some catching help with Jesus Flores battling a hamstring injury. Solano will see the occasional start. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Josh Thole – Thole, out since May 8 with a concussion, was activated off the disabled list Friday. Thole was injured in a home plate collision with Ty Wigginton, but has been symptom-free for the past few weeks. The Mets rightly opted to be cautious with his return, resulting in the three weeks absence. Look for him to be behind the plate nearly every day and provide a solid on-base and batting average. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (in case he was dropped when he was injured, though he likely is already owned)
Matt Hague – Hague was covered last week, but his consistent playing time warrants another mention. He has started eight straight games at first base for the Bucs, going 9-for-27 (.333) with two doubles and three RBI. Pittsburgh has committed to Hague at first base in the short term, and his production, though modest, has dwarfed that of his competition, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee. He doesn't have a full-time spot locked up, but he's looked competent in the short time he's started and should continue to see most of the playing time at first base. Mixed: $2; NL: $7
Jim Thome – Thome began a rehab assignment Friday. He has missed a month with the back injury, but it appears he is close to being ready to play again. Thome is on track to return to the big club June 8, when the Phillies kick off a nine-game stretch in American League parks, which would enable him to DH. Mixed: $0; NL: $2
Brooks Conrad – Conrad was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Monday. He gets another chance to prove he belongs in the majors, as Travis Ishikawa landed disabled list with an oblique injury. Conrad went hitless in 21 at-bats with the Brewers earlier this month, but he tore up Triple-A pitchers, hitting .405 with 10 home runs in 21 games in Nashville. Look for him to see action at first base, though Corey Hart and Taylor Green will see time there as well. Mixed: $1; NL: $5
Logan Forsythe – Forsythe (foot) should be activated from the 60-day DL soon after becoming eligible to return Sunday. It's believed that Forsythe will be used in a utility role upon returning to the Padres, although he could battle his way into the mix for regular time at second base if he proves capable of providing more of a threat at the plate than Alexi Amarista. Mixed: $0; NL: $2
Stephen Drew – Drew, sidelined following his ankle surgery last July, was scheduled to play in an extended spring training game Saturday after logging seven innings Friday. It's a big step for Drew, as he hasn't been used in back-to-back games yet in his rehab work. If everything goes off without a hitch Saturday, Drew should be able to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno in the near future. That could put him on pace to rejoin the Diamondbacks possibly within a week or so. Mixed: $7; NL: $19
Jordy Mercer – The Pirates recalled Mercer from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. Mercer got off to a fast start with Indianapolis, posting a career-best .796 OPS to earn his first call-up to the bigs. Last year, Mercer hit 19 home runs and drove in 69 runs split between Double-A and Triple-A. Regular shortstop Clint Barmes has struggled mightily up to this point, so Mercer, who is solid defensively and rakes against lefties but won’t hit for much of an average in general, could have a chance to see some playing time if Barmes can't turn things around. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Chris Nelson – Nelson homered as a pinch-hitter Friday in his first action since returning from the disabled list, where he was sidelined with a wrist injury. He replaced Troy Tulowitzki on the active roster, but Nelson may be limited to a reserve role at this point while Jordan Pacheco gets an extended look at third base for Colorado. Marco Scutaro has shifted to short in place of Tulo while DJ LeMahieu sees time at second base. Mixed: $0; NL: $3
Omar Quintanilla – The Mets called up Quintanilla to play shortstop with Ruben Tejada and Ronny Cedeno on the DL. Quintanilla was hitting a respectable .282 with an .839 OPS in Triple-A Buffalo and had a three-hit game his first start for the Mets on Tuesday. His stint in the majors may end once Tejada is healthy enough to return, although, Quintanilla could remain with the club with Jordany Valdespin landing back in the minors. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Andrelton Simmons – Simmons was recalled from Double-A Mississippi, replacing Tyler Pastornicky at shortstop as Pastornicky was sent to Triple-A. Simmons has a strong glove and was off to a strong start at Double-A by hitting .292/.372/.421 with 10 stolen bases. This comes on the heels of his breakout season last year at High-A Lynchburg, where he hit .311/.351/.408 with 26 stolen bases to be considered as Atlanta's shortstop of the future. While he doesn't draw a lot of walks, Simmons makes great contact with few strikeouts (29:43 BB:K ratio in 517 at-bats), a trend he continued this year. However, he may struggle initially at the plate since he's skipping Triple-A. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Ruben Tejada – Tejada, on the disabled list with a right quad strain since May 7, ran at Citi Field on Friday and was scheduled to hit that day as well. Tejada is planning to run Saturday, and if all goes well, the team will send him to the minors to start playing games. Given that Tejada has had one setback, he will need to show that he is 100 per cent healthy before he returns to the majors, though that could occur in about a week. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.
Jason Bay – Bay was covered last week but with some clarity as to his scheduled, he warrants another mention. Bay, out with a non-displaced fracture of a rib on his left side since April 24, will play in a minor league game with High-A St. Lucie on Saturday, kicking off his rehab clock. Bay is slated to DH for St. Lucie over the weekend and hopefully play the field starting Monday. Bay will likely need a few games to get back into game shape, but he could be back with the Mets as early as next week and should regain his starting spot in left field. Mixed: $7; NL: Likely still owned (bids mirror Jeff Erickson’s from last week)
Alex Castellanos – Castellanos, who came to the Dodgers from St. Louis in the Rafael Furcal deal last year, was called up Thursday. Castellanos has dealt with injury issues this year, but in 22 games at Triple-A Albuquerque he was fantastic posting a .379/.467/.759 line supported by 19 extra-base hits. He likely be in Friday's lineup and be used as an outfielder during his time with the Dodgers. With Elian Herrera and others able to fill the 2B and 3B slots, Castellanos is not needed there. With Juan Rivera returning from a hamstring, Castellanos' playing time could be limited to that of a fourth or fifth outfielder. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Jose Constanza – Constanza was called back to the big leagues in place of reliever Kris Medlen this past week. He hit .372 with a .904 OPS and seven steals in his first 23 games after he was promoted last year, even supplanting Jason Heyward in the starting lineup for most of August. However, he was out of the lineup for a few days in late August with an ankle injury and lost his magic at the plate, hitting .129 with no stolen bases and falling into a reserve role the rest of the season. This year, he opened the year in Atlanta, but was sent down in the first week. Constanza posted solid numbers at Triple-A Gwinnett and has started three of the four games in left field since his promotion. That should continue while Chipper Jones is sidelined, as Martin Prado is manning the hot corner. Once Jones returns, unless Constanza is tearing the cover off the ball, look for Prado to shift back to left field. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Allen Craig – Craig, out since May 18 with a hamstring strain, was activated and played right field while batting cleanup in his return to the lineup Friday. Manager Mike Matheny wasted no time getting Craig in a prime spot in the order. Craig hit. 373 with five home runs and 19 RBI while posting a 1.188 OPS in 13 games between DL stints earlier this season, so he should provide an offensive boost to those who either snap him up or already have him stashed on the DL. Mixed: $7; NL: $19 (though still should be owned).
Tony Gwynn Jr. – Gwynn has taken advantage of some injuries in the LA outfield to see consistent playing time, making the most of it. Gwynn posted a .311/.346/.405 line on 77 at-bats in May to go with 10 runs, 12 RBI, and three steals. With Matt Kemp likely now out a month after his re-injured his hamstring, look for Gwynn to continue to see consistent playing time in center field for the Dodgers. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Fernando Martinez – Martinez was called up for Houston’s game against Cincinnati on Saturday to replace Travis Buck (heel, 15-day DL) on the active roster. Martinez's numbers improved as expected with the move to the Pacific Coast League this season as he's hit .319/.374/.532 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 188 at-bats at Oklahoma City. A former top prospect in the Mets' system, injuries have curtailed Martinez's development, but he may get a clear path to regular playing time with Houston in the coming weeks. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Mike Morse – The Nationals activated Morse (back) from the disabled list Friday. Morse had yet to play this year to due a couple injuries, but he made his season debut Friday night against the Braves. Morse played right field and batted cleanup - a role fantasy owners should get accustomed to him filling. Morse is obviously a little rusty, but he made it through a rehab assignment, prompting his activation. Look for lots of home runs and lots of strikeouts from Morse, who will play left field and bat in the middle of a solid Nationals’ batting order. Mixed: $18; NL: $40
Carlos Quentin – Quentin, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-March to remove loose cartilage and repair a torn meniscus and was expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, finally made his return to the majors on Monday. Quentin has wasted no time with his new team, blasting three home runs while driving in seven runs in his first five games for San Diego. He should continue to hit in the middle of the Padres’ order and benefit from the change of scenery afforded him in his move from Chicago to the West Coast. Mixed: $12; NL: $30.
Juan Rivera – Rivera (strained left hamstring) will join the Dodgers when they travel to Philadelphia for a four-game series starting Monday. Rivera had been out for a little over three weeks and it will be interesting to see how he is used when he does return. Rivera was splitting his time between left field and first base prior to the injury, and it's likely that he will resume that role once he comes off the DL, but with Bobby Abreu, Scott Van Slyke, Alex Castellanos all in LA and James Loney still at first, he may not play every day. Mixed: $3; NL: $9