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
Brett Cecil, Blue Jays – Cecil was recalled Sunday to start against the Phillies as Blue Jays rotation is in shambles with the recent injuries to Drew Hutchinson, Kyle Drabek, and Brandon Morrow. Cecil has spent the majority of the season at Double-A New Hampshire where he had a 3.38 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks over 42.2 innings. Last season with the Blue Jays he had a 4.73 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 42 walks over 123.2 innings. Despite the long leash he will have in the rotation, I would be hesitant to add Cecil and his career 4.64 ERA to any of my teams. His next start should be in Miami this week. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Justin Grimm, Rangers – Grimm made his MLB debut on Saturday as he pitched six innings and allowed three earned runs with seven strikeouts, no walks, and six hits allowed to the Astros. Before this, Grimm was in Double-A Frisco, where he had a 1.87 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 14 walks over 77.0 innings pitched. He has a fastball that sits in the low 90s with a curveball and changeup that he also mixes in. Last season the highest level he reached was High-A Myrtle Beach, where he had a 3.39 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 30 walks over 90.1 innings. With Rangers starters dropping like flies lately and Roy Oswalt still not ready to join the rotation, Grimm will likely hang around in the team's rotation for a bit longer. This week against Colorado, though, I would avoid him. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Jonathan Sanchez, Royals – Sanchez came off the DL this week after dealing with tendinitis in his biceps. He managed five innings of 1-run ball with four strikeouts, two walks, and seven hits allowed against the Brewers. The walks are the key for Sanchez as his control has never been even decent in the past. Last season with the Giants he had a 4.26 ERA with 102 strikeouts and 66 walks over 101.1 innings pitched. I wouldn't rush out to add Sanchez in any league, especially until he shows that his command has improved. If you're one to gamble, this week he gets two starts (@HOU & vs STL). Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Doug Fister, Tigers – Fister made his return from the DL and his strained left side this weekend to pitch six innings of shutout ball against the Rockies with six strikeouts, one walk, and three hits allowed. Last season between the Mariners and Tigers he had a 2.83 ERA with 146 strikeouts and 37 walks over 216.1 innings pitched. Judging by the lone walk to the Rockies hitters, Fister's control is fine and he should be inserted back into lineups this coming week with confidence. Mixed: $8; AL: Owned.
Jose Quintana, White Sox – With John Danks still slow to recover from his shoulder soreness, Quintana continues to get starts for the White Sox and so far he has done pretty well. As a starter he has a 2.57 ERA with 11 strikeouts and just four walks over 21 innings. His underlying numbers say his ERA is quite a bit lucky as he has a 4.15 xFIP and .324 BABIP. Still, he's been able to minimize base runners with his control and should be owned in all AL only leagues and deeper mixed leagues. If Phil Humber continues to implode (6.01 ERA at last check), Quintana could last even longer in the rotation than expected. Earlier this season he had a 2.77 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 14 walks over 48.2 innings at Double-A Birmingham. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.
Glen Perkins & Jared Burton, Twins – With Matt Capps dealing with a sore right shoulder, Perkins and Burton are expected to see the majority of the save chances while he is out. Capps will be re-evaluated on Tuesday and has yet to have a MRI, so his shoulder likely won't force him to the DL. Still, Perkins and Burton are nice insurance plans to have. Perkins has a 3.38 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 11 walks over 26.2 innings this season, while Burton has a 3.51 ERA with 28 strikeouts and three walks over 25.2 innings. Of the two, Perkins is more likely to get the first shot should a save chance arise, but it's worth noting that he is a lefty and could be called upon in the 8th inning to get a tough lefty out, leaving Burton to end things. Until we know more about Capps' shoulder, I wouldn't be rushing to add Perkins or Burton to my team. Perkins Mixed: $3; AL: $10. Burton Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
David Robertson, Yankees – Robertson rejoined the Yankees this week, after dealing with an oblique injury that landed him on the DL and cost him the closer job. He'll go back to being the 8th inning setup man for now as Rafael Soriano and his 1.85 ERA have a pretty good hold on the job. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Yan Gomes, Blue Jays – After being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this week, Gomes was recalled when Brandon Morrow landed on the DL. Gomes has been moved all around the diamond defensively and has been used mostly as a pinch-hitter offensively since his first audition earlier this season, thus zapping his fantasy value. Until he starts to see consistent playing time, Gomes isn't worth owning in most leagues. He's currently batting .235/.282/.529 with three homers over 39 plate appearances with the Blue Jays. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Salvador Perez, Royals – Perez could return this week as he makes his way back from a torn meniscus. His rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha has gone well as he has hit .371/.389/.429 over eight games. When he does return it will be as the team's starting backstop, the role he served at the end of last season and was set to serve this season prior to injury. Perez has shown an ability hit for average and should be an asset in both deeper mixed leagues and all AL only leagues. Last season he hit .331/.361/.473 with three homers over 158 plate appearances for the Royals. Mixed: $4; AL: $16.
Brandon Moss, A's – Moss and the A's traveled to Coors Field this week and he had himself a home run binge as he hit four homers there on his way to a five homer week. I mention the part about Coors because it has every bit as much to do with the results as Moss does, who is striking out in almost a third of his plate appearances. Still, he was able to do offensively in one week what it took Daric Barton, Kila Ka'aihue, Brandon Allen (yes, he played three games for the team), and Adam Rosales two months to do offensively, so he should be looking at a fair amount of leash as the team's starting first baseman. A career .239/.302/.407 hitter over 781 plate appearances, I'd ride this wave a bit longer in mixed leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Jack Hannahan, Indians – Hannahan came off the DL this week, after dealing with a calf strain in his left leg. The plan according to the team is for him to play every other day for the next week as he builds up his stamina. In doing so, he'll be eating into the playing time of Lonnie Chisenhall, who did a fairly poor job (.229/.229/.375) as his replacement. Before he was injured, Hannahan was batting .276/.353/.419 with three homers over 119 plate appearances. Those in shallower mixed leagues can wait till Hannahan gets back to regular playing time before looking to add him to their roster. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Alcides Escobar, Royals – This week Escobar stole three more bases to push his season total to 12, which gives him a tie for fifth most in the AL. He's doing this with a .291/.333/.390 batting line over 240 plate appearances that is being helped by a .348 BABIP. Overall he's actually striking out more and walking less and even making less contact than he did last season when he hit .254/.290/.343 and stole 26 bases. Still, he needs to be owned in more mixed leagues until his BABIP deflates or his batting eye catches up with him and he struggles to get on base. He could steal 20 more bases between here and the end of the season. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
Trevor Plouffe, Twins – How hot is Trevor Plouffe? Over the last 30 days no one has hit more homers than Plouffe's 11. I'm as surprised as anyone by this vulgar display of power, considering he hit only eight homers last season over 320 plate appearances. One of the reasons for Plouffe's improvement is a contract rate that he has raised from 76.4% last season to 82.4% this season. And he could actually be hitting for a higher average this season, if it weren't for an unlucky .206 BABIP. If you look at his minor league numbers, there's really nothing that shows Plouffe is someone that should hit for power, but then again, maybe at 26 years old, he's just a late bloomer. As an added bonus, Plouffe should be eligible at 2B, 3B, SS, and OF in almost every league, so there's no excuse for not finding a spot for him on your roster. Mixed: $15; AL: Owned.
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners – Gutierrez was activated from the DL this week, after he dealt with a chest and foot injury that kept him sidelined for first two months of the season. So far he has played a bit of CF and DH as the team tries to massage him back into the lineup and keep him fresh. Last season he hit .224/.261/.273 with one homer and 13 stolen bases over 344 plate appearances as he dealt with a stomach illness and then an oblique injury. When fully healthy he is a nice source of power (18 HR in 2009) and speed (25 SB in 2010), but we're likely not there yet with his bat. In 10 rehab games at Triple-A Tacoma he hit just .224/.261/.273 with three doubles and no homers or stolen bases. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Steve Pearce, Orioles – With the injuries to Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis, the Orioles corner OF spots have been a revolving door this season. As of late, Pearce has started to play everyday for the team. He has hit .323/.343/.484 with one homer in his nine games with the team. Last season he hit .202/.260/.255 with one homer over 105 plate appearances for the Pirates. It's unlikely that he hits for average or power for the remainder of this season or his career really, but as long as he is logging at-bats, he's worth a look in AL only leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Leonys Martin, Rangers – When Josh Hamilton came down with an intestinal virus late this week, Martin was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to help fill-in. He started Friday in CF against the Astros and went 0-3 with a walk. Martin hit .344/.414/.547 with five homers and seven stolen bases at Round Rock this season over 146 plate appearances. The word coming out of the Rangers organization is that Hamilton will likely be fine and back in the lineup on Monday or Tuesday, which means Martin's playing time will be in short supply as he will likely be sent back down soon. Even if he were to stay up with the team, he'd still have Craig Gentry -- the starter on both Saturday and Sunday -- to compete with for playing time. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Ryan Kalish, Red Sox – Kalish was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket this morning to take the place of the injured Ryan Sweeney (toe). At Pawtucket Kalish hit .394/.487/.818 with four homers and a stolen base over 39 plate appearances as he worked his way back from a shoulder injury. The last time we saw the 24 year old lefty in the majors was 2010, when he hit .252/.305/.405 with four homers and 10 stolen bases over 179 plate appearances. He was set to play a big role in the Sox OF last season, but a torn labrum and neck injury sidelined him. With Marlon Byrd and now Sweeney gone, Kalish should have a clear path to playing time in CF for the Sox. Mixed: $4; AL: $14.
Ryan Raburn, Tigers – Raburn was recalled this week from Triple-A Toledo to help the team in an utility role. Earlier this season Raburn was a major disappointment as he hit .146/.209/.211 with just one homer and one stolen base over 135 plate appearances. Most had expected him to succeed as he hit .256/.297/.432 with 14 homers last season as he split time between 2B and OF. In all likelihood as long as he doesn't stink as bad as he did earlier this season, Raburn is going to beat out Danny Worth and Ramon Santiago for playing time at 2B. Those two have combined to give the team close to nothing offensively this season. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section.
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