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
Bartolo Colon, A's - Colon (oblique) came off the DL this week to pitch six innings and allow one earned run on five hits, one walk, and three strikeouts against the Red Sox. For the season he now has a 4.05 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 17 walks over 95.2 innings. At 39 years old, Colon is a candidate to get traded before the deadline. If he's available in your mixed league, Colon is worth a look in home games, at minimum. His 3.41 K/BB ratio is the second highest of his career because he has lowered his walk rate to a career low 1.60 BB/9. Percent Owned: CBS 32%, ESPN 11.2%, Yahoo! 19%. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Eric Hurley, Angels - Hurley will make his Angels debut on Sunday against the Orioles as he is getting promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake, where he had a 5.38 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 37 walks over 97 innings pitched. Obviously those are not the kind of numbers one likes to see from a pitcher coming up from the minors, so buyer beware for those that attempt to roster Hurley. Last season within the Rangers system at Triple-A Round Rock he sported similar numbers as he continued to make his way back from a myriad of injuries, one of which was a torn rotator cuff in 2008. Fantasy owners should look elsewhere for pitching help. Percent Owned: CBS 1%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Chris Tillman, Orioles - Tillman was recalled this week to make his 2012 debut against the Mariners on the road and he gave the O's 8.1 innings with no earned runs allowed on two hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Shortly afterward he was optioned down to Double-A Bowie so that he can continue to get work in and stay on schedule over the break. Tillman is scheduled to make the team's third start after the break. Over his first 189 innings in the majors he now has a 5.33 ERA with 123 strikeouts and 82 walks, awful numbers by any standard. Still, Tillman's fastball sat around 95 mph in his debut, which is much harder than ever threw in any of his previous starts in the majors, so perhaps he's a changed man. His numbers at Triple-A Norfolk this season support this, as his 9.27 K/9 strikeout rate is the highest he has posted in the minors since 2009. I'm bullish that this is a new Tillman. Percent Owned: CBS 11%, ESPN 2.1%, Yahoo! 2%. Mixed: $4; AL: $20.
Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles - Gonzalez made his first start of the season this week as he allowed one earned run over seven innings with two walks and six strikeouts against the Angels on the road. Before that he had made three appearances in long relief with a 2.31 ERA. In the minors this season, Gonzalez had a 1.61 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk with 53 strikeouts and 10 walks over 44.2 innings. Given the state of the Orioles pitching staff, it's likely he hangs around after the break. I'm not overtly optimistic his first taste of pitching in the majors, much less the AL East will go over well. Percent Owned: CBS 2%, ESPN 0.3%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Sam Deduno, Twins - Deduno made his starting pitching debut on Saturday against the Rangers as he pitched 5.1 innings with three earned runs allowed on six hits, three walks, and three strikeouts. Prior to that Deduno had a 2.14 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 22 walks over 42.0 innings at Triple-A Rochester. Last season he was in the Padres minor league system, and prior to that he was in the Rockies system for a few years. Never having posted a walk rate under 4.0 BB/9 at any minor league level above Low-A, Deduno is likely to struggle mightily with his control in the majors. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.1%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Freddy Garcia, Yankees - Garcia made his first start since the end of April this week as he allowed two earned runs on five hits, no walks, and four strikeouts in 5.1 innings in Tampa Bay. For the season he now has a 9.95 ERA over his 19 innings as a starter this season. He'll need to be much better than this in his coming starts as David Phelps is looming in minors, after his eight strikeout game against the Rays. On the bright side, Garcia's velocity was up to 88 mph in his last start, which is up from the 86 mph he was sport in his previous two starts. At 35 years old, I'm not expecting anything much better than a 4.50 ERA down the stretch from Garcia. Percent Owned: CBS 14%, ESPN 1.2%, Yahoo! 4%. Mixed: $1; AL: Owned.
Greg Holland, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, & Kelvin Herrera, Royals - The Royals have let teams know that Jonathan Broxton is available, thus it's time to look at who could replace him if he's dealt. Greg Holland can miss plenty of bats as his 13.2 K/9 strikeout rate indicates, but he can also miss the strike zone plenty as he has 20 walks in his 28.2 innings this season. Tim Collins is a lefty, so that's a knock against him as he's more useful to the team possibly in the 8th inning or whenever a lefty comes to the plate. The fact that he has given up eight earned runs over his last nine innings doesn't help either. Aaron Crow has suffered a similar fate as of late as he has given up six earned runs over his last two outings. Other than that, he seems like a fairly decent bet to get this job down the road. But the guy I'm going to champion as having the best skill set and most deserving of the role is Kelvin Herrera, who possesses a 98 mph fastball and change-up that is among the best of all relievers this season. Tack on his great control (9 BB in 43.1 IP) and a 58.1% ground ball rate and I'm a believer. Holland Percent Owned: CBS 9%, ESPN 1.2%, Yahoo! 9%. Collins Percent Owned: CBS 7%, ESPN 1.8%, Yahoo! 5%. Crow Percent Owned: CBS 6%, ESPN 0.4%, Yahoo! 9%. Herrera Percent Owned: CBS 2%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 1%. Holland & Collins Mixed: $1; AL: $4. Crow Mixed: $2; AL: $5. Herrera Mixed: $3; AL: $6.
Salvador Perez, Royals - We've mentioned Perez here plenty on his road to recovery from his knee injury in the spring and I have no doubt that he is now owned in all AL only and deeper mixed leagues, but now is the time to add him in shallow mixed leagues. He has a hit in each of his 11 games since being activated from the DL, three of which have been homers and another three of which have gone for doubles. Those concerned about his playing time shouldn't be as manager Ned Yost has already come out and said Perez is ready for a full work load as the team's backstop. Percent Owned: CBS 49%, ESPN 25.8%, Yahoo! 27%. Mixed: $9; AL: Owned.
Ryan Doumit, Twins - Doumit has reached base in 13 of his last 14 games and in the process raised his batting line from .256/.318/.419 to .281/.341/.446. His rate stats and underlying numbers are in line with his career numbers, so there's nothing special going on here, but that's just the point, Doumit is now playing more like the Doumit we know and not the guy who was struggling a month ago. Percent Owned: CBS 58%, ESPN 8.0%, Yahoo! 28%. Mixed: $8; AL: Owned.
Brandon Moss, A's - Moss heated up again this week with three homers and a double on his way to collecting 6 RBI. The last time he got hot like this was when he hit five homers over four games, three of which were played in Coors. It was then that I praised Coors Field for batter friendly atmosphere. This time around, I'm more inclined to buy him as a fantasy asset because he's being platooned with Chris Carter and is only facing RHP, which he is much more proficient at attacking. Those in mixed leagues should consider him as a corner bat that could help in the power department, granted this will come with a depressed batting average as he is a career .241/.305/.417 hitter. Percent Owned: CBS 24%, ESPN 15.8%, Yahoo! 9%. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.
Alberto Callaspo, Angels - Over the last month Callaspo has hit four homers and four doubles to help raise his batting line from .234/.291/.299 to .262/.332/.379. He has been rewarded with more playing time as a result and has now started 10 straight games for the Halos at 3B. Through 240 plate appearances his 9.0% HR/FB rate is the highest of his career and his six homers this season match the amount he had all of last season over 536 plate appearances. If you're in a deeper mixed league, he's worth a look as a corner bat. Percent Owned: CBS 8%, ESPN 0.5%, Yahoo! 2%. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Joe Mahoney, Orioles - Mahoney was recalled this week from Triple-A Norfolk to take the roster spot of Chris Tillman, who will return shortly after the break. With Norfolk he hit .256/.312/.355 with five homers and four stolen bases in 343 plate appearances. It's doubtful that he collects anything more than a handful of at-bats while he's up so don't bother wasting your FAAB dollars here. Last season at Double-A Bowie, Mahoney hit .289/.344/.502 with 11 homers and seven RBI over 355 plate appearances. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Mauro Gomez, Red Sox - With Will Middlebrooks dealing with a hamstring issue, Gomez was recalled this week to help out at 3B for the Red Sox. At Triple-A Pawtucket this season he hit .311/.366/.614 with 19 homers over 306 plate appearances, so he has some serious pop in his bat. So far he has gone 3-for-9 with a double, but playing time will be hard to come by once the break is over, that is unless Middlebrooks goes on the DL, which is not expected. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Robert Andino, Orioles - Brian Roberts (groin) is unfortunately injured again and on the disabled list meaning Andino should go back to starting at 2B for the O's. On the season Andino is batting a paltry .230/.293/.315 with four homers and four stolen bases and that's with a .302 BABIP, so it's not like he's had some unfortunate string of bad luck that is depressing his numbers. One thing to consider is that if the team considers themselves buyers, they're likely looking for a legit 2B on the trade market, so Andino's playing time might dry up fairly soon. Percent Owned: CBS 13%, ESPN 8.1%, Yahoo! 9%. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Elliott Johnson, Rays - Johnson has quietly stolen 15 bases this season, second most in the AL among shortstops. For the season he's batting .277/.339/.391 with four homers over 224 plate appearances. His .356 BABIP is unlikely to last the rest of the season, so expect his batting average to dip in the second half of the season, but his speed shouldn’t, as speed never slumps. Johnson stole 30 bases at Triple-A Durham in 2010, so this is hardly a fluke. Take a look at him if you're in need of stolen bases in a shallow league. Percent Owned: CBS 15%, ESPN 8.5%, Yahoo! 9%. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
Nick Punto & Pedro Ciriaco, Red Sox - With Dustin Pedroia headed to the DL for the next three weeks (maybe longer) with a hyperextended right thumb; Punto and Ciriaco are expected to pick up the slack and start in his place. Punto has next to no fantasy value because of a weak bat that has produced a career .246/.324/.325 batting line. He'll steal the occasional base, but that's about it when discussing how he can help fantasy owners. Ciriaco was recalled this week from Triple-A Pawtucket where he had a .301/.318/.406 batting line with four homers and 14 stolen bases over 289 plate appearances. He doesn't offer the veteran presence that Punto does, so he might not get as much playing time, but he offers much more speed to fantasy owners, granted he's eight years younger than the 34 year old Punto. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Red Sox trade for a 2B while they wait for Pedey to get back. Punto Percent Owned: CBS 1%, ESPN 0.1%, Yahoo! 0%; Ciriaco Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Punto Mixed: $1; AL: $4. Ciriaco Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Carlos Peguero, Mariners - Peguero was recalled this week from Triple-A Tacoma, where he hit .293/.369/.633 with 18 homers and one stolen base over 214 plate appearances. He started in right field on Friday night and hit seventh in the lineup as the team attempts to figure out a way to get their stagnant offense going. If anything, Peguero should immediately garner more playing time than Chone Figgins, who has wet himself at the plate this season (.186/.245/.276). Most likely he'll land most of his at-bats at DH, where Jesus Montero has struggled this season. Last season Peguero hit .196/.252/.371 with six homers over 155 plate appearances with the M's. Percent Owned: CBS 2%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Xavier Avery, Orioles - Avery was recalled this week from Triple-A Norfolk to take the roster spot of the injured Brian Roberts (groin). So far Avery has started the last four games for the O's in LF and led off in three of them. Skills wise he has great speed as he stole 36 bases at Double-A Bowie last season over 625 plate appearances and 17 this season at Norfolk over 227 plate appearances. Unfortunately he just doesn't make enough solid contact (or just contact for that matter) to be a real difference maker at the MLB level. Consider him in AL only leagues and deeper mixed leagues where speed is sparse. Percent Owned: CBS 3%, ESPN 0.3%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Darin Mastroianni, Twins - In his last six games, Mastroianni has six stolen bases, which as a fantasy owner is something that should make you take notice. He has precedent for this performance as he stole 45 bases in 2010 at Double-A New Hampshire. The only holding him back from running wild on AL catchers is his lack of playing time, which has been spare for much of the season. For now he's hitting .269/.355/.358 with one homer and eight stolen bases over 77 plate appearances. Should Denard Span get traded, we could see Ben Revere shift over to CF and Mastroianni start in RF, so he's a name to keep in the back of your mind as the trade deadline approaches. Percent Owned: CBS 1%, ESPN 0.2%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: $2; AL: $5.
Darnell McDonald, Yankees - McDonald was claimed off waivers this week by the Yankees to serve as OF depth as they continue to wait for Brett Gardner to make his return. A career .248/.313/.396 hitter, McDonald just doesn't make enough contact or hit for enough power to be relevant to fantasy owners. For the Red Sox he hit .214/.309/.369 with two homers and one stole base this season. Percent Owned: CBS 1%, ESPN 0.1%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Travis Hafner, Indians - Pronk returned from the DL this week, where he missed 36 games with a knee injury. In his first three games back he was 2-for-11 with a homer giving him a .238/.374/.441 batting line with seven homers on the season over 179 plate appearances. Hafner is by no means a spring chicken and he could very well land on the DL again in the second half of the season, but he does own a .279/.383/.508 career batting line and can help those in mixed leagues looking for power with a UTIL roster spot to spare. Percent Owned: CBS 13%, ESPN 1.3%, Yahoo! 6%. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
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.