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
Daniel Straily, A's - Who leads the minor leagues in strikeouts right now? Well that would be Daniel Straily who has 154 punch-outs in 118.1 innings this season between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. He's not much of a prospect, as he didn't show up on any of the top 50 or 100 prospects lists that came out prior to the season or those that were updated during the All-Star break, so scouts must seem to think that his skills won't translate well to the majors. Still, he has a 2.74 ERA in the minors this season, where hitters are batting just .201 off of him. The thinking is that when the A's trade Bartolo Colon, Straily is the leading candidate to come up from the minors to replace him. Even if Straily doesn't miss bats at nearly the same pace he does in the minors, the A's park should help him mitigate what damage he does run into. Stash him now if you have room. Percent Owned: CBS 2%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Garrett Richards, Angels - Richards, who was optioned down to Triple-A Salt Lake prior to the All-Star break, will be recalled to start on Tuesday against the Tigers. In his six starts this season he has struggled with a 4.33 ERA, 28 strikeouts, and 19 walks over 35.1 innings. Don't expect for things to turn around for Richards anytime soon. At Salt Lake earlier this season he posted a 5.28 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 32 walks over 59.2 innings. Percent Owned: CBS 15%, ESPN 3.8%, Yahoo! 2%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Jerome Williams, Angels - Williams (chest/breathing problems) returned from the DL on Saturday to face the Yankees on the road and the results were not pretty. He gave up five earned runs on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts. His ERA on the season now stands at 4.67 with 60 strikeouts and 27 walks over 88.2 innings. Given that his last four starts have all ended with him giving up four earned runs or more, Williams should be nowhere near your fantasy team right now. Percent Owned: CBS 22%, ESPN 2.2%, Yahoo! 5%. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Danny Hultzen, Mariners - Hultzen was lights out this season at Double-A Jackson as he posted a 1.19 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 32 walks over 75.1 innings. He was then promoted to Triple-A Tacoma, where he has struggled with his control as he has 15 walks in 17 innings. To his credit though, he does have 22 strikeouts there with his 4.24 ERA. Once he regains his control he should once again be a candidate to come up in the 2nd half of the season and help the Mariners pitching staff. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Hultzen is a highly rated prospect according to every publication and on the fast track to the bigs, so check his status in your league. Percent Owned: CBS 24%, ESPN 0.3%, Yahoo! 3%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $2.
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox - Buchholz was activated from the 15-day DL on Saturday, after dealing with a bout of esophagitis. The results were mixed as he struck out eight batters and walked just one as he gave up four earned runs over 6.1 innings. His ERA now stands a robust 5.54 with 66 strikeouts and 35 walks over 92.2 innings. Really, he hasn't pitched that much different than he did the last two seasons, but this season his BABIP has risen to .310 (.264 & .261 in '11 & '10) and his strand rate has flattened out to 69.6% (79.0% in '11 & '10). If he's still available in your league, he's worth a look. In the month of June he posted a 2.40 ERA with 25 strikeouts and six walks over 30 innings. Percent Owned: CBS 85%, ESPN 45.5%, Yahoo! 50%. Mixed: $7; AL: Owned.
Jake Odorizzi, Royals - Odorizzi has been tearing up Triple-A Omaha since his promotion there earlier this season, posting a 2.68 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 20 walks over 53.2 innings. The knocks against him are that he isn't very efficient with his pitches as he's only pitched past the sixth inning twice out of his eight starts for Omaha. If he can improve this area of concern, we will likely see Odorizzi in the second half of the season for the Royals. The 32nd overall pick in the 2008 draft, Odorizzi is a highly regarded prospect. Percent Owned: CBS 9%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $2.
Jacob Turner, Tigers - Turner will be recalled on Tuesday to start against the Angels in place of the injured Drew Smyly, who is out with an intercostal strain. In his first start earlier this season, Turner pitched five innings and allowed one earned run with three strikeouts and five walks. At the Triple-A level this season for Toledo he has struggled to miss bats as he only struck out 40 batters in 62.2 innings. This wouldn't be as much of an issue if his control was better, but he also walked 24 batters in that span. Combine the two and he needs to find better overall command of his pitches if he wants to succeed at the major league level. Last season in the minors he posted a 3.44 ERA with 110 strikeouts and 35 walks over 131.0 innings between Double-A Erie & Triple-A Toledo. Percent Owned: CBS 19%, ESPN 0.3%, Yahoo! 1%. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Matt Capps, Twins - Capps was activated from the 15-day DL this week, after dealing with right shoulder inflammation and missing nearly three weeks. In his first appearance back, he came on in the 8th and struck out one batter in a clean inning of work. The early word out of the Twin Cities is that he'll be eased back into the closer's role. Once this happens it's only logical to assume that he will be shopped around to contenders in hopes of fetching the Twins a prospect. Until then though, Capps should be owned in all leagues. On the season he has 14 saves with a 3.42 ERA, 16 strikeouts and four walks over 26.1 innings. Percent Owned: CBS 55%, ESPN 74.2%, Yahoo! 57%. Mixed: $12; AL: Owned.
Taylor Teagarden, Orioles - Teagarden was activated on Saturday from the 60-day DL, after dealing with a back injury for the entire first half of the season. The move paid off as Teagarden went 1-for-2 with a 2-run walk-off homer off of Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers. Moving forward, he'll back up Matt Wieters, which limits his fantasy value, even in AL only leagues. Even if he were to get steady playing time, Teagarden has problems making contact (63.2% contact over 392 MLB plate appearances) and would be a serious drain on your batting average. Last season at Triple-A Round Rock he had a .285/.376/.589 batting line with 12 homers over 173 plate appearances. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Luis Martinez, Rangers - Martinez was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday to help back up Yorvit Torrealba, while starter Mike Napoli deals with a quad injury. It's doubtful that Napoli will need a trip to the DL, so don't expect Martinez to be up for long. He's also not much of a prospect at 27 years old, so he's not worth stashing for later either. This season in the minors he hit .262/.340/.384 with two homers over 189 plate appearances for Round Rock. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Ryan Lavarnway, Red Sox - Word is starting to trickle out that the Red Sox brass is trying to move Kelly Shoppach in attempts to get Lavarnway up to the majors. This season at Triple-A Pawtucket he has hit .306/.395/.455 with seven homers over 314 plate appearances. Last season we saw him up for only 17 games as he split his time defensively behind the plate and at DH. A similar situation may occur when he comes up as the Red Sox starting backstop, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is in the midst of a career year. Last season Lavarnway hit .290/.376/.563 with 32 homers between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. Those in need of power or in search of an upgrade at their second catcher position in deep leagues would be wise to stash him now. Percent Owned: CBS 10%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $2.
Wil Myers, Royals - Myers has been mentioned in this space before, but now that the All-Star break is behind us, it's time everyone seriously consider adding him in all available leagues as his call-up is on the horizon. You may be wondering why he's mentioned here under catchers and that's because at least in Yahoo! Leagues, Myers is eligible at catcher - a position he played in his earlier days in the minors. He is only eligible, at least to my knowledge, at OF in CBS and ESPN leagues as that is his current position and where he is likely to play once he reaches the majors. If you play in a league at a different website, you should check his eligibility because if he is eligible at C, his value is much, much higher than if he can only play OF. Skills wise, there's little that Myers can't do. He has hit a combined .331/.408/.678 with 27 homers and five stolen bases between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha this season and is considered by many the best hitting prospect still left in the minors. Go add him now. Percent Owned: CBS 35%, ESPN 0.8%, Yahoo! 5%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $10; AL: $40.
Casey Kotchman, Indians - On June 3rd Kotchman was hitting .209/.282/.307 with three homers and looked as if he might be left for dead. Today he is hitting .241/.298/.380 with nine homers and looks as if he might at least have a pulse. One can't look at his .306/.378/.422 batting line from last season without noticing his .335 BABIP, which was a far cry from his career .277 mark. Still, Kotchman has hit three homers over his last five games, including one on Saturday, and is a fair bet to hit more like his career .265/.333/.395 batting line down the stretch than go back to slumping as he did to start the season. His HR/FB rate is up to 13.3%, his second highest career rate, so he might yet eclipse the career high (if you can even call it that) 14 homers he put up in 2008. Percent Owned: CBS 9%, ESPN 0.8%, Yahoo! 2%. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.
Mike Olt, Rangers - With Mitch Moreland (hamstring) on the DL through possibly the end of the month and Michael Young sitting on three homers for the season as he attempts to fill in for Moreland, one has to consider if or when the Rangers might turn to Olt to play first base for them. For those who are unfamiliar with Olt, he is currently .292/.403/.574 with 22 homers and four stolen bases at Double-A Frisco. It's worth noting though that he has been slumping lately with a .171/.310/.371 batting line over his last 10 games. Olt also strikes out plenty as his 85 Ks are fifth most in the Texas League this season, which will likely lead to a lower batting average in the majors. Still, Olt has power and loads of it, so those speculating for homers should consider him. Percent Owned: CBS 10%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Nick Castellanos, Tigers - Fresh off his MVP performance in the Future's Game, where he went 3-for-4 with a walk, homer, three RBI, and three runs scored, Castellanos could be up before September call-ups hit. In preparation the Tigers have had Castellanos participate in OF drills and start there in his last few games. On the season he's hitting .371/.412/.526 with seven homers and five stolen bases between High-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. Making contact is something that Castellanos has no problem doing right now and something that he is likely to do with proficiency in the majors, once he arrives. For now though, he has only 124 plate appearances under his belt at Erie as he continues to refine his skills, but one has to wonder when the Tigers will stop running Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn out there and think about Castellanos. Percent Owned: CBS 7%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $2.
Nick Franklin, Mariners - Franklin has hit .302/.373/.488 this season with six homers and 10 stolen bases between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma over 326 plate appearances. Moreover, he's been starting to heat up as over his last 10 games at Tacoma he has hit .300/.378/.525 with four doubles, a homer, and a stolen base. I mention all of these stats because Brendan Ryan is batting .182/.284/.268 with two homers and seven stolen bases over 272 plate appearances for the Mariners. Ryan is a witch with the glove, so it's understandable that the M's continue to play him everyday defensively, but at what point do they say enough is enough, we need to see what Franklin can do for us offensively? Last season Franklin hit .281/.352/.418 over four minor league levels with seven homers and 18 stolen bases and that's on top of the concussion and food poisoning he suffered throughout the season. It might take until September, but I expect Franklin to be up this season. That or the Mariners are prepared to see Brendan Ryan chase the Mendoza Line. Percent Owned: CBS 7%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $2.
Pedro Ciriaco, Red Sox - Ciriaco was discussed here when he first came up, but I'm mentioning him here again because this week we learned that he and not Nick Punto would be garnering the majority of the playing time at 2B while Dustin Pedroia is out. This development raises his value in all leagues, as does his recent hot streak at the plate. In his first five games Ciriaco is hitting .500/.524/.600 with two doubles, four runs, six RBI, and three stolen bases. The stolen bases are interesting as he stole 38 back in Double-A Mobile and 40 in High-A Visalia - both while with the Diamondbacks organization. As of now the team has him yo-yoing between the 2nd and 9th spot in the lineup. If he sticks in the 2nd spot, he has even more value as he figures to see more plate appearances and chances to score runs. Prior to being called up, he was hitting .301/.318/.406 with four homers and 14 stolen bases over 289 at-bats at Triple-A Pawtucket this season. Percent Owned: CBS 9%, ESPN 13.0%, Yahoo! 5%. Mixed: $4; AL: $15.
Chris Getz, Royals - Getz (ankle) came off the DL last Sunday and got his first start Saturday going 2-for-4 with a double. This is the second injury that he has had to overcome as he went to the DL earlier this season with a ribs injury. In terms of playing time, Getz will play behind Yuniesky Betancourt for now. Betancourt has hit a limp .217/.260/.261 this season, so there's room for Getz to carve out playing time for himself. In terms of fantasy, the best skill Getz brings to the table is his ability to steal bases. Last season he stole 21 bags, while batting .255/.313/.287 over 429 plate appearances. This season he is batting .301/.336/.398 with six stolen bases over 117 plate appearances. If you're desperate for speed in a deeper league, Getz can help your team. Percent Owned: CBS 2%, ESPN 0.1%, Yahoo! 1%. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Danny Worth, Tigers - Worth was recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Friday to help give the Tigers infield depth. In Toledo he hit .295/.376/.526 with four homers and four stolen bases over 109 plate appearances. In the majors this season he has hit .193/.277/.228 over 67 plate appearances. I would offer up some stat or piece of information as to how he could help your team, but Worth is well, Worthless to fantasy owners. He has no power and what little speed he does have has never surfaced in the majors. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Travis Snider, Blue Jays - Last season when Snider was up, he disappointed owners yet again with a .225/.269/.348 batting line, three homers, and nine stolen bases over 202 plate appearances. Right now he's back at Triple-A Las Vegas doing what hitters do in the PCL, mash the heck out of the ball. However something new has happened this time around, he has started to take walks. Snider has upped his walk rate this season to 15.2%, which is a career high for him in the minors. At the same time he has maintained the gains he made in striking out less last season. You put the two together and he has nearly as many walks (34) as he does strikeouts (37) this season in the PCL - something that seemed almost impossible the first time he reached the majors as a 20 year old. Snider is blocked in the majors right now by Rajai Davis and his .249/.305/.384 batting line (he's hitless in his last 23 at-bats), but one has to think that he'll be given another shot sooner rather than later to reclaim LF. Percent Owned: CBS 6%, ESPN 0.1%, Yahoo! 1%. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Shelley Duncan, Indians - Duncan hit his fifth homer in his last seven games on Saturday as he pushed his season batting line to .235/.332/.451 on the season. This sounds like rubbish because it is; Duncan is a career .235/.314/.438 hitter. However this season he has started to improve in a couple areas. He has raised his contact rate from 77.2% last season to 81.7% this season. He has also started to take more walks, improving his walk rate from 7.7% to 12.6%. Both of these stats have to be taken with a grain of salt as Duncan only has 190 plate appearances this season, but they are both areas of improvement worth monitoring. In deeper leagues if you're looking for power and can stomach the poor batting average (a .254 BABIP is not helping), he's with a look. Percent Owned: CBS 4%, ESPN 0.5%, Yahoo! 1%. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Endy Chavez, Orioles - Chavez was activated from the 15-day DL this week, after he dealt with a hamstring injury. He is currently batting .162/.200/.210 with one homer and two stolen bases over 113 plate appearances. While he was gone, he lost his LF job to Steve Pearce, who gave way to Xavier Avery, who has now given way to Chris Davis. This leaves only pinch-hitting duty and late defensive opportunities for Chavez. Last season he hit .301/.323/.426 with five homers and 10 stolen bases for the Rangers over 274 plate appearances. Percent Owned: CBS 0%, ESPN 0.0%, Yahoo! 0%. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Lorenzo Cain, Royals - Cain has finally returned from the DL, after dealing with a hip injury and sore legs. In his first game back he went 3-for-6 with a double, walk, and three runs. His value lies in his ability to hit for average and steal bases. That's why I'm concerned as to why he didn't attempt to steal any bases on his rehab assignment or in his return. If he doesn't steal bases, he's not all that useful to fantasy owners. Last season he stole 16 bags in Triple-A Omaha over 549 plate appearances. If Cain can get his legs underneath him, I expect numbers similar to that of Denard Span. Percent Owned: CBS 29%, ESPN 2.8%, Yahoo! 8%. Mixed: $4; AL: $17.
Delmon Young, Tigers - Young has hit four homers over his last six games and in the process forced fantasy owners to take notice of his hot streak. One look at his numbers shows that he's hitting .273/.300/.418, which is pretty much like the Young we've come to know - a career .287/.319/.427 hitter. He can still hit lefties as he has a .303/.317/.535 split against them this season, so if you're in a daily league plan accordingly. Percent Owned: CBS 56%, ESPN 42.4%, Yahoo! 29%. Mixed: $4; 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.