American League FAAB: 8/19/12
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
J.A. Happ, Blue Jays: Happ pitched a gem this week against the Rangers, going six innings and allowing only one run on two hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. This was somewhat surprising considering in his first two AL starts, he combined to give up eight runs over 10 innings. Happ's underlying numbers suggest he's been a bit unlucky this season as he has a 3.93 xFIP in comparison to his 4.88 ERA. This is likely due to a career-high .311 BABIP. That said, don't expect a regression to the mean to come rushing in anytime soon. At Detroit this week, I would not use him. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays: Villanueva has been on a bit of a roll lately as he has a 3.56 ERA over his last five starts with 28 strikeouts and seven walks. As a starter, he now has a 3.02 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 15 walks over 53.2 innings. This is a big jump forward from where he was last season as a starter, when he registered a 5.15 ERA over 73.1 innings. The difference has been his ability to miss bats as his strikeout rate has jumped from 5.15 K/9IP to a 9.06 mark this season as a starter. If he's still available in your mixed league, scoop him up. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners: This week, Iwakuma twirled seven innings of one-run ball, with the lone run being unearned. He did this with six strikeout, with one walk and four hits allowed. Granted, it was against the Twins, but this outing just highlights how well Iwakuma has pitched in general since joining the Mariners' rotation. As a starter this season (48 IP), he has a 3.19 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 17 walks. Batters are hitting only .239 against him and it's not all luck as they have a .273 BABIP to match this. This week against the Indians, he makes for a fine option in all mixed leagues. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Dylan Bundy, Orioles: There has been chatter as of late that the Orioles could call up Bundy soon to help their bullpen and possibly their rotation. The former No. 4 overall pick last season has dominated hitters this season in the minors with a 2.01 ERA, 106 strikeouts, and just 22 walks over 89.2 innings. The innings is key here as Bundy's workload has been monitored all season long. This means that if he were to come up, Bundy still has plenty of bullets still left in that gun to fire. Some might consider it rushing Bundy to promote him to the majors this fast, but look at what they just did with Manny Machado and consider that Bundy isn't any normal prospect. We're talking about quite possibly the No. 1 prospect in the game right now. This is a speculative play for sure, but one that could pay off, even if he only gets a few starts in September. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $3; AL: $7.
Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles: Gonzalez continued his recent run of success this week as he held the Red Sox to just two earned runs over six innings, with two strikeouts and one walk. Since joining the Orioles' rotation, he has had one disaster outing, where he gave up seven earned runs in just 2.2 innings, but other than that, he's been pretty reliable with a 3.62 ERA over 49.2 innings. One thing holding him back is his command as he has 35 strikeouts to 17 walks as a starter. This combined with a .239 BABIP as a starter suggests that he is likely not as good as he has pitched (4.93 xFIP). Still, he's likely worth a spot start in most mixed leagues; just don't make it this week in Texas. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Jeremy Guthrie, Royals: This week Guthrie struck out eight Oakland batters with two walks as he pitched seven shutout innings with only three hits allowed. This now gives him a 4.02 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks since being traded from the Rockies (31.1 innings pitched). This is a far cry from the 6.35 ERA we saw him post in Colorado, where he was eaten alive and left for dead. Be it the switch of home parks or the switch back to the AL, Guthrie appears to once again be someone owners can consider using again in mixed leagues. Last season with the Orioles, he had a 4.33 ERA with 130 strikeouts and 66 walks over 208 innings. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Grant Balfour, A's: Last week there was a bit of uncertainty as to who would step in as the A's closer, while Ryan Cook was given some time off. Since then, Grant Balfour has racked up three saves in three opportunities without allowing a hit. Since the All-Star break, he has a 0.68 ERA with 16 strikeouts and four walks over 13.1 innings. If he's still available in your league, go out and get him. There's a strong chance that he continues this streak of dominance and keeps the job the rest of the season. Mixed: $7; AL: $22.
Derek Norris, A's: Over the last 28 days, Norris is batting .233/.292/.467 with three homers and two steals. This might not sound like much, but it puts him near the top 10 most productive fantasy catchers over that time span. That ranking is mostly due to his speed, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise as Norris stole 17 bases last season in the minors. If you're in a mixed league and your second catcher has been slumping lately, Norris is worth a look. You won't find many catchers on the waiver wire that can help in both the power and speed categories. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Yorvit Torrealba, Blue Jays: Geovany Soto's arrival in Texas signaled the exit of Torrealba, who was the odd man out on the roster. Luckily for Torrealba, the Blue Jays were in need of a catcher and signed him to a minor league deal this week. He is expected to play in a few more games at Double-A New Hampshrie before joining the Blue Jays on Tuesday, at which point he'll split playing time with Jeff Mathis. This is, of course, until J.P Arencibia, who is out with a broken hand, is able to rejoin the team. At that point, Torrealba will likely be discarded as Mathis was just given a two-year extension. Torrealba is a career .258/.317/.387 hitter, which makes him a Silver Slugger in comparison to Mathis, who is a career .197/.257/.314 hitter. Don't be surprised if he outperforms Mathis and gets more playing time when all is said in done. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
John Jaso, Mariners: Jaso has had a pretty good run lately as he not only caught Felix Hernandez's perfect game this week, but he has hit .308/.441/.577 with four homers and three stolen bases over the last 28 days. Those offensive numbers make him among the hottest hitting catchers in the AL and someone that mixed leaguers should be taking a look at. Two of those four homers were hit at Safeco and his BABIP over this stretch has been .286, so it's not as if Jaso has been overtly lucky. His speed, however, during this stretch likely can be chalked up to luck, as Jaso has never stolen more than four bases in any season, including the minors. Give him a look in deeper mixed leagues if you're in need of a second catcher. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Josh Donaldson, A's: Donaldson was recalled this week from Triple-A Sacramento to help play third base and fill the void left by Brandon Inge (shoulder), who was placed on the 15-day DL. At Sacramento, Donaldson hit .335/.402/.598 with 13 homers and five stolen bases over 234 plate appearances this season. In his five games in the majors this week, he has carried over this success, going 9-for-19 with a double and homer. Inge's shoulder injury isn't serious enough for him to miss more than the minimum 15 days, so don't expect Donaldson to hold value long term. Moreover, Donaldson has come up earlier this season and failed miserably, so don't expect his hot streak to last. If anything, Donaldson is worth a pickup for those in leagues where he has catcher eligibility and owners are looking for a short-term fix. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Justin Smoak, Mariners: Smoak was recalled this week from Triple-A Tacoma to help fill in for the injured Mike Carp (hip,) who was placed on the 15-day DL. He has done well so far, going 4-of-13 with two doubles and a homer. Despite this, there's no reason to think that Smoak has improved as a hitter. While at Tacoma, he hit .242/.390/.364 with no homers over 82 plate appearances, which is pathetic when you consider how hitter friendly the Pacific Coast League is. Because he's getting playing time, Smoak is a must add in AL leagues. Those in deeper mixed leagues will want to play him only in road games, if at all. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.
Mark Reynolds, Orioles: Reynolds caught fire this week as he went 7-for-20 with a double and three homers. Overall, this season has been very disappointing for Reynolds as he has hit .219/.332/.408 with 12 homers over 361 plate appearances. It's not so much his batting average, which has always been poor, but rather his power, which has escaped him. Reynolds has been a streaky hitter in the past and has a history of hitting for power, averaging over 35 homers a season over the last four seasons, so this sort of outburst isn't all that surprising. If he's still available in your mixed league, he's worth an add, at least until he cools off. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
Mauro Gomez, Red Sox: Gomez was recalled on Saturday to help give the Red Sox depth at third base as Will Middlebrooks (wrist) remains out. At Triple-A Pawtucket, he hit .310/.371/.589 with 24 homers over 426 plate appearances. This is no fluke as Gomez has hit for power at every stop along the way in the minors, including 24 homers last season at Triple-A Gwinnett, when he was with the Braves organization. Gomez has yet to show this power in the majors, as he hasn't been given enough playing time in the past. Defensively, he is not experienced at third, so don't be surprised if he doesn't get much playing time there and is sent back down if his roster spot is needed. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Grant Green, A's: With Jemile Weeks struggling mightily since the All-Star break (.210/.289/.277 and no homers), there have been discussions about possibly promoting Green to take his starting spot. This might sound like hearsay, but the team has Green playing second base at Triple-A Sacramento recently, perhaps in preparation. Offensively, he has hit .292/.335/.449 with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases over 498 plate appearances at Sacramento this season. While only 24 years old, Green isn't considered much of a fantasy prospect these days, likely because of the way he regressed at Double-A Midland last season. If you're in an AL-only league and can spare the roster spot, Green is worth a speculative add. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Jurickson Profar, Rangers: Michael Young's inability to serve as an adequate middle-infield backup on a regular basis has caused the Rangers to consider bringing someone up from the minors to fill this role. There's Alberto Gonzalez, who is at Triple-A Round Rock, and then there's Jurickson Profar, who is at Double-A Frisco. Profar is obviously the sexier of the two choices, as he is an elite prospect who could defensively give both Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler days off as the team preps for another run at the World Series. Offensively, Profar could hold his own as he is hitting .280/.362/.461 with 14 homers and 15 stolen bases over 519 plate appearances at Frisco. It's more likely that we'll see him when rosters expand in September, but either way, in AL-only leagues he is absolutely worth a speculative bid, if he is not already on a roster. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Johnny Giavotella, Royals: With Chris Getz breaking his thumb, Giavotella was recalled Saturday to take his roster spot and starting role at second. It's somewhat surprising that he wasn't recalled sooner, considering he was hitting .323/.404/.472 with 10 homers and seven stolen bases over 418 plate appearances at Triple-A Omaha. Last season, we saw Giavotella hit .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases over 187 plate appearances. Expect him to carry the job for the rest of the season as the team not only needs him due to injury, but they need to see if he's the man for the job next season as well. Mixed: $4; AL: $15.
Pedro Florimon Jr., Twins: Brian Dozier was optioned to Triple-A Rochester this week, and in his place, Florimon was called up. At Rochester, Florimon hit .251/.308/.244 with three homers and six stolen bases over 345 plate appearances this season. He's only 25 years old, but is not considered a prospect, as he has shown no real skills in the minors, other than an ability to steal a few bases. In his first two games up, he went 2-of-6 with a triple. Don't expect Florimon to help fantasy owners much as he struggles to make contact and will likely hit low in a batting order that struggles to produce runs. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Seth Smith, A's: Smith is expected to come off the DL this week as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. He is currently on a rehab assignment that shouldn't last but a couple of days. When he comes back, Smith will go back to his role in a hitting platoon where he sits versus left-handers, which he struggles against. This season he has hit .248/.355/.447 with nine homers against righties. Defensively, it'll be interesting to see where Smith fits in, as he'll likely have to play DH or play left field as Cespedes shifts to DH. Either way, expect him to play over Jonny Gomes and Brandon Moss on most days. Mixed: $4; AL: $15.
Moises Sierra, Blue Jays: Sierra heated up this week going 7-of-18 with two homers. He's likely to continue to get playing time, until Jose Bautista comes off the DL, which should be sometime next weekend. In the meantime, Sierra makes for an interesting play as he has shown a bit of power and speed in the minors. This season at Triple-A Las Vegas he hit .289/.360/.472 with 17 homers and seven stolen bases over 422 plate appearances, while last season he hit 18 homers with 16 stolen bases at Double-A New Hampshire over 551 plate appearances. He's only 23 years old, but isn't considered a prospect, so there's no use in stashing him in keeper leagues. Use him as a stopgap this week if you're low on outfield options. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Leonys Martin, Rangers: Martin was recalled this week when Ryan Dempster reportedly lost his passport and couldn't make the team trip to Toronto this weekend. Since then, Martin hasn't started any games and he will likely be sent back down once Dempster is set to make his next start. Martin will likely be called back up when rosters expand next month and should see more playing time then as the team tries to rest some of their starters before they push for October. If you are in an AL league with a roster spot to spare, he's not the worst speculative add as Martin can hit for a bit of power and steal a base or two. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Will Myers, Royals: Like Myers, fantasy owners have been waiting all season for his call-up to the majors. There is little, if anything, left for him to prove at Triple-A Omaha as he has torched the competition with a .294/.374/.554 batting line, 21 homers, and two steals over 372 plate appearances. It's now just a matter of time until the call is made. There has been no sign from the Royals that we're any closer today to this happening than we were last week, but consider this: Jeff Francoeur over the last 28 days is batting .197/.269/.366. The team might as well wait until September to make the right decision here, so get him on your roster now, before the calendar flips and other owners are scurrying around looking for him. This is the last call for Will Myers. Speculative Bid - Mixed: $12; AL: $35.
Matt Carson, Twins: With Ben Revere (ankle) and Denard Span (shoulder) ailing, the Twins called up Carson this week from Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .277/.339/.447 with 14 homers and nine stolen bases over 448 plate appearances. At 31 years old, Carson is not a prospect and he will likely not be getting much playing time moving forward as Revere is expected back in the lineup any day now. Carson has little fantasy value, even in AL-only leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section.
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