This is our weekly look at the free agents in the American 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 budsget
John Danks, White Sox - Danks made his last rehab start in the minors on Saturday, pitching 4.2 innings with two earned runs, five strikeouts, four walks, two hits, and two hit batters. He is expected to rejoin the White Sox rotation this week against the Marlins at home, which is a nice way to ease him back into things, but that rehab start of his has to draw some concern to his command. Overall he walked (13) almost as many batters as he struck out (15), while on his rehab assignment, which is not what you want to see. Still, the team thinks he's ready and they likely know better any of us. With a career 4.12 ERA (4.17 xFIP) and coming off of shoulder surgery, owners would be wise to give Danks a few starts, before deciding if he is right for their team. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles - Gonzalez threw three innings in a simulated game on Friday and is expected to rejoin the Orioles rotation on Tuesday. He is currently on the DL with a thumb blister, which was not serious. Over his first 21 starts in the majors, he has a 3.70 ERA (4.74 xFIP) with 87 strikeouts and 44 walks over 129 innings. He'll need to start missing more bats when he returns if he wants to be successful, as his command has been shaky. This coming week he faces the Yankees at home and Blue Jays on the road, where mixed leaguers will want to stay away, if possible. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Sonny Gray, A's - With Brett Anderson breaking down yet again (this time with a foot injury) and Dan Straily proving to perhaps be in over his head, the team might consider bringing up Gray from Triple-A Sacramento. There he has a 2.47 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 19 walks over 43.2 innings. He has good fastball velocity with a sharp curveball, but has shown a propensity to elevate his pitches and it hurt him at Double-A Midland last season with a 4.14 ERA, 97 strikeouts, and 57 walks over 148 IP. Keep tabs on Gray, if Straily continues to struggle. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Tommy Hanson, Angels - Hanson could make his next start next Saturday the 25th, in Kansas City. He is currently away from the team, as he deals with the death of his stepbrother. He last pitched on May 4th and the team has skipped his last start, thanks to an open date on the schedule. On the season he has a 3.86 ERA (4.95 xFIP) with 17 strikeouts and nine walks over 28 innings. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.
Jair Jurrjens, Orioles - Jurrjens made his season and Orioles debut on Saturday against the Rays, starting in place of the injured Wei-Yin Chen. The results were decidedly mixed as he struck out five batters and only walked one, but gave up four earned runs in only five innings. The last time we saw Jurrjens in the majors was with the Braves, when he was getting torched by opponents with a 6.89 ERA (5.71 xFIP) with 19 strikeouts and 18 walks over 48.1 innings. In his start on Saturday, his velocity was right there where it was in 2012 with the Braves, which is not good. Expect him to make at least one more start this week, in Toronto, where he is not a recommended add. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Josh Lindblom, Rangers - Lindblom is set to start Monday's game against the A's in place of Alexi Ogando, who hit the DL this week with a biceps injury. Lindblom, formerly with the Dodgers, has a 2.08 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 11 walks this season at Triple-A Round Rock. He has pitched 100.2 innings in the majors with a 4.33 ERA, but never any as a starter. Still, his success this season in the minors should give hope to owners in AL only formats to take a chance on him. He is not a prospect as scouts see him working out of the bullpen with a low 90s fastball and low 80s slider. This week he'll get the A's at home and Mariners on the road. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Jake Odorizzi, Rays - Odorizzi is the most likely candidate to fill David Price's spot in the Rays rotation, now that he is on the DL with a triceps injury. Odorizzi currently has a 3.83 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 15 walks over 44.2 innings at Triple-A Durham. He got lit up badly in his last outing, giving up six earned runs on six hits (three homers) and two walks over 5.1 innings and in his previous start he wasn't all that sharp either, giving up three earned runs on seven hits over 5.1 innings with only two strikeouts. Still, he had a 2.93 ERA last season over 107.1 IP at Triple-A Omaha last season with the Royals and deserves this promotion. He is set to start against the Blue Jays on the road and Yankees at home this week, which is a baptism by fire. I would not recommend him in any leagues because of his two opponents. Moreover, Price is expected to miss the minimum number of days on the DL, so owners shouldn't get too attached to Odorizzi. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Andrew Bailey, Red Sox - Bailey is set to come off the DL on Monday, after dealing with a sore bicep. When he does rejoin the team, he is expected to regain his closer job, from Koji Uehara. Uehara has done nothing wrong and even earned a save on Friday, but Bailey has the track record and was the incumbent to the job to start the season. Before he hit the shelf, Bailey had a 1.46 ERA (2.75 xFIP) with 20 strikeouts and four walks over 12.1 IP. If for some reason he is available in your league, add him with haste. Mixed: $10; AL: Owned.
Darren O'Day, Orioles - Jim Johnson blew back-to-back save opportunities this week, the second of which in spectacular fashion as he gave up five earned runs on three hits and two walks, while getting only one out. Considering how awesome he was last season and this season, until these last two outings, one has to assume that his leash is still fairly long with manager Buck Showalter. Should he decide to give Johnson some time to work in lower leverage situations, he'll likely turn to O'Day as his closer. O'Day has a 1.83 ERA (4.82 xFIP) with 20 strikeouts and nine walks over 19.2 IP. The walks have to be a bit of a concern here as he's walking batters at over double the rate he was last season. Still, he's the best choice for Showalter, if Johnson should need a breather. If you're speculating beyond that, Brian Matusz has been fantastic this season and Pedro Strop, despite his walks, has the pedigree to step-up. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Joel Peralta, Rays - Fernando Rodney's struggles continued this week as he gave up three runs on one hit and four walks on Thursday to blow a save against the Red Sox. He is still missing plenty of bats with great velocity and the two outs he got on Thursday were via strikeout, but it's clear he has no idea where the ball is going when he throws it. Until he can regain his command, he is a shaky proposition to hold onto the closer role for the Rays. The most likely fill-in is Peralta, who has been lights out this season with a 1.83 ERA (3.75 xFIP) with 20 strikeouts and seven walks over 19.2 IP. Jamey Wright might have been considered, before he got lit up in his last outing, which now gives him two bad outings over his last three. And Kyle Farnsworth hasn't been used all that much this season and when he has, the results have been less than acceptable. Rays manager Joe Maddon said publicly after Rodney's meltdown that he's "not really concerned yet," but internally he has to be considering Peralta for the job, which is something fantasy owners should be doing too. Mixed: $4; AL: $13.
Vinnie Pestano, Indians - Pestano came off the DL on Friday, after dealing with a sore elbow. He immediately becomes a reliever of interest as current Indians closer Chris Perez dealt with problems warming up last Sunday and blew a save on Saturday. The velocity on Perez's fastball is down from 94.0 in 2012 to 92.8 this season, so there might be more going on here. Still, Perez owns a 1.80 ERA (3.74 xFIP) with 16 strikeouts and five walks over 15.0 IP, so his job seems safe for now. Pestano has only pitched nine innings this season, but has been an elite setup man the last two seasons for The Tribe. If you're wondering about his health, he struck out a batter and walked one, in a scoreless 10th inning on Friday. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Brayan Pena, Tigers - Starting Tigers catcher Alex Avila has gotten off to a very slow start this season, batting .179/.256/.304. He does however have four home runs, which is helping owners some. Still, the team has not opted to give him much time off, as backup Pena has only 50 PA this season. This week he made the most of his playing time going 3-for-4 with a homer and 1-for-4. It would make sense at this point for the team to see if they can work Pena into their lineup more often to take some of that pressure off of Avila, who really hasn't been the same since 2011. In AL only leagues, Pena is worth considering if you're looking to upgrade from your second catcher. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Josh Phegley, White Sox - With White Sox catchers hitting a collective .191/.260/.344 this season, the team has to be thinking about how it can improve offensively at the position. Enter Phegley, who has hit .347/.409/.686 with 10 homers over 132 PA at Triple-A Charlotte. At 25-years old, the former '09 supplemental first round pick is not considered a prospect. Rather, scouts see him as a backup catcher with average receiving skills that will need to improve, if he is to stick in the majors. If you're a Tyler Flowers owner or just someone looking to get out from under a poor second catcher in a deep league, consider stashing Phegley. While his hot start won't last forever, it's clear he's someone who can help the White Sox team this season. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers - Pierzynski is set to come off the DL on Tuesday, after dealing with an oblique injury. Currently he is on a rehab assignment at Double-A Frisco. When he comes back, he should jump right back into his starting spot as the Rangers backstop. Before he was injured, he had hit .263/.297/.411 with four homers over 101 PA. If for some reason he was dropped in your mixed league, get him active for this coming week. The 36-year old veteran is coming off a career year with the White Sox and has proven very durable, despite all the innings he has logged. Mixed: $9; AL: Owned.
Austin Romine, Yankees - On Thursday current Yankees starting catcher Chris Stewart rounded third base and tweaked his groin. Consequently he did not finish that game or start on Friday or Saturday. In his place Romine has started and on Friday he went 2-for-3 with a double. Stewart's MRI came back clean and the team has stated he will not need a stint on the DL, but that does not mean he will not miss additional time. Stewart's injury comes at a bad time, as the team is already down Francisco Cervelli to a broken hand. As for Romine, he was once a rising prospect, but is now known mostly for his defense, which isn't much help to fantasy owners. Last season over four minor league levels he hit .243/.333/.408 with four homers over 196 PA. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
David Ross, Red Sox - Ross is eligible to come off of the 7-day DL this weekend, but won't because he continues to experience concussion symptoms and is scheduled to be re-examined on Monday in Boston. Afterwards however, he may be cleared and allowed to rejoin the team. If he does, expect him to go back to his backup catcher role, behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Prior to his injury, he was hitting .209/.320/.512 with four homers over 50 PA. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
David Adams, Yankees - Adams was called-up this week, after the team decided to designate Chris Nelson for assignment. Since then he has started four straight games for the team at third base. Previously he had been at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .316/.407/.490 with three homers over 113 PA. At 26 years old, he's not considered a prospect and for good reason as he lacks power and speed. Still, he's shown a good eye at the plate throughout the minors and can hit for average. He played mostly second base in the minors and will likely fill an infield utility role, if he's able to stick with the team. For now consider him a temporary fill-in for Kevin Youkilis, who should be back before the end of the month. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Nate Freiman, A's - With Daric Barton being designated for assignment on Saturday, Freiman finds himself the clear backup to starting first baseman Brandon Moss and potentially his platoon mate. Moss, a LHB, is hitting just .167/.255/.333 this month and .206/.250/.324 on the season against LHP. This might be enough for the team to consider sitting him against more LHPs and giving Freiman, a RHB, those at-bats. Freiman hasn't seen much playing time this season, but he does have some power, as he showed last season when he hit 24 homers with a .298/.370/.502 batting line at Double-A San Antonio with the Padres organization. Consider him if you're desperate for power, he should hit lefties well. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Chris Nelson, Angels - After being designated for assignment this week by the Yankees, the Angels decided to give Nelson a try as they claimed him off waivers. He'll offer the team positional depth defensively and a little bit of nothing everywhere offensively. On the season he's hit .235/.269/.304 with no homers over 108 PA with the Rockies and Yankees. Backing up Alberto Callaspo and fighting Luis Jimenez for playing time, he has almost no value to owners. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Mark Teixeira, Yankees - Teixeira is eligible to come off the DL on May 21st, after dealing with a strained right wrist tendon that he suffered in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. And while that is when he is eligible, it's more likely that he comes back near the end of the month or early June. Either way, he's getting close and has said publicly that his rehab has been going "great." Expect a heavy dose of skepticism as to what Teixeira can offer owners, as wrist injuries often sap a hitter's power. Fortunately his injury did not require surgery, but the concern is real none-the-less. Moreover, Teixeira is a notable slow starter in the first half of seasons. Last season he hit .251/.332/.475 with 24 homers over 524 PA, in what was his worst season statiscally, since his rookie season with the Rangers. If he's still eligible on your waiver wire in shallow mixed leagues, stash him now. Mixed & AL: Owned.
Danny Valencia, Orioles - Valencia should be brought up on Sunday from Triple-A Norfolk, as the team optioned infielder Ryan Flaherty, after Saturday's game. Over his last 10 games in the minors Valencia has been red hot batting .356/.375/.911 with four doubles and seven homers. We've seen him before in the majors, most notably with the Twins. Last season he hit .188/.199/.299 with three homers between there and the Red Sox. He's a third baseman by glove, but could see at-bats at DH as the team put Nolan Reimold on the DL on Saturday, dating back to last Sunday and has been playing musical chairs ever since. Considering how hot he's been in the minors, it wouldn't be a bad idea to give him a look in you're in need of a Reimold replacement or corner bat. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Gordon Beckham, White Sox - Beckham began a rehab assignment on Saturday at Triple-A Charlotte, as he continues to work his way back from a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. If all goes well, he could be activated from the DL next weekend against the Marlins. In his spot the Pale Hose have used Jeff Keppinger, who refuses to take a walk, and Tyler Greene, who is no one's idea of an offensive threat. Coming into the season Beckham had much to prove offensively, after three pretty poor seasons. One has to remember though that he's only 26 years old. Wrist injuries often sap a player's ability to hit for power, so it'll be interesting to see how Beckham responds, once he's activated. If he's still available in deeper mixed leagues, get him stashed now. While he has no real speed and hasn't hit for much of an average, he is still too young to give up on yet. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Reid Brignac, Yankees - The Bronx Bombers traded for Brignac on Saturday and given their current depth at shortstop are likely to use him quite a bit there, at least until Eduardo Nunez, ribs, is ready to come off the DL, which likely won't be till the end of the month. Brignac was once a highly regarded prospect with the Devil Rays, but then he got to Triple-A and things fell apart. In the offseason he was traded to the Rockies, where he hit .250/.294/.375 with one homer over 53 PA, up until this weekend. Offensively, he offers very little and will likely drain your batting average, but he should see a fair amount of playing time. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Nick Franklin, Mariners - With Dustin Ackley starting to come around, the Mariners biggest need is now shortstop. The team has gotten next to nothing from Brendan Ryan or Robert Andino offensively, outside of Ryan's homer on Saturday. Meanwhile, Franklin has hit .328/.451/.509 with four homers and five stolen bases over 146 PA this season. He has also been splitting his time between second base and shortstop, so it's not like shortstop would be a huge stretch for him defensively. The team might opt to give Carlos Triunfel another shot before Franklin gets the call, but he's not far off and is worth stashing in all AL only leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Yamaico Navarro, Orioles - The Ryan Flaherty experience ended Saturday, as he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. In his spot, Navarro was used on for the second straight game to start at second base. With Alexi Casilla not hitting much and Brian Roberts on the 60-day DL, it appears the job is Navarro's to lose for now. Before being promoted this week, he hit .303/.395/.434 with two homers and three stolen bases over 147 PA at Norfolk. At 25 years old, he has shown flashes of raw power and an ability to take a walk. He's been jerked around quite a bit since leaving the Red Sox organization in 2011. If he can get steady playing time, he might be of some use to owners looking for power in AL only and deep mixed leagues. He has played third base and outfield in the past, so he might offer owners positional flexibility too, depending on the league. Mixed: $3; AL: $11.
Angel Sanchez, White Sox - Sanchez began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte on Friday, as he works his way back from a lower back strain. When he returns he'll likely force Tyler Greene from the roster because Sanchez is a Rule 5 pick from the Angels, so they have to keep him on their active roster or send him back to the team that they selected him from. Sanchez was hot offensively in spring training, but it's his glove that the team wants him to flash. Last season with the Astros at Triple-A Oklahoma City he hit .320/.390/.407 with five homers and seven stolen bases over 398 PA. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Chris Dickerson, Orioles - Dickerson started in left field for the O's on Friday and hit a three-run homer. Consequently he was rewarded with another start on Saturday and went 1-for-4. On the season he's only seen 30 PA, but he's done pretty well with that playing time, hitting .310/.333/.483. There's no real job open for him right now defensively, but if he can continue to hit he might share DH duties with Danny Valencia, at least until Nolan Reimold is off the DL. Last season with the Yankees at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre he hit .316/.417/.515 with seven homers and 17 stolen bases over 321 PA. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Avisail Garcia & Don Kelly, Tigers - With Austin Jackson hitting the DL this week with a hamstring injury, Garcia was called-up from Triple-A Toledo to take his roster spot. At Toledo he hit .432/.447/.541 with a homer in just 38 PA, before that he had started out at High-A Lakeland. If Garcia's name sounds familiar it is because he was with the team last season during the post-season and 25 PA. He's only 22 years old, but possesses an ability to hit for power with good speed. He swings and misses a fair amount and doesn't have the best plate discipline. This is why the team is currently platooning him, a RHB, with Kelly, a LHB. Kelly is 33 years old and possesses really none of the upside that Garcia does as far as power and speed are concerned. Yet he is a veteran and the one that has started 5-of-7 games in Jackson's place. Jackson is expected to miss the minimum amount of time on the DL, so expect this current arrangement to end next weekend with Garcia likely being sent back down. Garcia - Mixed: $1; AL: $4. Kelly - Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners - Gutierrez should come off the DL sometime this week, after dealing with a hamstring injury. When he comes back the team might consider moving him to a corner-outfield spot as he simply cannot stay healthy while manning center, despite his natural talents for it. Before the injury he hit .259/.286/.537 with four homers and a stolen base over 57 PA. He has the talent to go 20/20, but injuries have always held him back. If he's available on your waiver wire in mixed leagues, give him a look for his power/speed combination. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
David Lough, Royals - Jarrod Dyson hit the DL this week with an ankle injury and is set to miss two-to-four weeks. In his place Lough is expected to get playing time as the team's reserve outfielder. Lough was brought up on Friday, after he hit .340/.393/.477 with three homers and five stolen bases over 171 PA at Triple-A Omaha. Manager Ned Yost has said publicly he will ride the hot hand when it comes to his outfield, so expect Lough to steal a fair amount of at-bats away from Jeff Francoeur, who continues to struggle. This month Francoeur is hitting .108/.175/.135 with one extra base hit over 40 PA. Lough might not have the raw power that Frenchy does, but he has much more speed. Owners in AL only and deep mixed should give him a look, while Dyson is out. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.
Wil Myers, Rays - Another weekly reminder that Myers needs to be owned in all AL only and deep mixed leagues. The cries for him to come up from Triple-A Durham have quieted lately with Matt Joyce (.279/.380/.512 in May) and Kelly Johnson (.327/.377/.618 in May) warming up this month. Still, it doesn't change the fact that Myers could come up right now and help the Rays. He has however gotten off to a slower than expected start hitting .250/.345/.385 with four homers and two stolen bases over 174 PA. This could be a product of him being bored in the minors, after being allowed to challenge for a spot on the roster in spring training and winning Minor League Player of the Year last season. It could also be a product of being in a new organization with new coaches as last season he was in the minors with the Royals. Either way, he needs to increase his production, so that when he does make his debut, he hits the ground running. Last season in the minors he hit .314/.387/.600 with 26 doubles, six triples, and 37 homers. Mixed: $7; AL: $29.
Chris Young, A's - Young came off the DL on Saturday, after dealing with a quadriceps injury and went 0-for-2 with a walk. Currently the team is still down Josh Reddick, so Young figures to help fill-in for him in right field, till he can come back. A RHB, he should see the majority of his playing time against LHPs. On the season he's hitting .169/.279/.382 with four homers and five stolen bases over 104 PA. The power and speed have always been there for Young, it's the ability to make contact and hit for average that has eluded him. If you're in an AL only or deep mixed league, keep this in mind, if you choose to roster him. Mixed: $2; AL: $10.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.