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 budget
John Danks, White Sox – Danks made his first start of the season on Friday against the Marlins and gave up three earned runs over six innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Coming off of shoulder surgery, his velocity was right there where it was before he was hurt, which is encouraging. Also encouraging is the control he shows against the Marlins. He has a career 4.13 ERA (4.27 xFIP), so even the most optimistic owners should temper any excitement about Danks. This coming week he gets the Cubs, which is another favorable start for him. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Sam Deduno, Twins – Deduno made his first start of the season this week with the Twins and he got rocked by the Tigers for six earned runs over 5.1 innings. There's no shame in having a poor outing against the Tigers offense, but Deduno only struck out two batters and walked three, which is a lack of command on his part. He showed real promise in the WBC and had a 2.70 ERA with 17 strikeouts and 10 walks over 16.2 innings at Triple-A Rochester, but his command will need to sharpen quickly if he is to survive in the majors. This week he'll get the Brewers. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Kevin Gausman, Orioles – Gausman got the call this week from Double-A Bowie to join the O's rotation. He made his first start against the Blue Jays and showed why scouts have been raving about him since he was drafted last season. His fastball touched the high 90s and he mixed in a change-up and sometimes his slider. He got behind in the count to too many batters and it hurt him, but he didn't give in as he challenged hitters to try and touch his fastball. He figures to be in the rotation for a long time and with his talent level he should be priority number one for all AL owners bidding this week. We're talking about an elite, front of the rotation arm that has the potential to be special. Bid aggressively. This week he'll face the Nationals and Tigers, which should be fun to watch. Mixed: $25; AL: $50.
Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles – Gonzalez returned to the O's rotation this week, after an 18-day layoff to deal with a blister. He pitched well as he held the Yankees to two earned runs over seven innings with five strikeouts and no walks. His command has always been fringe-average and thus he's never been able to sustain any success he's experienced. On the season he now has a 4.25 ERA (4.64 xFIP) with 27 strikeouts and 14 walks over 42.1 innings. This week he'll get the Tigers, which should be a nice challenge for him. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.
Colby Lewis, Rangers – Lewis started for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday, as he continues to try to make his way back from a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He pitched four innings with two strikeouts, two walks, and two earned runs. Afterwards he reported that his arm felt better than after his last start, in which he suffered a setback. Expect him to make a couple more rehab starts, before rejoining the Rangers next month. Last season with the team he had a 3.43 ERA (3.89 xFIP) with 93 strikeouts and 14 walks over 105 innings. Get him stashed away in deeper mixed leagues and certainly in AL only leagues. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Vidal Nuno, Yankees – Nuno made his second start in the majors on Saturday and he performed quite well as he held the Rays to just two runs over six innings with two strikeouts and one walk. Through 14 innings now he has seven strikeouts and four walks, which is troubling. It's not so much the walks as it is the lack of strikeouts because if he's not missing bats, it's tough to see him keeping a low ERA for much longer. For now though, he seems to have the upper hand on keeping the Yankees fifth starter job, over Ivan Nova. At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he had a 1.54 ERA with 26 strikeouts and two walks over 23.1 innings. This week he'll face the Mets. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Jake Odorizzi, Rays – Odorizzi made his first start with the Rays this week against the Blue Jays and gave up three earned runs over five innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Due to a change in their rotation schedule, his next start will be against the Marlins on Monday and not the Yankees on Sunday, which is great news for him. He's currently filling in for David Price, who is on the DL, but he could stick in the rotation with the way that Roberto Hernandez has been imploding. In the minors this season Odorizzi had a 3.83 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 15 walks over 44.2 innings. Expect him to show more of that talent this week against the Marlins and Indians. Mixed: $4; AL: $15.
Martin Perez, Rangers – Perez will make his season debut on Monday against the Diamondbacks, as he is now fully over his broken wrist. In his last rehab start at Triple-A Round Rock he struck out seven batters with no walks over seven shutout innings, proving he was ready rejoin the team. Last season in six starts with the Rangers he had a 5.88 ERA (4.83 xFIP) with 16 strikeouts and 10 walks over 26 innings. He has always had fringe-average to below-average command and as such cannot be trusted in mixed leagues. Depending on how things shake out, he could get another start on Sunday against the Royals. Bid with caution. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
P.J. Walters, Twins – Walters made his season debut this week with the Twins as he held the Tigers to two earned runs over six innings with three strikeouts and a walk. He's pitched in the majors before and has shown below average command with 85 strikeouts and 45 walks over 118.2 innings. Unless he's found some new pitch or is using new mechanics, it's tough to see him thriving in the majors. At Triple-A Rochester he had a 3.31 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 16 walks over 54.1 innings. This week he'll face the Brewers. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Darren O'Day & Pedro Strop – With three blown saves in a row from Jim Johnson, he looked to be on shaky ground coming into this week, but he's since had two clean outings (this was written before Sunday’s outing) letting no one reach base. His command got away from him in one of those blown saves, but otherwise, he's just been a little too hittable. Considering how great he's been the last two seasons and for the large majority of this season, he likely isn't close to losing his role as closer. If he does have another stretch of ineffectiveness, the team would likely turn to either Darren O'Day, who has a 1.96 ERA (4.26 xFIP), or Pedro Strop, who has the better stuff, but is walking far too many batters. Keep an eye on this situation if you're desperate for saves. O’Day Mixed: $1; AL: $3. Strop Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Joel Peralta, Rays – Forget what Joe Maddon is saying publicly about trusting Fernando Rodney because the numbers speak for themselves: 17 strikeouts and 11 walks with nine earned runs over 11 innings this month. That is simply unacceptable from a reliever in high leverage situations, regardless of the closer label. Peralta meanwhile has been great with a 1.99 ERA (3.62 xFIP), 25 strikeouts, and nine walks over 22.2 innings this season. Maddon is going to have to make a move to Peralta, despite how excellent Rodney was last season, or it's going to cost the Rays more games. With two blown saves in a row from Rodney and his control showing no improvement, grab Peralta in all leagues now. Mixed: $4; AL: $15.
Yan Gomes, Indians – Gomes started four of the last six games behind the dish for the Tribe this week and rewarded the team with a double and three homers. Part of the reason for his increase in playing time is that first baseman Nick Swisher was on paternity leave, so the team had starting catcher Carlos Santana move over to his position to cover for him. Now that Swisher is back, Santana will likely move to catcher and Gomes will revert to his back-up. The plus from his productive week though is that Gomes has likely increased his chances of staying with the team, once former back-up Lou Marson is over his current shoulder injury. Moreover, he gives the team another option over Jason Giambi at DH. On the season Gomes is hitting .311/.328/.672 with five homers over 64 PA. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Jose Lobaton, Rays – We've discussed Lobaton a few times here before, but it bears reminding; he is seeing an almost even split in playing time with perceived "starter" Jose Molina. Going into Sunday, Lobaton had started six of the last nine Rays games at catcher because Molina simply cannot stay healthy for an extended period of time. So far this season Molina has dealt with a hamstring, knee, and quadriceps injury and we're not even to June yet. It wouldn't be surprising to see Molina at some point hit the DL because of one these nagging injuries, which would surely help Lobaton's stock. On the season Lobaton is hitting .241/.302/.367 with two homers over 87 PA, and while this might not sound like much, it's helpful in AL only formats that use two catchers. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Brayan Pena, Tigers – Since we discussed Pena last week, he has started three games and gone 6-for-14 with two doubles. Apparently someone in the Tigers organization got the memo that he can help the team offensively, while starter Alex Avila continues to struggle. Pena does not have a long track record of being an offensive threat and what we're seeing right now is likely the product of a small sample size, but the fact remains; he's hitting right now and Avila is not and until Pena stops hitting, it would be in the team's best interest to continue to find him a place in their lineup. If you're in an AL only league or a deeper mixed league that uses two catchers, you should be doing likewise. On the season Pena is hitting .300/.317/.450 with two homers over 64 PA. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Josh Phegley, White Sox – I'm going to continue to bang the drum for Phegley to be stashed in AL only and deeper mixed leagues as he continues to tear up the Triple-A International League. This week he hit two more doubles, which gives him a dozen on the season, in addition to his 10 home runs. With White Sox catchers hitting just .212/.284/.371 on the season, it's only a matter of time till Phegley, who is hitting .321/.386/.628, is given a chance at the major league level. He's a former '09 supplemental first round pick, so there's pedigree here, but scouts see him more as a back-up because of his receiving skills. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
David Ross, Red Sox – Ross was able to come off the DL on Friday, after dealing with a concussion for the last couple of weeks. He returns to a back-up role and to a .209/.320/.512 batting line that includes four home runs. He has hit for power in the past and appeared to be well on his way to double-digit homers for the first time since 2007, before his concussion. Now healthy again, he can hopefully resume that power binge he was on. In AL only formats that utilize two catchers, he shouldn't be overlooked. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Jesus Sucre, Mariners – Jesus Montero's days as a catcher are now over as the team believes it took away from his focus and ability to grow offensively. As such, the team demoted him to Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday to work on his swing and defense at first base, and called up Sucre to take his place. 25 years old, Sucre was hitting .302/.373/.321 at Tacoma, but isn't anyone's idea of an offensive threat in the majors or someone that will start for the team long-term. Really, he is just on the roster until top prospect Mike Zunino is ready to be promoted, which doesn't seem soon as he is hitting .231/.301/.522 at Tacoma and needs to show improvement against breaking balls. For now though, Sucre will steal playing time from Kelly Shoppach, who himself is struggling offensively, and for that he deserves a look in AL only leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Pedro Ciriaco, Red Sox – With Will Middlebrooks hitting the DL on Friday due to back spasms, Ciriaco is now set to see more at-bats as the team's sometimes-starting third baseman. I say sometimes because Jose Iglesias was called-up to take Middlebrooks' roster spot and will share those third base duties with Ciriaco. Moreover, it's likely that Iglesias stays on the roster as a utility infielder, when Middlebrooks returns, leaving Ciriaco the odd man out. But, we're still not there yet and until then Ciriaco will receive a spike in at-bats. On the season Ciriaco has hit .175/.277/.325 with one homer and two stolen bases over 47 PA, so there's no real reason to get excited about him. Last season he stole 16 bases over 272 PA, so there was some optimism that he might be of use in AL only formats this season, but that doesn't appear to be the case as he's not running as much. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Matt Dominguez, Astros – Over Dominguez's last six games he has three homers and is starting to heat up for the struggling Astros. On the season he's now batting .308/.341/.513 with four homers at home. His road numbers however are disappointing as he's hit .190/.225/.274 with only one homer. We're not to June yet, so those stats are obviously from a small sample size, but it's worth noting that Minute Maid Park has a short left porch and Dominguez has pulled all 10 of his MLB homers, so hitting there seems to fit his profile as a pull happy RHB. He's worth a look in deeper mixed leagues as a corner-bat, while he's hot. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Jonathan Singleton, Astros – This coming week Singleton's 50-game suspension for violating minor league baseball's drug policy ends and when it does, he'll begin playing at Low-A Quad Cities. From there he is expected to move up to Triple-A Oklahoma City, with perhaps a few short stops along the way. As one of the Astros top prospects, he is expected to make his way to the majors some time this season, depending upon how well he handles Triple-A and for that reason, owners in AL only and deep mixed leagues need to get him on their radar and/or possibly stash him. Last season at Double-A Corpus Christi he hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 homers and seven stolen bases over 555 PA. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Miguel Tejada, Royals – The 39 year old Tejada hit two homers this week, while playing third base, over the struggling Mike Moustakas. I don't think anyone expects for Tejada to overtake Moustakas at the position right away, but the way things are going for Moose (.174/.244/.299), it probably wouldn't be too surprising to see him start to chip away at his at-bats. Moreover, it wouldn't be surprising to see Moustakas sent back down to Triple-A to work out his problems and if that happens, Tejada might have some real value in AL only leagues. So far though, he has gotten only 33 PA this season, so it's impossible to read anything into his .323/.364/.548 batting line. Royals management continues to say that Moustakas will not be demote, but that's just lip service, so keep an eye on Tejada to see if he stays warm because that might be enough for them to pull the trigger on Moustakas. If you're speculating on who else could replace Moustakas, consider Johnny Giavotella, who has been playing third base at Triple-A Omaha. Mixed: $3; AL: $11.
Kevin Youkilis, Yankees – The "Greek God of Walks" is set to rejoin the Yankees late this coming week, after spending time on the DL to deal with a sprained back. Before he got hurt, he hit .266/.347/.422 with two homers over 72 PA. It'll be over a month since he was last on the field, so he's likely unowned in a fair amount of mixed leagues. If that's the case in your mixed league, consider rostering him now, as he should be someone worth owning as a corner-bat. Last season he bottomed out with a .235/.336/.409 batting line with 19 homers over 509 PA between the Red Sox and Yankees. Mixed & AL: Owned
Gordon Beckham, White Sox – Beckham suffered a setback in his rehab, so he won't be playing until Wednesday this week and that means he won't be joining the White Sox until probably this coming weekend, at the earliest. He's trying to come back from a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. These type of injuries can sap a player's ability to hit for power, so keep this in mind if you'll be bidding on him. Beckham is coming off of three disappointing seasons in a row, so it's understandable if owners are less than enthusiastic about his return. Still, he's 26 years old and in what should be his prime years offensively, so some hope remains. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Jose Iglesias, Red Sox – Iglesias was recalled on Friday from Triple-A Pawtucket to take the roster spot of Will Middlebrooks (back spasms), who landed on the DL. Iglesias is expected to share Middlebrooks' third base duties with Pedro Ciriaco, but should remain on the roster as a utility infielder, once Middlebrooks returns. Offensively Iglesias isn't much to write about, as he hit .202/.262/.319 with four homers and five stolen bases at Pawtucket this season over 133 PA. He's only 23 years old but has never hit for much if any power (physically he's a wiry build), but he does offer a bit of speed, if he can figure out a way to get on base. He's gotten off to a good start with four hits in his first two games, so give him a look in AL only leagues, until Middlebrooks returns. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Eduardo Nunez, Yankees – Nunez took batting practice Wednesday this week, as he makes his way back from a rib injury that has been ailing him for most of this month. If he doesn't suffer a setback he shouldn't be too far removed from rejoining the team this week or the next. Before he left, he hit .200/.290/.275 with two stolen bases. When healthy he can be a real asset in the stolen bases department, as he was in 2011, when he stole 22 bases over 338 PA with the Yankees. Keep an eye on his rehab this week, if you're in an AL only league and in need of speed. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Jurickson Profar, Rangers – Profar is undoubtedly long gone in most leagues, but I just wanted to give him a little bit of love here anyway. Initially it was said that he would be splitting time at second base with Leury Garcia, while Ian Kinsler is out with a rib injury, but he has started five of the team's last six games and Garcia has been on the bench. On Sunday he hit leadoff with Elvis Andrus getting the day off, which shows the team has confidence in his ability to get on base. He's gotten a hit in three consecutive games and looks like he belongs, but there hasn't been any chatter to suggest he's going to stay with the team when Kinsler comes back. Temper your excitement if you haven't bid on him yet. Mixed: $10; AL: $27.
Carlos Triunfel, Mariners – Robert Andino was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Friday as they recalled Triunfel from Triple-A Tacoma to take his roster spot, play some shortstop, and serve as a utility infielder. Both Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley continue to struggle, which could lead to some opportunities for Triunfel in the short-term or at least until the team feels prospect Nick Franklin is ready to be promoted. Triunfel doesn't hit for much power and struggles to get on base, so what speed he does have may be muted. At Tacoma he hit .300/.351/.476 with 14 doubles, four homers, and four stolen bases over 186 PA. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Jemile Weeks, A's – Weeks has been playing shortstop at Triple-A Sacramento, in hopes of getting a promotion to the majors. The A's have been getting mediocre performances from Adam Rosales and Jed Lowrie there, but either could switch to second base and relieve Eric Sogard of his duties, should Weeks come up. On the season Weeks is hitting .275/.403/.374 with two homers and nine stolen bases over 222 PA at Sacramento. Weeks, like his brother Rickie, has speed, so consider stashing him if you're searching for stolen bases in a deeper mixed league or AL only league. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Chris Colabello, Twins – Colabello was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday to take the roster spot of Trevor Plouffe, who hit the DL with a concussion. So far he has started in the outfield and at DH, but should also qualify at first base in most leagues. He spent seven seasons in the Independent League, before getting a chance with the Twins at Double-A New Britain last season, so at 29 years-old, he's old to be a rookie. This season at Rochester he was hitting .358/.417/.659 with 12 homers over 199 PA. It's tough to see where he fits into the Twins plans and he might be sent back down once Plouffe is off the 7-day DL, so don't get too excited about his opportunities. Moreover, if the team really needed an everyday outfielder, they'd be better off bringing up Oswaldo Arcia, who shouldn't have been sent down in the first place. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Chris Dickerson, Orioles – With Adam Jones dealing with a sore groin this week, Dickerson got to start a few games in centerfield and hit two homers in one of those games. Jones is fine now, so Dickerson will have to find playing time at DH with Danny Valencia for the time being or at least until Nolan Reimold returns, which should be in the next week or so. As such, Dickerson's value is limited. In the time he has played this season, he's shown good power with some speed and is hitting .326/.341/.581 on the season. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Anthony Gose, Blue Jays – Gose was recalled on Monday from Triple-A Buffalo, to help give the Blue Jays some depth in their outfield, as normal backup Emilio Bonifacio is playing more second base these days. Defensively Gose is fantastic, but offensively he struggles to make contact. At Buffalo this year he hit .227/.343/.325 with two homers and five stolen bases over 183 PA. He has excellent speed and stole 69 bases in 2011 at Double-A New Hampshire, but it's tough to see that being of real value to owners as hasn't been getting steady playing time since coming up. Take a flyer on him if you're desperate for speed. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
David Murphy, Rangers – Murphy started the month hitting .176/.227/.297 and is now up to .229/.279/.405 as he's slowly started to round back into form. Over the last week he hit a double and two homers as he's hitting second in the lineup with Ian Kinsler on the DL. Murphy is a career .282/.343/.450 hitter who is being affected by a .234 BABIP right now, so expect his numbers to continue to climb. If he's still unowned in your mixed league, he's worth a look as he's much better than his numbers would suggest. Mixed: $7; AL: Owned.
Wil Myers, Rays – Yet another post on Myers, but this one is with much less enthusiasm, as it appears he is struggling at Triple-A Durham. He is hitting .247/.335/.412 there with six homers and three steals over 200 PA. He's hit two doubles and two homers over his last three games, so he's starting to warm back up, but overall his numbers are disappointing. Moreover, the Rays outfield has really picked it up this month, so it's hard to see where he would slot in, if he was called up. He's still a top prospect worth stashing in deep mixed leagues and AL only leagues for sure, but this may be the low point for him this season as he's hitting just .200/.280/.363 this month. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.