AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.

This is our weekly look at American League free agents. We have two goals for this article:

1. Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Estimate how much of your $100 starting free-agent budget you should bid on them.

This year, we're incorporating grids into the FAAB articles, so users can easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The grids, which are sortable by column (click on the header), include a very basic "player grade" column. This serves as a reflection of a player's skills and role on an A-E scale. Andrew Benintendi would have been an "A" grade player last year -- that mark will be reserved for similar high-impact prospects stepping into an everyday role.

As always, if there is a player that was not discussed in the article that you would like to know about, feel free to ask about the player in the comments.

PLAYER TEAM POS GRADE $ (12-Team Mixed) $ (15-Team Mixed) $ (AL-Only)
Joe Biagini TOR SP D No No 3
Alex Cobb TB SP C 2 5 Owned
Buck Farmer DET SP D No No 1
Dillon Gee MIN SP E No No 1
Miguel Gonzalez CHI SP D 1 4 Owned
Daniel Gossett OAK SP D No No 2
Kendall Graveman OAK SP C 2 5 Owned
Tom Koehler TOR SP E No No 2
Daniel Norris DET SP B No
This is our weekly look at American League free agents. We have two goals for this article:

1. Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Estimate how much of your $100 starting free-agent budget you should bid on them.

This year, we're incorporating grids into the FAAB articles, so users can easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The grids, which are sortable by column (click on the header), include a very basic "player grade" column. This serves as a reflection of a player's skills and role on an A-E scale. Andrew Benintendi would have been an "A" grade player last year -- that mark will be reserved for similar high-impact prospects stepping into an everyday role.

As always, if there is a player that was not discussed in the article that you would like to know about, feel free to ask about the player in the comments.

PLAYER TEAM POS GRADE $ (12-Team Mixed) $ (15-Team Mixed) $ (AL-Only)
Joe Biagini TOR SP D No No 3
Alex Cobb TB SP C 2 5 Owned
Buck Farmer DET SP D No No 1
Dillon Gee MIN SP E No No 1
Miguel Gonzalez CHI SP D 1 4 Owned
Daniel Gossett OAK SP D No No 2
Kendall Graveman OAK SP C 2 5 Owned
Tom Koehler TOR SP E No No 2
Daniel Norris DET SP B No No 3
Nick Martinez TEX SP E No No 2
Troy Scribner LA SP D No No 1
Eric Skoglund KC SP C No No 2
Chris Smith OAK SP E No No 1
Josh Tomlin CLE SP C No 3 7
Jesse Chavez LA RP D No 1 4
Cam Bedrosian LA RP E No No 3
Keynan Middleton LA RP E No No 3
Bud Norris LA RP E No No 3
Blake Parker LA RP E No No 3
Rob Brantly CHI C E No No 1
Chris Gimenez MIN C E No No 2
Greg Bird NY 1B B 5 13 29
Mark Canha OAK 1B E No No 1
Joe Mauer MIN 1B C 2 5 Owned
Kennys Vargas MIN 1B D No 1 4
Starlin Castro NY 2B B 11 25 Owned
Danny Espinosa TB 2B E No No 1
Alen Hanson CHI 2B E No No 1
Yolmer Sanchez CHI 2B E No No 3
Yandy Diaz CLE 3B D No No 2
Luis Valbuena LA 3B C 2 5 Owned
Erik Gonzalez CLE SS E No No 1
Jorge Polanco MIN SS C 1 4 Owned
Tyler Saladino CHI SS E No No 1
Lonnie Chisenhall CLE OF C 3 7 Owned
Rajai Davis BOS OF D No 2 5
Delino DeShields Jr. TEX OF C 3 7 Owned
Zack Granite MIN OF C No No 1
Ryan Rua TEX OF E No No 1
Matt Davidson CHI DH C No 3 7

Starting Pitcher

Joe Biagini, Blue Jays: Following a solid seven-inning performance for Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday, Biagini will rejoin the Jays rotation and likely remain there for the rest of the season. His numbers with Buffalo were merely good (3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 14:6 K:BB in 17.1 innings) and it's still hard to say how much upside the 27-year-old righty actually has, but he could be a solid arm for the fantasy stretch run. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Alex Cobb, Rays: Cobb came off the DL on Thursday after a nearly three-week absence and shut out the Jays for 4.1 innings, although he needed 94 pitches to do it. He had four quality starts in five outings after the All-Star break before getting hurt, although the fifth was a three-inning, eight-run clunker, and with the Rays hanging around the fringes of the AL playoff race (only three games back, but with five teams between them and the Twins in the second wild-card spot), the righty should get every opportunity to set new career highs in wins and innings while trying to maintain or improve on his 3.50 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in the second half. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Buck Farmer, Tigers: Called up for a spot start Friday, Farmer came one out short of a quality start against the White Sox to pick up the win. While his big-league numbers are poor overall this season, he's had three good starts (3-0, 1.45 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) and two awful ones (0-1, 25.05 ERA, 3.21 WHIP), and fantasy GMs desperate for pitching help may well consider those good odds. With Daniel Norris close to coming off the DL, though, Farmer may be bumped back to the bullpen in September. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Dillon Gee, Twins: Gee has spent most of his time with the Twins this season being the bridesmaid and not the bride whenever they had an opening in the rotation, but he finally got another start Monday and provided them with six strong innings against, hmm, the White Sox. (I'm beginning to sense a pattern). His second start Saturday wasn't as successful, but he'll likely get one more turn next weekend against the Royals before the likes of Adalberto Mejia or Hector Santiago get healthy and bump him back to the bullpen. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Miguel Gonzalez, White Sox: Chicago's rotation has been a fantasy value wasteland for the most part this season, aside from the brief glimmers of the future Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito have provided for dynasty and keeper-league GMs. Gonzalez is doing his best to change that down the stretch, reeling off four straight quality starts and seven in his last eight outings. A 2.94 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in the second half will attract some attention, but his 35:19 K:BB in 49 innings over that stretch indicates how much of that success is smoke and mirrors. Imagine how good his numbers might be over that hot streak if he got to face the White Sox offense once in a while! 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Owned

Daniel Gossett, Athletics: Called up Wednesday to rejoin the rotation, Gossett was no better this time around than he'd been in his previous major-league stint, allowing five runs in five innings against the Orioles. The righty still has some prospect pedigree based on his status as a second-round pick in 2014 and his big Double-A performance last year, but his stuff suggests he's destined to be an SP4 or SP5 in the big leagues rather than someone who can anchor a staff. The A's will likely keep him in the rotation for the rest of the season to sink or swim. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Kendall Graveman, Athletics: After a couple of rough outings to start the month following his lengthy DL stint, Graveman seems to be finding his early-season form again, delivering three straight quality starts with a 2.25 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 17:4 K:BB in 20 innings. The 26-year-old has never been a big strikeout guy, but during his good stretches this season he's added enough punchouts to make his usual pitch-to-contact approach viable, which puts him into consideration in shallower formats where pure K/9 isn't a priority for you. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Tom Koehler, Blue Jays: You know you're hurting for rotation depth when you have to trade for the Marlins' castoffs, but that's the situation the Jays find themselves in to close out the season. To his credit, Koehler didn't suck in his return to the majors, striking out seven and giving up one run in five innings Thursday, but his track record suggests neither Toronto nor fantasy GMs should bank on a repeat. Still, with Aaron Sanchez likely ticketed for the bullpen in September, Koehler seems likely to stick around if you are worried more about bulk innings and Ks than your ratios. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Daniel Norris, Tigers: The lefty was expected to come off the DL in time to start one game of the Tigers' doubleheader on Sept. 1, but after walking eight batters in six innings over his last two rehab starts for Triple-A Toledo, the team may have to rethink that plan. The song remains the same with Norris, as he has the stuff to keep batters dazed and confused but not always a good idea where that stuff is going. If his command ever sharpens it would be a celebration day in Detroit as he could be the next James Paxton, but experienced fantasy GMs know that waiting on a talented but erratic southpaw to put things together can be like hunting Moby Dick. (Why yes, I've been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin lately, why do you ask?) He's better as a cheap pickup in keeper formats than an add for teams expecting short-term pitching help. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Nick Martinez, Rangers: I stand by my comments about Martinez from two weeks ago. Oh, wait, that was about Nick Tepesch. My bad. Martinez did give the Rangers a quality start Friday after his latest promotion and has great numbers at Triple-A in 2017, but it's still hard to imagine him being anything more than a sixth starter or swing man on a decent big-league staff. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Troy Scribner, Angels: JC Ramirez's forearm injury opened the door for Scribner to rejoin the Angels rotation, but he'll eventually be ceding it to Garrett Richards. The 26-year-old will be on my radar next year based on my "guys who survive pitching in the PCL make good sleepers" theory, and his 103:38 K:BB in 103.1 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2017 is definitely intriguing, but his short-term value remains minimal. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Eric Skoglund, Royals: Skoglund will get another crack at the big-league rotation with Danny Duffy nursing a sore elbow, but a 5.59 ERA in his prior three-start audition doesn't inspire confidence. The 24-year-old southpaw is a nice prospect to stash in deeper dynasty formats, but don't expect much from him down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Chris Smith, Athletics: Pretty much everything I said about Tepesch... err, Martinez... whatever, also applies to Smith. He's a perfectly cromulent spot starter and long reliever, and he'll take the mound Tuesday against the Angels and their .312 wOBA against RHP (23rd in the league) if you need a streaming option. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Josh Tomlin, Cleveland: Tomlin was doing a fine job turning his season around before he got hurt, winning three straight starts and then firing four no-hit innings July 30 against, wait for it, the White Sox before tweaking his hamstring. Danny Salazar's own elbow issue creates an opening in the Cleveland rotation that Tomlin is set to fill Wednesday, but a date with Yankee Stadium's right-field short porch isn't the ideal way to come off the DL. His form prior to his injury makes him worth considering even in shallower formats, but keep in mind someone may have to go to the bullpen once Salazar returns, and Tomlin's the most likely candidate. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Relief Pitcher

Jesse Chavez, Angels: While he's lost his rotation spot, Chavez has looked rejuvenated in long relief, posting a 0.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 15:0 K:BB in 11 innings over six appearances in August. Those are first half Chris Devenski numbers, and given all the starters the Angels have who are coming back from serious injuries and aren't yet ready to go deep into games, the veteran righty should see plenty of action in that role straight through the end of the season, making him a worthwhile add if you're trying to inch up the standings in the ratio categories. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Cam Bedrosian / Keynan Middleton / Bud Norris / Blake Parker, Angels: After Norris' save last Sunday and Parker's save Saturday, all bets are off in the Angels' closer race. Any of these guys, and maybe a couple more besides, could see ninth-inning duty over the final weeks of the season, so while you can't ignore them if you're scrounging for every possible save, at this point none of them can be considered reliable contributors. This is a full-blown committee, which is bad news for anyone who needs fantasy value from the Angels bullpen. All – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Catcher

Rob Brantly, White Sox: Called up when Nicky Delmonico hit the DL, Brantly will serve as the third catcher for the White Sox. He's had an OK year at Triple-A, but he's 28 and won't see enough at-bats to demonstrate whether he can repeat the performance in the majors. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Chris Gimenez, Twins: Jason Castro's injury opens the door for Gimenez to take on the starting job temporarily, although Mitch Garver could also see more work behind the plate. Gimenez is 6-for-15 with a homer in his last six games, so there may be a modicum of short-term value here if you need a plug-in catcher. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

First Base

Greg Bird, Yankees: Out since May 1, Bird finally made his return to the Yankees lineup Saturday and reached base three times, so it seems like his ankle is finally OK. The 24-year-old should see a majority of the action at first base down the stretch, although a deep, veteran roster could put him on the bench a couple of times a week, limiting him value in shallow formats where full-time at-bats are paramount. Don't discount the possibility of a power surge akin to his 2015 debut, though, as he'll still have that short porch at Yankee Stadium to aim for. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $13; 12-team AL: $29

Mark Canha, Athletics: Canha keeps yo-yoing between Oakland and Triple-A Nashville, but this should be his last promotion of the year with September roster expansion around the corner. He's got few paths to at-bats as it is, but a couple of those paths will be cut off when Jake Smolinski comes off the DL, so don't expect Canha to be anything more than a bench bat down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Joe Mauer, Twins: Mauer's put together another hot streak, hitting safely in 10 of his last 11 games with a .444/.468/.533 slash line. He won't give you much power – in fact, he has zero homers and only one RBI over that stretch – but if you're specifically looking to gain in batting average, he could win you some precious standings points if he keeps this up for another week or two. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Kennys Vargas, Twins: The unofficial permanent 26th man on the Twins' roster, Vargas rejoined the big-league lineup ahead of September roster expansion thanks to Miguel Sano's shin issue. The 27-year-old homered in his second game back this week but is just 3-for-14 through four starts and six games, which is about right given his past performances. He could provide a power boost over the final weeks, but don't expect too much overall production. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Second Base

Starlin Castro, Yankees: Effectively out of action since late June, Castro may have been gone long enough for shallow league GMs to forget how great he was in the first half. He's got a .306/.344/.469 slash line with 12 homers in half a season, and while his .348 BABIP may not hold up down the stretch there's no reason to think he can't keep up that power pace over the final weeks. If Castro got dropped and you need middle infield help, he's worth blowing out your remaining FAAB budget. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $25; 12-team AL: Owned

Danny Espinosa, Rays: Now on his third big-league team of the year, Espinosa still has a good glove up the middle, but his .518 OPS is no small sample fluke given his career-high 36.2 percent whiff rate in 2017. He's now 30 years old, and there's no real hope left that he'll ever turn his athleticism into fantasy production. He is what he is. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Alen Hanson, White Sox: Injuries in the White Sox outfield have again left Hanson as the top backup at all three spots, but the extra playing time has only led him to a 3-for-16 mini-slump over the last week. The 24-year-old might steal the occasional base, though, which makes him a deep-league option if you're trying to make up ground in that category. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox: Thanks in large part to Yoan Moncada being banged up, Sanchez has made 12 straight starts and hit a solid .273/.340/.477 with three homers and 10 RBI over that stretch. He's shown a little power and speed in the minors, so the 25-year-old could provide some short-term value if you need help up the middle. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Third Base

Yandy Diaz, Cleveland: Called up Tuesday, Diaz has seen semi-regular at-bats as Carlos Santana deals with back spasms, going 4-for-4 on Thursday but 0-for-8 in his other three games. The 26-year-old's .350 batting average for Triple-A Columbus, on the heels of last year's .325, highlight his hit tool, but once Cleveland's roster gets healthier there likely won't be much playing time available for him. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Luis Valbuena, Angels: Valbuena's been on a tear the last two weeks, slashing .367/.486/.900 in his last 10 games with five homers and 12 RBI. The veteran's still stuck in a platoon at first base, but when you're putting up those kinds of numbers you don't need to be on the lineup card every day to have value. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Shortstop

Erik Gonzalez, Cleveland: Gonzalez returned to Cleveland on Wednesday, but there's no real route to steady at-bats or fantasy value for the 25-year-old. He's up purely to provide infield depth for a team aiming for another payoff run. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Jorge Polanco, Twins: Polanco's four-game homer streak last week came out of nowhere, and while you may have already missed your chance to cash in on his power surge, he's been hotter for longer than just those four games, slashing .349/.391/.744 over his last 11 contests. The 24-year-old still has room to grow and develop, and like many athletic middle shortstops before him, those long balls may just be a tease for more power to come as he hits his mid-20s. If you need some middle infield depth, he's worth a speculative add. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Owned

Tyler Saladino, White Sox: Moncada's injury has opened up some at-bats for the 28-year-old, but he's gone just 2-for-20 over five starts in the last nine days and there's little reason to expect anything more, especially with Sanchez available as the more productive alternative at second base. After all, everyone knows you don't win leagues with Salad(ino). 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Outfield

Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland: Cleveland's been dragging their feet in activating Chisenhall, and it now looks like they'll just wait for Sept. 1 to add him back to the big-league roster. Jay Bruce's impressive .311/.391/.590 line since coming over from the Mets likely shuts the door on the 28-year-old regaining the starting job in right field, but he could still see regular work in left with Michael Brantley on the shelf, as Chisenhall's own .305/.376/.578 line in 64 games can't be ignored. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Rajai Davis, Red Sox: Davis comes over from Oakland to provide the BoSox with some outfield depth while Jackie Bradley nurses a thumb injury. The veteran speedster has seen his batting average decline for four straight seasons but he still has 26 steals in 32 attempts this year, and his production could see a boost in the short term with a better lineup around him, making him worth a look if you need help in SBs. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Delino DeShields Jr., Rangers: If you're looking for stolen bases, though, DeShields needs to be your top target. He's been in and out of the starting lineup all year but right now he's in, starting 14 straight games and hitting .298 with six steals and 10 runs. He could head back to the bench in September with Carlos Gomez healthy and Joey Gallo soon to come off the DL as well, and it's hard to imagine a team looking to the future giving regular playing time to the 31-year-old Gomez, or the 35-year-old Shin-Soo Choo. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Zack Granite, Twins: Called back up for his second stint in the majors, Granite's job prospects are decidedly dimmer than they were last time with Byron Buxton tearing the cover off the ball. Expect the 24-year-old to serve as a bench outfielder and pinch runner down the stretch, but he does have some appeal as a dynasty stash. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Ryan Rua, Rangers: The 27-year-old platoon option was called back up Monday, but has gone just 2-for-7 since and doesn't figure to see much playing time on a Rangers roster that has better options for at-bats in the outfield and a right-hand hitting starting first baseman. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Designated Hitter

Matt Davidson, White Sox: Davidson saw his first major-league game action in nearly a month Saturday, collecting two hits and only striking out once, which was a nice change. His batting average was in the midst of its inevitable collapse after the All-Star break, as he was hitting only .213 (13-for-61) in 17 games after the All-Star break before injuring his wrist, and it's hard to imagine him turning that around given the empty air in his swing, but the White Sox don't have any better options at third base at the moment so he'll get plenty of chances to add to his 22 homers in 89 games on the year. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Siegrist
Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.
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