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.

We've incorporated 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 talent on an A-E scale. Luis Robert would have been an "A" grade player last year – that mark will be reserved for similarly high-impact prospects that could thrive in 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.

AL FAAB | NL FAAB

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Sam HentgesCLESPCNoNo2
Tom EshelmanBALSPD111
Mike FoltynewiczTEXSPC111
Brad KellerKCSPC111
Michael KingNYSPD111
J.C. MejiaCLESPC111
Eli MorganCLESPD111
Tyler ChatwoodTORRPENoNo1
Adam

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.

We've incorporated 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 talent on an A-E scale. Luis Robert would have been an "A" grade player last year – that mark will be reserved for similarly high-impact prospects that could thrive in 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.

AL FAAB | NL FAAB

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Sam HentgesCLESPCNoNo2
Tom EshelmanBALSPD111
Mike FoltynewiczTEXSPC111
Brad KellerKCSPC111
Michael KingNYSPD111
J.C. MejiaCLESPC111
Eli MorganCLESPD111
Tyler ChatwoodTORRPENoNo1
Adam OttavinoBOSRPDNo14
Joely RodriguezTEXRPENoNo1
Austin HedgesCLECDNoNo1
Luis TorrensSEACC137
Ryan O'HearnKC1BCNoNo2
Michael ChavisBOS2BCNoNo2
Andy IbanezTEX2BCNo25
Shed LongSEA2BCNo14
Nicky LopezKC2BDNoNo3
Kean WongLA2BENoNo1
Vimael MachinOAK3BENoNo1
Wander FrancoTBSSA355575
Zack ShortDETSSDNoNo1
Skye BoltOAKOFCNoNo1
Daz CameronDETOFBNo25
Gilberto CelestinoMINOFDNoNo1
Luis GonzalezCHIOFENoNo1
Chas McCormickHOUOFCNoNo3
Eli WhiteTEXOFCNo14

Starting Pitcher

Sam Hentges, Cleveland: This is a bad week in the AL if you need pitching reinforcements – maybe the worst since I started doing this column, in fact. There are a few teams that seem likely to need to plug a rotation hole, but none of them have good or obvious options to turn to for spot spots even if they do decide to use one over a bullpen day. (Frankly, a league could lump Tyler Alexander and Alexander Wells together into one player, Tyler Alexander Wells, and I still wouldn't want him on my roster this week.) Where there are some glimmers of value is in Cleveland, though. Hentges has mostly had a tough time in the majors since being pressed into duty in late April, but he's tossed eight scoreless innings over his last three appearances with a 10:1 K:BB. Granted, five of those innings came against Pittsburgh, and he lines up to face Houston this week, so the lefty is really just a 'break glass in case of emergency' sort of play. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Other two-start options, Mon-Sun (12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $1)

Tom Eshelman, Orioles (at HOU, at LAA)

Mike Foltynewicz, Rangers (at OAK, at SEA)

Brad Keller, Royals (at BOS, vs. MIN)

Michael King, Yankees (vs. LAA, vs. NYM)

J.C. Mejia, Cleveland (vs. DET, vs. HOU)

Eli Morgan, Cleveland (vs. DET, vs. HOU)

Relief Pitcher

Tyler Chatwood, Blue Jays: Chatwood was having a good week until Friday, picking up a save and a hold in three appearances before getting tagged for three runs in a third of an inning by the O's. The Jays need someone to step up and be a reliable late-inning option for manager Charlie Montoyo aside from Jordan Romano, but Chatwood probably isn't that guy given his 15.1 percent walk rate on the year. Until someone else does step up though – or the front office makes a trade for bullpen help – the former Cub and Rockie could keep getting used in high-leverage situations. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Adam Ottavino, Red Sox: Matt Barnes remains the closer in Boston, but since mid-May he's looked more like 2019-20 version of Barnes than the guy who dominated in April, posting a 4.15 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over his last 13 innings while blowing three of 10 save chances. Over that same stretch from May 16 on, Ottavino has a 1.65 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while converting all four of his chances and adding six holds. I'm not saying a switch is imminent, but I don't think it's off the table, and Ottavino is providing value even beyond his saves. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Joely Rodriguez, Rangers: When Ian Kennedy was feeling under the weather Wednesday, it was Rodriguez who got the call in the ninth and converted a save. Kennedy could end up being one of the top relievers moved by the trade deadline, so any glimpse into how manager Chris Woodward might line up his bullpen afterward is noteworthy. The southpaw's numbers on the year aren't great, but guys like Josh Sborz and Brett Martin haven't been any better, and Rodriguez does have a solid 39:10 K:BB through 34 innings since joining Texas last year. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Catcher

Austin Hedges, Cleveland: Hedges came off the IL on Thursday and immediately stepped into the starting role over Rene Rivera. The 28-year-old hasn't posted a batting average over .200 since 2018 and has a career .600 OPS, but he'll get at-bats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Luis Torrens, Mariners: The 25-year-old has seized the No. 1 job in Seattle over Tom Murphy with a power surge that has seen Torrens go yard five times in seven games while batting .375 (9-for-24) since being called back up June 14. He's shown upside in the minors, with a .300/.373/.500 line through 97 games at Double-A in 2019 being his calling card, so while he won't keep up his current pace he could have plenty of mixed-league value in the second half. If Torrens slumps again though, it could be Cal Raleigh time for the M's. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

First Base

Ryan O'Hearn, Royals: O'Hearn hit the ground running after his latest promotion, going 4-for-9 with two homers in two games, but the 27-year-old has gone 1-for-12 since with five strikeouts. On paper he's a Three True Outcomes guy for the Royals' 1B/DH mix, but his career .211/.297/.414 slash line through 750 career PAs in the majors isn't particularly enticing. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Second Base

Michael Chavis, Red Sox: Chavis is back with Boston after spending a month at Triple-A, but the 25-year-old didn't set the world on fire at Worcester and his role on the big-league roster remains fuzzy. His playing time depends on other people struggling, and while that's not out of the question when the competition includes the likes of Bobby Dalbec and Marwin Gonzalez, it doesn't give his fantasy value much of a floor either. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Andy Ibanez, Rangers: The 28-year-old seems to have nothing left to prove in the minors after slashing .352/.410/.648 through 27 games for Triple-A Round Rock, so the rebuilding Rangers called Ibanez up Monday and he's started five of the last six games, going 6-for-19 with a homer. Willie Calhoun's injury opens up more playing time, so as long as Ibanez is hitting he should remain in the starting nine whether it's at third base, second base or DH. Josh Jung has been raking at Double-A since getting healthy and may not be far behind him, which would close off the hot corner, but Ibanez has just enough plausible upside to carve out a regular role in Texas' ideal second-half lineup. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Shed Long, Mariners: Long started nine straight games before getting a breather Friday, so last week's suggested No/No/$1 bids may have undersold him a bit. He's been putting a charge in the ball too, with five of his nine hits during that stretch going for extra bases (two doubles, a triple and two homers) leading to 11 RBI. He's never really shown anything more than modest power/speed potential before, but the 25-year-old may be growing into some extra pop in spite of his 5-8 frame. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Nicky Lopez, Royals: Shocking absolutely no one who has shares in him this year (grumble), Adalberto Mondesi is hurt again, which means Lopez is starting again. The 26-year-old is having a career season at the plate, but that means only a .668 OPS. His seven steals in seven attempts over 68 games are a nice little secondary contribution, but he doesn't offer much of anything else. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Kean Wong, Angels: Wong continues to ride the Salt Lake/Anaheim shuttle, but unless further injuries open up a regular spot in the Angels' lineup for him, his fantasy upside is minimal. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Third Base

Vimael Machin, Athletics: Machin takes Mark Canha's spot on the 26-man roster and gives the A's a versatile option off the bench, but he likely won't see enough playing time to show whether the decent hit took he flashed in the minors will play at the highest level. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Shortstop

Wander Franco, Rays: Franco is mainly listed here as a courtesy, as the only leagues where he's likely to be available are those in which prospects don't enter the player pool until they've made their big-league debuts. Since homering in his first game for Tampa, the 20-year-old has gone 0-for-15, but his 3:5 BB:K during that stretch suggests he hasn't been overmatched. Franco's massive upside would move the needle in even the shallowest formats should he reach it quickly, and that alone makes him worth blowing out your budget for, but it also seems unlikely the Rays will jerk him back and forth between Triple-A and the majors now that he's been called up. 12-team Mixed: $35; 15-team Mixed: $55; 12-team AL: $75

Zack Short, Tigers: The aptly named 26-year-old is back with the big club and could find himself in a starting role while Niko Goodrum is on the shelf. Short doesn't have much offensive upside – he's teased some power and some speed in the minors, but rarely at the same time and without much of a hit tool – but his defense could help out the pitching staff, and it's not like any of the Tigers' other options for the six are going to remind fans of Alan Trammell. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Outfield

Skye Bolt, Athletics: Canha's injury has opened the door for Bolt to get a longer look, but despite his name he hasn't hit like a superhero, going 3-for-18 while starting four of the last five games. The playing time has some deep-league value, and he's looked like a potential 20-20 guy in the minors, but as yet that hasn't translated to the majors. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Daz Cameron, Tigers: Cameron remains on the cusp of mixed-league value. He's pushed his way out of a platoon role with a .346/.393/.654 slash line over his last eight games with two homers and two steals, highlighting his upside, but he isn't quite playing every day yet. The Tigers really have nothing to lose by letting the 24-year-old sink or swim though, especially when his competition includes the likes of Nomar Mazara. Cameron might not be truly unleashed until after the trade deadline though, if the front office decides to clear the decks of useful veterans like Robbie Grossman. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Gilberto Celestino, Twins: Shocking absolutely no one who has shares in him this year, Byron Buxton is hurt again, which means Celestino is back in the majors. The 22-year-old probably won't see much playing time behind the usual starting outfield of Max Kepler, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff, especially with Nick Gordon also getting looks in center field, but Celestino could see occasional platoon at-bats against lefties. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Luis Gonzalez, White Sox: Gonzalez got called back up Tuesday to provide some depth for the beleaguered ChiSox outfield, but he's started only one of three games since as Jake Lamb continues to hit just well enough to make his defense in left field tolerable. Gonzalez hasn't posted big offensive numbers since 2018 at High-A anyway, so Tony La Russa is probably making the right call there. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Chas McCormick, Astros: McCormick has, somewhat quietly, been a fixture in the Astros' lineup over the last couple weeks and has earned his keep with a .295/.304/.591 slash line, four homers, eight RBI and nine runs over his last 13 games. Some of that playing time came while Kyle Tucker was sidelined, but McCormick has played well enough to put pressure on Myles Straw's starting spot, although Straw is slashing .341/.412/.500 over that same stretch. Whether Houston has been doing, it's been working, so while McCormick's spot as the fourth OF gives him a shaky floor while everyone is healthy, there's no reason to think his ABs will completely evaporate overnight. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Eli White, Rangers: The 27-year-old has been making the most of his latest shot at the majors. Since being called back up June 8, White has locked down a starting spot with a .278/.350/.500 slash line over his last 15 games with three homers, four RBI and 10 runs. David Dahl is close to a return to action, but with Calhoun now out, White's playing time seems secure as long as he keeps producing. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

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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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