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. Wander Franco 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.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Kyle BradishBALSPC3713
Johnny CuetoCHISPCNo14
Alex FaedoDETSPCNo25
Rich HillBOSSPCNo1Rostered
Zach LogueOAKSPCNo14
Martin PerezTEXSPC137
Chase SilsethLASPB2511
Beau BrieskeDETSPC111
Taylor HearnTEXSPC1

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. Wander Franco 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.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Kyle BradishBALSPC3713
Johnny CuetoCHISPCNo14
Alex FaedoDETSPCNo25
Rich HillBOSSPCNo1Rostered
Zach LogueOAKSPCNo14
Martin PerezTEXSPC137
Chase SilsethLASPB2511
Beau BrieskeDETSPC111
Taylor HearnTEXSPC111
Jon HeasleyKCSPD111
Spenser WatkinsBALSPD111
Brooks RaleyTBRPD14Rostered
Will VestDETRPDNoNo3
Christian BethancourtOAKCC137
Sam HuffTEXCCNoNo2
Danny JansenTORCC51116
Mike FordSEA1BDNoNo1
Brad MillerTEX1BC25Rostered
Vidal BrujanTB2BBNo25
Willi CastroDET2BCNo14
Mauricio DubonHOU2BDNoNo1
Leury GarciaCHI2BC12Rostered
Dylan MooreSEA2BDNo1Rostered
Matt DuffyLA3BDNoNo2
Luis RengifoLASSCNo25
Andrew VelazquezLASSD13Rostered
Luis BarreraOAKOFCNoNo2
Nick GordonMINOFCNoNo1
Kyle LewisSEAOFB112135
Steven SouzaSEAOFDNoNo1
Eli WhiteTEXOFDNo25

Starting Pitcher

Kyle Bradish, Orioles: I gave a relatively aggressive recommendation on Bradish a couple weeks ago given his lack of buzz or prospect pedigree, but after he fanned 11 Cardinals in his last start Tuesday, maybe I wasn't aggressive enough. The 25-year-old right-hander was a fourth-round pick in 2018 by the Angels who got flipped the following year for Dylan Bundy, and since then he's improved his velocity and control enough to become a pitcher with some promise. Bradish now sits mid-90s with his fastball, mixing in a sharp slider and decent curve, and through his first three turns in a big-league rotation, he sports a 4.24 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 25.0 percent strikeout rate and 4.7 percent walk rate. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $13

Johnny Cueto, White Sox: The 36-year-old righty didn't sign with the White Sox until early April, and Chicago decided to give him a full ramp-up period in the minors to make up for him missing spring training rather than rushing him to the majors. With the Pale Hose facing a doubleheader Tuesday and not getting a day off until May 23, it seems like it'll finally be time to give Cueto a whirl. He worked his way up to 5.1 innings in his last start for Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday and has a 17:4 K:BB through 15.2 innings at the level, so he's probably ready to go. Cueto hasn't posted particularly useful fantasy numbers since about 2018, as his lack of strikeouts leaves him at the mercy of the BABIP gods, but he might be able to supply some useful innings, and it's not like Vince Velasquez has a lock on the fifth starter role. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Alex Faedo, Tigers: I wrote up the 26-year-old last week as he yo-yo'ed between Triple-A and the majors, but with Michael Pineda now the latest Detroit pitcher facing a possible extended absence, Faedo seems likely to stick in the rotation for a while this time. At one time considered part of Detroit's next wave of pitching along with Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning, Faedo didn't pitch at all in 2020 or 2021 due to Tommy John surgery and the pandemic, so the Tigers weren't too sure what they were going to get from him this year. He mostly sat in the low 90s with his fastball in his big-league debut, down from his pre-surgery heat, but it's worth noting his final pitch in that start was his fastest at 93.9 mph, and he combined it with a solid slider and changeup. There's some back-end rotation upside here and maybe more if his velocity comes all the way back. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Rich Hill, Red Sox: Hill began the year working in a tandem with Garrett Whitlock that limited the veteran southpaw to under five innings a start, and thus making him pretty tough to roster in most formats. Whitlock's got his own rotation spot now though, and Hill has tossed 11 innings over his last two outings including his first quality start, making him a little more appealing. His strikeout rate has sunk below 20 percent again (18.6 percent), so there isn't much upside left in the 42-year-old's arm, but if he supply the occasional win and keep his ratios tidy, he'll have some value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: Rostered

Zach Logue, Athletics: Another guy I may have low-balled in my initial writeup, Logue put himself on the mixed league radar with seven scoreless innings against Detroit his last time out Wednesday in only his second MLB start. The soft-tossing lefty may not have much of a ceiling, but the 26-year-old put together good numbers at Triple-A Buffalo last year, and Oakland doesn't really have any better rotation options right now. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Martin Perez, Rangers: Perez keeps winding up on my initial pull of players to write up, and for a couple weeks now he's been one of the last cuts as I keep thinking we've been down this road before with him, and he's going to burn whoever picks him up. While I've been dithering, the veteran southpaw has reeled off four straight quality starts with a 0.68 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 19:5 K:BB over 26.1 innings. Have you already missed the best part of his season? Probably. Are there fantasy teams out there in dire enough straits on their staffs to risk it? Absolutely. Just keep in mind he's been in the majors for a decade and has never had a WHIP below 1.34 in a season, and only once had an ERA under 4.38. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Chase Silseth, Angels: Congratulations if you took 'the field' on a bet for which 2021 draftee would be the first to make it to the majors. Silseth was an 11th-round pick last year, and while that does somewhat understate his prospect status as he got a healthy over-slot signing bonus of nearly half a million dollars, there's no way the Angels expected Silseth to blossom this quickly. The 21-year-old's fastball has made incredible gains since his college days at Arizona, and in his big-league debut Friday he comfortably sat in the mid-90s while topping out at 98.6 mph. Silseth mixed in a slider, splitter and occasional curve, and the result was six scoreless innings against the A's. The Angels have been looking for a consistent arm to round out their six-man, Ohtani-friendly rotation, and they may have just found their man. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

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

Beau Brieske, Tigers (at TB, at CLE)

Taylor Hearn, Rangers (vs. LAA, at HOU)

Jon Heasley, Royals (vs. CHW, vs. MIN)

Spenser Watkins, Orioles (vs. NYY, vs. TB)

Relief Pitcher

Brooks Raley, Rays: Tampa's bullpen will still produce the occasional save for some random guy you'd barely heard of before (hi, Jason Adam!) but for the most part it looks like Andrew Kittredge and Raley are the top ninth-inning arms for now. The southpaw had a streak of four straight appearances with a save, win or hold snapped Friday, and his ratios on the season are solid, with his career-best 4.9 percent walk rate being the thing that seems to have put him over the top as a high-leverage option for Rays manager Kevin Cash. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Rostered

Will Vest, Tigers: Gregory Soto has predictably been volatile as Detroit's closer, while Michael Fulmer suddenly can't find the plate, walking five batters over his last three appearances. The solution for manager A.J. Hinch, at least on Friday? Some guy who posted a 6.17 ERA for Seattle last season. To be fair, Vest barely looks like the same pitcher with a 1.17 ERA, 0.46 WHIP and 20:3 K:BB through 15.1 innings. His velocity has ticked up, while his slider has become lethal with a few extra inches of horizontal movement, generating a whiff rate of 45.7 percent so far in 2022. Soto got the save Saturday, so there's no changing of the guard here yet, but if the flame-throwing southpaw does eventually lose his grip on the ninth inning, Hinch might start channeling his inner Mr. Burns a little more often. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Catcher

Christian Bethancourt, Athletics: Maybe nothing has made me happier so far this year in writing this column than getting an excuse to talk about Bethancourt. Dude was a top-100 prospect a decade ago in the Atlanta system – he appeared in three straight MLB Futures Games – but he flopped when given a chance to win the big-league starting job and got traded to the Padres, who tried converting him into a relief pitcher with disastrous results. He headed to the KBO in 2019 and, frankly, didn't do anything to suggest a career revival might happen, but he kept plugging away. A strong campaign last year with Triple-A Indianapolis (.281/.339/.468 with 14 homers in 92 games) was a nice return to North American ball, but Bethancourt still didn't seem likely to get back to the majors. Enter an Oakland organization doing another teardown. The A's signed him to a minor-league deal in February, and he got a quick callup to be a COVID fill-in before officially earning a spot on the 40-man roster. Since then, he's hit well enough to not just see occasional starts behind the plate, he's pushed himself into the mix at first base. Through 10 appearances in May, the 30-year-old is slashing .333/.448/.458 with more walks (four) than strikeouts (three). His current role, and catcher eligibility, give him some fantasy value already, but the fact he has a chance to push the struggling Seth Brown aside at 1B and claim something close to a full-time job is really kind of extraordinary. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Sam Huff, Rangers: With Mitch Garver on the shelf, Huff got promoted again to back up Jonah Heim. The 24-year-old got two starts this past week, going 2-for-7 with a couple singles and a couple strikeouts, and that will probably be about his workload until Garver is healthy. Huff has some pop, but the question remains whether he'll make enough contact against big-league pitching to get to it. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Danny Jansen, Blue Jays: The 27-year-old returned from the injured list Saturday and immediately plugged back into the starting lineup, slugging a homer off Ryan Thompson in a win over the Rays. Jansen is a perennial sleeper at this point, as his bat-first reputation as a prospect has given way to a strong defensive performance in the majors but not much offense, and hitting three homers in his first four games of 2022 (albeit sandwiched around a one-month absence due to an oblique strain) is going to have catcher-needy teams scrambling for their wallets. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $16

First Base

Mike Ford, Mariners: Ford's bounced up and down the west coast this season, starting the year with Seattle, getting dealt to San Francisco at the end of April, and now winding up back with the M's. The 29-year-old seems to be getting a real chance this time to prove himself this time, starting two straight games at DH... and going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Whoops. He barely even qualifies as a Quad-A guy and could be the player to lose his roster spot when Kyle Lewis gets activated, but if he out-hits Steven Souza in the meantime, Ford might just stick around. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Brad Miller, Rangers: Miller's in that fantasy limbo where he maybe doesn't play quite enough to be trustworthy in shallower mixed formats due to not suiting up at all against LHP, but he's producing too much against RHP to ignore. So far in May, the veteran is batting .292 (7-for-24) with three homers and a shocking three steals – this is a 32-year-old with one double-digit SB campaign on his resume, and that came back in 2015. Miller is bouncing between third base and left field, giving some nice position flex, and with Willie Calhoun off the roster he doesn't have a lot of competition for playing time. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Second Base

Vidal Brujan, Rays: Tampa continues to groom Brujan for a super-utility role, and with Manuel Margot banged up he got another promotion Tuesday. In four games and three starts this week, he's mostly played right field but has shifted to second base and third base when necessary. He's still not hitting though, going 1-for-11 with a steal and a couple runs. Brujan's theoretical upside in stolen bases will create some demand, but until he shows he can get on base consistently enough to use it, he's tough to recommend. Even that speed ceiling may be a bit overblown – he's gone just 6-for-11 on steal attempts at Triple-A this year. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Willi Castro, Tigers: I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, but the 2020 version of Castro might be making an encore. The 25-year-old utility player rode a truly absurd .448 BABIP to a .931 OPS over 36 games that year, but last season everything predictably regressed. Castro's started six straight games and eight of the last 10 though, batting .370 (10-for-27) with two doubles and a homer, and Detroit has nothing to lose by riding him while he's hot once again. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Mauricio Dubon, Astros: Niko Goodrum has been terrible off the Houston bench this season, and Aledmys Diaz hasn't been much better, so the Astros added some utility competition Saturday in the form of Dubon, optioning Goodrum down to Triple-A to make room. The one-time Brewers prospect has been decent enough since 2020 for the Giants, posting a .254/.299/.384 slash line in over 400 plate appearances with 11 homers and four steals, and he gives the 'Stros another option in center field and around the infield. His main value in deeper formats will come from his position flex. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Leury Garcia, White Sox: The ultimate fantasy journeyman, Garcia probably appears on half the rosters in a league each year as he gets picked up when he's hot and/or starting and his position flex looks appealing, before being dumped when he cools down or gets hurt. He's hot right now, hitting safely in seven straight games with a .370 batting average (10-for-27), so if you've got a hole to fill somewhere, Garcia can probably cover it for a week or two. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Dylan Moore, Mariners: The Mariners continue to shuffle the deck chairs, shipping Jarred Kelenic back to Triple-A in an effort to get him figured out. (Seattle fans suddenly having nightmarish flashbacks to the Dustin Ackley era may not want to give up on Kelenic quite yet). That leaves a hole in right field which Moore is among the candidates to fill, at least until Kyle Lewis gets activated. Memories of Moore's 21 steals last year still linger, but it's tough to get too excited about a guy with a .180 batting average over his last 413 big-league plate appearances. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: Rostered

Third Base

Matt Duffy, Angels: With David Fletcher back on IR, the Angels have elected to churn their middle infield depth even further, going with Luis Rengifo and Duffy off the bench over Jack Mayfield. Duffy's a 31-year-old journeyman with a decent stick and a bit of power and speed, and he'll likely hold down the short side of a platoon at second base while spotting in elsewhere. That's a role that could have some value in deeper formats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Shortstop

Luis Rengifo, Angels: Rengifo's still only 25, so the Angels haven't given up on him yet, but his time may be running out to show he can be even a reliable bench player in the majors. He's got little left to prove at Triple-A though, slashing .299/.368/.493 with 20 homers and 24 steals over 150 games for Salt Lake, including a .313/.384/.525 line to begin 2022. Rengifo's started four of the last five games at second base, going 4-for-13 (.308) with a double, but after getting hit by a pitch on the elbow Saturday, he might lose whatever momentum he's built up. Still, he offers significantly more upside than Tyler Wade if he starts to click. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Andrew Velazquez, Angels: Velazquez has taken over the starting shortstop job (again) for the Angels, as his defense and speed make him the best of some mediocre options. The 27-year-old is starting to hit a little too though, going 8-for-26 (.308) over the last eight games with two doubles, a homer and three of his six steals on the year. The SBs alone make him rosterable, but if Velazquez starts hitting more like he did in the minors (.273/.362/.451 over 77 games for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre last year) he'll be more than just a stopgap. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Outfield

Luis Barrera, Athletics: The athletic 26-year-old (or is that 26-year-old Athletic?) has flashed a decent hit tool and some speed over the years in the minors, but he started showing a little power at Triple-A in 2022, slashing .286/.347/.473 with 10 of his 26 hits going for extra bases (six doubles, a triple and three homers) over 23 games. Promoted to the big club Monday, Barrera's continued to swing a hot bat, going 4-for-11 with a homer and a steal. Even with Ramon Laureano back, there could be plenty of playing time for Barrera in the outfield with Chad Pinder struggling badly at the plate (1:37 BB:K in 91 plate appearances), so you could do a lot worse as a deep-league dart throw. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Nick Gordon, Twins: Alex Kirilloff has been booted down to Triple-A to try and find his swing, while Trevor Larnach is out with a groin strain. That leaves Gordon as almost the last man standing in left field, and the 26-year-old has celebrated by starting the last three games and racking up five hits with a double and a steal. He doesn't offer much more than some steals potential, but that's enough to be worth a roster spot in deeper formats. His stint as a starter could be short-lived though, as it would be very easy to see Royce Lewis move to the outfield when Carlos Correa is back in action. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Kyle Lewis, Mariners: Lewis was the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year after slugging 11 homers in 58 games, but he took a step back last year before getting hurt and then began this season on the IL while recovering from knee surgery. He could be just about ready to rejoin the M's after going 8-for-24 (.333) through six games on a rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma with two home runs and a 2:2 BB:K. Seattle has somewhat cleared the way for him by demoting Jarred Kelenic, so expect Lewis to get consistent playing time as soon as he's back in the majors. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $21; 12-team AL: $35

Steven Souza, Mariners: Remember this guy? Souza was a small part of the December 2014 three-team deal that netted the Nationals a young shortstop by the name of Trea Turner while sending Wil Myers to the Padres. Souza lasted three years in Tampa before becoming a journeyman, and between 2018 and 2021 he stumbled to a .206/.295/.362 line in 100 big-league games split between the Cubs, Dodgers and D-backs. The 33-year-old is now getting another chance with the M's, and Souza has started two straight games in right field since his promotion, going 1-for-7 with three strikeouts. He could easily be cut loose when Lewis comes off the IL though, and even if he keeps his roster spot, he's got a long way to go to show he can still be a useful fantasy asset. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Eli White, Rangers: Texas is a team that always seems to have opportunities available, and White is the latest guy to try and seize one. The 27-year-old has started five of the last six games and eight of 11 in May, slashing .263/.417/.421 on the month so far with five steals. White did hit 14 homers in 116 games at Triple-A Nashville in 2019, but for the most part he profiles as a less speedy Myles Straw if he does win a starting role in the long term, offering decent BA and OBP atop the order with some SBs. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

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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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