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.

<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}–>

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Chris ArcherMINSPCNo2Rostered
Dylan BundyMINSPC13Rostered
Aaron CivaleCLESPC137
Dean KremerBALSPCNo25
Glenn OttoTEXSPCNo37
Kris BubicKCSPC111
Devin SmeltzerMINSPC111
Tyler WellsBALSPC111

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.

<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}–>

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Chris ArcherMINSPCNo2Rostered
Dylan BundyMINSPC13Rostered
Aaron CivaleCLESPC137
Dean KremerBALSPCNo25
Glenn OttoTEXSPCNo37
Kris BubicKCSPC111
Devin SmeltzerMINSPC111
Tyler WellsBALSPC111
Ken GilesSEARPD137
Erik SwansonSEARPENoNo1
Domingo AcevedoOAKRPENoNo1
Zach JacksonOAKRPENo14
Sam MollOAKRPENoNo1
A.J. PukOAKRPDNo25
Lou TrivinoOAKRPDNo37
Joe KellyCHIRPENoNo2
Zack CollinsTORCCNoNo1
Dylan MooreSEA2BC12Rostered
Sheldon NeuseOAK2BCNoNo3
Josh H. SmithTEX2BCNo25
Cavan BiggioTOR3BC13Rostered
Kevin PadloSEA3BDNoNo2
Isaac ParedesTB3BB2511
Nick AllenOAKSSDNoNo1
Lenyn SosaCHISSBNoNo3
Steven DuggarTEXOFCNo14
Josh LoweTBOFA51121
Jake MeyersHOUOFC3715
Edward OlivaresKCOFC3715
Luke RaleyTBOFDNoNo2
Rob RefsnyderBOSOFDNoNo1
Gavin SheetsCHIOFC2511

Starting Pitcher

Chris Archer, Twins: The veteran right-hander continues to be effective in shorter stints, but those shorter outings have started to reach five innings more often than not, and it's no coincidence that Archer's only two wins on the season have come in his last four trips to the mound. In shallower formats that score quality starts or innings instead wins he remains a marginal option, but Minnesota boasts a good enough offense that if Archer lasts five frames, it increases his value in wins formats almost exponentially. A 1.57 ERA and 0.91 WHIP despite a middling 16:8 K:BB over his last five starts and 23 innings doesn't hurt either. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Dylan Bundy, Twins: Unlike Archer, who's been consistent this season but with a limited ceiling, Bundy's campaign has been a roller coaster, and one that rattles and shrieks enough it makes you wonder if there's been a safety inspection on it recently. He won his first three starts with a 0.59 ERA, then posted an 8.51 ERA while going winless over his next seven outings. The 29-year-old has flipped the script again, delivering his first two quality starts of the year in his last two trips to the mound with a 1.29 ERA. Bundy doesn't have tremendous strikeout upside, but the key to his season so far (and his future streaming value) is keeping the ball in the park. He's allowed zero homers in those five starts book-ending his rough patch, and has a 2.9 HR/9 in between. When he gets a punchless opponent, he's worth plugging into your lineup; if not, keep him benched or leave him on waivers. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Aaron Civale, Guardians: Civale made a strong return to the rotation Tuesday, fanning seven and walking one over five innings against the Twins. He had a brutal start to the season, but there is reason for optimism here. The 27-year-old is still tinkering with his pitch mix, and this year he's on his way to becoming a pure junkballer, throwing both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs less often in favor of his cutter and curve, the latter of which has produced a 41.3 percent Whiff Rate. He's getting hit hard when he misses his spots, but his command might just be good enough to pull off the new approach once he figures it out. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Dean Kremer, Orioles: Apparently, this is the week for low-ceiling righties. Kremer was ticketed for Baltimore's Opening Day rotation before straining his oblique in the bullpen before he got to make his first start, and his season debut was delayed until June. Over four outings he's got a 1.71 ERA, but his 1.24 WHIP and 14:5 K:BB through 21 innings highlight his lack of upside. Stop me if you've heard this before – if he can keep the ball in the park he'll post useful fantasy numbers, but when it isn't going well for him, the results could be ugly. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Glenn Otto, Rangers: Otto's been on on the COVID-19 list since June 4, but he was on a roll when he went down, winning three straight starts and posting a 2.45 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 17:13 K:BB through 22 innings over his last four. Hmm, low strikeout numbers and less than ace-like stuff from a right-hander... yup, he fits the profile this week. The 26-year-old's minor-league numbers do hint at a bit more K upside than some of the other pitchers I've written up this week, but he's still not a player who's going to move the needle in most formats. He's in that 'streaming/occasionally useful' zone, and your own bench and roster depth will determine whether it's worthwhile to keep him around, or leave him in the free-agent pool until you need him (or someone an awful lot like him). 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

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

Kris Bubic, Royals (vs. TEX, at DET)
Devin Smeltzer, Twins (at CLE, vs. BAL)
Tyler Wells, Orioles (at SEA, at MIN)

Relief Pitcher

Ken Giles / Erik Swanson, Mariners: Paul Sewald and his whopping six saves seem to be the first choice for the ninth inning in Seattle's bullpen, with Diego Castillo up next with four saves. Andres Munoz is the most dominant relief option the M's have (0.00 ERA and 15:1 K:BB over his last 6.1 innings), so of course he doesn't have a save in over two months. If you really want to speculate here, Giles has that Proven Closer pedigree with 115 career saves, and he just came off the IL to make his first appearance since 2020 on Tuesday. The 31-year-old isn't all the way back yet, topping out at 95.4 mph with his fastball, but given the long layoff after Tommy John surgery some rust is to be expected. Swanson's looked great all season and got rewarded with his first save of the year Saturday, when Sewald was unavailable and Castillo got called upon in the eighth inning. To be clear, I don't think you'll get more than five saves out of either of these guys the rest of the way, but Giles could plausibly be handed the closer role at some point, while Swanson just looks like solid staff filler if you're in the market for high-K setup men. Giles – 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7 / Swanson – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Domingo Acevedo / Zach Jackson / Sam Moll / A.J. Puk / Lou Trivino, Athletics: I wrote up Oakland's bullpen mess a couple weeks ago when Dany Jimenez was struggling, but now that he's on the IL, I guess I better list some bids this time. Acevedo and Moll are probably viewed as setup men, so I wouldn't be aggressive going after them. Jackson got the first chance at a save Thursday, made a mess, and then Puk made it worse when he tried to clean it up. Trivino, who came into the season as the presumed closer, and got a two-inning save Saturday. Trivino's 31.7 percent strikeout rate on the year is certainly worthy of high-leverage work, but he's been absolutely crushed when batters do make contact, which has kind of made me wonder if he's been tipping pitches or something. Puk has the best stuff, but his performance has taken a step backward in June and this is his first season in the bullpen, so the organization may not want to push him too hard. Then again, he's already 27, so they should probably figure out if he can be a dominant bullpen arm as soon as possible. Acevedo and Moll – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1 / Jackson – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4 / Puk – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5 / Trivino – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Joe Kelly, White Sox: Kendall Gravemen was supposed to be Liam Hendriks' replacement in the closer gig, but Tony LaRussa leaned into the hate and kept him in his high-leverage setup role Monday, giving the save to Kelly instead. Neither one's gotten a save chance since, and Hendriks could be back quickly, so tossing dollars at Kelly now could be a giant waste of resources, which is probably what LaRussa planned. I can't confirm he makes managerial decisions just to troll fans and fantasy GMs, but I can't rule it out either. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Catcher

Zack Collins, Blue Jays: Just in case you need a backstop this week, Collins got called back up when Alejandro Kirk got plunked in the hand by a pitch. Kirk seems OK, but Collins might run into a homer or two while he's up, and Toronto probably wants three catchers on the roster anyway if Kirk's going to DH regularly. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Second Base

Dylan Moore, Mariners: Moore's been seeing regular playing time the last couple weeks as it is, but Ty France's injury all but locks him into the lineup. The trouble with Moore is that while his speed is tempting, the rest of his profile is tough to roster. He's hitting .195 in June with only two extra-base hits, a double and a homer, over 21 games, so his seven steals and nine runs have been his only real source of value. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Sheldon Neuse, Athletics: Neuse has started four of five games since returning to the majors, going 4-for-17 with four strikeouts and four singles. He was on fire for Triple-A Las Vegas during his brief demotion, reeling off six straight multi-hit games at one point and racking up a 1.131 OPS over 12 games, but that's the PCL and it came with a 1:11 BB:K. Oakland still seems to have faith he'll turn into something, or at least doesn't have anyone else it has more faith in, so the 27-year-old will get chances. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Josh H. Smith, Rangers: The 24-year-old came off the injured list Tuesday and has started three of the last four games, two at third base and one in left field, but Saturday's surprising demotion of Ezequiel Duran is a strong sign Smith will have the hot corner to himself for the next little while. He was a second-round pick of the Yankees in 2019, coming over in the Joey Gallo deal, but long-term it's still hard to see him as anything more than a utility player given his minor-league performance. He's got some modest power-speed potential as a starter, though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Third Base

Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays: The 27-year-old still isn't quite seeing regular playing time, but at least he's hitting and getting on base again, slashing .280/.419/.540 through 62 plate appearances in June with two homers, nine runs and 10 RBI. Biggio's position flex is a plus and he has more value in OBP formats, but he's still more bench insurance than secure starting option in shallow leagues. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Kevin Padlo, Mariners: France's injury creates an opening at first base for the M's, and Padlo got the start there Saturday, going 1-for-4 with two RBI. The 25-year-old has gotten to know the west coast very well this season; he started at Triple-A Tacoma before getting DFA'd and picked up by San Francisco, bouncing between the Giants and Sacramento before getting DFA'd again and re-claimed by Seattle. His minor-league numbers have generally indicated a decent hit tool with only modest power, but between Tacoma and Sacramento this year he did slug 10 homers in 42 games, albeit with a .240/.329/.487 slash line. Selling out for thump might be the right choice to stick in the majors, though, and the 25-year-old does have a path to playing time at the moment. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Isaac Paredes, Rays: So, in my own leagues, I have this tendency to pick guys up too early and then drop them before they finally pay off. I had shares of Paredes in a couple deep leagues when he first got called up, on the theory that the Rays' player development would eventually unlock the power the Tigers couldn't, but after a few weeks he was back on waivers in everything but my home AL-only league, where any batter with a pulse has some value. Paredes is now up to 12 career home runs; five of them have come in his last three games. I genuinely have no idea whether this is just a fluke, or is a real sign he's about to start reaching his potential, but Tampa needs both healthy infielders and offense so you better believe they will give him a chance to prove it's the latter. Remember, Paredes is only 23, and the Rays liked him enough to trade Austin Meadows for him. A breakout isn't out of the question. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Shortstop

Nick Allen, Athletics: The glove-first shortstop is back in the majors, but the A's have mostly been playing him at second base as they're unwilling to pull the plug on Elvis Andrus and his .221/.282/.336 slash line. Mind you, Allen probably wouldn't be an improvement at the plate, but he is a decade younger, and that should probably be the priority. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Lenyn Sosa, White Sox: One of the year's pop-up prospects, Sosa erupted over 62 games at Double-A Birmingham, slashing .331/.384/.549 with 14 homers before his promotion. He's only 22, doesn't strike out a lot and profiles as a solid defender, so it seems like he could be the answer to Chicago's revolving door at second base. Naturally, LaRussa seems to be asking completely different questions, and the kid has only started one of four games at the keystone since his promotion. Josh Harrison's now banged up and Danny Mendick is out for the year, so it's really only Sosa or Leury Garcia at this point, but who do you think the old man is going to try and lean on. To be clear here – I like Sosa and think he's a strong stash option in keeper leagues, but my expectations for his short-term production in redraft formats is fairly low. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Outfield

Steven Duggar, Rangers: Texas found a taker for the disgruntled Willie Calhoun and flipped him to the Giants for a outfielder who can actually provide some defensive value in Duggar. The 28-year-old probably fits best as a bench option – his career .276/.367/.423 slash line with 11 homers and nine steals over roughly a full campaign's worth of plate appearances in Triple-A scattered across five seasons highlights his limitations at a hitter – but the Rangers still need a center fielder, and Leody Taveras probably isn't it. Duggar only needs to be better than Taveras to get regular playing time, and that's a fairly low bar to clear. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Josh Lowe, Rays: Tampa Bay's injury situation in the outfield may have accelerated their timetable on Lowe's rehabilitation after a rough start to his pro career, but he was looking better at Triple-A, slashing .321/.441/.571 through 15 games in June with two homers, four steals, and an improved 20.6 percent strikeout rate. Alas, the book is still out on him in the majors. Since his recall, Lowe has fanned nine times in 21 plate appearances over five games against only three hits. The upside here is still enormous if he can figure things out, and that upside is probably going to juice the bidding in leagues where he's available, but at the moment it still appears as though Lowe needs to make some serious adjustments before he can unlock his potential. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $21

Jake Meyers, Astros: Center field has been an issue all year for the Astros, as neither Chas McCormick nor Jose Siri have been able to provide consistent production. That leaves the door wide open to Meyers now that he's healthy. The 26-year-old had a breakout 2021 for Triple-A Sugar Land, and while he doesn't have elite upside, he's the kind of hitter who could wind up posting a 20/10 kind of season without being a batting average liability, which in the modern environment is pretty valuable – basically, his ceiling is that of a budget Kyle Tucker. It's tough, but even though Lowe has much, much higher upside and is by far the better keeper asset, Meyers might be the better play rest of season if you're looking for an outfielder this week. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

Edward Olivares, Royals: Out since early May, Olivares returned to action Friday and homered twice, and the 26-year-old once again looks like the best option the Royals have to fill a corner outfield spot. Whether they agree is another thing entirely of course, but it's not like Kyle Isbel is making a strong case, and who else are they going to give the playing time too, Ryan O'Hearn? Emmanuel Rivera? Olivares has some pop and some speed, and if he supplies a solid batting average too, so much the better. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

Luke Raley, Rays: One of the players called up in the wake of the injuries to Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot, Raley got starts Friday and Saturday, one in left field and one at DH. He's got some power, even if he strikes out too much to be a reliable hitter otherwise, and if Lowe flames out again there's a path to a strong-side platoon role for Raley until the roster gets healthier. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Rob Refsnyder, Red Sox: Refsnyder's doing his usual lefty-killer shtick, and since being added to the roster earlier in the month, he's gone 10-for-24 with two doubles and a homer in eight appearances. He doesn't see enough playing time to have value in shallower formats, but in deep AL-only formats he could be a better option to plug a hole than a guy who plays more but hits less. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Gavin Sheets, White Sox: Sheets sulked for about three games after his demotion to Triple-A, going 0-for-13, before snapping out of it and slugging his way back to the majors by going 10-for-24 with four doubles and two homers over his last six games for Charlotte. He's started three straight games in right field, all with righties on the mound for the opposition, and he appears ticketed for a strong-side platoon role at worst until the White Sox roster gets healthier. Whether that assignment lasts any long depends entirely on him, but the power is legit if he can get to it consistently in the big leagues. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

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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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