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. Julio Rodriguez 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 $
Brandon BielakHOUSPCNo2Rostered
Taj BradleyTBSPA354565
Aaron CivaleCLESPC3715
Michael LorenzenDETSPC23Rostered
Daniel LynchKCSPCNoNo2
Luis MedinaOAKSPC137
Gavin WilliamsCLESPA1 / 252 / 355 / 45
Josh FlemingTBSPC111

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. Julio Rodriguez 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 $
Brandon BielakHOUSPCNo2Rostered
Taj BradleyTBSPA354565
Aaron CivaleCLESPC3715
Michael LorenzenDETSPC23Rostered
Daniel LynchKCSPCNoNo2
Luis MedinaOAKSPC137
Gavin WilliamsCLESPA1 / 252 / 355 / 45
Josh FlemingTBSPC111
Kyle MullerOAKSPC111
Garrett ActonOAKRPDNoNo1
Joe BarlowTEXRPDNoNo1
Bo NaylorCLECB71535
Carlos PerezOAKCCNoNo3
Ben RortvedtNYCCNoNo1
Jared WalshLA1BB112545
Jose CaballeroSEA2BDNoNo3
Aledmys DiazOAK2BCNoNo1
Edouard JulienMIN2BB3715
Kyle FarmerMINSSC13Rostered
Royce LewisMINSSA51121
Clint FrazierCHIOFCNoNo1
Kyle GarlickMINOFDNoNo1
Robbie GrossmanTEXOFC14Rostered

Starting Pitcher

Brandon Bielak, Astros: The 27-year-old has been fairly solid since joining the Houston rotation, and while his 1.77 WHIP is scary, it's mostly a product of bad luck and a .407 BABIP. Bielak should get at least three more turns before Lance McCullers, who has begun throwing bullpens, threatens to bump him to the bullpen or Triple-A, so this should be viewed mainly as a short-term addition to your staff. That said, you never know what might happen over the next couple weeks. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Taj Bradley, Rays: Just in case you're in a league where Bradley got cut loose either after his demotion or when he was struggling at Triple-A, he got called back up Thursday and delivered five decent innings against the Mets. The 22-year-old's stuff seemed fine in his return, so maybe his poor results at Durham were simply a product of the organization telling him to work on some things in the minors and not worry about the scoreboard. Tyler Glasnow will be back soon, but that shouldn't displace Bradley from the rotation, and even if the front office swings a deal for another starter, Josh Fleming would probably be the one to lose his spot. If Bradley pitches well, there's no reason to think the top prospect isn't in the rotation to stay this time. 12-team Mixed: $35; 15-team Mixed: $45; 12-team AL: $65

Aaron Civale, Guardians: Cleveland's rotation is about to get crowded. Civale threw 34 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, which means he'll likely get one more outing in the minors before being activated from the IL, a timeline which would put him back on the Guardians roster next Sunday. The 27-year-old righty is a solid mid-rotation arm when healthy, and if Cleveland does decide to trade pitching for some hitting over the summer, Civale might be one of the top candidates to get moved. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

Michael Lorenzen, Tigers: Quietly, Lorenzen has reeled off three straight quality starts, posting a 0.90 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 11:4 K:BB through 20 innings over that stretch. The veteran righty won't maintain anything close to those ratios, but he lines up for an enticing two-step this week with starts in Kansas City and at home against the White Sox, so his hot streak might still have enough life left in it to be worth picking him up. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Daniel Lynch, Royals: I wrote Lynch up last week and then Kansas City gave him another rehab start, which didn't go so well – five runs and two homers in 3.2 innings against Triple-A Toledo, albeit with a 8:0 K:BB. He should be in the rotation this week for sure (maybe), and a matchup against the Tigers' big-league lineup shouldn't be that much tougher than the one against their Triple-A affiliate, but Lynch has been a model of inconsistency since making his MLB debut in 2021. Don't expect too much. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Luis Medina, Athletics: I didn't pay much attention to Medina when he made his big-league debut in late April – even in deep AL-only leagues, you have to draw the line somewhere – but since rejoining the A's rotation a couple weeks ago he's looked decent enough, delivering two quality starts in two outings, although just barely meeting the threshold (six innings, three earned runs or less) each time. The 24-year-old righty, acquired from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas trade, has plus stuff with a mid-90s fastball that has reportedly touched triple digits on occasion along with a curveball, slider and changeup that all have their moments, but his big issue has been his control. Medina has walked 15 batters in 13.1 innings at Triple-A this year and issued 62 free passes in 92.2 innings at Double-A last season. So far, that hasn't been a problem with Oakland, but I have a hard time believing he suddenly figured out the strike zone once he got to the majors. He does line up for a two-start week, at Seattle then home to Houston, so if he can flipped the switch he could have some real value. If he's just a ticking time bomb though, he could explode your ratios in a hurry if you roll the dice on him. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Gavin Williams, Guardians: Remember what I said above about the Cleveland rotation? Not only is Civale about to return, Triston McKenzie should be right behind him in coming off the IL. And yet... Williams is making it increasingly difficult to keep him in the minors. After humiliating Double-A hitters to begin the season, the 23-year-old got a bump up to Triple-A and has merely posted a 1.83 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 27:10 K:BB through 19.2 innings and four starts. I want to be clear here – Williams should be viewed only as a stash right now. He's not on the 40-man roster, and when everyone is healthy the Guardians have more than enough depth that they don't have to rush him. Even so, guys like Civale and Cal Quantrill don't have anything close to Williams' upside, and if the front office thinks he's ready, I have to believe they'll slot him in alongside Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen. Note too that the team hasn't announced their rotation plans past Sunday's Bibee-Bieber twin bill. Hunter Gaddis is on turn to slot in Monday if Cleveland goes that route, but Williams started Wednesday and is scheduled to go Sunday for the Clippers. If he gets held out of that start, get your wallets ready – the second set of recommendations here covers that scenario. 12-team Mixed: $1 / $25; 15-team Mixed: $2 / $35; 12-team AL: $5 / $45

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

Josh Fleming, Rays (vs. TOR, vs. LAD)
Kyle Muller, Athletics (at SEA, vs. HOU)

Relief Pitcher

Garrett Acton, Athletics: Dumpster fires are offended by the comparisons to the Oakland bullpen right now, but somebody has to close for this team on the rare occasions they have a ninth-inning lead to protect. Richard Lovelady has posted solid numbers since being claimed from the Royals, but he's lost about three mph off his four-seam fastball compared to last year, which is a huge red flag. Guys like Shintaro Fujinami and Lucas Erceg can't find the plate. Instead, if you're fishing for saves, Acton might be your best bet. The 24-year-old righty has struck out 122 batters in 94.2 innings in the high minors over the last two years while only walking 35, which basically makes him Kenley Jansen compared to the other healthy A's bullpen arms. Acton's stuff is probably more setup man than closer, but he sits mid-90s with his fastball and has a sharp slider, so the strikeouts are legit. An Oakland re1iever hasn't earned a save since May 6 (Zach Jackson got the honors), and the last one before that came April 24, so they're about due to another one. Acton's just as likely to take it as anyone. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Joe Barlow, Rangers: I'm still a little fuzzy on why Barlow started the year in the minors while someone like Ian Kennedy got a roster spot, but he's back now and looks like his usual self. Will Smith is doing fine as the Rangers' closer and has Bruce Bochy's trust, but if he flames out or gets hurt, Jose Leclerc has probably pitched himself out of contention for ninth-inning duty, while Jonathan Hernandez has yet to pitch himself into it. Barlow might well be the next man up. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Catcher

Bo Naylor, Guardians: I had a little trouble believing this until I looked at the numbers myself, but coming into this weekend, Mike Zunino and Cam Gallagher has combined for one hit in May. ONE. Gallagher went 2-for-4 on Friday to triple that total, but he's also got a .288 OPS – OPS, not OBP – on the year, so let's not break out the Sandy Alomar comparisons just yet. Meanwhile, Naylor is slashing .276/.377/.586 on the month at Columbus with four doubles and four homers in 16 games. The 23-year-old's defense behind the plate is still something of a question mark, but at least he's doing something. Zunino's defense has also taken a step backward in 2023, so the Guardians don't have a whole lot to lose by letting Naylor show what he can do. With his brother Josh having homered four times in his last five games, what better time to pair them up than now? This is technically a spec/stash sort of pickup, but a promotion seemed inevitable when I initially wrote this, and then sure enough he got called up to be the 27th man for Sunday's doubleheader just before I sent in the article. (Good thing I did a final sweep, otherwise these bids would have looked silly.) It would not be shocking at all if Bo sticks around afterward rather than being sent back to Columbus. 12-team Mixed: $7; 15-team Mixed: $15; 12-team AL: $35

Carlos Perez, Athletics: The 32-year-old has posted some big numbers in PCL hitter's paradises like Las Vegas and Albuquerque the last couple years, and he's looked good since getting added to the A's roster this season. Perez has split his time between catcher and DH so far, but with Shea Langeliers blocking his path to a real starting job, it's hard to get too excited about the possibility of a late-career renaissance. Still, Oakland seems to have a knack for finding backstops on the scrap heap – they turned Christian Bethancourt into a fantasy asset last year – so Perez could well have some value the rest of the way. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Ben Rortvedt, Yankees: The 25-year-old got called up when Jose Trevino landed on the IL and promptly went 2-for-4 on Saturday in his first big-league action since 2021. Trevino's hamstring strain doesn't seem too serious, but while he's out it's possible Rortvedt handles the strong side of a platoon alongside Kyle Higashioka. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

First Base

Jared Walsh, Angels: Walsh's disappointing 2022 turned out to be the product of thoracic outlet syndrome, an issue we're more used to seeing with pitchers than hitters. For pitchers, it can be a career death knell, but like Tommy John surgery, it may not be anywhere near as serious for folks who swing bats for a living rather than trying to miss them. Walsh will be a big test case, although it's not a great sign that his recovery from a surgery to alleviate nerve compression led to migraines that delayed the start of his campaign. The 29-year-old looked good on his eventual rehab stint though, going 11-for-25 for Triple-A Salt Lake, and the Angels will give him every chance to win back the starting job at first base. If he can regain his 2021 form, he could win some folks their fantasy leagues, but there's plenty of risk here too. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $25; 12-team AL: $45

Second Base

Jose Caballero, Mariners: Kolten Wong's season-long slump has opened the door for Caballero to take over the starting job at second base, at least for now. The 26-year-old hasn't been much more than speedy slap hitter in the minors, and while he had hot start to May he's already begun to cool off, batting .176 (3-for-17) over his last eight appearances. With Dylan Moore having re-started his rehab, Caballero's window to lock down an everyday role could be a very small one. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Aledmys Diaz, Athlatics: Diaz came off the IL last Sunday but didn't have a starting job waiting for him, as Jordan Diaz (no relation) is getting a look at second base while glove-first prospect Nick Allen handles shortstop and Jace Peterson and his .637 OPS inexplicably continue to see everyday at-bats at the hot corner. At some point, the elder Diaz should work his way back into the mix on a consistent basis, but for now he isn't seeing enough playing time to be on the mixed-league radar. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Edouard Julien, Twins: The 24-year-old was called back up Saturday when Jorge Polanco landed back on the IL. Julien hadn't been sulking at Triple-A after his initial demotion, slashing .333/.471/.537 in May, and with Byron Buxton hobbling off the field Saturday, there could be a spot for the prospect in the regular lineup in the short term for the banged-up Twins. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

Shortstop

Kyle Farmer, Twins: Farmer's been raking since coming off the IL, hitting safely in nine of 10 games with two homers, nine runs and nine RBI. He's got the starting job at third base on lock, and while he will cool down at the plate, the solid power he showed in 2021-22 with the Reds still gives him a decent floor. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Royce Lewis, Twins: With most leagues not seeing any high-profile prospect promotions this week on the AL side, it's a good week to stash some future high-profile promotions. Lewis is eligible to come off the 60-day IL at the end of the month, and through five games on his rehab stint he's looked ready to tackle the majors again, going 8-for-16 with three homers and three steals. Despite being the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Lewis won't turn 24 until early June, and given all the other injuries Minnesota is dealing with they can definitely find a spot for him somewhere on the diamond. If he can just stay healthy himself, this could be the year he finally breaks out. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $21

Outfield

Clint Frazier, White Sox: With Eloy Jimenez and Gavin Sheets both banged up, the White Sox figures they had nothing to lose by giving Frazier another shot at the majors. The 28-year-old is on his fourth organization and second given name (he briefly wanted to be called Jackson instead of Clint last summer), but he has been raking at Triple-A this year, slashing .315/.417/.648 with eight homers in 31 games split between the Texas and Chicago systems. Maybe he finally figures things out, but it's not clear what the White Sox would even do with him if he did, as Eloy should be back next week and Jake Burger is red hot as the everyday DH. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Kyle Garlick, Twins: Minnesota's down four outfielders at the moment, and it could be five if Buxton's calf strain proves to be serious. As a result, Garlick started back-to-back games in right field this weekend, although both starts came versus lefties. He's shown a little pop in prior big-league stints and has a career .247/.294/.533 slash line against LHP, so he could have a bit of value on the short side of a platoon. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Robbie Grossman, Rangers: The veteran switch hitter has regained the starting job in left field, hitting safely in nine of the last 10 games and batting .295 (13-for-44) over that stretch with two homers and 10 RBI. Grossman has uncharacteristically seen his walk rate slump to 7.0 percent, which would be a career low, but his 48.6 percent flyball rate and 38.1 percent hard-hit rate would be career highs, which is generally a good combination. If he can add back his prior patience, the 33-year-old could put together a very interesting finish to the season. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Rostered

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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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