MLB FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

MLB FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our MLB FAAB Factor series.

This FAAB article is in addition to the AL and NL FAAB articles that run Sunday. Bids are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Throughout the season, this column will have two goals:

1. Identify FAAB targets for fantasy managers in leagues with Thursday FAAB.

2. Offer a preview of FAAB targets ahead of Sunday's columns.

Opening Day is upon us, and several late-spring situations have impacted the fantasy landscape ahead of the start of the season. Several significant injuries occurred between the World Baseball Classic and spring training games, which should allow fantasy managers to pick up several productive players during early-year FAAB runs. Additionally, after service-time manipulation was the default expectation for many rookies in past seasons, it's encouraging to see players like Anthony Volpe and Oscar Colas earn spots on Opening Day rosters. As always, subscribers with questions regarding their leagues can utilize the Discussion section at the bottom of the article.

Starting Pitcher

Clarke Schmidt, Yankees: Schmidt should have a secure spot in the Yankees' starting rotation early in the year since several other starters on the team are banged up, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the 27-year-old pitch his way into a long-term starting job. After posting a 3.12 ERA in 57.2 innings over 29 appearances (three starts) last year, the right-hander didn't have the strongest ratios this spring, generating a 5.03 ERA. However, he also struck out 25 batters in 19.2 innings, and his 2022 performance suggests that his ratios are

This FAAB article is in addition to the AL and NL FAAB articles that run Sunday. Bids are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Throughout the season, this column will have two goals:

1. Identify FAAB targets for fantasy managers in leagues with Thursday FAAB.

2. Offer a preview of FAAB targets ahead of Sunday's columns.

Opening Day is upon us, and several late-spring situations have impacted the fantasy landscape ahead of the start of the season. Several significant injuries occurred between the World Baseball Classic and spring training games, which should allow fantasy managers to pick up several productive players during early-year FAAB runs. Additionally, after service-time manipulation was the default expectation for many rookies in past seasons, it's encouraging to see players like Anthony Volpe and Oscar Colas earn spots on Opening Day rosters. As always, subscribers with questions regarding their leagues can utilize the Discussion section at the bottom of the article.

Starting Pitcher

Clarke Schmidt, Yankees: Schmidt should have a secure spot in the Yankees' starting rotation early in the year since several other starters on the team are banged up, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the 27-year-old pitch his way into a long-term starting job. After posting a 3.12 ERA in 57.2 innings over 29 appearances (three starts) last year, the right-hander didn't have the strongest ratios this spring, generating a 5.03 ERA. However, he also struck out 25 batters in 19.2 innings, and his 2022 performance suggests that his ratios are on track to improve. If Schmidt can maintain a starting role this season he should be a solid fantasy asset, so he's worth picking up for those who had early drafts. FAAB: $20

Tyler Anderson, Angels: Anderson pitched for three teams between the 2020 and 2021 campaigns before joining the Dodgers last year. While he had lackluster results over the first six years of his career, the southpaw had a career-best showing in 2022, posting a 2.57 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 30 appearances (28 starts) with the Dodgers. His performance earned him a three-year deal with the Angels during the offseason, and he warrants fantasy consideration to begin the year after he logged a 1.35 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 13.1 innings this spring. FAAB: $14

David Peterson, Mets: Peterson will begin the year as the Mets' fifth starter after he struck out 13 in 12 scoreless innings over four appearances (three starts) this spring. Jose Quintana projects to be out until at least July due to a rib issue, so Peterson should have a chance to start for the first half of the year and potentially beyond. The 27-year-old posted a 3.83 ERA with a 27.8 percent strikeout rate over 28 appearances (19 starts) in the majors last year and has an opportunity to be a solid fantasy contributor this season as a member of the Opening Day rotation. FAAB: $12

Graham Ashcraft, Reds: Ashcraft logged a lackluster 4.89 ERA over 19 starts during his first taste of major-league action last season, but he's focused more on his slider this spring while also displaying an increased fastball velocity. His tweaks have contributed to a 2.60 ERA and 26:2 K:BB over 17.1 innings this spring. The 25-year-old's strikeout upside makes him worthy of consideration to begin the year, particularly for fantasy managers who can compensate for his potentially high ERA. FAAB: $8

Hayden Wesneski, Cubs: Wesneski made his major-league debut last season and pitched well over a limited sample, posting a 2.18 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 33 innings over six appearances (four starts). He earned a spot in the Cubs' rotation following a successful spring, an opening created with Kyle Hendricks beginning the season on the injured list due to a shoulder injury. Even if Wesneski's starting role comes into question in May, he has early-season upside and could earn a permanent rotation job for the rebuilding Cubs. FAAB: $7

Jared Shuster, Atlanta: Shuster is more of a short-term consideration for fantasy purposes, but he'll have a rotation spot while Kyle Wright (shoulder) is on the injured list to begin the season. Wright expects to miss only one or two turns through the rotation, but Shuster is coming off a solid spring in which he posted a 1.74 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in 20.2 innings over six appearances (four starts). While Shuster may lose his starting job before too long, he could be valuable for fantasy managers in deeper leagues looking for an early hot hand. FAAB: $3

Jhony Brito, Yankees: Several of the Yankees' starting pitchers are dealing with injuries to begin the season, so Brito is on track to make his big-league debut during the team's third game of the year. The 25-year-old pitched well in the minors last year and maintained his success this spring, generating a 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 13 innings over four appearances (two starts). While it's possible Brito loses his spot in the rotation once some of the team's other starters are healthy, he has some early-season fantasy value, especially for those in deeper leagues. FAAB: $2

Relief Pitcher

David Robertson, Mets: Robertson was firmly in line for a setup role before Edwin Diaz sustained a knee injury during the World Baseball Classic that will likely force him to miss the entire season. Robertson won't have as much job security as Diaz, but the 37-year-old has plenty of experience as a closer and opens the season as one of the top ninth-inning options for the Mets. Robertson gave up two runs over three innings this spring but converted 20 of 28 save opportunities between the Cubs and Phillies last year. Even if he's stuck in an early-season committee, the Mets should have plenty of save chances this year. FAAB: $14

Brusdar Graterol/Evan Phillips, Dodgers: Another contending team with a murky closing picture early in the year is the Dodgers, who have indicated this spring that they'll use a committee-based approach in the ninth inning early this season. Daniel Hudson will begin the year on the injured list with a knee injury, making Graterol and Phillips the favorites for early-season saves. While Graterol is reportedly the favorite for save chances heading into Opening Day, Phillips will also pitch in important situations after posting a 1.14 ERA and 0.76 WHIP with two saves and 19 holds over 64 appearances last year. Graterol FAAB: $8; Phillips FAAB: $7

Scott McGough, Diamondbacks: McGough was effective in Japan over the last four seasons and returns stateside in 2023 with a chance to begin the season as the Diamondbacks' closer. The right-hander was effective this spring, posting a 1.93 ERA, 11:2 K:BB and 0.75 WHIP in 9.1 innings over 10 appearances. The Diamondbacks don't project to be particularly competitive in the stellar NL West this season, but it seems likely that McGough will have the first crack at save opportunities for the club. FAAB: $6

Michael Fulmer, Cubs: Fulmer had a rough end to spring training, giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the White Sox on Monday in his final appearance, but he should still be one of the top options for save opportunities on the North Side. The right-hander had tossed eight scoreless innings before Monday's outing, and he has plenty of high-leverage experience with the Tigers and Twins over the last two seasons. Brad Boxberger also figures to be in the mix for ninth-inning work after tossing 6.2 scoreless frames this spring, but I expect Fulmer to be the early favorite despite Monday's struggles. FAAB: $5

Catcher

Gabriel Moreno, Diamondbacks: Moreno performed well over a limited sample against major-league competition with the Blue Jays last year and is in line to serve as Arizona's primary catcher to begin the 2023 campaign since Carson Kelly will be out with a forearm injury. Moreno posted a 1.169 OPS with three homers, seven runs and four RBI over 11 Cactus League games this spring and has early-season potential for fantasy managers looking for help with ratios. FAAB: $3

First Base

Darick Hall, Phillies: Hall may begin the season with utility-only eligibility in most fantasy leagues, but he should pick up eligibility at first base quickly after Rhys Hoskins suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Hall homered nine times over 42 games in the majors last season, and he slashed .316/.409/.632 with five home runs, 13 RBI and 10 runs over 20 Grapefruit League games in 2023. The 27-year-old was already a late-round fantasy option before Hoskins' injury due to his power potential, but Hall should now have an opportunity to carve out regular playing time at first base early in 2023, giving him even more value. FAAB: $6

Second Base

Michael Massey, Royals: Massey entered spring training as the favorite to serve as the Royals' starting second baseman, and he solidified his role by posting a 1.009 OPS with five home runs, 13 RBI, nine runs and two steals over 17 Cactus League games. Massey hit mainly in the bottom half of the Royals' lineup over his first 52 major-league games last year. However, he posted decent ratios this spring and has some power and speed potential, particularly for those in deeper leagues. FAAB: $4

Third Base

Luis Rengifo, Angels: Rengifo underperformed over his first three big-league seasons but found some success at the plate last year, slashing .264/.294/.429 with 17 home runs, 52 RBI, 45 runs and six stolen bases over a career-high 127 games. The 26-year-old didn't see excessive Cactus League action this spring due to his participation in the World Baseball Classic, but he hit .405 with four homers, eight runs, seven RBI and a steal over 13 spring training games. If Rengifo can maintain his production during the regular season, he has decent fantasy value, especially considering his multi-position eligibility. FAAB: $8

Shortstop

Anthony Volpe, Yankees: Volpe earned the right to serve as the Yankees' starting shortstop to begin the season after he slashed .304/.409/.607 with three homers, 13 runs, five RBI and five stolen bases over 19 spring games this year. While he'll start his big-league career at the bottom of the order, he should have every chance to earn a more prominent place in the lineup if he maintains his spring success during the regular season. Volpe homered 20 times with 48 steals in the minors last year and has an opportunity to be a versatile fantasy contributor as a rookie after earning an Opening Day starting job. FAAB: $24

Outfield

James Outman, Dodgers: Outman had a brief stint with the big-league club last year but has made the Dodgers' Opening Day roster in 2023. The 25-year-old slashed .283/.391/.566 with three homers, 11 RBI, eight runs and a steal over 23 games this spring and should see plenty of early-season playing time in center field with Chris Taylor expected to start mainly against left-handed pitchers. FAAB: $7

Oscar Colas, White Sox: Colas rose rapidly through Chicago's minor-league system last year and slashed .314/.371/.524 with 23 homers, 81 runs, 79 RBI and three stolen bases over 117 games between the High-A, Double-A and Triple-A clubs. He performed well enough this spring to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, and he should serve as the team's starting right fielder to begin the year. The 24-year-old has decent power and run-producing potential heading into his rookie season and should have an opportunity to see plenty of playing time early on. FAAB: $6

Will Benson, Reds: Benson hit .182 over 28 games with the Guardians last year, but he was traded to the Reds during the offseason and appears to be in line to serve as Cincinnati's primary center fielder following a strong showing this spring. The 24-year-old hit .327 with a homer, five runs, three RBI and six stolen bases over 17 spring games in 2023, and he's coming off back-to-back seasons in which he hit 17 home runs in the minors. Benson should have an opportunity to carve out playing time early on with his new team, and he has decent power and speed upside. FAAB: $5

Oswaldo Cabrera, Yankees: Cabrera should see fairly regular playing time early in the year with Harrison Bader banged up, but he'll likely take on a super-utility role once Bader is back in action. Cabrera is coming off a strong spring in which he slashed .333/.390/.611 with four home runs, 14 RBI, seven runs and a steal over 20 Grapefruit League games. While the Yankees have a solid lineup when healthy, Cabrera should still have an opportunity to carve out some playing time due to his defensive versatility. FAAB: $4

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019. In 2023, he was named the FSWA Player Notes Writer of the Year. In addition to RotoWire, Jason writes for the Sports Broadcast Journal. In 2024, he was dubbed "The Polish Parlay" for his WNBA hot betting streak.
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