NL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

NL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our NL FAAB Factor series.

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.

Bids in general are best guesstimates. With so much uncertainty at least initially, those values may be even greater estimates than usual. The FAAB chart below lets users easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The chart, which is sortable by column (click on the header), includes a very basic "player grade" column. This is a reflection of a player's skills and role on an A-E scale. An "A" grade is reserved for a high-impact prospect stepping into an everyday role.

If you have questions on players, I'm happy to provide my thoughts in the comments.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Jared ShusterATLSPCNo14
Dylan DoddATLSPCNo14
Zach DaviesAZSPDNo02
Kyle HendricksCHCSPC026
Karl KauffmannCOLSPENoNo1
Chase AndersonCOLSPENoNo0
Brandon WilliamsonCINSPB1410
Gavin StoneLADSPA61224
Robbie ErlinLADSPENoNo0
Michael GroveLADSPB4814
Bobby MillerLADSPCNo02
Ryan WeathersSDSPB

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.

Bids in general are best guesstimates. With so much uncertainty at least initially, those values may be even greater estimates than usual. The FAAB chart below lets users easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The chart, which is sortable by column (click on the header), includes a very basic "player grade" column. This is a reflection of a player's skills and role on an A-E scale. An "A" grade is reserved for a high-impact prospect stepping into an everyday role.

If you have questions on players, I'm happy to provide my thoughts in the comments.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Jared ShusterATLSPCNo14
Dylan DoddATLSPCNo14
Zach DaviesAZSPDNo02
Kyle HendricksCHCSPC026
Karl KauffmannCOLSPENoNo1
Chase AndersonCOLSPENoNo0
Brandon WilliamsonCINSPB1410
Gavin StoneLADSPA61224
Robbie ErlinLADSPENoNo0
Michael GroveLADSPB4814
Bobby MillerLADSPCNo02
Ryan WeathersSDSPB259
Matthew LiberatoreSTLSPB0310
Eric LauerSDSPDNo13
Dylan CoveyPHISPENoNo0
Miguel CastroARIRPB3610
Adbert AlzolayCHCRPC025
Dylan FloroMIARPB247
Craig KimbrelPHIRPC02Rostered
Gary SanchezNYMCDNoNo1
Michael TogliaCOL1BCNoNo2
Mike MoustakasCOL1B/3BDNoNo3
Brandon DixonSDOFENoNo0
Rougned OdorSD2BDNo02
Mark VientosNYM3BBNo14
Matt McLainCINSSA61321
Jose BarreroCINSS/OFDNoNoRostered
Mike TauchmanCHCOFENoNo0
Josh PalaciosPITOFCNo14
Kyle LewisARIOFDNoNo0
Stuart FairchildCINOFDNoNo0
Garrett HampsonMIAOFENoNo0
Xavier EdwardsMIAOFCNoNo0
Peyton BurdickMIAOFC025
Darin RufMILOFENoNo0
Oscar MercadoSTLOFDNo03

STARTING PITCHER

Jared Shuster, Atlanta: The Atlanta rotation is very thin at the moment, with both Max Fried (forearm) and Kyle Wright (shoulder) sidelined for the long-term. Shuster was the first beneficiary, as he made his third start of the season Tuesday. A former first-round pick with pretty significant prospect pedigree, he also carries solid team context. The results haven't been impressive across his first 13.2 innings in the majors (7.24 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 8:11 K:BB), but in certain formats he's worth speculating on given his opportunity. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $1, 12-team NL: $4

Dylan Dodd, Atlanta: Dodd is likely to find himself with starts for the same reasons as described above, though he's yet to officially reenter the rotation. The RotoWire starting pitcher grid currently projects him to start Thursday against the Phillies, which isn't exactly a soft landing. Dodd effectively pitched in two of his three ML outings before being optioned back to Triple-A earlier in the campaign, though he lacked swing-and-miss stuff (9.4% SwStr%, 10 K%) in the bigs. He'll have the chance to grow out of it, but looks like a matchup play for now. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $1, 12-team NL: $4

Zach Davies, Diamondbacks: Davies was included in this column last week, but has since begun a rehab assignment. In his first outing Saturday, he threw 69 pitches and struck out seven while walking only one with Double-A Amarillo. Davies is a ratios liability and doesn't rack up a lot of strikeouts, but should return to a role in the rotation. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $0, 12-team NL: $2

Kyle Hendricks, Cubs: Hendricks is another player profiled last week who has since listed an additional data point. He threw six innings (82 pitches) and only allowed one earned run with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday and could slot back into the big-league rotation as early as next Saturday against the Reds. Hendricks has struggled mightily in each of the last two seasons, but there's a slight chance he returns to his vintage form. 12-team mixed: $0, 15-team mixed: $2, 12-team NL: $6

Karl Kauffmann, Rockies: Three-fifths of the Rockies' regular rotation is on the injured list, and Kauffmann has been one of the pitchers who's stepped in. He debuted Friday against the Rangers and was roughed up. Kauffmann will now have to face the Marlins at Coors Field this week, so things don't get easier. It's difficult to number scout him due to the context of the home parks of the Rockies' minor-league affiliates, but scouting reports suggest he lacks a plus fastball and doesn't offer particularly good command of his arsenal. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $1

Chase Anderson, Rockies: Anderson is the other one who's filled in for Colorado and he performed well in his club debut Tuesday against the Reds last week. He hasn't posted an ERA below six since 2019, so he's hands-off in just about every format. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Brandon Williamson, Reds: The promotion of a player the caliber of Williamson would normally be the headline, but he has to share the spotlight due to some of the other moves made in recent days. Still, there should be plenty of excitement for the young lefty. The bids for Williamson have increased this weekend after dominating the Rockies at Coors, and he'll now head into what projects to be a two-start week. As for his actual skills, he offers a four-pitch mix but has to show improved command to ensure long-term effectiveness as he's consistently posted double-digit walk rates in the upper levels of the minors. 12-team mixed: $1, 15-team mixed: $4, 12-team NL: $10

Gavin Stone/Michael Grove/Bobby Miller, Dodgers: In case there weren't enough pitcher injuries, Julio Urias (hamstring) and Dustin May (forearm) both landed on the IL this week. In addition, Noah Syndergaard has been uninspiring. In other words, this is a rotation with opportunity in both the short and long-term. Stone is a touted prospect who struggled in his big-league debut, but should get another shot. This may not be the week to jam him back into lineups as he projects for a two-step at Atlanta and Tampa Bay. But down the road, he should be a strong investment. Grove is yet another Dodgers starter on the injured list, but is nearing a rehab outing with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He figures to slot back into the rotation shortly, though his first stint this season wasn't positive (8.44 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 14:7 K:BB across 16 IP). Bet on pedigree and team context. Miller may have the most raw talent of LA's pitching prospects near the majors, which is saying something. He's still working his way back from a shoulder injury, though he did post his best outing of the season with OKC on Wednesday (6 IP, 6K, 1 BB, 1 ER). He's probably still a bit away from the majors, but is a worthy stash in some formats given the Dodgers' pitching issues. The C grade is based on the projection he won't be in the majors for some time, not his talent. Stone: 12-team mixed: $6, 15-team mixed: $12, 12-team NL: $24; Grove: 12-team mixed: $4, 15-team mixed: $8, 12-team NL: $14; Miller: 12-team mixed: No, 15-team: $0, 12-team: $2

Robbie Erlin, Dodgers: It's a bit of a buzzkill going from three top prospects to Erlin, but he's expected to enter the rotation soon enough. Specifically, the pitching grid has him taking the mound Tuesday at Atlanta. Given that Grove is likely to take over that spot on its next turn combined with Erlin's talent and the matchup, there's not much here. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team: No , 12-team NL: $0

Ryan Weathers, Padres: Weathers goes back into the Padres' rotation to replace Seth Lugo (calf). He has an interesting history with significant pedigree and has enjoyed some extended success in the majors during his age-21 season in 2021 and then had a disastrous 2022 both in the bigs and at Triple-A El Paso. Weathers looks to be back on track this season (3.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 14:9 K:BB across 23.2 big-league innings) and is lined up to take on the Nationals in his return. 12-team mixed: $2, 15-team: $5, 12-team NL: $9

Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals: Liberatore finally got his chance in the Cardinals rotation after posting a 3.13 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a 56:17 K:BB across 46 innings with Triple-A Memphis to begin the campaign. He carried that form into his start Wednesday against the Brewers, where he threw five scoreless innings while striking out six. Based on prospect status and that start, Liberatore is an easy "A" grade. He's one step below that for the time being because his role is currently murky. Manager Oliver Marmol said Saturday Liberatore will be available out of the bullpen Sunday, but could start in the upcoming week if he isn't needed in relief. The deeper the league, the more I'm willing to invest because it seems only a matter of time before Liberatore is used in a traditional starter role. In shallower leagues, the opportunity cost of holding him waiting for that might be too much to ask. 12-team mixed: $0, 15-team: $3, 12-team NL: $10

Eric Lauer, Brewers: Lauer was demoted from the Brewers' rotation, only to return due to an injury to Wade Miley (lat/rib). He was crushed by the Rays on Saturday, though that can be said of many pitchers this season. Lauer represents a streaming option next week thanks to a matchup against the Giants, and might be available because of the previously expected move to the bullpen. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team: $1, 12-team NL: $3

Dylan Covey, Phillies: The Phillies claimed Covey off waivers Saturday, and he will reportedly immediately step into the rotation. He also lines up to have a two-step in the upcoming week with the Diamondbacks on Tuesday and Atlanta Sunday. Before we get too excited, Covey enters with a career 6.54 ERA across 268.1 innings.  12-team mixed: No, 15-team: No, 12-team NL: $0

RELIEF PITCHER

Miguel Castro, Diamondbacks: Entering Sunday, Castro has notched three of Arizona's last four saves. Saturday's contest against the Pirates is an example of how the Diamondbacks may plan to use Andrew Chafin moving forward, as he entered in the eighth inning to face the heart of the order and lefty Jack Suwinski. If Chafin is reserved for the highest-leverage spots, Castro could continue to receive more chances in the ninth and rack up some saves. The most notable part of Castro's profile is a single-digit walk rate – which he last achieved in 2016 when he only logged 14.2 innings. 12-team mixed: $3, 15-team: $6, 12-team NL: $10

Adbert Alzolay, Cubs: We have to do a bit of speculating in Chicago because the team hasn't recorded a save since May 6. Alzolay's usage in the last week suggests he's being used in a fireman role rather than as a traditional closer. But if Mark Leiter Jr. and Keegan Thompson continue to scuffle, the Cubs may not have a choice but to turn to Alzolay to preserve wins. 12-team mixed: $0, 15-team: $2, 12-team NL: $5

Dylan Floro, Marlins: There's no such speculation needed in Miami. Since A.J. Puk (elbow) went down, Floro has recorded four saves while tossing 4.1 innings of scoreless ball. The only thing keeping bids in check is that Puk has already begun throwing and may be able to return after a minimum stint on the injured list. 12-team mixed: $2; 15-team mixed: $4, 12-team NL: $7

Craig Kimbrel, Phillies: In most deeper formats, Kimbrel is probably already rostered and has been for much of the season. But in leagues where Gregory Soto was the primary FAAB target last week and Kimbrel remains available, this is the time to speculate. Soto was called upon to keep the score tied at 4-4 Wednesday against the Giants, but he proceeded to allow five of the first seven batters he faced to reach base before taking the loss. Matt Strahm has pitched in a multi-inning relief or starting role for much of the season, though he also lists a save and is another name to consider - or at least monitor. 12-team mixed: $0, 15-team mixed: $2, 12-team NL: Rostered

CATCHER

Gary Sanchez, Mets: Sanchez was promoted to the big-league roster Friday, primarily because he had an opt-out clause in his contract for that day. How the Mets plan to use him is unclear after he sat Friday and Saturday's game was rained out. But presumably, the team kept Sanchez around for a reason. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $1

FIRST BASE

Michael Toglia, Rockies: Toglia may be in a short-side platoon role at first with C.J. Cron (back) sidelined having started three of five games since being promoted – two coming against lefties. His minor-league track record suggests his profile is that of an all-or-nothing power hitter, though that can play at Coors Field if he gets at-bats. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $2

Mike Moustakas, Rockies: Moustakas appears in line for the majority of the at-bats at first with Cron out. But as was noted above, the exact allocation of playing time is yet to be determined. Moustakas has posted an OPS in the 600s in each of the last two seasons, so he's best used as a stream when the Rockies are heavy on home games in a given week. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $3

Brandon Dixon, Padres:  Manny Machado's (thumb) absence has left a hole in the San Diego lineup, one that isn't going to be filled by any single player. Dixon has started two of the last three, but both have come against lefties. He sat against the only righty the team has faced during Machado's absence. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

SECOND BASE

Rougned Odor, Padres: Odor looks to be on the opposite side of the platoon with Dixon, as Jake Cronenworth will play at first and Odor at second against righties. At this point, we pretty well know what we'll get out of Odor, which is some power and a low batting average. He hasn't delivered the former yet, though it should emerge with more playing time. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $0, 12-team NL: $2

THIRD BASE

Mark Vientos, Mets: The Mets promoted Vientos in the middle of the week and have since found him some regular at-bats. It appears he'll play third against lefties to take over for Brett Baty and should occasionally kick Daniel Vogelbach to the bench versus righties. Vientos' chances of becoming fantasy-relevant depend on how willing the team is likely to play him over Vogelbach or Mark Canha. As for skills, he's known for power but has had a poor control of the strike zone while rising through the minors and offers nothing in terms of steals. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $1, 12-team NL: $4

SHORTSTOP

Matt McLain, Reds:  McLain was likely promoted shortly after FAAB ran last weekend, so we've had a good look at him this week. That test run has likely considerably driven up his value as he's hit second in the order and has reached base in all four games. Unless McLain struggles mightily, he should have a clear path to playing time the rest of the season and offers the traits to contribute in all five categories. 12-team mixed: $6, 15-team mixed: $13, 12-team NL: $21

Jose Barrero, Reds:  The promotion of McLain didn't help Barrero's ability to get in the lineup, though he should maintain some role with TJ Friedl (oblique) on the injured list. Friedl could be back as soon as Thursday and Barrero is still only a part-time player with significant holes in his skills profile, so don't get carried away. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: Rostered

OUTFIELD

Mike Tauchman, Cubs: Tauchman was promoted Friday after Cody Bellinger (knee) hit the IL. The Cubs have a pretty settled starting outfield, so there isn't likely to be much playing time available. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Josh Palacios, Pirates: Palacios was covered in last week's column, though things have changed as he's overtaken Connor Joe for the starting role in right field. As a 27-year-old with not much big-league experience, he'll likely need to make a strong impression quickly to keep a role moving forward, though he's gone 4-for-15 through Saturday. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $1, 12-team NL: $4

Kyle Lewis, Diamondbacks: Lewis has been participating in Arizona Complex League games the last few days while ramping back up after a lengthy absence caused by illness. It's unclear what type of role he'll return to. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Stuart Fairchild, Reds: Fairchild has taken over as the primary starting center fielder since Friedl was sidelined. He's only notched a .536 OPS since stepping into the increased playing time, and Friedl is reportedly near returning. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Garrett Hampson, Marlins: In yet another outfield injury situation, Hampson has received the opportunity to cover center field while Jazz Chisholm deals with a toe injury. The issue is likely to hold Chisholm out for at least the next 10 days, so Hampson will have consistent opportunity. The results haven't been pretty to this point, and he no longer has Coors Field to fall back on. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Xavier Edwards, Marlins: Edwards is playing behind Hampson for now, but the Marlins should give him a chance at some point. Prior to being promoted, he got on base at a .431 clip at Triple-A Jacksonville. We shouldn't expect that to continue, though Edwards runs and that makes him an intriguing fantasy option if given a chance. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Peyton Burdick, Marlins: Burdick has occupied right field since Jesus Sanchez (hamstring) went down. He's striking out at a 48-percent clip, but has produced a home run and a stolen base across eight games. He'll almost certainly take a hit to batting average, but his power and speed potential is real. 12-team mixed: $0, 15-team mixed: $2, 12-team NL: $5

Darin Ruf, Brewers: Ruf went from a short-side platoon role with the Giants to a similar spot with the Brewers. That's not particularly notable, but it represented a transaction during the week. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: No, 12-team NL: $0

Oscar Mercado, Cardinals: After seemingly carrying too many outfielders to know what to do with to begin the season, St. Louis is suddenly thin at the position. Mercado has the beneficiary and has started two of three games since being promoted, in large part due to his defense. Tommy Edman shifted to the outfield Saturday, which could complicate things for Mercado. In his limited sample, Mercado has already swiped two bags while both Tyler O'Neill (back) and Dylan Carlson (ankle) should be out for the next week. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed: $0, 12-team NL: $3

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Marcus
Dan started covering fantasy sports in 2015, joining Rotowire in 2018. In addition to Rotowire, Dan has written for Baseball HQ and Rotoballer.
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