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), include 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 $
Chase AndersonCOLSPE016
Roansy ContrerasPITSPD016
Johnny CuetoMIASPDNo05 (early injury spec return bid)
Michael GroveLADSPC2711
Dinelson LametCOLSPDNo05
Wade MileyMILSPC/D3914 (injury return bid)
Jose QuintanaNYMSPD016 (early injury spec return bid)
Michael SorokaATLSPC/D159 (same bid as prior)
Julio TeheranMILSPE159 (upped bid from prior)

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), include 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 $
Chase AndersonCOLSPE016
Roansy ContrerasPITSPD016
Johnny CuetoMIASPDNo05 (early injury spec return bid)
Michael GroveLADSPC2711
Dinelson LametCOLSPDNo05
Wade MileyMILSPC/D3914 (injury return bid)
Jose QuintanaNYMSPD016 (early injury spec return bid)
Michael SorokaATLSPC/D159 (same bid as prior)
Julio TeheranMILSPE159 (upped bid from prior)
Hayden WesneskiCHCSPD016
Adbert AlzolayCHCRPD147
Sean DoolittleWASRPENo05 (early injury spec return bid)
Codi HeuerCHCRPD017 (upped injury spec return bid)
Daniel HudsonLADRPD015 (early injury spec return bid)
Justin LawrenceCOLRPD2711
AJ Smith-ShawverATLRPD016 (up in keeper leagues or if you believe he starts)
Joey BartSFCD017 (injury spec return bid)
Omar NarvaezNYMCD016 (same injury return bid)
Gary SanchezSDCD3914
Darick HallPHI1BD2711 (upped injury spec return bid)
Ji-Man ChoiPIT1BDNo06 (injury spec return bid)
Alfonso RivasSD1BENoNo4
Jon SingletonMIL1BENoNo4
Joey VottoCIN1BC/D2711 (same injury return bid)
Mark MathiasPIT2BENoNo4
Abraham ToroMIL2BENoNo4
Drew EllisPHI3BENoNo4
Elehuris MonteroCOL3BD016
Ronny MauricioNYMSSB/C3914 (same spec call up bid)
Dylan CarlsonSTLOFD2711 (injury spec return bid)
Jonny DeLucaLADOFD016
T.J. HopkinsCINOFENoNo5
Cristian PachePHIOFENoNo5 (early spec injury return bid)
Blake PerkinsMILOFDNo16
Austin SlaterSFOFDNo27

STARTING PITCHER

Chase Anderson, Rockies: Anderson has been a godsend for the Rockies rotation since being claimed off waivers from the Rays in mid-May having compiled a 10:6 K:BB and a 2.08 ERA in 21.2 innings. Keep in mind that prior to this hot stretch, he posted an ugly 6.51 ERA over his last 110.2 ML frames dating back to the beginning of 2020. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Roansy Contreras, Pirates: Contreras, slated to move to the bullpen last week, will remain in the Pirates' rotation due to Vince Velasquez's injury. He posted a 4.50 ERA through nine starts with a 5.44 xFIP and 5.48 SIERA and a 16.4 percent strikeout rate, 10.8 percent walk rate and 35.5 percent groundball rate, none of which inspired confidence. Velasquez could be out for a while, giving Contreras another lease on life as a starter. He was done in by a poor third inning Friday where he surrendered five runs. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 

Johnny Cueto, Marlins: Cueto is recovering from a right biceps injury and threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. He is still a long way from returning to the Miami rotation, but could be back before the end of the month barring any issues. Cueto was initially injured in his first start and suffered several setbacks since, so take the news of his BP session with a grain of salt. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (early injury spec return bid) 

Michael Grove, Dodgers: Grove, on the shelf since Apr. 21 with a right groin strain, was activated and started Saturday against the Yankees. He allowed four runs on four hits while striking out seven across five innings while replacing Gavin Stone, who was optioned to Triple-A. Grove looked sharp over his two rehab starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City, most notably his second outing where he struck out seven and issued zero walks over 5.2 scoreless innings. A second-round pick in 2018, Grove had a cup of coffee in the majors last year and struggled his first four appearance this year in the majors, but bet on the talent. And if he pitches well, he could remain in the rotation, especially with Noah Syndergaard scuffling. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Dinelson Lamet, Rockies: Lamet, placed on the 15-day IL with back stiffness on May 4, was stretched out as a starter at Triple-A Albuquerque. He looked sharp in his two rehab starts there and was activated to start Wednesday versus the Diamondbacks. Lamet, who was a starter in the past but moved to the bullpen in 2021 partially due to his injury history, allowed five runs on seven hits without walking a batter over just three innings during that outing. He'll be the 11th pitcher to start a game for Colorado this season and should get a few more turns in the rotation due to several injuries. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

Wade Miley, Brewers: Miley, diagnosed in mid-May with a posterior serratus strain near the left side of his rib cage and given a 6-to-8 week timetable, threw a bullpen session without issue Thursday. Prior to the injury, he had pitched to a 3.67 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 24:9 K:BB across 41.2 innings (eight starts), numbers adversely skewed by one poor outing. Miley believes he'll be back by the middle of June, which would be about a month from first being sidelined. Even if he returns slightly beyond that date, that's still ahead of the original estimated absence period. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (injury return bid) 

Jose Quintana, Mets: If you're into early spec and stash bids, Quintana makes a good target. He's scheduled to throw live batting practice Monday, which will be the first time facing live hitters since he underwent bone-graft surgery on his rib cage in March. Signed to a two-year, $26 million deal this offseason after a brilliant 2022 with Pittsburgh and St. Louis, Quintana will slide into the back end of the Mets' rotation once ready to return and that's likely to occur around the All-Star break. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (early spec injury return bid) 

Michael Soroka, Braves: Soroka, profiled last week, gets another mention as he made his first start in the majors since Aug. 2020 on Monday against the A's. The results weren't stellar as he gave up four runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings to a weak-hitting Oakland squad. Soroka's stuff looked okay, but not elite and is going again Sunday against Arizona. He should remain in the Braves' rotation at least for the short-term due to multiple injuries to the team's starting staff. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (same bid as prior) 

Julio Teheran, Brewers: Teheran, who opted out of his minor-league deal with the Padres to sign a major-league deal with Milwaukee, excelled in his first two turns through the rotation having only allowed one earned run on eight hits and a walk while striking out five in 11 innings. While the end numbers look great, a look behind the curtain reveals regression should soon occur since Teheran has generated a poor 5.6 percent swinging-strike rate across 162 pitches over those two outings. He's benefitted from consistently finding the strike zone and limiting hard contact and should remain in the Milwaukee starting staff, at least until others get healthy. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (upped bid from prior)

Hayden Wesneski, Cubs: Wesneski, as rookies do, struggled with consistency in ultimately posting a 5.03 ERA and 28:9 K:BB over 39.1 innings covering eight starts before being sent down to the minors in mid-May. He made two appearances for Triple-A Iowa before getting the call to return and pitch out of the bullpen. Justin Steele left his start Wednesday with forearm tightness. And while the injury isn't believed to be serious, Wesneski will likely replace him initially in the Cubs' rotation. If he can string together a few solid appearances, Chicago might have to find a way to keep him in the rotation. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 

RELIEF PITCHER

Adbert Alzolay, Cubs: The Chicago bullpen swung to Alzolay on Tuesday, and he responded with two perfect innings to notch the save. Mark Leiter is still clearly in the mix as he registered the save Friday and Codi Heuer could be a factor in the short-term, but Alzolay now has two saves and has been the team's most consistent reliever. At worst, he should help your ratios and notch holds for leagues that use that category. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Sean Doolittle, Nationals: Doolittle, who required surgery last July to repair a partial tear of the UCL in his left elbow, is in the midst of a rehab assignment at the team's lower minor-league levels. The final step before being activated is for him to pitch Triple-A Rochester. Once activated, Doolittle could be the primary lefty out of the pen setting up Kyle Finnegan and Hunter Harvey. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec injury return bid)

Codi Heuer, Cubs: Heuer, profiled the last three weeks, receives another mention as he's been solid his last four rehab appearances with Triple-A Iowa. He came over to the Cubs in the Craig Kimbrel deal in 2021, underwent Tommy John surgery last March and missed the entirety of 2022. Heuer could end up as Chicago's closer by the end of the season thanks to his strikeout upside and stuff, though it's possible he remains in the minors a bit longer as he looks to regain his form. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 (upped early spec injury return bid)

Daniel Hudson, Dodgers: Hudson, whose recovery from left ACL surgery has dragged on much longer than expected, joined the Dodgers this past week to continue his throwing program. Barring any further setbacks, he could be activated by the middle of June. Hudson was viewed by many as the favorite to close for LA, but may slot into the bullpen mix thanks to the strong pitching from Evan Phillips and Caleb Ferguson. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec injury return bid)

Justin Lawrence, Rockies: Lawrence recorded saves on both Friday and Saturday. Despite closing both, he's also allowed eight earned runs from his last 13 innings and 11 appearances to move his ERA above three for the season. Lawrence looks to be Colorado's top option for saves with Pierce Johnson slumping and Daniel Bard having walked 13 batters through 16.1 innings. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

AJ Smith-Shawver, Braves: Smith-Shawver, a seventh-round pick in 2021, shot up through three minor-league levels to get the call to The Show on Tuesday. He dominated with a 1.09 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 45:12 K:BB in 33 innings (seven starts) this season between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A to earn the promotion. Last season, Smith-Shawver struck out 103 batters in 68.2 innings and 17 starts in Low-A. He's been a starter in the minors, but will work in relief for Atlanta - though could get a start or two at some point given his history. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (up in keeper leagues or if you believe he starts) 

CATCHER

Joey Bart, Giants: Bart, out since May 19 with a strained left groin, resumed baserunning activities on Tuesday. That step was the final one to pave the way for him to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday. Patrick Bailey has been operating as the Giants' primary backstop since his call up when Bart went down and could retain the role even when returning as he's done little offensively to prove he deserves the job. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 (injury spec return bid) 

Omar Narvaez, Mets: Narvaez, out since Apr. 5 and on the 60-day IL due to a strained left calf, moved his rehab assignment from High-A Brooklyn to Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he should return to the Mets in the next week or so. When Narvaez comes back, Tomas Nido should be the odd man out since Francisco Alvarez has earned the right to remain the starting backstop. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (early spec return bid) 

Gary Sanchez, Padres: Sanchez, designated for assignment after a brief stint with the Mets, was immediately claimed by the Padres. He hit the ground running by homering in back-to-back contests. The 30-year-old should see regular at-bats in San Diego, likely splitting time behind the plate with Austin Nola while Luis Campusano (thumb) is sidelined through the All-Star break. Despite Sanchez's decline in performance the past several seasons, he should benefit from being in a solid lineup. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14

FIRST BASE 

Darick Hall, Phillies: Hall, profiled last week, is repeated here as he began a rehab assignment Tuesday with Single-A Clearwater. He was transferred to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday and likely will need at few more games since he's been sidelined since the sixth game of the season when he tore and underwent surgery to repair UCL in his right thumb. Hall looked set to start at first almost daily following the season-ending injury to Rhys Hoskins, but suffered his own setback. When Hall returns, he should replace Kody Clemens at first. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (upped injury return bid) 

Ji-Man Choi, Pirates: Choi, out since the second week of April with a strained left Achilles, is participating in "about all" baseball activities in his rehab. On the 60-day IL, the earliest he can return is Jun. 15, which looks somewhat doubtful as he's yet to go out on a rehab assignment. Connor Joe has ably fill in for Choi, who should at minimum be part of a platoon at first once the latter returns. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 (injury spec return bid) 

Alfonso Rivas, Padres: Rivas was promoted from Triple-A El Paso on Friday. He produced a .319/.440/.571 slash line with eight homers, 33 RBI, 40 runs and four stolen bases over 163 at-bats to earn the call-up. Rivas should see the occasional start at first and DH for the Friars. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Jon Singleton, Brewers: Singleton was called up Saturday to replace Darin Ruf (knee) on the Brewers' active roster. He slashed .258/.384/.483 with 10 homers and 29 RBI across 216 plate appearances with Triple-A Nashville. Singleton should get some time at first and DH with Milwaukee. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Joey Votto, Reds: Votto, profiled last week, gets another mention as he began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville Saturday. His surgically repaired right shoulder wasn't ready for his April rehab assignment, forcing him to be shut down. Votto ramped up his baseball activities, which included taking live batting practice to pave the way for the resumption of his stint. Based on the length of the absence, Votto is probably looking at a late-June return to the Cincy lineup. How he will be deployed given the Reds' youth movement underway remains to be seen. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (same injury spec return bid) 

SECOND BASE

Mark Mathias, Pirates: Mathias was promoted for his second tour this season with the Pirates. He posted a .695 OPS in 15 games before being sent down May 8. Mathias saw action at second and right field, which should be his role during this go-around. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Abraham Toro, Brewers: Toro was promoted Tuesday and provides Milwaukee another option at second and the hot corner as well as a switch-hitter off the bench. He had registered an underwhelming .258/.344/.352 slash line with one homer and four steals in 43 games this season at Triple-A, so don't expect much while in the bigs. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

THIRD BASE

Drew Ellis, Phillies: Ellis broke in with Arizona and played last season for Seattle before signing a minor-league deal this year with Philly. He posted a 1.009 OPS with eight home runs in 21 games tbetween Lehigh Valley and Double-A Reading before being promoted Thursday with Alec Bohm (hamstring) on the shelf. The 27-year-old can play all over the infield, but will primarily operate as the Phillies' first baseman versus left-handed pitching while Bohm and Darick Hall (thumb) are out while Kody Clemens and Edmundo Sosa both receive short-term bumps. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Elehuris Montero, Rockies: Montero was promoted Monday with Charlie Blackmon landing on the bereavement list. He likely warranted the call-up as he's destroyed Triple-A pitching since being demoted in late April by posting a 1.200 OPS with 13 homers over 28 games. Montero stuck with Colorado even though Blackmon returned due to Kris Bryant (left heel bruise) hitting the IL. He should see some time at the two corner infield spots. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

SHORTSTOP

Ronny Mauricio, Mets: Mauricio, profiled last week, receives another mention as he continues to try to and add to his versatility. Exclusively a shortstop when the season started, he's received time at second base this season and now has begun acclimating to left field. Mauricio boasts a .336/.377/.550 slash line with seven homers and nine steals through 53 games at Triple-A Syracuse. If he can display at least a passable defensive effort at several spots, he's more likely to receive a promotion as that versatility would give manager Buck Showalter lineup flexibility while incorporating a solid bat. Signed an international free agent, Mauricio has steadily shown signs of improving his plate discipline, making his promotion a matter of when, not if. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team-NL: $14 (same spec call up bid)

OUTFIELD

Dylan Carlson, Cardinals: Carlson, out since May 14 with a sprained left ankle, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday. He took batting practice from both the left and right side and resumed a running program last Monday. Once he gets a few minor-league games under his belt and is cleared to return from the 10-day injured list, Carlson should settle back into a regular role in center. As a result, Lars Nootbaar (lower-back contusion) - once he comes off the injured list - and the recently-promoted Jordan Walker should get most of the playing time in the two-corner outfield spots, though Nootbaar will also work in CF. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team-NL: $11 (injury return spec bid)

Jonny DeLuca, Dodgers: The Dodgers are expected to call up DeLuca to replace Trayce Thompson on the active roster. The 25th-round selection from 2019 has hit .297/.378/.583 with 14 homers and 12 steals in 195 at-bats between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. DeLuca could receiving playing time against left-handed pitching with Thompson on the shelf, and a hot start could earn him additional playing time over a struggling James Outman. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $6

T.J. Hopkins, Reds: The Reds recalled Hopkins from Triple-A Louisville to replace TJ Friedl (hamstring) on the Reds' active roster. The 26-year-old outfielder has been impressive in the minors this season by slashing .341/.437/.540 with seven home runs and 27 RBI through 207 plate appearances. Hopkins will back up both corner outfield spots while in the majors. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $5

Cristian Pache, Phillies: Pache, on the IL since Apr. 29 with a torn meniscus in his right knee, began a rehab assignment with High-A Jersey Shore on Friday. He's upper-tier defensively, though the offense has always been a question as he's currently on his third organization. Pache likely will need a week or two of rehab appearances before being ready to return and fill a backup outfielder role. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team-NL: $5 (early spec injury return bid) 

Blake Perkins, Brewers: Perkins was called up Saturday by Milwaukee. His promotion provides the team some much-needed outfield depth with Tyrone Taylor (elbow) joining Jesse Winker (neck) and Garrett Mitchell (shoulder) on the IL and Sal Frelick (thumb) also out. Perkins had raked in the minors, but scuffled during his brief stint with the big club - but did make up for that by blasting a grand slam his first at-bat on Saturday. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $6

Austin Slater, Giants: Slater was out two-plus weeks with a strained hamstring, but returned to action Monday. He should continue playing regularly against left-handed pitching at all three outfield spots. Slater offers a little power and speed, giving him value in single and deeper leagues. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team-NL: $7

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Levine
Levine covers baseball and hockey for RotoWire. He is responsible for the weekly NL FAAB column for baseball and the Barometer for hockey. In addition to his column writing, he is master of the NHL cheat sheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets and Rangers.
Weekly Pitcher Rankings: The Short and Long of It
Weekly Pitcher Rankings: The Short and Long of It
Sorare MLB: Upgrades, Holds and Downgrades
Sorare MLB: Upgrades, Holds and Downgrades
MLB FAAB Factor: Fantastic Finishes
MLB FAAB Factor: Fantastic Finishes
Mound Musings: The 2024 Futures Game
Mound Musings: The 2024 Futures Game