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AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

Clay Link

Clay Link is the MLB Editor at RotoWire. A fan of the Cincinnati Reds, professional wrestling and hip hop music, he can be heard Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He also co-hosts the Prospect Podcast every Thursday.

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 free-agent budget you should bid on them.

This year, we're incorporating sortable grids into the FAAB articles, so users can see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The grids include a very basic "player grade" column. This serves as a reflection of a player's skills and role on an A-E scale. Carlos Correa would have been an "A" grade player last year -- that mark will be reserved for similar high-impact prospects stepping into an everyday role.

Not seeing a certain player? Check to see if they were mentioned in last weekís article. If there is a player not discussed in either article that you would like to know about, feel free to ask about them in the comments.

PLAYER TEAM POS GRADE $ (12-Team Mixed) $ (15-Team Mixed) $ (AL-Only)
Blake Snell TB SP B 9 20 41
Henry Owens BOS SP C 1 5 10
Steven Wright BOS SP C 1 4 9
Tyler Duffey MIN SP C 0 3 7
Tyler Wilson BAL SP D No 0 3
Mike Minor KC SP D No No 1
Drew Hutchison TOR SP D No No 0
Mark Lowe DET RP D 0 2 6
Brett Cecil TOR RP D No No 1
Matt Albers CWS RP D No No 1
Brian Matusz BAL RP D No No 1
Roenis Elias BOS RP E No No 0
Phil Klein TEX RP D No No 0
Curt Casali TB C D No No 3
Steve Clevenger SEA C E No No 0
Justin Smoak TOR 1B C 2 6 13
Jesus Montero TOR 1B E No No 0
Jurickson Profar TEX 2B D 0 2 7
Andrelton Simmons LAA SS C 0 2 7
Danny Santana MIN SS C 0 2 7
Matt Dominguez TOR 3B E No No 1
Andrew Romine DET 3B E No No 0
Lonnie Chisenhall CLE OF D No No 3
Bradley Zimmer CLE OF E No No 2
Ezequiel Carrera TOR OF D No 0 4
Tyler Ladendorf OAK OF E No No 0

Starting Pitcher

Blake Snell, Rays - Snell ran into a little trouble in the first inning Saturday, but he was as advertised in his major league debut, striking out six and giving up only two hits and one walk over six innings against the Yankees. The Rays sent him down after the game, as expected, with the schedule allowing them to go without a fifth starter again until almost mid-May, but Snell made a very strong case to return when the time comes. Erasmo Ramirez has been extremely valuable out of the bullpen thus far, and he could effectively work in tandem with Snell (as Jason Collette suggested on Saturdayís SiriusXM show), with the two combining for seven or so innings every fifth day. Thereís no excuse for Snell being available in deeper leagues, but if heís available in shallower leagues, that needs to change this week. 12-team mixed: $9; 15-team mixed: $20; AL-only: $41

Henry Owens, Red Sox - I have my doubts about Owensí ability to get away with the free passes against major league lineups, but heís gotten by with them so far this season down at Triple-A Pawtucket (96.8% LOB% in 18 innings). Itís hasnít been all luck by any means, as Owens has limited the number of balls in play, striking batters out nearly a third of the time. However, itís important to keep in mind that Owens posted a strikeout rate just over 20 percent over 122.1 innings at Triple-A last season. With Joe Kelly (shoulder) landing on the DL, Owens will come up to start Sunday against the Astros. He could stick for a while with a couple strong performances, but Eduardo Rodriguez (knee) is set to begin a rehab assignment this week, and Brian Johnson could eventually come up to round out the rotation. 12-team mixed: $1; 15-team mixed: $5; AL-only: $10

Steven Wright, Red Sox - The knuckleballer finished Fridayís outing with five walks, but he issued just two walks in his first six innings, and three combined in his first two starts of the season. Heís been effective, allowing a total of three earned runs on 16 hits while striking out 17 in 19.1 innings. So long as heís starting, Wright should remain a viable back-end starter in AL-only leagues, and heís arguably reached streamer status in deeper mixed leagues. Like with Owens, there is the uncertainty as to how long he will remain in the rotation, but Wright has enjoyed a good amount of success at the major league level, and it will be difficult for the team to justify removing him if he keeps this up. 12-team mixed: $1; 15-team mixed: $4; AL-only: $9

Tyler Duffey, Twins - While Ervin Santana (back) is expected to miss just one start, the back end of the Twinsí rotation has been shaky, and Duffey could turn the heat up on Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco with a strong outing Sunday against the Nationals. The peripherals largely supported his strong ratios with the big club last season, and while the walks have been up a little bit in the early going down at Triple-A Rochester this season, he handed out only one free pass over seven innings in his last outing. Those in need of some pitching help in a deep league could do a lot worse. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $3; AL-only: $7

Tyler Wilson, Orioles - Vance Worley was moved to the bullpen, opening the door for Wilson to step in Saturday for his sixth career start and first of the season. Aside from a few mistake pitches, Wilson was strong, holding the defending World Series champion Royals to three runs on six hits over five innings en route to the win. He struck out just two batters, and even against non-Royals opponents the strikeout upside will likely remain limited, but Wilsonís ability to command a four-pitch arsenal could keep him in the rotation and relevant in deeper formats. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $0; AL-only: $3

Mike Minor, Royals - Reports out of Arizona had Minor touching the mid-90s during his extended spring outing Friday. After a breakout 2013 campaign with Atlanta, Minor struggled with shoulder issues throughout 2014 and ultimately underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder last May. General manager Dayton Moore suggested Minor could be back in a few weeks, although his workload is yet to be determined. Thereís enough uncertainty with his role and downside here to pass for now in most mixed leagues, but those looking for upside in AL-only leagues should take note. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $1

Drew Hutchison, Blue Jays - The 25-year-old is off to a strong start with Triple-A Buffalo (2.98 FIP, 20 strikeouts in 15.1 innings), and he will get a look in a spot start Sunday against Oakland. Hutchison will be sent down after the game, and thereís probably not quite enough here to stash him long-term in a mixed league, so donít get carried away if he turns in a strong performance Sunday. That said, heís on the radar in AL-only leagues. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0

Relief Pitcher

Mark Lowe, Tigers - Closer Francisco Rodriguezís outing against the Royals this week was embarrassing (his words), with the 34-year-old giving up two home runs and two walks before getting the final out to escape with the save. He gave up three earned runs in his debut, but sandwiched between the two poor showings were a handful of scoreless appearances. Meanwhile, Lowe has allowed three runs in seven innings with a 5:1 K:BB, racking up five holds. The velocity is down some from his mid-90s average from last season, and heís never really profiled as a definite future closer (career 11.1% K-BB%), but Lowe is next in line for saves in Detroit. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $2; AL-only: $6

Brett Cecil, Blue Jays - The lefty has blown three leads already this year and the whiffs are down, as it seems heís making a conscious effort to pitch more to weak contact. There is no path to saves any more for Cecil but he should be owned in leagues that count holds, and can be plugged into a final active spot in 12-team AL-only leagues as a source of ratio help. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $1

Matt Albers, White Sox - Speaking of ratio help, Albers has been a sneaky source, rattling off nine straight scoreless appearances to begin 2016 after posting a sparkling 1.14 ERA in 26 appearances over the second half of last season. His success over the last couple campaigns can be attributed to improved control -- Albersí walk rate since the start of 2015 is about six percent, while his career rate is just south of 10 percent. The strikeouts wonít be there, nor will any save opportunities, but the White Sox figure to continue using him regularly. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $1

Brian Matusz, Orioles - A back strain, suffered early in spring training, forced Matusz to the DL to begin the season. Activated and called upon to pitch Saturday, Matusz allowed a hit and a walk while only recording one out in his 2016 debut, but the left-hander has been a valuable member of the Oriolesí bullpen over the past three seasons and will play an important role again this year. His career-best 27.2-percent strikeout rate from a year ago was supported by a whiff rate just under 13 percent. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $1

Roenis Elias, Red Sox - Elias was brought up by the Red Sox this week to fill a long-relief role. It remains to be seen whether his stuff will be any better in shorter spurts, but Saturdayís appearance did not lend much hope to the idea, with the Astros getting to the lefty for three runs on four hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. There should be better arms in available in most formats. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0

Phil Klein, Rangers - Recalled this week to replace Keone Kela (elbow) on the active roster, Klein began his second stint with the big club this year just as he did his first one -- with a couple scoreless appearance. His ratios have been glowing in the small sample, with Kleinís fastball and slider both up a couple ticks from a year ago. Heís buried in the middle innings, so heís off the mixed-league radar, but Klein could start to solidify his role with a few more strong outings. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0


Curt Casali, Rays - Hank Congerís limitations behind the plate have created an opening for Casali, who started six out of seven games before sitting Saturday. Heís done little to speak of offensively, going 5-for-32 with two extra-base hits, and his track record at Triple-A leaves a lot to be desired. That said, Casali did flash some useful pop last season, reaching double-digit home runs in a mere 38 games, but his inability to make contact at anywhere close to even an average clip figures to keep Casaliís average at a harmful level. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $3

Steve Clevenger, Mariners - Clevenger is still UTIL-only in many leagues, but heís made four appearances behind the plate this season and hit his fourth career home run in his last start. Itís hard to imagine a scenario where Clevenger would make sense as an add, since most in AL-only leagues would probably be better off taking a zero at the second catcher spot than a net-negative. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0

First Base

Justin Smoak, Blue Jays - Chris Colabello was suspended 80 games for PED use, and with the team reportedly not planning to go outside the organization to find a replacement (at least initially), it appears Smoak will get a chance to play on a near-everyday basis. Last season, Smoak tapped into some of the power that made him a top prospect many moons ago, posting a .243 isolated power number, which would have ranked among the top 15 in all of baseball if he had logged enough at-bats to qualify. Heís not hitting much so far this year, but Smoak is taking walks at a nice clip, and Matt Dominguez and Jesus Montero represent the only real in-house threats. 12-team mixed: $2; 15-team mixed: $6; AL-only: $13

Jesus Montero, Blue Jays - Speaking of Montero, he has started well with Buffalo, but unlike Matt Dominguez, heís striking out a lot and isnít on the 40-man roster. Itís always possible the team could swap Dominguez out with Montero, but it doesnít seem like thereís been enough of a difference between the two for that to be warranted right now. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0

Second Base

Jurickson Profar, Rangers - I mentioned Profar a few weeks ago, but heís worth revisiting after another hot week with Triple-A Round Rock. The 23-year-old has hit safely in seven straight games with four multi-hit contests over that span, raising his average and OBP to .321 and .400, respectively. There are still some questions about his defense -- and heís not hitting for any notable power right now -- but an injury to either Elvis Andrus or Rougned Odor, or perhaps a trade, would probably afford him major league playing time. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $2; AL-only: $7


Andrelton Simmons, Angels - A 12-game hitting streak earned Simmons a couple starts in the two-hole against left-handers this week, and heís batting sixth against right-handers. Even with hits in 13 of 18 games this season, Simmons is still batting just .232, and the power has been negligible since his 17-homer campaign in 2013. Those hurting for a middle infielder in a mixed league should be able to do better. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $2; AL-only: $7

Danny Santana, Twins - Santana has made a speedy recovery from a hamstring injury, and could step into a regular role upon activation from the DL early this week. Byron Buxton struck out twice in his last start, giving him an even 20 strikeouts in 40 at-bats, before sitting in favor of Max Kepler in center field on Saturday. Kepler figures to head down upon Santanaís activation, and Buxton could follow shortly thereafter. Santanaís not the solution to the teamís offensive woes, but manager Paul Molitor said early in the year that he liked the ďsparkĒ Santana was giving them. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $2; AL-only: $7

Third Base

Matt Dominguez, Blue Jays - If you need to get creative at third base in an AL-only league, Dominguez might make some sense, as he could get the call to Toronto to provide a right-handed compliment at the other corner infield spot. He has gotten off to a strong start down at Triple-A Buffalo (.302/.316/.453), getting back some of the power he gave up in the name of contact last year. Dominguez rarely walks, but he does have major league experience, and most importantly, is on the Blue Jaysí 40-man roster. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $1

Andrew Romine, Tigers - With eight at-bats in eight games this season and just one hit, Romine is not really worth consideration in any format. Those in AL-only leagues would be better off speculating on a player like Colin Moran (who was mentioned last week). 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0


Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians - Chisenhall hasnít exactly hit the ground running since his return from the DL in going 2-for-16 with zero walks, but has started each of the Indiansí last four games. The 27-year-old has flashed a little pop in the past, and heís also eligible at third base, but prospect Bradley Zimmer could get the call sooner than expected if Chisenhall canít give the team more offensively. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $3

Bradley Zimmer, Indians - He endured some growing pains after making the jump to Double-A as a 22-year-old last season, but Zimmer is enjoying far more success in the early-going this year. A first-round pick in 2014, he has a .864 OPS with two homers and six steals through 15 games, although the strikeouts remains a glaring issue. Still, with the Cleveland outfield in rough shape, itís not unreasonable to think Zimmer could get the call ahead of schedule. He has the arm strength to handle right field should Lonnie Chisenhall fail to get it going. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $2

Ezequiel Carrera, Blue Jays - Michael Saunders is hurt again (wouldnít you know it), and Carrera has filled in both in left field and atop the batting order in the teamís last two games. Speed is about the only aspect of his offensive profile thatís intriguing, although he did hit at a palatable .273 clip last season, and the team context is obviously favorable. Regular starts atop the order would be big for his value, but the team hasnít given any indication that Saundersí injury is a long-term concern. Not yet, anyway. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $0; AL-only: $4

Tyler Ladendorf, Aís - Danny Valenciaís placement on the DL opened the door for Ladendorf, a career minor leaguer, to return to Oakland. He is expected to fill a utility role, and owns a lackluster .266/.335/.365 batting line in parts of six seasons in the Pacific Coast League. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0