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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.

These 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 week’s article. If there is a player not discussed in either article that you would like to know about, feel free to ask about the player in the comments.

PLAYER TEAM POS GRADE $ (12-Team Mixed) $ (15-Team Mixed) $ (AL-Only)
Danny Duffy KC SP A 7 16 34
James Paxton SEA SP B 4 9 20
Matt Boyd DET SP C 0 3 8
Daniel Mengden OAK SP C 0 3 8
Zach Neal OAK SP D No No 2
Miguel Gonzalez CWS SP C No 0 4
Tim Lincecum LAA SP C No 1 6
David Huff LAA SP E No No 0
Roenis Elias BOS SP D No 1 6
Brandon Kintzler MIN RP B 3 7 15
Fernando Abad MIN RP B 2 6 14
Matt Bush TEX RP C No 0 4
Anthony Swarzak NYY RP D No No 3
Robinson Chirinos TEX C B 4 8 19
Steve Clevenger SEA C D No No 2
Sandy Leon BOS C D No No 2
A.J. Reed HOU 1B B 4 10 21
Justin Morneau CWS 1B C No 1 7
Arismendy Alcantara OAK 2B D No No 4
Rob Refsnyder NYY 2B C No 0 6
Tim Anderson CWS SS B 8 18 38
Andrelton Simmons LAA SS C 2 4 11
Cheslor Cuthbert KC 3B C 0 4 11
Leonys Martin SEA OF A 8 18 39
Kevin Kiermaier TB OF C 0 5 12
Ezequiel Carrera TOR OF C No 0 6
Robbie Grossman MIN OF B 3 7 15
Tyler Naquin CLE OF C 1 3 8
Todd Cunningham LAA OF D No No 2
Shane Robinson LAA OF E No No 0
Jason Coats CWS OF D No No 3

Starting Pitcher

Danny Duffy, Royals - Duffy was spotlighted last week, but he deserves another mention as his price continues to tick up with each start. At this point, even those in shallow leagues should be putting in relatively lofty bids for Duffy, if he’s even out there on the waiver wire. After Saturday’s gem of an outing -- he struck out 10 and gave up just two hits over six scoreless innings -- Duffy’s ERA and WHIP sit at 2.94 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, respectively, with his K-BB% jumping to 27.1 percent as a starter from 21.6 percent in a relief role. He has had some issues with the long ball as a starter, and cautious owners may want to skip his next scheduled start against the Tigers’ right-handed heavy lineup, but Duffy should have another 100 innings on his arm at least. With strikeout upside, solid control, and an excellent defense behind him, Duffy could become a fixture in many fantasy lineups moving forward. 12-team mixed: $7; 15-team mixed: $16; AL-only: $34

James Paxton, Mariners - What a difference a week makes. Paxton was knocked around pretty good in his 2016 big-league debut, allowing 10 hits in just 3.2 innings, but the lefty was brilliant in two starts on the homestand. He held the Indians and Rangers to one earned run on 11 hits over 12.1 combined innings in his two outings, striking out 17 (10 against Cleveland) while walking three batters. Paxton is throwing significantly harder this year, with his fastball and cutter both clocking in three-plus miles per hour faster on average than they were last season. With the news that Felix Hernandez could miss another month with a strained calf, there’s now a fairly significant window of opportunity for Paxton, and the skills are intriguing enough to where he deserves a flier even in standard 12-team mixed leagues. 12-team mixed: $4; 15-team mixed: $9; AL-only: $20

Matt Boyd, Tigers - Boyd issued five free passes in his last start but limited the damage to one run, as he gave up a mere three hits over 5.1 innings against the Blue Jays. He lines up for a two-step this week with road starts against the White Sox and Royals on tap. Those matchups may carry too much risk for some, but Chicago and Kansas City rank 13th and 14th in the American League in runs scored this month, with the latter managing a mere 23 runs in their last 10 games. As a team, the Royals have struck out 86 times in June while the White Sox have struck out 80 times in nine games. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $3; AL-only: $8

Daniel Mengden, A’s - A fourth-round pick by the Astros in the 2014 first-year player draft, he was sent to the A’s last July as part of the return for Scott Kazmir. After posting stellar numbers in 10 starts between Double-A and Triple-A to begin the campaign (1.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP), Mengden received the call to make his major league debut Saturday against the Reds, and the right-hander held his own at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. He issued four walks, gave up a home run to Jay Bruce and took the loss, but the 23-year-old also struck out five, flashing a quality four-pitch arsenal and allowing minimal hard contact. Jesse Hahn has fallen on his face time and again, and after Saturday’s encouraging performance, Mengden deserves an extended audition in the rotation. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $3; AL-only: $8

Zach Neal, A’s - Rich Hill needs more time to treat a groin injury, and Neal is expected to round out the rotation in the interim. The results have been excellent down at Triple-A Nashville so far this season, with Neal going 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA on the strength of impeccable control. However, he doesn’t really have the stuff to get away with living in the strike zone against major league hitting, and his 12 hits and three home runs allowed in eight innings with the big club to this point would attest to that. Neal works right around 90 mph with his fastball and has averaged just six strikeouts per nine throughout his minor league career. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $2

Miguel Gonzalez, White Sox - Mat Latos’ tenure in the White Sox’s rotation came to a merciful end this week, and with Latos out of the way, Gonzalez appears fairly secure in a starting role. Gonzalez only has a 1-1 record to show for his efforts so far but he’s pitched reasonably well, posting a 3.57 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 34:15 K:BB over 40.1 innings. He has given up a handful of home runs, though, and the long ball has been his Achilles’ heel in the past. Further, the walks are up and his strikeout upside is limited, so Gonzalez still has little appeal as a streamer in mixed leagues. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $0; AL-only: $4

Tim Lincecum, Angels - Now more than seven months removed from hip surgery, Lincecum appears on the verge of returning to the major leagues. Lincecum has given up just six hits while striking out 11 in 10 innings so far for Triple-A Salt Lake, and after one more outing Sunday, he will likely join the Angels’ starting rotation. He hasn’t been “The Freak” in years and won’t ever be that pitcher again, but Lincecum has said his struggles last season were due in large part to the nagging hip injury, and the early returns suggest there’s still something there. It’s hard to imagine him being a big mixed-league difference maker, but Lincecum makes for a worthwhile flier for those in need of pitching in AL-only formats. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; AL-only: $6

David Huff, Angels - The Angels were forced turn to Huff as they await Lincecum’s arrival, and he struggled (predictably) in his first start of the season. While Huff posted a 3.18 FIP in 23.2 innings with the Royals’ Triple-A Omaha affiliate earlier this season and will start again for the Angels on Sunday, there’s really nothing to see from a fantasy perspective. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0

Roenis Elias, Red Sox - On the heels of a complete-game, eight-strikeout performance with Triple-A Pawtucket on June 5, Elias went seven scoreless on Friday to lower his ERA with the affiliate to 3.54. He has a 40:8 K:BB in his last five starts, and has put himself in the conversation for a promotion next weekend when the Red Sox once again need a fifth starter. His track record at the major league level leaves quite a bit to be desired, but Elias’ name is one to remember in leagues where pitching is hard to come by. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; AL-only: $6

Relief Pitcher

Brandon Kintzler, Twins - It took until the second week of June, but manager Paul Molitor finally pulled the plug on Kevin Jepsen in the closer role, and it looks like Kintzler could be the main beneficiary. The 31-year-old Kintzler threw a scoreless inning against Miami this week en route to his first career save -- it was the team’s first save chance following Jepsen’s removal from the ninth-inning job. Kintzler will have to share closing duties with lefty Fernando Abad, and Abad’s probably the better pitcher, but as the right-hander, Kintzler figures to see the lion’s share of the save chances right away. 12-team mixed: $3; 15-team mixed: $7; AL-only: $15

Fernando Abad, Twins - As mentioned above, Brandon Kintzler got the first post-Kevin Jepsen save chance, and as the right-hander, Kintzler seems to be in position for more regular save opportunities. That said, Abad should see some chances too depending on the matchups, and the lefty’s skills are arguably more bankable than Kintzler’s. Kintzler has been razor sharp with his control but has benefited from a perfect strand rate, and his strikeout rate (17.7%) is dramatically lower than Abad’s (26.6%). 12-team mixed: $2; 15-team mixed: $6; AL-only: $14

Matt Bush, Rangers - It’s been smooth sailing for Bush through 14 appearances at the major league level, as he’s given up just two earned runs in 13.1 innings. He’s recorded 15 strikeouts against three walks, racking up two wins and five holds since getting the call in mid-May. The right-hander seems to be carving out a prominent role in the Texas bullpen and is especially appealing in leagues that count holds, but even in standard leagues, Bush has appeal as a ratios eater. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $0; AL-only: $4

Anthony Swarzak, Yankees - Swarzak quietly returned to the majors this week and picked up the win in his first appearance with New York, retiring five batters on 20 pitches. He was pitching well down at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before getting the call, but in the Yankees’ stacked bullpen, Swarzak’s chances at wins or even holds will likely be limited, with the team needing him for long duty rather than high-leverage spots. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $3


Robinson Chirinos, Rangers - Chirinos is back following a two-month absence, but the Rangers will hold off on starting him in back-to-back games until he’s up to full speed. He launched 10 homers in just 78 games last season, a year after hitting 13 in 93 games. Chirinos has never hit even .240 in a major league season, but he’s impossible to ignore given his power at a position as thin as catcher. 12-team mixed: $4; 15-team mixed: $8; AL-only: $19

Steve Clevenger, Mariners - With a double in Saturday’s game, Clevenger has now hit safely in five straight games, and he’s drawn walks in each of his last four starts. The 30-year-old packs little power and he’s not playing enough to compile counting stats at a useful clip. Even in a 12-team, two-catcher league, Clevenger may not be a net positive. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $2

Sandy Leon, Red Sox - Making his first start of the year and just his second appearance with Boston this season, Leon went 4-for-4 with a double, a walk and two RBI in Saturday’s 15-4 win over Minnesota. Ryan Hanigan is on the DL with a neck injury, but manager John Farrell suggested Hanigan could return after the minimum 15 days, and in the meantime, Leon will likely play second fiddle to Christian Vasquez no matter how well he does at the plate. Vasquez’s impact on the pitching staff is too valuable. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $2

First Base

A.J. Reed, Astros - Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said this week that Reed is “getting closer” to the major leagues. His .244 average down at Triple-A Fresno doesn’t look particularly good, but he is getting on base at a .348 clip on the strength of a 13.7 percent walk rate. He’s also chipped in eight home runs, including one during Friday’s game, while the Astros continue to get underwhelming contributions from the first base options currently on the roster. If his owner got sick of waiting or if Reed was never stashed in the first place, now is probably the time to make a play. 12-team mixed: $4; 15-team mixed: $10; AL-only: $21

Justin Morneau, White Sox - Morneau is 35 and is coming off an elbow procedure in December, but the White Sox, desperate for any kind of offensive boost, went ahead and signed him to a major league deal. With some luck, they’ll have Morneau available in a month or so, and he could immediately step into a semi-regular role between DH and first base. He’s fared well when on the field over the last couple seasons, but his age and injury history will likely scare off many prospective mixed league owners. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; AL-only: $7

Second Base

Arismendy Alcantara, A’s - Alcantara finally gets a fresh start with the move to Oakland after flopping in spectacular fashion with the Cubs in late 2014 and early 2015 (.194/.252/.342). He has flashed an impressive combination of power and speed throughout his minor league career, going 15/31 as a 21-year-old at the Double-A level in 2013, and he’s reached unparalleled levels of efficiency on the basepaths this season. Alcantara was a perfect 21-for-21 in stolen base attempts with Triple-A Iowa before the trade. He will remain in the minors for now, and the swing and miss remains a glaring flaw in his game, but Alcantara’s skill set is interesting. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $4

Rob Refsnyder, Yankees - A breakout game from Chris Parmelee seemed to endanger Refsnyder’s playing time, but Parmelee is now out for at least a month with a hamstring strain, and the Yankees simply have no choice but to lean heavily on Refsnyder at first base. The 25-year-old has done little of note in the majors so far this year, but he has a little pop and speed, and if he’s playing regularly, he’s relevant in AL-only leagues. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $0; AL-only: $6


Tim Anderson, White Sox - Anderson will be the big-ticket item in FAAB this week in leagues where he’s unowned. After a slow start with Triple-A Charlotte, Anderson got hot to boost his batting line to .304/.325/.409 and earn a promotion to the major leagues. He was 11-for-15 in stolen base attempts before getting the call after going 49-for-62 on the basepaths at the Double-A level in 2015, and that speed will be his carrying tool in fantasy baseball. Anderson may need some time to adjust to major league pitching, and the White Sox will stash him in the No. 9 spot in the order until he figures things out. However, the 22-year-old can still run out of the nine-hole while playing nearly every day as the replacement for Jimmy Rollins. 12-team mixed: $8; 15-team mixed: $18; AL-only: $39

Andrelton Simmons, Angels - Most of Simmons’ AL-only owners begrudgingly held onto him after he suffered his thumb injury, but the 26-year-old should be widely available in standard mixed leagues. That probably shouldn’t change this week. Simmons is close to returning and is an all-world defender at shortstop, but he’s hit a combined 12 home runs in his last three seasons and he was hitting at just a .219 clip before landing on the DL. 12-team mixed: $2; 15-team mixed: $4; AL-only: $11

Third Base

Cheslor Cuthbert, Royals - Cuthbert homered twice as part of a three-hit effort Saturday, matching his home run output from his first 28 games with the big club this season. The 23-year-old has struck out eight times in his last five games, but he’s hitting at a .270 clip right now and is playing pretty much every day with Mike Moustakas (knee) out for the year. Cuthbert never flashed a ton of power in the minors, maxing out at 12 home runs in a season, but he’s just one shy of that mark with 11 combined between Omaha and Kansas City this year. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $4; AL-only: $11


Leonys Martin, Mariners - Martin hasn’t exactly hit the ground running since his return from the DL, going 0-for-8 to drop his average to .248. He was on a tear prior to landing on the shelf, hitting safely in nine straight games with four home runs over that span to bring his total to nine on the season. The 28-year-old also has eight steals in 11 attempts, and his stellar defense will keep him in the lineup every day. There’s no way he was dropped in AL-only leagues, but those in mixers would be wise to at least check to see if he's available. 12-team mixed: $8; 15-team mixed: $18; AL-only: $39

Kevin Kiermaier, Rays - With Kiermaier handed an 8-to-10 week estimated timetable for his recovery from a broken hand, many in mixed leagues cut bait, leaving the other owners with the option to stash. Kiermaier chipped in five home runs and six steals in 38 games before suffering the injury, but he’s not really the type of player that can pay off as a two-month stash (at this point in the season) unless you have seven bench spots. 12-team mixed: $0; 15-team mixed: $5; AL-only: $12

Ezequiel Carrera, Blue Jays - Jose Bautista’s thigh injury has created an opportunity for Carrera in right field and in the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays the past three days. There’s been nothing to suggest this is something that could send Bautista to the DL, but Carrera will probably be useful for as long as Bautista’s out given his speed and spot atop the batting order. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $0; AL-only: $6

Robbie Grossman, Twin - As Grossman continues to hit, he continues to move up Minnesota’s batting order -- all the way to the two-hole Sunday. His spot in the lineup may fluctuate, but Grossman seems to have nailed down a regular role in the Minnesota outfield. Grossman has walked one more time than he’s struck out and has added eight doubles and four home runs, good for a 1.094 OPS. He should be picked up in quite a few 15-team mixed leagues this week, and maybe even some 10- and 12-teamers. 12-team mixed: $3; 15-team mixed: $7; AL-ony: $15

Tyler Naquin, Indians - Naquin has made the most of his opportunity to play regularly this month, going 8-for-24 with his first four career home runs. His average now sits at .322, but his 6:31 BB:K portends some growing pains in the near future. 12-team mixed: $1; 15-team mixed: $3; AL-only: $8

Todd Cunningham, Angels - The Angels evidently soured on Rafael Ortega as they swapped him out for Cunningham ahead of Saturday’s tilt. Cunningham immediately slotted into the lineup in left field and the No. 6 spot in the batting order, going 0-for-4 in the win over Cleveland. Although Cunningham was showing an advanced eye at Triple-A Salt Lake and could serve on the favorable end of a left field platoon moving forward, he lacks the power and/or speed necessary to enter the mixed league discussion. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $2

Shane Robinson, Angels - Rafael Ortega has left the building, leaving Robinson and Todd Cunningham to handle duties in left field. Robinson has a little bit of a reverse platoon split for his career and was even worse than his norm against lefties last year, but the Angels seem to like their platoons in left field, so Robinson may get occasional at-bats. Even so, he does not have the offensive skill set to be relevant even in standard AL-only formats. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $0

Jason Coats, White Sox - Coats, a 29th round pick in 2012, forced his way to the majors by slashing .335/.339/.567 with seven homers in 43 games at Triple-A Charlotte to begin the 2016 season. He probably won’t see consistent at-bats but should see occasional chances between the outfield corners and DH. There’s not a ton here to get excited about, but finding a fifth outfielder for an AL-only leagues isn’t always easy. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; AL-only: $3