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AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

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 grids into the FAAB articles, so users can easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The grids, which are sortable by column (click on the header), 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.

As always, if there is a player that was not discussed in the 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)
Dylan Bundy BAL SP B 2 5 11
Nathan Eovaldi NY SP C No 2 5
Miguel Gonzalez CHI SP D No 2 5
Felix Hernandez SEA SP A 11 23 Owned
Drew Pomeranz BOS SP B Owned Owned 53
Eduardo Rodriguez BOS SP B 3 7 Owned
Hector Santiago LA SP C 2 5 Owned
Luis Severino NY SP B No 1 4
Tyler Skaggs LA SP B 2 5 11
Jacob Turner CHI SP E No No 2
Ryan Dull OAK RP D No 1 3
Carson Fulmer CHI RP C No No 2
Keone Kela TEX RP D No No 2
Darren O'Day BAL RP D No No 2
Luke Maile TB C D No No 1
Chris Colabello TOR 1B D No No 2
Justin Morneau CHI 1B C No 4 11
Darwin Barney TOR 2B D No No 2
Yulieski Gurriel HOU 3B C 3 7 15
Ryon Healy OAK 3B C No 1 4
Ryan Goins TOR SS E No No 1
Erik Gonzalez CLE SS D No No 2
Tyler Collins DET OF E No No 1
Kevin Kiermaier TB OF C No No 5
Jake Marisnick HOU OF D No No 2
Shawn O'Malley SEA OF D No No 2
Jake Smolinski OAK OF D No No 3


Starting Pitcher

Dylan Bundy, Orioles: Two weeks ago I noted that Bundy was pitching well in long relief and working increasingly longer outings, and surmised that the O's were planning on moving him into the rotation. Nailed it! He'll make his first big league start Sunday and while on the surface his 1.53 WHIP suggests danger, he's posted a 16:3 K:BB over his last four appearances and 11 innings. Baltimore will be cautious with him given his injury history and his pitch count will be limited out of the gate, so even with the O's offense supporting him he might not rack up too many wins or quality starts. The fourth overall pick in 2011 still has tremendous upside though and in leagues where K/9 instead of raw Ks is a category, he should have increased value. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Nathan Eovaldi, Yankees: The Yankees announced after the break that Eovaldi would rejoin the rotation Tuesday, but then had him work in relief again Friday so their long-term plan for him remains a bit up in the air. He did pitch better in the bullpen in the sense that he had a 0.00 ERA through 7.2 innings over three appearances, but his 5:5 K:BB doesn't suggest much improvement to come. Much like Joe Kelly in Boston, Eovaldi's big (but straight) fastball might not be enough to allow him to thrive as a starter. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Miguel Gonzalez, White Sox: The 32-year-old appears to have turned a corner lately, posting quality starts in four of his last five outings. He got tagged for eight runs in the fifth start though, and his 20:9 K:BB in 32 innings over that stretch is hardly ace-like. Gonzalez posted a solid 3.23 ERA as recently as 2014, but his pedestrian arsenal pegs him as a back-of-the-rotation arm at best. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Felix Hernandez, Mariners: Hernandez looked good in his final rehab start at Triple-A on Friday, striking out seven while walking only one in 5.2 innings, and he's set to rejoin the Mariners' rotation Wednesday. Reports on the rehab start said that he was finding his “normal” velocity fairly easily, but whether that means his 2012-2015 “normal” of about 92 mph or his 2016 “normal” of 90 mph isn't clear. If he got cut loose in a shallow format though, those extra two ticks could be the difference between a good stretch drive and a more King Felix-like finish. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $23; 12-team AL: Owned

Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox: Not content with adding Aaron Hill and Brad Ziegler last week, the Red Sox jumped in and made the first big splash trade of the deadline season, sending exciting young pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for the reborn Pomeranz. The 27-year-old lefty was having a career season in San Diego, posting a 10.2 K/9 to support his 2.47 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, and he should be able to secure a lot more wins with the Boston offense at his back. There aren't many other arms rumored to be on the move this year and those that do have any buzz are mostly in the Junior Circuit already, so in an AL-only league if you need pitching help, Pomeranz is probably your best bet for rotation reinforcement. 12-team Mixed: Owned; 15-team Mixed: Owned; 12-team AL: $53

Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox: You have to admire Boston's patience with Rodriguez, at least. They waited for him to get healthy and regain his velocity, then when it seemed like he might be tipping his pitches they sent him back to the minors to work on it. Well, it looks like their patience might be rewarded, because Rodriguez was in excellent form Saturday after rejoining the big league rotation. The 23-year-old lefty has some upside, but even at his best he's been a little too home run prone to be completely reliable given his home park so don't overreact to one good start. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Hector Santiago, Angels: To say Santiago has been streaky this year would be an understatement. Over his first eight starts of the year, he posted a solid 3.42 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, with the highlight being seven scoreless innings and 10 K's against the White Sox on April 18. Over his next five starts though he bottomed out, getting past the fourth inning just once and recording a disastrous 12.18 ERA and 2.12 WHIP. He's been absolutely electric since getting that out of his system though, racking up a 1.88 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over his last six starts including three straight without allowing an earned run. The increased velocity he's shown this season (91.9 mph fastball, after averaging below 91 mph the previous two years) hasn't resulted in a strikeout spike, but the key for Santiago is simply keeping the ball in the park. When he does, he thrives, and right now he's doing exactly that. Ride him while he's hot. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Luis Severino, Yankees: Well, not every prediction is going to be a winner. Earlier this week I noted Severino's improved performance at Triple-A (2.85 ERA and 39:9 K:BB in 47.1 innings over his previous seven starts before delivering another QS on Friday) and said I thought he'd be coming up to rejoin the Yankees' rotation. Brian Cashman stepped all over that idea a couple of days later and the team decided Eovaldi would get their open rotation spot instead, but that doesn't mean the kid is trapped in Scranton for the rest of the year. The team is teetering on the edge of being a seller at the deadline and if they move, say, CC Sabathia in a market starved for starting pitching, Severino is the logical choice to replace him. With no immediate promotion on the horizon though, this is still a spec play. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Tyler Skaggs, Angels: Last week I noted that Skaggs appeared to be ready to complete his rehab assignment and rejoin the Angels. Well, on Thursday he put to rest any doubt with an eye-popping 14-K, one-hit, no-walk performance over seven shutout innings in Omaha, which isn't exactly a pitcher's park. Given his length history of arm trouble the team is being understandably cautious with him and it's not like the major league team has much to play for this year, so he'll take one more turn for Salt Lake before potentially getting called up for next Sunday's start in Houston. The most impressive thing about Skaggs' recent run remains his control, which was an issue for him earlier in his career, but a 31:0 K:BB over his last 24 innings is about as locked in as you can get. Another excellent outing and his price is only going to keep rising, so snap him up now if you can. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Jacob Turner, White Sox: Turner will make his first big league start since 2014 on Sunday, but there's a good reason why he's been in exile that long. He's posted a 4.71 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 107 innings this year for Triple-A Charlotte, and his days of being a top prospect for the Tigers and Marlins are long, long gone. In theory he's still only 25 and could figure things out, but don't hold your breath. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2


Relief Pitcher

Ryan Dull, Athletics: He picked up a save right before the All-Star break when Ryan Madson was unavailable, and with Sean Doolittle still on the shelf Dull appears to be the next guy in line should the closer job open up. Madson's turned things around recently and isn't in danger of losing his job outright, but with Billy Beane you never know who might be on the trading block. Dull doesn't have overpowering stuff, but it's hard to argue with the results this season (1.90 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 48:10 K:BB in 47.1 innings). 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $3

Carson Fulmer, White Sox: The White Sox are nothing if not predictable. Just as they did with Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon, they're promoting their first round pitching prospect to the majors because why pay a guy to waste his bullets in the minors, right? Fulmer will pitch out of the bullpen for now and probably for the rest of the year, and there are a lot of scouts who are of the opinion that he should stay there given his erratic control and max-effort delivery (not to mention his Eric Gagne-like glasses). The organization still views him as a future starter though, so while his immediate fantasy value is low he's worth stashing in keeper leagues in the unlikely event he wasn't already in someone's farm system. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Keone Kela, Rangers: In an alternate universe it was Kela and not Sam Dyson who took over as the Rangers' closer after Shawn Tolleson flamed out. In this reality though, Kela had to have bone spurs removed from his elbow in late April. He's got high-K upside and ripped through his rehab assignment with a 7:0 K:BB in four innings, so it's fair to say he's healthy again. Don't expect many saves, but Dyson's strikeouts have disappeared lately so if he stumbles too, Kela might just get his chance to close. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Darren O'Day: O'Day's recovery from a hamstring injury has dragged on, but he finally seems ready to begin a rehab assignment this week and could rejoin the Orioles' bullpen by next weekend. Zach Britton's not going anywhere as their closer and Brad Brach may have surpassed O'Day in the bullpen pecking order while the sidearmer was sidelined, but he should still be a solid source of holds and K's. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2


Catcher

Luke Maile, Rays: The Rays finally got tired of other teams stealing bases at will off Hank Conger and swapped him out for Maile as Curt Casali's backup. Maile was hitting .242/.310/.340 at Triple-A when he got his promotion though, so he isn't in the majors for his bat, which means he shouldn't be on your fantasy roster. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1


First Base

Chris Colabello, Blue Jays: Colabello is eligible to rejoin the Blue Jays on July 23, but he appears to be persona non grata with the club after his PED suspension and will probably be sent on a lengthy rehab assignment to get his timing back at the plate and buy the front office some time to figure out what to do with him. Toronto just handed Justin Smoak a two-year contract extension and when Jose Bautista gets healthy there will be no DH at-bats available either, so even if Colabello does get back on the 25-man roster it's hard to see a path to semi-regular at-bats, at least not with the Jays. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Justin Morneau, White Sox: Morneau was called up right after the All-Star break but he hasn't exactly proven he's shaken off the rust from his long layoff yet, going just 2-for-17 through six games at Triple-A without a home run before an 0-for-5 performance in his first two games with the White Sox. It's easy to glance at Morneau's numbers the last couple of years and get seduced by his name value into throwing a big bid at him, but you can barely see his upside any more through all the red flags. Aside from his concussion history, his numbers in a Rockies uniform were inflated by Coors Field, although not as much as you'd expect (he hit .290 with a .441 SLG on the road the last two years). He's a 35-year-old whose glory days are well behind him, and you don't have to look back far to find that the last aging first baseman the White Sox brought in to boost their offense was a complete washout. Morneau should hit better than Adam LaRoche at least, but he's unlikely to be a difference-maker. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: $11


Second Base

Darwin Barney, Blue Jays: Like so many veterans before him over the last few years, Barney is having a career season with the Blue Jays and shows no signs of slowing down, hitting .293 through 65 games. At this point in his career the 30-year-old doesn't offer any power or speed, but he's seeing a reasonable amount of playing time as the Jays' primary utility infielder and the return of Ryan Goins from the DL isn't likely to change that. Any at-bats in Toronto's high-powered offense are potentially productive ones, and his multi-position eligibility gives him extra value in deep leagues with short benches. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2


Third Base

Yulieski Gurriel, Astros: The track record of veteran Cubans in MLB isn't a promising one, but in terms of talent the 32-year-old Gurriel is in another stratosphere from the likes of Hector Olivera and the Astros didn't shell out big bucks for him without expecting Gurriel to make an impact right away. His stats in Japan and Cuba suggest he'll hit for a good average with decent power and it sounds like he'll only get a couple of weeks in the minors to shake off any rust at the plate, so don't expect him to post huge numbers once he gets to Houston. The other question is where he's going to play. We have him listed as a third baseman but the Astros aren't likely to let him block Alex Bregman, and he's certainly not displacing Jose Altuve from second base. Left field and DH might end up being Gurriel's regular defensive homes, which also makes him a little less appealing. The hype around him might tempt you to bid big, but don't get sucked in. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

Ryon Healy, Athletics: He's not exactly a top prospect, but Healy has hit well in the high minors the last couple of years and the A's seem inclined to give him a look as their regular third baseman. For him to fully seize the job though he'll not only need Danny Valencia to get shipped out of town he'll need to prove he can handle the job defensively, something that's no guarantee based on his scouting reports. His upside also seems limited too, as he's more likely to provide a solid batting average and modest power rather than being a real difference-maker. That profile still gives him some keeper value in only leagues, though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4


Shortstop

Ryan Goins, Blue Jays: Goins should come off the DL this week after straining his arm in an emergency pitching stint, but his .176 batting average in the first half tells you all you need to know about his fantasy value. He's got a good glove, but Darwin Barney has taken his spot as the Jays' primary utility infielder, relegating Goins to late-inning defensive sub duty. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Erik Gonzalez, Indians: Gonzalez has been groomed as a future utility infielder in the minors and got called up to fulfill his destiny right after the break. What fantasy value he has resides in his legs, as he stole 18 bases last year and 21 in 2014, but he did hit .296 this year in his second crack at Triple-A, which must count for something. He won't see much playing time behind Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2


Outfield

Tyler Collins, Tigers: Collins got called up to fill in for Justin Upton's bereavement leave, but it looks like he'll stay in the majors with Steven Moya getting sent down instead now that Upton is back. Collins has flashed both power and speed during his minor league career, but he's already 26 years old and his .214/.274/.323 line in 68 Triple-A games this year doesn't offer a lot of hope that he'll make an impact if he gets any playing time. He'll likely clutter up the bench for a few weeks until J.D. Martinez is healthy. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Kevin Kiermaier, Rays: Kiermaier came off the DL after the break and immediately reclaimed the starting center field job for the Rays. His main value in real life still comes from his glove, but it's possible he'll have more offensive value than you might expect down the stretch as his .240 BABIP is due for some regression north and his .203 ISO so far this season is a career high. Even so, what fantasy contributions he makes will probably come on the basepaths. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $5

Jake Marisnick, Astros: Marisnick's benefited from the moving parts in the Astros' lineup over recent weeks, seeing starts in the outfield when someone needs a rest or gets moved to DH while Evan Gattis is catching. He's capitalized on the additional playing time too, hitting .375/.412/.438 with a couple of steals over the last seven games sandwiched around the ASB. His window for even marginal value is probably going to close soon with both Alex Bregman and the newly-signed Yulieski Gurriel potentially joining the roster by the end of the month, creating more competition for the loose at-bats Marisnick was scooping up. As a short-term injury plug-in though, he could be useful. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Shawn O'Malley, Mariners: Ketel Marte sprained his ankle Friday and while the Mariners don't think at this point he'll need a DL stint, he did sit out Saturday's game. That opens up the possibility for O'Malley, the backup shortstop by default, to get some additional work. Seattle doesn't have anyone at Triple-A who could step in either, having flipped Chris Taylor to the Dodgers last month, so if Marte's injury is worse than anticipated O'Malley is just about their only only option. Don't expect any power from him, but he could swipe a base or two if he gets some run in the starting lineup. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Jake Smolinski, Athletics: The demotion of Billy Burns should mainly benefit Coco Crisp in the short term, but Crisp is made of peanut brittle and the A's won't give him a full workload even if he does stay healthy. The real winner might end up being Smolinski, who's hit .295/.340/.466 in 38 games since being called up. The former Ranger prospect hasn't done much in his previous major league stints but at 27 years old he might just be a late bloomer, as he's got a career .281/.355/.466 line with 21 homers and 16 steals in 697 Triple-A plate appearances. There's also the chance a Josh Reddick trade would open up a full-time starting job for him. In only leagues, those are dice worth rolling. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3