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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)
Clay Buchholz BOS SP C No 1 5
Luis Cessa NY SP C No 1 5
Alex Cobb TB SP B 5 11 25
Dillon Gee KC SP D No No 4
Chad Green NY SP C No 2 7
J.A. Happ TOR SP C 4 9 Owned
Derek Holland TEX SP D No No 3
Ian Kennedy KC SP C 3 7 Owned
Cody Martin SEA SP D No No 2
Nick Martinez TEX SP E No No 1
Henry Owens BOS SP C No No 3
Anthony Ranaudo CHI SP D No No 1
Steve Cishek SEA RP D No No 3
Sean Doolittle OAK RP C No 1 4
Danny Farquhar TB RP D No No 1
Jeremy Jeffress TEX RP C 1 3 7
Adalberto Mejia MIN RP C No 1 4
Russell Martin TOR C C 3 7 Owned
Francisco Pena BAL C E No No 2
Carlos Perez LA C D No No 1
Gary Sanchez NY C B 5 13 Owned
C.J. Cron LA 1B C 2 5 Owned
Logan Morrison TB 1B C No No 3
Kaleb Cowart LA 3B D No No 2
Yulieski Gurriel HOU 3B B 5 13 29
Richie Shaffer TB 3B E No No 1
Erick Aybar DET SS D No No 1
Ryan Goins TOR SS E No No 1
Chad Pinder OAK SS C No No 2
Carlos Gomez TEX OF C No 1 5
Alex Presley DET OF E No No 1
Stefen Romero SEA OF D No No 2
Ryan Rua TEX OF C No No 3

Starting Pitcher

Clay Buchholz, Red Sox: The BoSox just can't quit Buchholz. After a solid six-inning effort in Detroit on Thursday, the right-hander might stick in the rotation with Steven Wright (shoulder) not quite ready to return and Eduardo Rodriguez (hamstring) also less than 100 percent. You'll probably regret it if you pick him up, but it's not inconceivable that Buchholz goes on a tear to close out the season. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $5

Luis Cessa, Yankees: Cessa got a shot in the rotation after Luis Severino's latest flameout and didn't disappoint, shutting out the Angels for six innings Saturday with a 5:1 K:BB. The 24-year-old righty was having a solid season at Triple-A in his second tour of duty at that level and while he doesn't have tremendous upside, he fits the profile of a typical young Yankee starter – good fastball, questionable breaking stuff and maybe a bit homer prone. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $5

Alex Cobb, Rays: Cobb's getting close to returning to the majors following Tommy John surgery and Monday's rehab start with Triple-A Durham could be his last. His control's been spotty so far during his rehab work, as he's posted a 14:6 K:BB in 13.2 innings, so he could struggle over the final weeks of the season, but his upside also makes him a potential difference-maker. If you need a pitching boost down the stretch, Cobb is likely to be your best bet. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $25

Dillon Gee, Royals: Don't look now, but Gee is actually pitching decently in August, posting a 3.98 ERA and 18:6 K:BB in 20.1 innings. Those certainly aren't outstanding numbers but in deeper leagues you could do a lot worse and, with Mike Minor (shoulder) not expected to join the roster until September, Gee should get another turn or two through the rotation to try and solidify a spot for the remainder of the season. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $4

Chad Green, Yankees: Green was fabulous in his return to the rotation Monday, striking out 11 Blue Jays over six scoreless innings. Acquired from the Tigers in the same offseason deal that netted the Yankees his fellow starter Luis Cessa, Green has dominated Triple-A this year but his command hasn't been quite as sharp in the majors. He's still got a 10.8 K/9 in 33.1 innings big league though (with a 9.6 K/9 in 94.2 Triple-A frames), so Monday's performance was no fluke. Expect him to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season, sink or swim, but there's a good chance he'll supply at least useful numbers. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $7

J.A. Happ, Blue Jays: The Toronto media apparently thinks it's 1996 and is touting Happ as a Cy Young contender after five straight wins pushed his record to 17-3, but even if you disregard that adorably archaic hype he's still having a tremendous campaign. He's found another gear lately and in addition to the wins he's got a 2.13 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over the last month. He's long gone in deeper formats, but he could help shore up your staff in a shallow league while he's hot. 12-team Mixed: $4; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team AL: Owned

Derek Holland, Rangers: The oft-injured lefty is set to return from his latest shoulder issue Tuesday. Once upon a time Holland was a top prospect with a 94 mph fastball, but now he's just another Rangers pitcher with an inflated ERA. He might get you a win or two, though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Ian Kennedy, Royals: Talk about turning your season around. Kennedy's been on a tear lately, allowing either one run or zero in five straight starts and posting a 0.79 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 28:7 K:BB in 34 innings over that stretch. There's no telling how long the hot streak will last, but he belongs on a roster in even the shallowest of leagues as long as he's producing numbers anything close to that pace. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Cody Martin, Mariners: Seattle's rotation is threadbare enough that they pressed Martin into service Wednesday and while he only lasted 4.1 innings, he wasn't terrible. The junkballing righty has little upside but he should continue to get starts until somebody better gets healthy, which could take a while. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Nick Martinez, Rangers: Martinez has gotten almost 300 innings in the big leagues now and has yet to show much reason why he deserves to get any more, but the Rangers need all the arms they can get on their staff right now. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Henry Owens, Red Sox: The left-hander will get the call Sunday to fill in for Eduardo Rodriguez (hamstring). Control remains Owens' biggest issue and the 5.6 BB/9 he's posted in 110.1 Triple-A innings this season actually looks acceptable next to the 13 batters he walked in 12.1 big league innings during his previous stint in Boston. There's some strikeout upside here, but also extreme ratio risk. He's worth a few bucks as a potential keeper stash though in case something suddenly clicks for him. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Anthony Ranaudo, White Sox: Ranaudo filled in for Miguel Gonzalez (groin) on Wednesday and was far from good, so even though Gonzalez isn't set to return next week the White Sox haven't yet committed to giving Ranaudo another start. He's put up good ratios in 19 Triple-A starts this year but his low strikeout total (6.8 K/9) gives you a better indication of his upside. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Relief Pitcher

Steve Cishek, Mariners: Cishek comes off the DL just in time for Edwin Diaz to prove that he's human after all, as the rookie has walked four batters and given up three runs in his last two outings. Of course, five of the six outs Diaz recorded in those games were strikeouts, so Cishek still isn't likely to get his closer job back any time soon. If he returns to form though, he could still chip in with some holds down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Sean Doolittle, Athletics: Doolittle seems to have finally recovered from his shoulder injury and could rejoin the A's bullpen some time this week. When he's healthy the lefty will give you big-time K's and good ratios but Ryan Madson seems to have bounced back from his late July struggles, which means Doolittle will probably have to content himself with setup work. He could see a situational save or two though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Danny Farquhar, Rays: Certain teams seem better at producing useful high-K middle relievers than others, with Tampa sitting right near the top of that list. Farquhar is their latest product and while the former Mariner is stuck in a low-leverage role at present, his 14:2 K:BB over his last eight innings is hard to ignore. Of course he also has a 4.50 ERA during that time as he can be hittable, but if all you're looking for is the strikeouts he can help pad out your pitching staff at a bargain price. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Jeremy Jeffress, Rangers: The closer market has been relatively soft over the last week or so, which gives you an opportunity to jump in on the cheap before the next shakeup. Jeffress hasn't been great since coming over to the Rangers but the wheels seem to be coming off for Sam Dyson, who's blown two of his last five save chances and allowed runs in three of his last six appearances. Texas' lead over [checks standings. Double-checks standings. Really? Wow] Seattle isn't so big that the team can afford to give away wins, so one more clunked from Dyson could prompt a change. If Jeffress' lack of a closing role kept him unclaimed after the trade deadline, now's a good time to scoop him up, just in case. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Adalberto Mejia, Twins: Acquired from the Giants in the Eduardo Nunez deal, Mejia's future is probably in the rotation but he'll begin his major league career in relief. The lefty's mediocre ERA at Triple-A hides a strong 63:14 K:BB in 60 innings and he's got the raw stuff to keep punching guys out in the majors. He might not have a lot of value in the short term, but he's a strong keeper league stash given the current state of the Twins' starting staff. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4


Russell Martin, Blue Jays: What has been a fairly miserable season for Martin has finally turned around. He's crushed six homers in the last week after hitting just eight in the previous four and a half months, and his 11 RBI during that stretch represents about 20 percent of his total on the year. In one-catcher formats where you've just been riding the hot hand, there are none hotter right now behind the plate. Even when he inevitably starts to cool down, hitting in the Blue Jays offense should provide him with plenty of RBI and run opportunities, so his value may not immediately crater once the homer binge is over. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Francisco Pena, Orioles: Pena's stay in the majors this time could be brief as he'll be covering for Matt Wieters' short stay on the paternity list, but with September roster expansion looming he'll probably be back in a week if he does get sent back down. He's got a little more fantasy upside than your typical depth catcher – Pena slugged 27 homers in Triple-A two years ago as a Royals farmhand – but that power display hasn't been replicated this year for Norfolk so don't expect him to do too much with his rare at-bats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Carlos Perez, Angels: The Angels' backup catcher spot has been a revolving door lately as Geovany Soto can't seem to stay healthy, so Perez is once again back with the big club. For what it's worth he's absolutely scalded the ball for Triple-A Salt Lake (.359/.375/.692) in limited at-bats, but there's little indication he could come close to those numbers in Anaheim. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Gary Sanchez, Yankees: While Martin might be the hottest-hitting catcher in the American League, Sanchez isn't too far behind, slashing .407/.448/.833 with six home runs and 12 RBI in 54 at-bats since being called up. That offensive display has won him a starting job as a key component of the Yankees' youth movement and while it's hard to imagine him continuing to hit above .400, the power is definitely legit. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $13; 12-team AL: Owned

First Base

C.J. Cron, Angels: Cron returned from his hand injury Saturday and promptly went 0-for-4, so at least you don't have to worry about a quick start inflating his price tag. He was having a career year prior to the injury though and while it could take him a few games to find his rhythm again, he could be a useful bat down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Logan Morrison, Rays: Picking up right where he left off when he got hurt, Morrison went a paltry 3-for-17 in his first week off the DL. Nick Franklin's injury should allow Morrison to continue seeing fairly regular at-bats in the DH slot, but don't expect him to do much with them. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Third Base

Kaleb Cowart, Angels: The 24-year-old was having another fairly pedestrian year at Triple-A but was called up Saturday to provide some additional infield depth after Johnny Giavotella got released. Cowart isn't really a prospect any more, but with competition like Gregorio Petit and Cliff Pennington he doesn't need to be particularly good to earn playing time at third base or even second base. Merely being better than Pennington or Petit, if Cowart can even manage it, doesn't necessarily bring a lot of fantasy value with it, though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Yulieski Gurriel, Astros: Called up after a barnstorming tour of the Astros' minor league affiliates, Gurriel will make his major league debut Sunday at DH. His numbers in a handful of games at Double-A and Triple-A suggest that he still has some rust to shake off following his long absence from organized ball, but the 32-year-old Cuban's upside can't be dismissed. If he finds his groove he could become a big contributor in batting average with modest power. I think he'll be a better fantasy asset in 2017, but the potential for some 2016 value is very real. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $13; 12-team AL: $29

Richie Shaffer, Rays: He's back again, this time to take a spot on the bench while Nick Franklin (concussion) is on the DL. Shaffer's didn't see much action last time he was up with the Rays, and he isn't likely to see much this time around either. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1


Erick Aybar, Tigers: The Tigers wasted little time in finding a veteran stopgap to fill in for Jose Iglesias (hamstring), but Aybar isn't the hitter he was a few years ago with the Angels. The 32-year-old doesn't run much anymore and hasn't been able to maintain a respectable batting average, and without those two skills his fantasy value is negligible. Iglesias could return in near minimum time as well, which would put Aybar on the bench in September. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Ryan Goins, Blue Jays: Goins has gone 3-for-7 with a double since being called back up, so you likely already missed his offensive peak for the next six weeks. The utility infielder has a dynamite glove but just doesn't offer anything with the stick. He should at least be able to stay healthy this time if the Jays don't ask him to pitch again. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Chad Pinder, Athletics: A middling middle infield prospect for the A's, Pinder is probably best thought of as a poor man's Marcus Semien. The power potential makes him worth paying attention to, but the strikeouts and likely low batting average put a definite cap on his ceiling. He's worth stashing in deep keeper leagues though, as you never know where he might end up or what role he might have when Billy Beane has done his usual offseason wheeling and dealing. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2


Carlos Gomez, Rangers: Gomez certainly looked washed up in Houston this year, but the Rangers will give him some Triple-A at-bats to get a closer look for themselves. Texas isn't a great fit as they have a crowded outfield situation as it is, but they also have a couple of converted infielders playing in center so at the very least Gomez could prove to be a defensive upgrade for them. If he got cut loose when the Astros gave up on him, he still offers some power and speed potential at a discount price. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $5

Alex Presley, Tigers: Presley was called up Thursday to provide the Tigers with a backup outfielder while Cameron Maybin (thumb) remains sidelined. As he showed with the Brewers earlier this year, Presley doesn't offer much offense, but he could pick up some at-bats if Tyler Collins falters. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Stefen Romero, Mariners: Romero's been bouncing back and forth between Seattle and Tacoma for three years now and seems no closer to establishing himself as even a bench option in the majors. He continues to post strong numbers at Triple-A (.314/.371/.551 in 96 games this season) but stumbles in his limited big league at-bats and at 27 years old, time is running out for him to make his mark. Teammate Nelson Cruz has the same kind of early career path, so maybe he can offer some pointers, but at this point there's no reason to think Romero will suddenly erupt. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Ryan Rua, Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo's latest injury opened the door for Rua to return to the Rangers. He had a nice run in May and June, but since then he's faded back to being the platoon option he was pegged as heading into the season, and that's likely the role Rua will handle going forward. Facing mainly left-handed pitching should help bolster his batting average though without costing him much in the counting stats, so for his fantasy value at least it's a positive not a negative. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3