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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)
Sonny Gray OAK SP B 1 3 7
Alex Meyer LA SP C 1 2 4
Ariel Miranda SEA SP C 2 3 5
Ricky Nolasco LA SP C 3 5 8
Jered Weaver LA SP D 1 2 4
Brad Peacock HOU SP C No 2 5
Jordan Zimmermann DET SP B 1 4 Owned
Luke Gregerson HOU RP D 4 9 19
Will Harris HOU RP D 3 7 15
Trey Mancini BAL 1B C 2 5 11
Carlos Sanchez CHI 2B D No No 3
Juniel Querecuto TB 3B E No No 1
Danny Valencia OAK 3B C 2 5 Owned
Donovan Solano NY SS E No No 2
Shin-Soo Choo TEX OF B 1 3 Owned
Corey Dickerson TB OF C 5 11 Owned
Leury Garcia CHI OF D No 2 5
Robbie Grossman MIN OF D No 2 5
Aaron Hicks NY OF D No No 3
Nomar Mazara TEX OF A 3 7 Owned
Rafael Ortega LA OF D No No 2

Starting Pitcher

Sonny Gray, Athletics: Gray looked very good throwing to live hitters this weekend, and it's not out of the question that the A's give him a start before the season ends given the current state of their rotation. The righty's been out since early August and was having a mostly miserable year before that, so don't expect much length out of him if he does get a start, but he might give you a few K's. The listed bids are for re-draft leagues – if he's been dropped in a keeper league and you do get a chance to grab him, consider much more aggressive bids in the $3/$7/$15 range. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Alex Meyer, Angels / Ariel Miranda, Mariners / Ricky Nolasco, Angels / Jered Weaver, Angels: If you're doing some last-minute rotation shopping, these are the names you need to consider. All four of these pitchers have very marginal numbers on their own, but get to face an Oakland offense that has been abysmal over the last month, posting a .291 wOBA and 83 RC+ that are by far the worst marks in the AL over that stretch. All four will be at home too, giving their value an extra little boost. You can't necessarily count on them for wins, but quality starts might be in order plus a handful of K's and maybe a few thousandths of a point shaved off your ERA. If the pitching categories are tight, cashing in one last good outing could make the difference for you. Nolasco's pitching the best of the bunch at the moment, making him a little more appealing than the others. Nolasco – 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $8 / Miranda – 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $5 / Meyer and Weaver – 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $4

Brad Peacock, Astros: In the comments to last week's article I kind of blew off the idea of Peacock as a worthwhile add, but his nifty one-hit performance Saturday forced me to reconsider. The righty's career track record isn't good, but he has had stretches of major league success before and is having one now, posting a 2.25 ERA over his last four appearances with a 16:7 K:BB in 20 innings. He'll face Jhoulys Chacin in Los Angeles for his final start, which isn't a bad spot to grab a win either. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers: Zimmermann is set to throw another simulated game Monday, and if all goes well he could return to the Tigers' rotation Saturday in Atlanta, replacing Buck Farmer. Zimmermann's second half has been as bad as his first half was good, but if the team needs a win on the weekend to stay in the wild card hunt, or even has a postseason spot locked up and wants to look at Zimmermann for a spot in their postseason rotation, it would make sense for them to give him the ball. On the other hand, if they're out of contention by then, they really have no reason to plug him back in, which makes him a gamble if you really need pitching help. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Owned

Relief Pitcher

Luke Gregerson / Will Harris, Astros: Ken Giles' wrist injury forces the Astros to make one last change at closer before this season is in the books. Harris has been pitching much better than Gregerson of late, but it was Gregerson who got the save Wednesday and was called upon Saturday in the eighth inning with the game on the line. He blew that save in spectacular fashion though, which puts Harris firmly in the mix for the final week. Gregerson – 12-team Mixed: $4; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team AL: $19 / Harris – 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

First Base

Trey Mancini, Orioles: Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Mancini got a late promotion this week after a solid but unspectacular Triple-A campaign and promptly hit three homers in his first 11 at-bats. With Baltimore needing every run and win they can get, expect them to continue finding ways to get Mancini into the lineup as long as he's doing his Gary Sanchez impression. Mancini doesn't necessarily have the brightest future, but if all you care about is the next week, ride the guy on the heater. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Second Base

Carlos Sanchez, White Sox: With Tyler Saladino banged up, Sanchez figures to get regular at-bats as the White Sox play out the string. He doesn't have a high offensive ceiling, especially in OBP leagues, but at-bats means the potential for runs and RBI. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Third Base

Juniel Querecuto, Rays: A late entry in the Best Name of 2016 sweepstakes, Querecuto hasn't shown much offense in the minors and his defense pushed him off shortstop in the minors, which points to a utility profile in the big leagues. It's easy to root for little guys like him (he's listed at 5-foot-9), but this isn't the next Jose Altuve. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Danny Valencia, Athletics: Valencia seems to have regained a regular starting role for the A's as they finish out the season and he has responded over the last week, hitting .280 with a 5:5 BB:K in 25 at-bats. As I noted above, Oakland's offense is the pits right now, limiting Valencia's opportunities for counting stats, but he might pop a homer over the final handful of games. Or maybe even two! 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned


Donovan Solano, Yankees: The former Marlin utility infielder has gotten semi-regular at-bats in the last week for the injury-wracked Yankees, which makes Solano a nice cheap add if you have your own injured players cluttering up your fantasy roster. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2


Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers: Choo's started taking batting practice as he works his way back from a forearm injury, which opens up the possibility that the Rangers give him some at-bats over the final week in preparation for the playoffs. Texas likes to put Choo's OBP skills in their leadoff spot, so if you are in a dogfight in the runs category, grabbing the veteran outfielder could pay big dividends. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Owned

Corey Dickerson, Rays: It's taken him a while to shake Coors Field out of his swing, but Dickerson finally seems to be getting the hang of hitting at sea level, slashing .306/.325/.586 over the past month with six homers and 18 RBI. His weak first half is still dragging down his overall numbers, so he might still be available in shallower leagues, making him a great add for the final wekk if you need a power boost. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: Owned

Leury Garcia, White Sox: Garcia has been getting semi-regular at-bats in center field over the last week or so for the White Sox, and the playing time has allowed him to steal two bases in 20 at-bats while hitting .300. He might not be able to maintain the latter, but Garcia makes a good pickup if you're looking for an extra SB or two. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Robbie Grossman, Twins: Eddie Rosario's injury has pushed Grossman back into a regular starting role, and he's responded with a .300/.364/.450 line over the last week. He seems to get exposed with too much playing time and doesn't offer much power or speed, but he should be able to provide you with a solid stick to close out the season. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Aaron Hicks, Yankees: Hicks has started four of five games since coming off the DL, and that's likely to remain the case for what's left of the season for the Yankees given their outfield injuries. Whether he does much with those at-bats is another question, but he can plug a hole and maybe get you some counting stats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Nomar Mazara, Rangers: After fading for much of the second half of his rookie season, Mazara's finishing his campaign with a bit of a flourish, hitting .279 with three homers over the last two weeks. The Rangers also only face one more left-handed starter, so the 21-year-old with the extremely bright future should see plenty of at-bats over the final handful of games. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Rafael Ortega, Angels: With few other options available, the Angels have given Ortega another look in left field and he's rewarded them with a .400/.471/.533 line and five RBI and two steals in 15 at-bats over the last week. He's got limited upside in the long run, but if all you need is to plug a hole in your offense he should provide you with a little value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2
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