AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.

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 $100 starting free-agent budget you should bid on them.

We've incorporated 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 talent on an A-E scale. Wander Franco would have been an "A" grade player last year – that mark will be reserved for similarly high-impact prospects that could thrive in 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.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Rony GarciaDETSPCNoNo2
Cole IrvinOAKSPCNoNo3
Glenn OttoTEXSPCNo25
Devin SmeltzerMINSPCNo25
Beau BrieskeDETSPD111
Dylan BundyMINSPC111
Jonathan HeasleyKCSPD111
Rich HillBOSSPC111
Tyler WellsBALSPC1

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 $100 starting free-agent budget you should bid on them.

We've incorporated 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 talent on an A-E scale. Wander Franco would have been an "A" grade player last year – that mark will be reserved for similarly high-impact prospects that could thrive in 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.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Rony GarciaDETSPCNoNo2
Cole IrvinOAKSPCNoNo3
Glenn OttoTEXSPCNo25
Devin SmeltzerMINSPCNo25
Beau BrieskeDETSPD111
Dylan BundyMINSPC111
Jonathan HeasleyKCSPD111
Rich HillBOSSPC111
Tyler WellsBALSPC111
Ryan YarbroughTBSPC111
Keegan AkinBALRPDNoNo2
Ken GilesSEARPC137
Colin PocheTBRPDNo14
Dennis SantanaTEXRPDNoNo1
Sam HuffTEXCCNo14
Cal RaleighSEACBNoNo3
Matt CarpenterNY2BDNoNo1
Rougned OdorBAL2BC23Rostered
Cavan BiggioTOR3BCNo37
Jake BurgerCHI3BCNoNo3
Matt DuffyLA3BDNoNo1
Royce LewisMINSSA3555Rostered
Luis RengifoLASSB37Rostered
Miguel AndujarNYOFCNoNo3
Oscar GonzalezCLEOFCNo37
Brewer HicklenKCOFENoNo1
Jose SiriHOUOFC13Rostered
Taylor TrammellSEAOFBNo14

Starting Pitcher

Rony Garcia, Tigers: I almost wrote up Garcia last week, as he'd been effective in long relief to that point, but given the way the Tigers were hemorrhaging starting pitchers I figured I'd wait to see what they did with him first. Sure enough, the 24-year-old righty got moved into the rotation, tossing four solid innings against the Twins on Wednesday. Taken with the first pick in the 2019 Rule 5 draft, Detroit has been patient with Garcia, and he has begun to reward that patience in 2022. He sports a fastball that's averaging a decent 93.3 mph with good movement, but it's his slow curve that's been his out pitch, as opponents have yet to square it up for an extra-base hit while whiffing 36.6 percent of the time against it. As a starter, Garcia will need to lean a little more on his sinker and changeup, but once he's fully stretched out he could give the Tigers some better than useful innings. He also lines up for a two-step this week, albeit one of the starts is on the road against the Yankees, so he could be worth a look as a streaming option. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Cole Irvin, Athletics: Irvin returned from IL last weekend after recovering from some shoulder soreness and has looked none the worse for wear, delivering two straight quality starts for the A's. The southpaw's lack of strikeouts limits his upside, and big-league hitters figured him out after his quick start to 2021, but his rotation spot seems secure. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Glenn Otto, Rangers: Aside from one bad outing against the Red Sox, as he caught them just as their bats were beginning to wake up in mid-May, Otto's been entirely respectable this season, giving up two runs or less in five of six outings. The right-hander won't be an ace, but he had a bit of a prospect pedigree in the Yankees' system before being part of last year's Joey Gallo deal, and if you toss out the Boston start he's got a 2.84 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 21:11 K:BB through 25.1 innings. Tossing out the data point you don't like is always a dangerous game to play with small samples, but Otto does have the stuff to post something closer to those numbers the rest of the way, and the Rangers don't have any better options for their rotation. Two home starts this week against the Rays and M's will give him a chance to prove his reliability. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Devin Smeltzer, Twins: The soft-tossing southpaw has been sharp through three starts this season, and the Twins might finally be done bouncing him between the big-league roster and Triple-A. Smeltzer has flashed usefulness before, although those stretches tend not to last long as his sub-90 mph fastball and various offspeed (or really off, in his case) pitches give him little margin for error, but as long as he can keep the ball in the park he should keep relatively tidy ratios. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Other two-start options, Mon-Sun (12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $1)

Beau Brieske, Tigers (vs. MIN, at NYY)
Dylan Bundy, Twins (at DET, at TOR)
Jonathan Heasley, Royals (at CLE, vs. HOU)
Rich Hill, Red Sox (vs. BAL, at OAK)
Tyler Wells, Orioles (at BOS, vs. CLE)
Ryan Yarbrough, Rays (at TEX, vs. CHW)

Relief Pitcher

Keegan Akin, Orioles: With June approaching, it's about that time in deeper formats to start looking for pitchers who can supply you with solid ratios and bulk strikeouts in a long relief role, as staff plug-ins when injuries or terrible matchups hit. Akin is at the top of that list right now, working at least two innings in every one of his 13 appearances so far while getting tagged for runs in only three of them. With the O's having some rotation depth issues that Grayson Rodriguez alone won't be able to fix if and when they decide to start his service-time clock, Akin could get a win or two working behind shaky starting options, assuming Baltimore doesn't give him another chance as a starter himself. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Ken Giles, Mariners: If you're scrounging for saves, it might be worthwhile to stash Giles early, just in case Seattle decides to scrap its closer committee and hand the job to him. The right-hander has thrown only 3.2 innings since 2019 due to Tommy John surgery late in 2020 and a subsequent finger issue that delayed his return, but he started a rehab assignment this weekend and shouldn't be too far away from his Mariners debut. The team already demoted Drew Steckenrider, and Diego Castillo's numbers don't warrant a high-leverage spot either, so Giles' competition might be pre-thinned before his activation. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Colin Poche, Rays: The latest closer du jour for Tampa Bay, Poche collected saves in back-to-back appearances this week, while Brooks Raley hasn't gotten one since May 11 and Andrew Kittredge is on the IL. Poche doesn't have prototypical closer-quality stuff and profiles better as a situational lefty, but when has that ever mattered for the Rays? 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Dennis Santana, Rangers: Joe Barlow has yet to blow a save chance this season and seems comfortably ensconced as Texas' closer, but when he's unavailable, it looks like Santana is the next man up. The 26-year-old is averaging a career-best 96.6 mph with his sinker while leaning more heavily on his slider, and while the combo isn't producing a lot of strikeouts, it is generating a lot of weak contact. Santana's already tied his career high in holds with six while recording his first ever save Friday, and he figures to remain in a high-leverage role as long as he's getting results. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Catcher

Sam Huff, Rangers: Mitch Garver was going to get written up after homering in three straight games, but then he went and got hurt again, pushing Huff back into a prominent role. The 24-year-old might be the better pickup anyway in the long run, as concerns about his hit tool suddenly seem a little less pressing after he's reeled off multi-hit performances in five of his last six starts. The sample size is small, and Huff's 32.4 percent strikeout rate this year in the majors without yet drawing a walk remains a red flag, but this is a catcher we're talking about. If he's hitting and getting semi-regular playing time, he should be rostered. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Cal Raleigh, Mariners: Speaking of young catchers who might be figuring some things out, Raleigh has started nine of the last 13 games and has at least raised his offensive game to Mike Zunino levels, slashing .194/.242/.516 with three homers over that stretch. Of course, that performance also comes with a 42.4 percent strikeout rate. It's important to remember that the 25-year-old switch hitter is the guy the Mariners want to be their starting catcher, not Luis Torrens or Tom Murphy, as Raleigh has a much better defensive profile. That will keep winning him chances despite his struggles so far in his career, and his numbers at Triple-A over the last two years have been encouraging. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Second Base

Matt Carpenter, Yankees: I know there's been a lot of talk about Carpenter's new mustachioed look, but let's make one thing clear: that thing is way more Daniel Plainview than Ron Swanson. The Yankees won't care, just so long as he drinks pitchers' milkshakes every now and then. Anyway, the long-time Cardinal seemed pretty much done the last couple years, but the Bronx Bombers brought him in to help cover for some injuries and he's started three straight games, with his only hit in eight at-bats leaving the yard. There isn't a particularly compelling reason to add the 36-year-old to your roster, as his time in New York could be brief, but the Yankees have squeezed value out of veteran sluggers before. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Rougned Odor, Orioles: Odor's in a groove right now, homering in the nightcap of Saturday's twin bill against the Red Sox after seeing his 11-game hitting streak snapped in the matinee. He's batting .306 (15-for-49) over those 13 contests with four doubles, a triple and three homers, and while he hasn't hit over .205 in a full season since 2018, he's still got enough juice in his bat to ride while he's hot. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Third Base

Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays: All told, Biggio's stint on the COVID-19 list wound up costing him about a month of action, but he got called back up Thursday and immediately slotted into a super-utility role, seeing starts at first base, second base and in left field while reaching base in all three games. The 27-year-old is probably never going to hit for a great batting average, but his patience gives him more value in OBP formats, and he might yet be a useful compiler with decent power and speed if he keeps getting regular playing time around the diamond. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Jake Burger, White Sox: With Yoan Moncada banged up again, Burger was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte and has started four straight games, homering twice while going 4-for-12. The 26-year-old is good enough to hold down a regular spot in the majors, but Chicago just doesn't have a lot of room for him in the corner infield/DH mix when everyone is healthy. If Burger keeps hitting, the team might decide to send Gavin Sheets back down this time instead, but his window to make that case to the front office could be a short one. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Matt Duffy, Angels: Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Anthony Rendon is injured. The veteran third baseman could be on the shelf for a while as the Angels try to figure out what's wrong with his wrist, or he could be back in the minimum. Either way, Duffy figures to see most of the playing time at the hot corner in Rendon's absence. The veteran utility player doesn't have a homer or a steal yet this season in 67 plate appearances, but he is slashing .290/.343/.323, and consistent action will give him some value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Shortstop

Royce Lewis, Twins: Just in case he got dropped in your league after being optioned to Triple-A St. Paul a couple weeks ago, Lewis was called back up Sunday. With Carlos Correa healthy, the top prospect will probably see more of a utility role this time around, but Minnesota is thin in the outfield and don't really have a first baseman, so it shouldn't be hard to find Lewis at-bats. Really, I don't know why they sent him down in the first place, given that he was slashing .308/.325/.564 through his first 40 plate appearances in the majors. Playing-time concerns are really the only reason to think twice about putting in a big bid here. 12-team Mixed: $35; 15-team Mixed: $55; 12-team AL: Rostered

Luis Rengifo, Angels: I wrote up Rengifo a couple weeks ago, but it's probably worth reminding people one more time he's out there. The 25-year-old has started 10 straight games at second base and has started to get looks in the leadoff spot against lefties, batting .282 (11-for-39) over that stretch with a homer and a steal. Rendon's latest injury stretches the Angels' depth even further and makes Rengifo's job at the keystone safer, but he wasn't showing any signs of giving it up. The club has been waiting for a few years for him to put it all together, and it looks like he's finally ready. Numbers at Triple-A Salt Lake can be deceptive, but it's hard to ignore Rengifo's 12 homers and 15 steals in only 77 games at that level since the start of the 2021 campaign. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Rostered

Outfield

Miguel Andujar, Yankees: Andujar is basically the Yankees' 28th man, popping up on the roster when the club needs extra bench depth rather than another arm in the bullpen. That's a big tumble from 2018, when he looked like a potential foundation piece of the roster, but given his various health woes since, it's pretty cool that he's still contributing at all. The 27-year-old has started five straight games in left field during his latest stint in the bigs, going 4-for-19 with a double, a steal and a couple RBI, and while he'll probably head back to Triple-A Scranton once Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson are back, he could have some short-term value in a still-potent lineup. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Oscar Gonzalez, Guardians: Cleveland just keeps churning through unheralded outfielders, with Gonzalez being the latest guy to get a look. Unlike his competition, players like Richie Palacios and Oscar Mercado, Gonzalez might actually have legit power as he's slashed .274/.306/.504 over 113 games for Triple-A Columbus the last two years with 27 homers. As the OBP suggests, his plate discipline isn't great, but if he makes enough hard contact – by, say, going 4-for-8 with two doubles in your first two MLB starts – he doesn't need to draw many walks, and his strikeout rates haven't been alarming. Expect him to get a long look while Franmil Reyes is on the shelf, and maybe beyond. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Brewer Hicklen, Royals: If there were any justice in the world, Hicklen would have been traded to Milwaukee by now. Instead he's a depth option for Kansas City who's posted eye-opening steals totals in the minors, including 40 in 44 attempts last season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, without being a zero in the power department. He's also a 26-year-old without any kind of prospect pedigree (seventh-round pick in 2017) and sketchy minor-league strikeout rates who's just now making his big-league debut, so Hicklen probably won't be anything more than a fifth outfielder. The speed is nice to dream on, but don't get your hopes up. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Jose Siri, Astros: If you're looking for actionable steals, rather than hypothetical ones, Siri could be your guy. Chas McCormick isn't working out in center field, slashing .140/.222/.368 in May, while Jake Meyers is still slowly getting back up to speed at extended spring training, and that's opened the door for Siri to see more playing time. His .244/.320/.378 line in May is only marginally better than McCormick's, but it's come with stolen bases in four of his last five starts as he earns a green light from manager Dusty Baker. Siri's also the better defensive option, and with his playing time outlook trending up, he could be worth rostering in shallower formats. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Taylor Trammell, Mariners: I've never been particularly high on Trammell as a prospect, but with Jarred Kelenic and Mitch Haniger out of the picture for now, Seattle is giving the 24-year-old another look. He's started five of six games in right field since his promotion, going 3-for-11 with a double and a homer and, perhaps more importantly, a 3:3 BB:K. If he's genuinely improved his plate discipline, his athletic tools might be able to do some damage. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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