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.

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Beau BrieskeDETSPC137
Aaron CivaleCLESPC137
Tyler WellsBALSPC25Rostered
Josh WinckowskiBOSSPC123
James KaprielianOAKSPC111
Enyel De Los SantosCLERPENoNo1
Kendall GravemanCHIRPD511Rostered
Jonah BrideOAKCCNo

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.

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Beau BrieskeDETSPC137
Aaron CivaleCLESPC137
Tyler WellsBALSPC25Rostered
Josh WinckowskiBOSSPC123
James KaprielianOAKSPC111
Enyel De Los SantosCLERPENoNo1
Kendall GravemanCHIRPD511Rostered
Jonah BrideOAKCCNo14
Eric HaaseDETCC13Rostered
Reese McGuireCHICDNoNo2
Seby ZavalaCHICDNoNo1
Bobby DalbecBOS1BC37Rostered
Alex KirilloffMIN1BB112135
Carlos SantanaKC1BC25Rostered
Mauricio DubonHOU2BCNoNo1
Josh HarrisonCHI2BCNoNo2
Danny MendickCHI2BDNoNo1
Matt DuffyLA3BCNoNo2
Jack MayfieldLA3BDNoNo1
Tyler WadeLA3BCNoNo3
Jarren DuranBOSOFB51121
Riley GreeneDETOFA354555
Victor ReyesDETOFCNoNo1
Leody TaverasTEXOFCNoNo2
Justin UptonSEAOFDNoNo1

Starting Pitcher

Beau Brieske, Tigers: The rookie right-hander appears to be getting the hang of the majors. Brieske missed tossing three straight quality starts to begin June by one out, and he's fired 12.2 consecutive scoreless innings over his last two outings, leading to a 0.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 15:3 K:BB through 18.2 innings on the month. Brieske's stuff is still more that of a back-end starter rather than a rotation stalwart, but that's good enough to make him the No. 2 or No. 3 guy for Detroit right now. He's also set up for a two-start week, on the road against the Red Sox and Diamondbacks, so this is as good a time as any to gamble that he'll keep up his current form for a while longer. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Aaron Civale, Guardians: Civale has an absolutely brutal start to the season before hitting the IL with a glute strain in late May, but I'm still workshopping all the possible "pain in the butt for fantasy GMs" jokes. The right-hander has looked much sharper on his rehab stint, posting a 10:2 K:BB over 6.2 innings for Triple-A Columbus, and the Guardians demoted Konnor Pilkington to clear the deck for his activation. Civale will be set up for a two-start week right out of the gate, pitching in Minnesota on Tuesday before a home start next weekend against Boston, so grabbing him now rather than waiting to see how he looks upon his return makes some sense. Keep in mind he could have a pitch limit in his first outing back, but Civale did toss 4.2 innings in his last rehab start so Cleveland might not feel the need to hold him back. If the 27-year-old can regain his form from 2021 he'll have some shallow-league value, but even at his best, he doesn't have a lot of strikeout upside. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Tyler Wells, Orioles: Wells is on a nice little roll, posting wins and quality starts in three of his last four outings with a 2.45 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over that stretch. His 11:6 K:BB through 22 innings over that stretch doesn't even rise to the level of mediocre, however, and the 27-year-old can only get so far relying on weak contact for good results. Wells is another guy lined up for a two-step, and the first one is at home against the Nationals, so he might be the best streaming option of the bunch for this week if that's what you're looking for. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Josh Winckowski, Red Sox: With Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock both on the shelf, Winckowski got to make his second career start Wednesday and looked pretty good, blanking the A's over five innings. Sure, it's only the A's, but that was good enough to earn the 23-year-old another turn or two at least. A 15th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2016, he bounced to the Mets and then the Red Sox in trades after emerging as a legitimate prospect during the pandemic. Winckowski features a mid-90s fastball, a slider with impressive vertical break and a split-finger changeup that's still a work in progress, but if the latter develops quickly his plus control should allow the whole package to play up. Stop me if you've heard this one before: Winckowski lines up for a two-start week, getting the Tigers at home Monday before a road trip to Cleveland on the weekend, but at this point he should probably be of most interest to those in deep keeper leagues, and he likely won't keep a rotation spot once everyone's healthy unless he's really dominating. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $3

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

James Kaprielian, Athletics (vs. SEA, at KC)

Relief Pitcher

Enyel De Los Santos, Guardians: Not that there's any reason to think Emmanuel Clase's job as closer is in any jeopardy, but right now De Los Santos looks like he would be the next man up. The 26-year-old collected his first career save Friday when Clase needed a breather, and De Los Santos has rung up a career-best 33.3 percent strikeout rate and 9.3 percent walk rate on the season thanks to a slight velocity increase on his classic fastball-slider combo. He still looks more like a setup man than a closer, and Eli Morgan has been the only consistent eighth-inning arm for the Guardians this year, but De Los Santos could end up having some value in formats that score holds as he continues to work his way into a higher-leverage role. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Kendall Graveman, White Sox: Liam Hendriks is out with a forearm strain, and while Chicago thinks he could be back in early July, forearm strains have a way of turning into far more serious injuries. Graveman will handle closing duties in the interim, whether that interim winds up being a few weeks or a few months. The right-hander hasn't matched his numbers from his breakout 2021, but the converted starter is still averaging 96.3 mph with his fastball and attacking the strike zone, so there's no reason to think he'll flop in the role. How aggressive you are in acquiring Graveman this week depends entirely on how much you need saves, and/or Hendriks insurance, but keep in mind he could prove to be just a short-term rental. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: Rostered

Catcher

Jonah Bride, Athletics: Called up Tuesday, Bride has started five straight games, with three of those starts coming at third base and two at second -- almost the ideal scenario for a catcher-eligible player, which is where the 26-year-old utility player has seen a plurality of his action in the minors this year. Before you start getting visions of him becoming the next Josh Donaldson, know that Bride doesn't have a lot of power, with his career high in homers in the minors being 10 over 115 games at High-A in 2019. He does have a strong hit tool though, and after batting .347 in 33 games between Double-A and Triple-A prior to his promotion, he's gone 5-for-16 with a double and a 1:1 BB:K for the A's. Oakland's run through (starts counting fingers) a gajillion third basemen already this season as they search for a Matt Chapman replacement, so if Bride keeps slapping hits, he'll get a long look at the hot corner. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Eric Haase, Tigers: One of 2021's big surprises looked like a one-year wonder through the first couple months of this season, but Haase seems to have re-discovered his stroke in June, slashing .333/.357/.630 through 28 plate appearances with five of his nine hits going for extra bases (three doubles, a triple and a homer). Productive players who are catcher-eligible can always find a home on fantasy rosters, and the 29-year-old has multiple paths to playing time, so if Haase got dropped during his early slump, it might be time to give him another chance. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Reese McGuire, White Sox: I wrote him up last week but now Yasmani Grandal is officially on the IL, so the arrow on McGuire's playing time is officially pointed up. At least, it seemed to be – Seby Zavala has gotten the last three starts instead, as Tony LaRussa decides to ride the hotter hand even though McGuire hit safely in four straight games prior to sitting. The two could eventually settle into a platoon until Grandal gets healthy, but McGuire would be the one facing RHP in that scenario, giving him the edge in playing time and, likely, counting-stat volume. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Seby Zavala, White Sox: Zavala got called up last Sunday, and all he's done over the last three games is go 5-for-12 with a double and a homer. The 28-year-old has flashed power in the minors and was slashing .282/.396/.535 in 41 games for Triple-A Charlotte prior to his promotion, but Zavala also has a .604 OPS in 133 big-league plate appearances in his career. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

First Base

Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox: Last month, Dalbec seemed to be in danger of losing his spot in the lineup, but he's turned things around in June, starting 10 of the last 13 games and slashing .297/.325/.541 with three doubles and two homers. The 26-year-old is always going to be a batting average risk, but his 25 percent strikeout rate over that stretch is manageable, and Franchy Cordero continues to do little at the plate while Triston Casas is still working his way back from an ankle injury. Barring a trade, Dalbec seems pretty safe at first base for now. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Rostered

Alex Kirilloff, Twins: Kirilloff's early-season struggles, whether they were due to his lingering wrist issue or just growing pains, got him bumped back down to Triple-A in late April, but the 24-year-old did everything he needed to do to claw his way back up to the Twins' roster, slashing .359/.465/.641 through 35 games at St. Paul with 10 homers and a 22:26 BB:K. Jorge Polanco's back issue created an opening for Minnesota to bring Kirilloff back up into a starting role, and it's likely he'll be locked in at first base the rest of the way, with Jose Miranda spelling him against the occasional tough lefty. The early struggles could keep some bidders away, but he was considered a very good four-tool prospect for a reason. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $21; 12-team AL: $35

Carlos Santana, Royals: Yes, I know this wasn't the Kansas City first baseman y'all wanted to see me write up, but Santana isn't going away without a fight. The veteran is slashing .353/.500/.500 over 44 plate appearances in June, and while he's still not hitting for a lot of power, the Royals seem perfectly content to keep him around. It probably helps Santana's job security that Vinnie Pasquantino's got a .182/.288/.309 slash line at Triple-A this month, too. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Second Base

Mauricio Dubon, Astros: I was going to include Aledmys Diaz this week after Jeremy Pena hurt his thumb, but then Diaz left Saturday's game with shoulder trouble, so on to the next man up at shortstop for Houston. Dubon has gone just 6-for-34 since coming over from the the Giants, but once upon a time he was a fairly intriguing Brewers prospect, stealing 38 bases with eight homers as a 22-year-old in the high minors in 2017. That speed's never shown up in the majors, but Dubon's also never really gotten a full shot at the highest level, with his most extensive run of playing time resulting in a solid .274/.337/.389 slash line over 54 games in 2020. He could be worth a look in the short term if Diaz does hit the IL. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Josh Harrison, White Sox: Tim Anderson's set to be activated Monday, but the White Sox still have a gaping hole at second base. Harrison's staking his claim to it, reeling off six hits in the last three games to boost his batting average in June to .357 (10-for-28). The 34-year-old was posting useful fantasy numbers as recently as last year, and it may have just taken him a while to adjust to a new team. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Danny Mendick, White Sox: On the other hand, Mendick's been on a roll too while filling in for Anderson at shortstop, hitting safely in nine straight games as part of a .281/.328/.439 June, and he could also slide over to the keystone. Both Harrison and Mendick hit right-handed and neither one have a ton of upside in power or speed, so while the duo could end up in a timeshare, it won't be a traditional platoon. My hunch is Tony LaRussa will go with Harrison, but far be it from me to try and anticipate the moves of the baseball genius who intentionally walked a guy in a 1-2 count. Cheer up, Chicago fans – the only manager to issue an even dumber intentional walk this season's already been canned. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Third Base

Matt Duffy, Angels: Speaking of Joe Maddon's former employer, Anthony Rendon's sudden but inevitable betrayal season-ending injury leaves the Angels scrambling to fill third base. They've got plenty of candidates, but Luis Rengifo's already been seeing a full workload around the infield, so let's put him aside for now. Duffy's started six of the last seven games and seems like the first choice of new skipper Phil Nevin, but the 31-year-old utility player has zero homers or steals this year and is slashing .235/.264/.255 in June with more playing time. Don't overpay for him. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Jack Mayfield, Angels: Mayfield's been bouncing up and down between the majors and Triple-A Salt Lake this year, but he hasn't hit in either spot. Rendon's injury probably keeps Mayfield up for good this time in a bench role, but last year's mild power surge doesn't look like it will be repeated. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Tyler Wade, Angels: The most interesting candidate is probably Wade, who's gone from preseason sleeper to April FAB target to May drop all the way back to June sleeper. He's only batting .167 in June with zero extra-base hits and a 0:10 BB:K in 36 plate appearances, but he also has two steals, and more playing time should lead to more swipes when he does manage to get on base. He probably won't have a Jon Berti-like resurgence or anything, but if you need the SBs and can afford to use a roster spot on a one-dimensional player to get them, Wade's worth a look. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Outfield

Jarren Duran, Red Sox: Duran could be up for good this time. He got his first promotion of the season a couple weeks ago, but Enrique Hernandez's hip injury gives the youngster a bigger window in which to establish himself. Duran's started four straight games since rejoining the Red Sox, going 3-for-13 with a double and a triple, and his .299/.374/.525 slash line this year for Triple-A Worcester suggests he doesn't have much more to learn in the minors. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $21

Riley Greene, Tigers: Finally! Greene looked ready for the majors in spring training, but a foot injury delayed his Detroit debut. The 21-year-old is up now though, probably for good, and reaching base four times in his first big-league game (2-for-3 with two walks and two runs Saturday) isn't going to tone down the bidding on him. Greene's a five-tool talent and, depending on how you feel about Gunnar Henderson's ceiling and his potential ETA, he might well be the last truly elite prospect to get called up this year in the AL. There's really no reason to hold back. 12-team Mixed: $35; 15-team Mixed: $45; 12-team AL: $55

Victor Reyes, Tigers: Detroit's outfield has a lot of holes, so even with Greene up, there should be opportunities for a hot hitter to win playing time. That's Reyes right now. The 27-year-old switch hitter has started six of eight games since returning from a quad injury, going 8-for-25 (.320), and with Austin Meadows and Robbie Grossman both struggling at the plate (and Meadows on the COVID-19 list at the moment), Reyes should get more chances to slap out hits. He's got only modest power or speed upside, but he could provide some short-term value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Leody Taveras, Rangers: Eli White's wrist surgery could keep him sidelined until August, but fortunately the Rangers have another speedy outfielder they can plug into his spot. Taveras has been putting up good numbers at Triple-A Round Rock this year, slashing .294/.335/.485 with seven homers and seven steals in 49 games, but his results in the majors since his promotion Monday have been in line with his prior poor results for Texas. Taveras is still only 23, but a breakout doesn't appear imminent despite his tools. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Justin Upton, Mariners: Upton's started three straight games since rejoining the Seattle roster, and he's gone 0-for-7 with three strikeouts, which seems about right. The 34-year-old just doesn't have a lot left in the tank, and the best-case scenario for him might be a short-side platoon role in which he spells Taylor Trammell or Jesse Winker in the outfield corners. That's assuming he even keeps his roster spot when Kyle Lewis comes off his latest IL stint. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

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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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