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 $
Kyle BradishBALSPC114
Aaron CivaleCLESPC125
Eduardo RodriguezDETSPC3715
JP SearsOAKSPC2511
Jose SuarezLASPCNo14
Touki ToussaintLASPCNoNo2
Kris BubicKCSPC111
Zack GreinkeKCSPC111
Drew HutchisonDETSPD1

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 $
Kyle BradishBALSPC114
Aaron CivaleCLESPC125
Eduardo RodriguezDETSPC3715
JP SearsOAKSPC2511
Jose SuarezLASPCNo14
Touki ToussaintLASPCNoNo2
Kris BubicKCSPC111
Zack GreinkeKCSPC111
Drew HutchisonDETSPD111
Dean KremerBALSPC111
Glenn OttoTEXSPC111
Cole RagansTEXSPB111
Ryan YarbroughTBSPC111
Scott EffrossNYRPDNo14
Rafael MonteroHOURPD25Rostered
Hector NerisHOURPDNo2Rostered
Will SmithHOURPDNo14
John SchreiberBOSRPDNo2Rostered
Ryan TeperaLARPDNo25
Sandy LeonMINCDNoNo1
Martin MaldonadoHOUCC12Rostered
David FletcherLA2BC137
Josh JungTEX3BB125
Miguel AndujarNYOFDNoNo1
Kerry CarpenterDETOFCNoNo2
Steven DuggarLAOFENoNo1
Manuel MargotTBOFC137
Austin MeadowsDETOFCNo14
Magneuris SierraLAOFDNoNo3
Cal StevensonOAKOFCNoNo2

Starting Pitcher

Kyle Bradish, Orioles: The 25-year-old has been entirely solid since coming off the IL in late July, lasting at least five innings in three straight starts with a 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 16:5 K:BB through 15.1 innings. Those aren't needle-moving numbers, but they're likely better than a lot of guys currently on benches in deeper formats, and Bradish lines up for a two-step this week to give him extra appeal, although it's not the friendliest set of matchups (at Toronto, home to the Red Sox). On a related note, every member of Baltimore's 40-man roster is now vaccinated against COVID-19, so the barest minimum kudos to the organization for not having to sit anybody (again) for their trip north as they fight for a wild-card spot. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Aaron Civale, Guardians: Civale came off the IL last Wednesday and was only able to supply four innings against the Tigers, a disappointing showing for any fantasy GMs out there hoping to exploit a juicy opponent. He pitched well though, continuing a trend that predated his injury – the 27-year-old had a 3.18 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 24:7 K:BB through 28.1 innings over his last five full starts before going down. Civale doesn't have tremendous upside due to his lack of Ks, but he's got streaming appeal and also lines up for a two-start week, getting a rematch with the Tigers before facing the White Sox, both in Cleveland. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Eduardo Rodriguez, Tigers: ERod appears to be on the cusp of returning to the majors after he tossed five shutout innings for Triple-A Toledo on Thursday. Detroit has two easily replaceable starters lined up Tuesday and Wednesday in Garrett Hill and Daniel Norris, and goodness knows the Tigers' rotation needs him back, but as yet there's been no hint Rodriguez will be activated this week. Even if he gets one more rehab start, he's worth grabbing now if you can given his upside. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

JP Sears, Athletics: This is a great week for streaming options, it seems. Sears, part of the package from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas deal, made his A's debut Wednesday and was solid, just as he'd been in spot starts for New York earlier in the year. The 26-year-old southpaw doesn't have premium stuff but it plays up due to his arm angle and command, and he combines a low-90s fastball with an above average slider and useful changeup. Between Scranton and Las Vegas he's posted a 60:7 K:BB through 47.2 Triple-A innings this season, but his 18:5 K:BB through 27.1 innings in the majors so far better reflects his upside. Sears profiles as a back-end starter or swing man, but his command is sharp enough to potentially beat that projection, and he's an upgrade for the A's on the Zack Logue types they've been trotting out. Sears' two-step this week features a road start against the Rangers and a home outing against the Mariners. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Jose Suarez, Angels: Quietly, Suarez hasn't allowed an earned run since the All-Star break, winning his last three starts with a 0.87 WHIP and 16:5 K:BB through 17.1 innings. Now, two of those starts came against the A's and the third was against the Royals, so don't get too excited. Still, he's a 24-year-old lefty who has teased some upside in the past, so you can't completely dismiss the possibility that he's figured something out, either. If he can shut down a real offense, then it'll be time for GMs in shallow leagues to pay attention. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Touki Toussaint, Angels: Speaking of guys who tease upside, Toussaint is a classic FAAB sink. He's got intriguing stuff and will put together an occasional dominant start, or even a couple in a row, only to yank the football away again once he's siphoned some nickels out of fantasy GM wallets. I'm sure this time (five shutout innings against Oakland on Wednesday) will be different though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

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

Kris Bubic, Royals (at MIN, at TB)
Zack Greinke, Royals (at MIN, at TB)
Drew Hutchison, Tigers (at CLE, vs. lAA)
Dean Kremer, Orioles (at TOR, vs. BOS)
Glenn Otto, Rangers (vs. OAK, at MIN)
Cole Ragans, Rangers (vs. OAK, at MIN)
Ryan Yarbrough, Rays (at NYY, vs. KC)

Relief Pitcher

Scott Effross, Yankees: Well, that was unexpected. Clay Holmes has been showing signs of wearing down while Aroldis Chapman has been returning to form, so a switch at closer for the Yankees feels inevitable. Holmes indeed didn't get the save chance Saturday... but instead it went to Effross, as Chapman and Lou Trivino combined to work the seventh and eighth innings. Effross' numbers this season have been very good, but his sinker/slider combo is more appropriate for a setup man, and it's hard to imagine Aaron Boone is going to use him to head up his bullpen down the stretch. That save is going to draw bids, but you might be better off holding back. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Rafael Montero / Hector Neris / Will Smith, Astros: Ryan Pressly has been absolutely filthy over the last six weeks or so, posting a 1.20 ERA, 0.40 WHIP and 28:1 K:BB over his last 15 innings, but he hasn't pitched since Wednesday due to a stiff neck. As a result, Neris got the save Friday, with Smith working the seventh inning and Montero being unavailable after having pitched on two of the prior three days. If Pressly were to miss an extended period, Montero seems like the next man up – he's 7-for-8 in save chances this year with sparkling ratios – but any of the trio could get work in the ninth depending on matchups and availability. The Houston closer could also just need a brief rest though, so don't go too hard here yet unless you need to take those kinds of big swings to make up ground in saves (or really need to protect your Pressly investment). Montero – 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered / Neris – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered / Smith – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

John Schreiber, Red Sox: Speaking of banged-up closers, Tanner Houck's on the shelf for Boston with back issues and has no firm return date yet – as of Thursday, the team was "gathering information" on the injury, which is ominous. Garrett Whitlock is the presumed next man up, but Alex Cora continues to use him as a multi-inning high-leverage arm, and he's rostered in too many leagues to be worth offering bid recommendations on anyway. Schreiber, on the other hand, is mostly available, and although he's also worked two innings in each of his last two appearances, he got a save in one of them. Really, what it looks like here is that Cora is afraid of being second-guessed on his bullpen usage (understandable given what a disaster this bullpen has been in recent years), so if someone's pitching well in the late innings he just sticks with them. Schreiber's overall numbers are too good for him to be on the wire in many formats as it is, so if he chips in a few saves as well, all the better. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Ryan Tepera, Angels: Three different Angel relievers have gotten saves since Raisel Iglesias was sent packing, but Tepera still looks like the best option to take over the closer role. His 18.9 percent strikeout rate isn't very exciting, but he generates enough weak contact to get by, and it's not like anyone else in this bullpen is making a stronger case. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Catcher

Sandy Leon, Twins: Minnesota seems to understand that Gary Sanchez is not an ideal candidate to start the majority of games behind the plate, so Leon has wound up starting five of 10 games since being added to the roster. He's gone 3-for-12 with two doubles and three RBI, which might even be on the high end of what you can expect from him as a hitter given his .598 career OPS, but that's enough playing time to land on the radar in deeper formats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Martin Maldonado, Astros: When the Astros traded for Christian Vazquez, it was assumed the former Boston starter would become the new Houston starter. Not so fast, said Maldonado. The 35-year-old has started eight of 12 games so far in August, going 7-for-24 with two homers and seven RBI. This could just be a case of Dusty Baker riding the hot hand, but Maldonado's defensive rep could also be a factor here. Either way, if he got cut loose in a shallower league after the Vazquez deal, he could be worth scooping back up for some short-term production. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Second Base

David Fletcher, Angels: The 28-year-old has taken over a starting role in the Angels' middle infield with a hot streak over the last week, mostly seeing action at shortstop while Luis Rengifo handles second base. Fletcher has hit safely in seven straight games, going 10-for-29 (.345) with a homer and seven RBI. Surprisingly, he hasn't even attempted a steal all year – disappointing considering his swiped 15 bags in 18 attempts last season – which puts fantasy GMs in a bit of a tough spot with him. A Fletcher that provides a boost in batting average and steals is worth rostering; the one-category guy on display right now, maybe not. Picking him up now could still make sense if BA is the category you stand to gain the most ground in, or if you want to gamble on those steals re-appearing, but it's worth noting he's only in the 10th percentile in sprint speed in 2022 according to his Statcast page, a huge drop from the 66th percentile he was in last year. Considering he's missed time with hip and foot injuries, that collapse is maybe not a surprise, and he seems healthy now and could regain that lost speed, but it highlights how much of a gamble it would be to simply assume there are SBs coming down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Third Base

Josh Jung, Rangers: So, I've been stubbornly telling people who asked that I didn't expect Jung to make his big-league debut this season, as his shoulder injury and the fact that the Rangers aren't really in the wild-card picture (9.5 games out of the third spot, with four other teams between them and the Rays) didn't add up to a promotion in my head. The former factor can probably be ignored at this point, though. The 24-year-old is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from February labrum surgery, to the point that Texas is letting him play defense already rather than limiting him to DH. Oh, and he's gone 6-for-17 (.353) with two doubles and two homers in his first four games for Triple-A Round Rock. If he keeps looking like he's got nothing left to learn at the plate in the minors, and has no restrictions in the field, there's really no reason other than service time not to promote him, and to its credit the Texas front office has already started a lot of service time clocks over the last few weeks. The Rangers have gotten little from the parade of guys they've trotted out to third base this season, so starting the Jung era in September or even late August suddenly looks a lot more plausible – and makes stashing him now on a fantasy roster look a lot more enticing. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Outfield

Miguel Andujar, Yankees: Matt Carpenter's foot injury opened the door for Andujar's latest big-league stint, but he hasn't inherited all of Carpenter's playing time as he's started only two of five games since his promotion, going 2-for-8 with three strikeouts. Andujar was posting strong numbers for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he's never regained his 2018 form and time is running out for the 27-year-old to do so. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Kerry Carpenter, Tigers: I guess there was something in the last CBA about the MLBPA only having a spot for one Carpenter? Matt got hurt August 8, and Kerry – one of Detroit's pop-up prospects this season – got his first big-league promotion August 9. The 24-year-old was a 19th-round pick in 2019 out of Virginia Tech, and a shaky 2021 campaign at Double-A didn't seem to leave him with much of a future. In exactly 400 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this year though, he slashed .313/.380/.645 with 30 homers, and his plate discipline at Toledo was extraordinary – he went from a 16:72 BB:K in 63 games for Erie to a 17:17 mark in 34 games at the highest level of the minors. That might have been a small-sample fluke given he's got a 1:7 BB:K through his first three games for Detroit, but it's still hard to ignore. Carpenter's a better keeper dart throw than a redraft asset, but there's a non-zero chance he's a late bloomer who winds up with Brandon Lowe-like production. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Steven Duggar, Angels: With Mike Trout and now Mickey Moniak sidelined, Brandon Marsh in Philly and Jo Adell a (let's be charitable) work in progress defensively, the Angels have a gaping hole in center field. That's why Duggar is on his third big-league team this season despite a .183/.254/.267 slash line through 67 plate appearances. The 28-year-old has a bit of power and speed, but his best selling point is that Magneuris Sierra is his main competition for playing time right now. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Manuel Margot, Rays: Margot is eligible to come off the IL next weekend, and he appears to be on track to meet that schedule after having his rehab assignment bumped up to Triple-A on Saturday. Prior to this year I wouldn't have considered the 27-year-old a guy worth snatching up early, but his .302/.365/.423 slash line prior to getting hurt in June changed the equation. Margot may need to shake off some rust, but his defense should keep him in the lineup most days and Jose Siri isn't hitting well enough to be a big threat to his workload. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Austin Meadows, Tigers: Meadows is the flip side of the coin from Margot. He's also been out of action since June and is closing in on a return from the IL, but he was having a pretty brutal year when he got hurt, and jumping the gun on his activation is a gamble that he'll start making up for lost time. Meadows had 64 homers in 316 games over the last three seasons for Tampa Bay; he still has zero for Detroit. There's also the question of how much playing time he'll get on a rebuilding roster that needs to find time for Riley Greene and other young pieces, but Meadows is only 27 and could still be viewed as part of the club's future, or at least someone whose value is worth rehabilitating while the team still has a couple years of control over him. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Magneuris Sierra, Angels: Sierra's really just a fifth outfielder/pinch runner type, but he plays good defense in center field and is healthy, so that's enough for a desperate Angels squad right now. He and Duggar both hit left-handed so there won't be a platoon here. The only question is whether Sierra will hit enough to hang onto the majority of playing time and get to his speed, and a .250/.273/.406 slash line through 10 games in August (with two steals in three attempts) probably just clears the bar. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Cal Stevenson, Athletics: Stevenson, picked up from the Rays in the Christian Bethancourt deal earlier in the year, is the latest youngish, prospect-ish player to get an audition in the Oakland outfield. The 25-year-old slashed .275/.387/.402 through 73 Triple- games this season between Durham and Las Vegas, and predictably his production spiked in the desert after the trade. His 15 steals in 18 attempts is the more interesting number, and he could get a long look in center field. In the long run he seems more like a fourth outfielder with a tweener bat, but you could say the same for Skye Bolt, and that's still got more value to this franchise than a retread like Tony Kemp or Stephen Piscotty. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

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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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