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 $
Kohei AriharaTEXSPCNo14
Brayan BelloBOSSPB125
Dallas KeuchelTEXSPENoNoNo
Matt ManningDETSPB14Rostered
Adam OllerOAKSPCNoNo3
Michael PinedaDETSPCNoNo1
Clarke SchmidtNYSPC125
Kutter CrawfordBOSSPC111
Spenser WatkinsBALSPC1

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 $
Kohei AriharaTEXSPCNo14
Brayan BelloBOSSPB125
Dallas KeuchelTEXSPENoNoNo
Matt ManningDETSPB14Rostered
Adam OllerOAKSPCNoNo3
Michael PinedaDETSPCNoNo1
Clarke SchmidtNYSPC125
Kutter CrawfordBOSSPC111
Spenser WatkinsBALSPC111
Taylor HearnTEXRPDNoNo1
Jimmy HergetLARPENoNo2
Jonathan LoaisigaNYRPDNo14
Wandy PeraltaNYRPENoNo3
Lou TrivinoNYRPENo14
Rafael MonteroHOURPD23Rostered
Shea LangeliersOAKCC2511
Matt ThaissLACCNo25
Mike FordLA1BDNoNo3
Willi CastroDET2BC12Rostered
David FletcherLA2BC25Rostered
Gunnar HendersonBAL2BA125
Mark MathiasTEX2BCNoNo2
Andrew VelazquezLASSC12Rostered
Kole CalhounTEXOFCNoNo2
Gilberto CelestinoMINOFDNoNo1
Franchy CorderoBOSOFCNo14
Victor ReyesDETOFC12Rostered
Gavin SheetsCHIOFCNo1Rostered
Bubba ThompsonTEXOFBNo1Rostered
Drew WatersKCOFBNo14

Starting Pitcher

Kohei Arihara, Rangers: The 30-year-old had some mild sleeper buzz heading into last year, but Arihara's first season in North America was a bit of a disaster. He's looked a little more comfortable this time around, and while he didn't post particularly great numbers for Triple-A Round Rock, the Express don't play in a park or a league conducive to tiny ratios. Arihara's given the Rangers two solid starts since his promotion though, including six scoreless innings against the Twins last Sunday, and that's going to draw some attention. The right-handed has a five-pitch mix with his changeup and cutter being his most effective offerings, and he could prove to be a useful back-end guy for Texas down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Brayan Bello, Red Sox: Bello returned to the rotation Wednesday after recovering from a groin injury and put together his best start yet in the majors, fanning seven Blue Jays over five innings. The 23-year-old has had a bumpy start to his big-league career but he remains Boston's top pitching prospect, and he's got the stuff to thrive if he can sharpen his command and control a little. With Nathan Eovaldi hurt and Kutter Crawford fading fast, the Red Sox have every incentive to see if Bello can rise to the occasion and help keep them in the playoff race. He also gets a two-step this week, on the road in Minnesota before facing the Rangers at Fenway Park. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Dallas Keuchel, Rangers: Someone is going to stick Keuchel at the tail end of their FAB queue for a buck based on his name brand alone, ignoring his terrible numbers for three different teams in 2022, and then get stuck with him when they get outbid on everyone else. Don't let it be you. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: No

Matt Manning, Tigers: Manning has quietly put together a pretty solid August since coming off the IL, posting a 2.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 27:9 K:BB through 30 innings over five starts. Toss out his first start back, due to rust and whatnot, and those numbers improve to a 1.80 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 26:5 K:BB over 25 innings. The 24-year-old was a first-round pick in 2016 and a top prospect before the pandemic, and it wouldn't be a surprise at all if he's just now coming into his own. He lines up for a promising two-start week, at home against the M's and Royals, so the good times could keep rolling. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Rostered

Adam Oller, Athletics: Oller is also a right-hander drafted in 2016... but by the Pirates, in the 20th round, and he bounced through the Giants and Mets organizations before being part of the Chris Bassitt trade this offseason. The 27-year-old had some spring sleeper appeal based on the assumption he would win a rotation spot, but a 12.27 ERA through his first four big-league starts squashed those dreams in a hurry. He headed back to Triple-A, rebuilt his confidence, returned to the majors in a bullpen role in June and then got another crack at starting just before the All-Star break. He's continued to improve ever since, and while a 3.97 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 25:16 K:BB through 45.1 innings over eight starts isn't necessarily mixed-league worthy, he's delivered three straight quality starts in August with a 1.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, albeit with a still-shaky 9:7 K:BB over 20 innings. Oller won't keep up his recent pace, but he could still have value down the stretch as a back-end option for your staff. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Michael Pineda, Tigers: Barring a setback in his final rehab start Sunday, Pineda is set to rejoin the Detroit rotation at the end of this week. The veteran righty has just enough upside to be worth jumping the gun on in AL-only and deep mixed formats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Clarke Schmidt, Yankees: New York's decision to trade Jordan Montgomery for an injured Harrison Bader has, somewhat predictably, bitten the team in its pinstriped butts. With Nestor Cortes now on the shelf, the Yanks will have to turn to Schmidt to plug a hole in the rotation until either Cortes or Luis Severino are back on the mound. To be fair, the 26-year-old has pitched well in long relief, but it's a whole lot tougher to get 18 outs than it is nine. The optimism here comes just as much from when he was being stretched out at Triple-A prior to his latest promotion – Schmidt struck out 11 batters over six perfect innings against Worcester back on Aug. 11. He's best viewed as a short-term option, as it's hard to imagine him forcing his way into the mix once everyone's healthy, but if the Yankees continue to collapse and the rest of the AL East starts getting way too close for comfort, maybe Aaron Boone gets a little desperate. 12-team Mixed: $1; 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)

Kutter Crawford, Red Sox (at MIN, vs. TEX)
Spenser Watkins, Orioles (at CLE, vs. OAK)

Relief Pitcher

Taylor Hearn, Rangers: It's the time of the season when the love runs high... wait, no, that's not it. It's the time when picking up a long reliever who can give you good ratios, some bulk Ks and maybe a vultured win or two can make a lot of sense in roto formats depending on where you are in each category. Schmidt would have fit the bill, but he's now rotation-bound. Fortunately, there are other options, with Hearn being one of the most attractive. The southpaw has a 3.21 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 18:5 K:BB through 14 innings in August with a win and a three-inning save, and the Texas rotation should continue to afford him plenty of opportunities to work multiple innings. Hearn's had flashes of utility before while bouncing between starting and relieving, but he seems to have found a role he can thrive in. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Jimmy Herget, Angels: Herget's been even better for the Angels in August than Hearn's been for the Rangers. The 28-year-old has a 0.59 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 15:4 K:BB through 15.1 innings over nine appearances, adding two saves and a hold. He doesn't have the prospect pedigree Hearn does, but results is results, and he continue to feature in Anaheim's closer committee down the stretch if saves matter for you. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Jonathan Loaisiga / Wandy Peralta / Lou Trivino, Yankees: Well, it's come to this. With all their good closing options on the IL, the Yankees are turning to this motley crew at the end of games. Loaisiga had a rough first half but has turned things around since the All-Star break with a 2.13 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over his last 12.2 innings, but that comes with a disappointing 6:5 K:BB. He's got a save and two holds over his last four appearances, though. Peralta is sort of the last lefty standing, collecting saves in his last two appearances and posting a 3.38 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 8:5 K:BB over 10.2 innings in August. Trivino has 10 saves on the year but zero so far as a Yankee, and his 0.90 ERA since coming over from New York isn't supported by a 1.30 WHIP or 8:6 K:BB through 10 innings. I don't really trust any of them to be consistent save sources, both due to their own skills and the committee situation, but you might get a few out of whichever one you decide to roll the dice on. Loaisiga – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4 / Peralta – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3 / Trivino – 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Rafael Montero, Astros: Ryan Pressly's back on the shelf, so Montero's back on the driver's seat for saves in Houston. The right-hander's been a rock in the Astros' bullpen all year with four wins, eight saves and 18 holds to go with his strong ratios, and with Pressly out until at least early September with more neck issues, Montero should get to double digits in saves before he has to turn the reins back over. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Catcher

Shea Langeliers, Athletics: Langliers has started seven straight games and 11 of 12 since his promotion, splitting time between catcher and DH. While his 1:19 BB:K in his first 45 plate appearances remains a big red flag, he's making hard contact when he does get his bat on the ball, hitting .256 with two homers, four doubles and seven RBI. There are almost certainly rosters out there with less productive and less active backstops, even in shallow mixed formats. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Matt Thaiss, Angels: With Jared Walsh done for the year due to thoracic outlet syndrome, the Angels shuffled their roster around a bit. Thaiss was one of the players called up, and while the expectation was that he would help fill the hole at first base, all of the 27-year-old's action so far has come behind the plate. His first 200-odd plate appearances in the majors (dating back to 2019) haven't gone well, but the bar to clear to be useful is a lot lower at catcher, and he provides a lefty-hitting alternative to vets Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki, neither of whom are doing anything as hitters these days. Thaiss also slashed .269/.366/.452 with 10 homers and seven steals in 77 games this year for Triple-A Salt Lake – not great once you account for desert inflation, but again, he only has to be a decent hitter for a backstop, not a decent hitter in general. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

First Base

Mike Ford, Angels: The guy who will get the first chance to replace Walsh is Ford, who is now on his fourth organization of the year. The 30-year-old will probably never duplicate his surprising showing in 2019 for the Yankees, but he'll at least get playing time and could supply a bit of power if you don't mind a batting average around the Mendoza Line. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Second Base

Willi Castro, Tigers: Jonathan Schoop's injury pushed Castro back into a starting role, and over his last 10 games he's batting .290 (9-for-31) with three doubles, a homer, a steal, three runs and six RBI. He won't move the needle in shallower formats, but the 25-year-old qualifies at three positions in most leagues and is a useful guy to have on your bench, to plug in when you don't have better options. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

David Fletcher, Angels: Fletcher's lack of power can make him tough to roster in shallow formats, but right now he's slapping the ball around too well to ignore. Over his last 20 games, the 28-year-old infielder is batting .349 (29-for-83) with 10 RBI and 11 runs, and he even stole his first base of the year, suggesting his speed could be returning after his early-season injury woes. If you've been feeling Steven Kwan envy because you need a boost in batting average, here's the next best thing. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Gunnar Henderson, Orioles: The earliest possible date for Henderson to get promoted without risking his rookie eligibility for 2023 has come and gone, so a Sept. 1 call-up is looking like the most plausible scenario right now. The 21-year-old has seen action at both first base and second base for Triple-A Norfolk, and while his long-term future is still at shortstop, calling him up to be a super-utility player for the stretch run isn't the worst idea. Henderson has rocketed to the top of prospect rankings with a breakout campaign, although he's struggled since news of his pending promotion was announced (1-for-16 with nine Ks this week), but frankly I don't have an issue with a wunderkind looking human as it gives him some adversity to overcome. If you've got a bench spot to churn and are looking for an upside stash, this could be your guy. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Mark Mathias, Rangers: The 28-year-old's bat is beginning to earn him semi-consistent playing time. Mathias has gone 11-for-21 (.524) over seven games with two homers and eight RBI since his latest promotion, and he's started three straight – two at DH and one at first base. I'm not sold on his upside or ability to hang onto a starting gig, but it won't cost much to see if he can prove me wrong. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Shortstop

Andrew Velazquez, Angels: Velazquez has pushed his way back into a regular role, batting .414 (12-for-29) over his last 10 games with a surprising three home runs and a steal. The 28-year-old did hit 14 homers in 125 games in the high minors in 2018, but power has never been his calling card. He's the Halos' best defensive option at shortstop though, and as long as he's supplying some kind of offense, the team is better off keeping him out there and letting him make life easier for young pitchers like Reid Detmers. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Outfield

Kole Calhoun, Rangers: Calhoun started three straight games after coming off the IL last week but then sat for the next three, and there just may not be a consistent role on this Texas squad for a 34-year-old outfielder who could probably use a platoon partner. There's certainly a scenario in which he gets hot and helps carry the team back into the wild-card race, but there are a lot more in which he cedes his spot to the likes of Bubba Thompson. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Gilberto Celestino, Twins: Celestino looks like default center fielder for Minnesota while Byron Buxton recuperates from his latest IL stint, but the 23-year-old is there for his glove, not his bat. Since rejoining the roster in early August, he's slashing .200/.280/.356 over 50 plate appearances. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Franchy Cordero, Red Sox: Triston Casas has found his groove again at Triple-A, slashing .321/.454/.513 in August, but he's not on the 40-man roster and the Red Sox haven't suggested they'll call him up in September. That leaves Cordero to once again split time at first base with Bobby Dalbec while Eric Hosmer is sidelined. There's also a non-zero chance the red-hot Christian Arroyo bumps them both aside in the short term, now that he's not needed at second base following Trevor Story's return, but Cordero isn't giving up his spot without a fight this time. He's homered three times in 13 plate appearances since his promotion last weekend, and that should buy him at least another week's worth of job security, even if it's only in a platoon role. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Victor Reyes, Tigers: Reyes has reclaimed a starting spot in Detroit's mix-and-match outfield corners, and he's batting .381 (16-for-42) over the course of an 11-game hitting streak with two steals, five runs and nine RBI. That's about the 27-year-old's ceiling – batting average and the occasional steal – but he can be useful while he's dialed in, as he is right now. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Gavin Sheets, White Sox: The 26-year-old has erupted over the last week or so, batting .519 (14-for-27) with three doubles and an homer over his last eight games. Sheets still doesn't have an everyday role though, even with Luis Robert at less than 100 percent, putting him in that awkward mixed-league middle ground where he might not quite be getting enough playing time to have value no matter how well he's hitting. As a bench stash, or even as a replacement for someone like Walsh, you could do worse though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: Rostered

Bubba Thompson, Rangers: Thompson's figured out how to use his wheels in the majors, swiping four bags in his last nine games while batting .286 (8-for-28). He has zero extra-base hits during that stretch and a 1:8 BB:K, but if you specifically need stolen bases and can afford to devote a roster spot to a specialist, the 24-year-old might well be your best bet at the moment. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: Rostered

Drew Waters, Royals: The former Atlanta prospect got called up early last week and was immediately inserted into a starting role, going only 3-for-16 with three singles but managing a solid 2:4 BB:K. Strikeouts have been an issue for Waters in the minors, but he's gotten his K rate under 30 percent this season, giving his athletic tools a chance to show through. There may not be much difference between Waters and Kyle Isbel in the end, but right now Waters is the shiny new toy and should get a long look from Kansas City. 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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