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 $
Michael LorenzenLASPCNoNo1
Luis PatinoTBSPBNoNo2
Austin PruittOAKSPDNoNo1
Tyler WellsBALSPCNoNo1
Joey WentzDETSPCNo14
Josh WinderMINSPCNoNo3
Kris BubicKCSPC111
Cody MorrisCLESPB111
Glenn OttoTEXSPC1

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 $
Michael LorenzenLASPCNoNo1
Luis PatinoTBSPBNoNo2
Austin PruittOAKSPDNoNo1
Tyler WellsBALSPCNoNo1
Joey WentzDETSPCNo14
Josh WinderMINSPCNoNo3
Kris BubicKCSPC111
Cody MorrisCLESPB111
Glenn OttoTEXSPC111
Konnor PilkingtonCLESPC111
Ken WaldichukOAKSPB111
Ryan YarbroughTBSPC111
James KarinchakCLERPDNo1Rostered
Jose LeclercTEXRPD137
Dillon TateBALRPDNo25
Sam HuffTEXCCNoNo2
Gabriel MorenoTORCANoNo1
Mike FordLA1BDNo37
Tyler FreemanCLE2BCNoNo1
Otto LopezTOR2BCNoNo1
Josh SmithTEX2BCNoNo2
Josh JungTEX3BA3715
Romy GonzalezCHISSC137
Miguel AndujarNYOFCNoNo3
Kerry CarpenterDETOFC137
Mickey MoniakLAOFCNoNo1
Cody ThomasOAKOFDNoNo1

Starting Pitcher

Michael Lorenzen, Angels: Lorenzen missed over two months with a shoulder strain, but in his first start back from the IL on Friday he didn't miss a beat, in that he walked multiple batters for the fourth straight start and 11th time in 14 outings this year. The 30-year-old righty survived the control issues this time, holding the Astros to just one run over 5.2 innings, but he mostly hasn't been that lucky in his first season as a full-time starter since he was a rookie with the Reds in 2015. There's just not a lot of upside here. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Luis Patino, Rays: The 22-year-old righty remains a tantalizing prospect, but it's important to remember his reputation was built back in 2019 with a dominant High-A campaign, and he has yet to really put things together at higher levels. Patino will get another look with Shane McClanahan on the shelf, and while the upside is there, he'll need to sharpen his control and command to reach it. He's better viewed as a keeper or dynasty stash, in the hopes he takes a big step forward in 2023. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Austin Pruitt, Athletics: Oakland is once again scrambling to round out its rotation, so Pruitt got an emergency start Friday. He was basically perfect over five innings, as the only two White Sox to get on base got there via errors. The 33-year-old hasn't made a start in the majors since 2019 and is really nothing more than a swing man at best, but with only a couple weeks left in the season, there's always the chance he catches lightning in a bottle. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Tyler Wells, Orioles: Out since late July, Wells returned to the Baltimore rotation in the heat of a playoff chase Wednesday but wasn't fully stretched out and tossed only two innings and 34 pitches. He might give you solid ratios, but he also might not have enough time to build up enough to be a reliable source of wins or quality starts. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Joey Wentz, Tigers: Wentz was once a top Atlanta prospect after being a supplemental first round pick in the 2016 draft (40th overall), but his fastball never found an extra gear and he couldn't translate low-minors success into good numbers against tougher competition. Sent to Detroit in 2019, the southpaw finally made his big-league debut this year and while his first start back in May didn't go well, he's been sharp since, including six scoreless innings against the Royals on Friday. He was dealing at Triple-A prior to his latest promotion too (1.35 ERA, 1.01 WHIP in 26.2 innings since late July), and the Tigers have no reason not to keep him around to see what he can do. The 24-year-old probably has a mid-rotation ceiling, but given the state of the Detroit rotation, that would probably make him their No. 2 right now. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Josh Winder, Twins: Winder's shown flashes of upside this season when he's been healthy enough to take the mound, and with Chris Archer now joining Tyler Mahle on the shelf, the Twins need the 25-year-old to do it again. He'll get called up to make Sunday's start, and a good outing could keep him in the rotation the rest of the way. The strikeouts he generated in Double-A last season haven't shown up in 2022, but Winder could provide solid ratios if he sticks around. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

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

Kris Bubic, Royals (at MIN, at BOS)
Cody Morris, Guardians (vs. LAA, vs. MIN)
Glenn Otto, Rangers (at MIA, at TB)
Konnor Pilkington, Guardians (vs. LAA, vs. MIN)
Ken Waldichuk, Athletics (at TEX, at HOU)
Ryan Yarbrough, Rays (at TOR, vs. TEX)

Relief Pitcher

James Karinchak, Guardians: Karinchak picked up his first save of the season Tuesday and racked up two holds later in the week, and he's clearly the No. 2 option in the Cleveland bullpen right now behind Emmanuel Clase. He's got elite strikeout upside 38.6 percent K rate this season in 27.2 innings) and unlike last year, that's turned into excellent ratios as well in 2022. If solidifying ERA/WHIP are priorities for you down the stretch, you need a couple guys like Karinchak on your bench you can sub in when your borderline SP options have tough matchups. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: Rostered

Jose Leclerc, Rangers: The Texas closing situation is a bit of a mess again. Jonathan Hernandez's last save came Aug. 15 and he's seen only one chance since, blowing it Sept. 1, and he's walked eight in his last four innings. That's given Leclerc a chance to reclaim the ninth-inning role he last held in 2019, and he's converted both his save chances since Hernandez's last successful one with a 2.31 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 16:5 K:BB through 11.2 innings. The Rangers might not have a lot of late leads over the final weeks, but Leclerc is the most likely guy to get the call if they do. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Dillon Tate, Orioles: Felix Bautista's been incredible this season, but he's made a career-high 60 appearances and now has a sore arm, which probably isn't a coincidence. Tate has two wins and two saves in his last four appearances and a 3.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 9:0 K:BB through 11.2 innings over his last 10 games, and he appears to be the next man up in the ninth for the O's. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Catcher

Sam Huff, Rangers: The 24-year-old got called up at the beginning of the week and has started three of the last four games as the Rangers look to the future. The question with Huff has always been whether his hit tool would develop enough for his power to play, and unfortunately his Triple-A performance prior to his latest promotion wasn't encouraging (.239/.314/.457 with a 35.3 percent K rate since the beginning of August). He slugged a homer Saturday, but occasional low-BA power is about all you should expect from him. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Gabriel Moreno, Blue Jays: Moreno rejoined the Jays on Wednesday and has yet to get off the bench, and that's not likely to change down the stretch with Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk both healthy. Moreno is still a tremendous prospect, slashing .315/.386/.420 this year as a 22-year-old in his first look at Triple-A, but he's a keeper stash and not a viable redraft option. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

First Base

Mike Ford, Angels: Ford joined the Angels in late August and has solidified the first-base job for the Halos with Jared Walsh out for the season. The 30-year-old is slashing .261/.333/.500 with three homers in 15 games for Los Angeles, and I expect there are plenty of fantasy GMs who would be happy if he did that again in their CI or Ut spot over his remaining games. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Second Base

Tyler Freeman, Guardians: The 23-year-old looked like he was getting a look as a starter this past weekend, but now he's been on the bench for three straight games so he's back to being a gamble even for playing time. Freeman's prospect status was always dependent on him eventually adding some power to his plus hit tool, but injuries derailed his development and so far in the majors, his 12 hits and have consisted of 10 singles and two doubles. I still haven't given up on Freeman in the long term, but right now he's not much more than a deep dynasty league dart throw. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Otto Lopez, Blue Jays: The 23-year-old could be the Jays' next Santiago Espinal. Lopez has a .297/.368/.423 slash line with 29 steals in 126 career games at Triple-A, and while he probably doesn't profile as anything more than a utility infielder for Toronto, the same was said about Espinal and he's exceeded those expectations. Again, Lopez won't help you this year unless things go very wrong down the stretch for Toronto, but he's a sneaky keeper stash. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Josh Smith, Rangers: Smith has started two straight games in left field since returning to the majors, and there's a good chance he sees consistent playing time over the final weeks, likely at Kole Calhoun's expense as Bubba Thompson and Adolis Garcia get shuffled around. Smith posted solid numbers at Triple-A this year and has a little upside, so while his long-term role might be as a utility player, he could provide some September production. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Third Base

Josh Jung, Rangers: Jung's 2022 campaign was nearly wiped out by an offseason shoulder injury, but he returned a bit ahead of schedule and proved to the Rangers' satisfaction at Triple-A he was fully healthy again, so he got to make his big-league debut this week and homered in his first at-bat. His strikeout numbers for Sugar Land are a little concerning, at least for his short-term production, but Jung's arguably the top third base prospect in the AL and should be one of the core pieces of the Texas rebuild. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

Shortstop

Romy Gonzalez, White Sox: I profiled Gonzalez last week but was conservative on his recommended bids because I wasn't sure what his playing time would look like when Yoan Moncada returned to action. Well, Moncada's back, and Gonzalez still seems to have a starting job and is still raking. Over his last 14 games, the 26-year-old is slashing .352/.364/.500 with two homers, nine RBI and 12 runs, and he's making a strong case to be Chicago's Opening Day second baseman in 2023 unless they make a splashy addition over the winter. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Outfield

Miguel Andujar, Yankees: This might be Andujar's absolute last chance to show he belongs in the majors with the Yankees, and he's playing like it. He's started four straight games and reeled off three straight multi-hit efforts coming into Sunday, splitting his time between left field and DH, and he should keep getting consistent playing time for at least the next week. After that, New York could start to get guys like Harrison Bader and DJ LeMahieu off IL, and Andujar could go back to being the team's de facto 29th man. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Kerry Carpenter, Tigers: Carpenter is red hot again, batting .371 (13-for-35) over his last nine games with three doubles, a triple and two homers. The 25-year-old came out of nowhere this year to have a breakout campaign in the high minors, and so far in the bigs he's held his own with four homers, an .890 OPS and respectable 24.3 percent K rate through his first 74 plate appearances. The Tigers have a lot of potential OF/DH options around Riley Greene for their 2023 roster, but Carpenter seems to be locking down one of those spots. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Mickey Moniak, Angels: The Halos are looking ahead to 2023, and Jo Adell hasn't really made any progress this year, so the team has little to lose by giving some of his playing time to someone else. Right now, that's Moniak, the ill-fated first overall pick in 2016 by the Phillies. The 24-year-old has gone 1-for-7 with a steal while starting two straight contests, and while he's overall had another poor, injury-plagued season, there have been little glimmers of upside now and then. I can't in good conscience call him a keeper stash, but in redraft the at-bats might just turn into useful production. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Cody Thomas, Athletics: Thomas has started five of the last seven games as Oakland considers whether the 27-year-old has a place in the next chapter of their never-ending rebuild/retooling. He's gone 6-for-19 over that stretch, but with zero extra-base hits and a 1:9 BB:K. Thomas missed most of 2022 while recovering from an Achilles injury, and while he posted good numbers in 2021, merely good numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas isn't actually all that impressive. He looks like a bench bat at best in the long run to me. 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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