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 upside on an A-E scale, prioritizing skills and talent above role and playing time outlook. Gunnar Henderson 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 $
Xzavion CurryCLESPD112
Dane DunningTEXSPC25Rostered
Gerson GarabitoTEXSPDNoNo1
Cole IrvinBALSPC25Rostered
Cade PovichBALSPBNo13
Albert SuarezBALSPCNo25
Griffin CanningLASPC111
Cooper CriswellBOSSPC1

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 upside on an A-E scale, prioritizing skills and talent above role and playing time outlook. Gunnar Henderson 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 $
Xzavion CurryCLESPD112
Dane DunningTEXSPC25Rostered
Gerson GarabitoTEXSPDNoNo1
Cole IrvinBALSPC25Rostered
Cade PovichBALSPBNo13
Albert SuarezBALSPCNo25
Griffin CanningLASPC111
Cooper CriswellBOSSPC111
Nick NastriniCHISPC111
Mitch SpenceOAKSPD111
Simeon Woods RichardsonMINSPC111
Tyler HoltonDETRPENoNo1
Cade SmithCLERPDNoNo3
Freddy FerminKCCC149
David FryCLECDNo37
Carson KellyKCCDNo14
Jose AbreuHOU1BDNo25
Dominic SmithBOS1BDNo14
J.D. DavisOAK3BCNo25
Colt KeithDET3BB3715
DJ LeMahieuNY3BC149
Bryan RamosCHI3BCNo25
David HamiltonBOSSSC149
Jorge MateoBALSSC13Rostered
Miguel AndujarOAKOFCNoNo1
Willie CalhounLAOFCNo14
Daz CameronOAKOFDNoNo2
Jonatan ClaseSEAOFBNoNo2
Corey JulksCHIOFCNo25
Jake MeyersHOUOFC25Rostered
Johnathan RodriguezCLEOFCNoNo1
Leody TaverasTEXOFB511Rostered
Nelson VelazquezKCOFC25Rostered

Starting Pitcher

Xzavion Curry, Guardians: It's a good week to be hunting risky two-start streaming options. Curry joined the Cleveland rotation last week to replace Carlos Carrasco and delivered 4.1 solid innings against the Mets, getting the hook after 66 pitches. The 25-year-old isn't the kind of pitcher the Guardians are going to let go three times through the order, which limits his appeal if either wins or quality starts matter, but his 1.93 ERA in 9.1 big-league innings so far in 2024 is going to draw some bids. Don't be fooled – Curry's served up a ghastly 11 homers in 28.2 Triple-A innings this year, and better lineups could absolutely crush him. He won't face one for a while at least, as his two-step features games against the Rockies and Nationals and then he gets the Marlins the week after, but that first start comes at Coors Field. Eep. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $2

Dane Dunning, Rangers: Texas' rotation situation is absolutely dire right now. We have 10 names listed on their depth charts as starting pitchers, and only two of them don't have some sort of injury designation as I type this. Dunning's one of the two, and he just got back from an IL stint due to a mild rotator cuff strain. He got rocked by the Phillies in his return, but the Rangers can't exactly move him to the bullpen and ease him back into action. Dunning has a career-high 27.8 percent K rate on the year and has a better schedule coming up – he gets the Diamondbacks this week then has a two-step next week against the Tigers and Giants, with all three starts coming at home. Assuming he doesn't break down again, he could have some short-term value. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Gerson Garabito, Rangers: Yeah, I hadn't heard of him either. Garabito is a 28-year-old right-hander who spent the last few years out of affiliated ball completely after stalling out in the high minors for the Giants in 2021, but he's been impressive at Triple-A Round Rock with a 2.05 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 30:8 K:BB through 26.1 innings, and that was good enough to get him on the 40-man roster and into the big-league rotation for a Rangers squad desperate for healthy arms. What scouting reports I can find on him are five years or more out of date, but at least least when he was originally a Royals prospect he flashed a mid-90s fastball and a lot of bullpen risk. I guess we'll find out Sunday what kind of arsenal he's got these days, but if this is the kind of slider he can dial up on a regular basis, he's got a chance. I reserve the right to up these recommended bids significantly in the comments if he goes out and pulls a Ronel Blanco against the Twins. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Cole Irvin, Orioles: The O's rotation isn't in tatters the way the Rangers unit is, but Baltimore just lost Dean Kremer and John Means (again), which means Irvin has moved back into a prominent role. The 30-year-old southpaw went to Jared Driveline this winter and came out with a slider and more movement on his four-seamer, leading to a 3.15 ERA and 1.09 WHIP through 45.2 innings to begin the season. The Orioles are one of the most likely teams to make a splashy trade for a starter – I grabbed Kyle Stowers for a buck in the staff keeper league on a hunch he'll be part of any deal and get dealt into a starting job – but until that happens, Irvin should take a regular turn. That will include a two-start week too, as he lines up to face Boston on Monday and Tampa on Sunday, both at Camden Yards. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Cade Povich, Orioles: If Baltimore doesn't make a splashy trade to bolster its rotation, it might be because they promoted from within instead. Povich is having a breakout campaign at Triple-A Norfolk, producing a 2.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 71:19 K:BB through 53.2 innings. The 24-year-old southpaw doesn't have premium velocity, but he's shown improved control and command of his five-pitch arsenal and seems capable of getting whiffs with any of his offerings. Povich has also gone at least six innings in three of five starts in May for Norfolk. He's not on the 40-man roster, but that's an insignificant hurdle if the club thinks he can help them given their World Series aspirations. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $3

Albert Suarez, Orioles: The third Orioles pitcher profiled this week, Suarez also moved back into the rotation and gave the team four scoreless innings Saturday, just a few days after he's pitched out of the bullpen. The 34-year-old journeyman has been an incredible story this season – he hadn't pitched in the majors since 2017, and hadn't even pitched in affiliated ball since 2018, before coming to came with Baltimore and winning a job. He's not all smoke and mirrors either, averaging 95.1 mph with his fastball. Suarez's 1.53 ERA won't last, but if he can start lasting five innings consistently, that'll be enough to give him some wins upside given the offense supporting him. 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)

Griffin Canning, Angels (vs. NYY, at SEA)
Cooper Criswell, Red Sox (at BAL, vs. DET)
Nick Nastrini, White Sox (vs. TOR, at MIL)
Mitch Spence, Athletics (at TB, at ATL)
Simeon Woods Richardson, Twins (vs. KC, at HOU)

Relief Pitcher

Tyler Holton, Tigers: Aside from Jason Foley, Detroit's had trouble finding reliable high-leverage options for its bullpen this season, as Alex Lange's now in Triple-A, Shelby Miller's on the IL and Andrew Chafin is scuffling. Holton's emerged as a solid alternative in May, posting a 2.08 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 11:1 K:BB in 13 innings, and he nabbed his first save of 2024 on Saturday when Foley was used in the eighth in a highest-leverage spot. Holton may not see much more ninth-inning duty, but he racked up 16 holds last year and seems headed for consistent late-inning usage. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Cade Smith, Guardians: Cleveland rolls out a couple valuable new arms seemingly every year, and Smith is looking like one of their 2024 models. The 25-year-old righty produced good strikeouts numbers in the minors with somewhat shaky control, but in the big-league bullpen this season he's got a 37.0 percent strikeout rate against a 7.6 percent walk rate over 23.1 innings, relying heavily on a 95.5 mph four-seamer while mixing in a splitter and sweeper. He's got a win, a save and five holds over his last 12 appearances with a 0.73 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 17:1 K:BB, and while Smith's not bumping Emmanuel Clase from the ninth inning, he's locking up a high-leverage role. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Catcher

Freddy Fermin, Royals: The 29-year-old has been starting two out of every three games behind the plate of late as the Royals find ways to keep Salvador Perez's bat in the lineup at DH or first base while still giving him a bit of a breather, but Fermin's own performance has made that choice easier. He's batting .400 (14-for-35) in May with three doubles, seven runs and seven RBI, and while he hasn't flashed much power so far in 2024, Fermin did slug nine homers in 70 games for the Royals last year. If that usage pattern holds up, he won't need a Perez injury to have value in shallower formats. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

David Fry, Guardians: Cleveland's Swiss army knife keeps finding his way into the starting nine, but that's what happens when you can hold your defensively at almost any position on the diamond while slashing .415/.556/.805 through 16 games in May with five homers, two steals, 10 RBI and 14 runs. Fry will cool down soon enough, but the power could be legit based on his minor-league numbers, and the Guardians need the offense so he should keep finding his name on the lineup card. 12-team Mixed: $1 ; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Carson Kelly, Tigers: A slump from Jake Rogers has tipped the Tigers' timeshare at catcher in Kelly's favor, and he's responded by going 8-for-22 over his last seven games. The playing-time split for the duo will likely keep see-sawing all year, but at least for now, Kelly's the guy you want. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

First Base

Jose Abreu, Astros: The bloom came off Jon Singleton's rose pretty quickly when he was given regular at-bats and Houston doesn't trust Joey Loperfido's defense at first base, which doesn't leave the team much choice but to give Abreu another chance. The 37-year-old beat up on complex league pitching for a bit before joining Triple-A Sugar Land this weekend, but an 0-for-7 showing over two games with three strikeouts doesn't suggest Abreu is fixed. Still, he could rejoin the major-league roster as soon as Monday in Seattle. Keep your expectations very firmly in check. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Dominic Smith, Red Sox: Garrett Cooper's been awful to begin his Boston tenure, but a sore shoulder may be the culprit. In the meantime, Smith's been seeing consistent playing time over the last couple weeks and gone 9-for-33 (.273) with a homer and eight RBI in the last 11 games. The 28-year-old has never matched his performance during the pandemic season, slashing .241/.310/.352 over 1,300 PAs since 2021, and there's little reason to believe something has clicked for him. Still, as long as Smith is starting, he'll have some deep-league value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Third Base

J.D. Davis, Athletics: Oakland continued to move around the deck chairs on the Titanic, and Davis might be bashing his way back into regular playing time by going 7-for-16 with two homers over a four-game stretch this week before getting Saturday off. He'd gone 3-for-28 over the 10 appearances before that, however, so don't get too excited. The 31-year-old has never been able to follow up his big numbers from the happy fun ball 2019 campaign, and even if he does regain an everyday role to showcase him for a possible trade, his upside will be minimal. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Colt Keith, Tigers: The 22-year-old had some prospect buzz this spring, largely due to a contract that seemed to lock Keith into a starting job in the majors, but on May 15 his slash line stood at .171/.234/.197 and a demotion to try and regain his confidence seemed very feasible. Well, he didn't need one. Since then, he's gone 14-for-30 (.467) with two doubles and his first MLB homer. Keith was hit-over-power in the minors and there's little reason to expect a sudden homer surge, but he appears headed for a solid finish to his first big-league campaign. If he got cut loose during his early-season struggles, time to scoop him back up. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: $15

DJ LeMahieu, Yankees: Aaron Boone says he expected DJLM to join the Yankees on Tuesday, and while I'm firmly in the "believe it when I see it" camp, I guess I better write him up anyway. The 35-year-old days of being a consistent .300 hitter are behind him, but LeMahieu still figures to get all the playing time he can handle at third base once he's back and be a decent source of counting stats in a potent lineup. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: $9

Bryan Ramos, White Sox: I was going to write Ramos up last week, but then he went and got hurt, missing 10 games with a quad strain. The 22-year-old was back at third base for Chicago on Saturday though, and a 9-for-32 (.281) stretch prior to the injury with only three strikeouts gives a taste of how advanced his approach at the plate is already. Ramos is a better keeper stash than redraft asset, but the White Sox have nothing to lose by giving him on-the-job training this season, which could lead to some counting stats even if he's a couple years away from fully tapping into his power. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Shortstop

David Hamilton, Red Sox: Hamilton has moved into a near-everyday role in the Boston middle infield, handling shortstop while Ceddanne Rafaela is in center field and occasionally shifting to second base. A hot bat has spurred the move up the depth chart – he's batting .333 (9-for-27) over his last 10 games with five extra-base hits and a steal, and the Red Sox were happy enough with his performance that they shipped Pablo Reyes off to the Mets. Speed potential remains Hamilton's calling card from a fantasy standpoint, as he swiped 71 bases in 118 games at Double-A in 2022 and 59 between Triple-A and the majors in 2023. He's 5-for-5 so far this year, and consistent playing time could make him this year's Jon Berti or Esteury Ruiz. Of course, he could also get exposed and hit his way back to the minors in a month, but if you're in the market for SBs, Hamilton's worth a gamble. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: $9

Jorge Mateo, Orioles: Speaking of steals sources, Mateo pilfered 67 bags between 2022-23, but a .219/.267/.363 slash line over that time seemed to doom him to a bench role this year on an O's team that had too many prospects for too few vacancies around the diamond. Since Jackson Holliday got sent down in late April though, Mateo's been a regular starter at second base, and while his .235 batting average (16-for-68) over his last 23 games is nothing special, it does come with three homers, six stolen bases, nine RBI and 15 runs. The 28-year-old infielder is probably just keeping Holliday's spot warm, but he could chip in a handful of steals before the front office decides the kid is ready for Round 2 in the majors. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Outfield

Miguel Andujar, Athletics: Andujar came off the IL on Friday and went 3-for-4 with two RBI in his season debut as Oakland's left fielder. The 29-year-old had a big 2018 for the Yankees and hasn't been able to stay healthy since, so expectations should be kept low, but the A's have little to lose by seeing if he can catch lightning in a bottle again. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Willie Calhoun, Angels: Calhoun was supposed to be in last week's article, but he got left off by accident. Maybe I should have kept him off – he's gone 4-for-25 since last Sunday with zero homers or RBI. Still, the 29-year-old is getting regular at-bats as the DH and hitting cleanup against RHP for a Halos team just looking for healthy bodies to plug into the lineup. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Daz Cameron, Athletics: The long-time Tigers semi-prospect never could figure out big-league pitching in Detroit, but here he is getting a look in Oakland, because why not. Cameron has started two of three games in left field since his promotion, going 3-for-9 with a homer and only one strikeout, and he'd been red hot in May for Triple-A Las Vegas prior to getting the call (.407/.527/.831 in 74 plate appearances). Maybe the 27-year-old has figured something out? It shouldn't cost you much to find out. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Jonatan Clase, Mariners: Clase was brought back up Friday, but with the Seattle outfield healthy this time around, the 22-year-old appears ticketed for a bench role. He'd been looking good at Triple-A though, slashing .300/.404/.550 over his last 10 games for Tacoma with two homers, a steal and a 7:7 BB:K, and if playing time does open up for him he could be able to take advantage. For now though, Clase looks like a keeper stash and not a useful lineup option in redraft. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Corey Julks, White Sox: With the White Sox going nowhere fast (maybe my favorite obscure Jim Steinman song, from maybe my favorite bonkers '80s movie), Julks is getting a solid audition in right field and has looked pretty good so far, going 6-for-18 with three extra-base hits, two steals and a 5:7 BB:K in his first seven games for Chicago. The 28-year-old flopped last year in his first look at the majors in Houston, but he got Dusty Baker's stamp of approval in camp that spring, and that feels like it should still count for something. Julks had 31 homers and 22 stolen bases in 130 games for Triple-A Sugar Land in 2022, so while he could be a batting average liability, he's got real fantasy upside. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Jake Meyers, Astros: Chas McCormick's return from the IL did nothing to cut into Meyers' playing time, or cool his hot streak. The 27-year-old outfielder is slashing .344/.417/.594 through 72 plate appearances in May with three homers, two steals, nine runs and 13 RBI, and he's looking like yet another guy I grabbed as a keeper stash coming out of spring training and then dropped too soon, because that's just how I roll every year. Meyers will need to stay hot to avoid falling back into the morass that make up the two outfield spots alongside Kyle Tucker, but you can construct a decent argument that he's got the most upside of the group based on his 68-game showing for Triple-A Sugar Land in 2021 (.343/.408/.598), even if it's taken him a few injury-marred seasons to begin to show it. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Johnathan Rodriguez, Guardians: Rodriguez certainly isn't the young outfielder Cleveland fans wanted to see in the majors by now, but Chase DeLauter is on the shelf with a foot injury and was struggling at Double-A even before getting shut down. Rodriguez earned his promotion with a .276/.389/.449 slash line over 43 games for Triple-A Columbus with seven homers and four steals, but the 24-year-old doesn't have the raw upside of Estevan Florial and could just end up being a short-side platoon option in the bigs. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1 

Leody Taveras, Rangers: It's important to remember that Taveras is still only 25 years old, and far from a finished product. Last year's 14-14 season and .733 OPS were nice, but his ultimate ceiling could end up being a lot higher. He seems to have found another gear in May, slashing .274/.338/.446 in May with three homers and three steals over his last 20 games, and the Rangers have rewarded him by moving him up in the lineup from the nine-hole. If he keeps seeing regular action as the No. 5 hitter, last year's breakout could end up being just a teaser. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Rostered

Nelson Velazquez, Royals: The streaky slugger had a quiet start to the season, but over his last 11 games he's batting .308 (12-for-39) with three of his five homers on the year. Velazquez is one of those shallow-league bubble guys who tends to float through a bunch of rosters over the course of the campaign, getting scooped up when he's hot and dropped quickly when he's cold, but if you need a power boost, he's locked in right now. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
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.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies & More MLB Bets Today: MLB Props for June 18
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies & More MLB Bets Today: MLB Props for June 18
MLB Best Bets and Expert Picks for Tuesday, June 18
MLB Best Bets and Expert Picks for Tuesday, June 18
MLB DFS Picks: FanDuel Plays and Strategy for Tuesday, June 18
MLB DFS Picks: FanDuel Plays and Strategy for Tuesday, June 18
MLB DFS Picks: DraftKings Plays and Strategy for Tuesday, June 18
MLB DFS Picks: DraftKings Plays and Strategy for Tuesday, June 18