NL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

NL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our NL FAAB Factor series.

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.

Bids in general are best guesstimates. With so much uncertainty at least initially, those values may be even greater estimates than usual. The FAAB chart below lets users easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The chart, which is 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 role on an A-E scale. An "A" grade is reserved for a high-impact prospect stepping into an everyday role.

If you have questions on players, I'm happy to provide my thoughts in the comments.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Cole HamelsATLSPD159
Caleb SmithAZSPD2711
Drew SmylySFSPE017
Touki ToussaintATLSPENoNo3
Jose UrenaMIASPE015
Bryse WilsonATLSPENo15
Travis BergenAZRPE015
Stefan CrichtonAZRPE2711
Genesis CabreraSTLRPE015
Ryan HelsleySTLRPD147
Andrew MillerSTLRPD2711
Alex ReyesSTLRP

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.

Bids in general are best guesstimates. With so much uncertainty at least initially, those values may be even greater estimates than usual. The FAAB chart below lets users easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The chart, which is 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 role on an A-E scale. An "A" grade is reserved for a high-impact prospect stepping into an everyday role.

If you have questions on players, I'm happy to provide my thoughts in the comments.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Cole HamelsATLSPD159
Caleb SmithAZSPD2711
Drew SmylySFSPE017
Touki ToussaintATLSPENoNo3
Jose UrenaMIASPE015
Bryse WilsonATLSPENo15
Travis BergenAZRPE015
Stefan CrichtonAZRPE2711
Genesis CabreraSTLRPE015
Ryan HelsleySTLRPD147
Andrew MillerSTLRPD2711
Alex ReyesSTLRPD3914
Wade DavisCOLRPE017
Grant DaytonATLRPE015
Yimi GarciaMIARPD51116
Tyler RogersSFRPD2711
Victor CaratiniCHICD15Rostered
Jesus AguilarMIA1BC7585Rostered
Mitch MorelandSD1BC6575Rostered
Rangel RaveloSTL1BE017
Pavin SmithAZ1BE015
Justin SmoakSF1BE015
Josh VanMeterAZ2BENoNo5
Brock HoltWAS3BD2711
Wyatt MathisenAZ3BENoNo4
Ronald TorreyesPHISSENoNo3
Abraham AlmonteSDOFENoNo4
Luis Alexander BasabeSFOFENoNo4
Austin DeanSTLOFENoNo4
Monte HarrisonMIAOFENoNo4
Ryan BraunMILOFC5575Rostered
Adam DuvallATLOFD85RosteredRostered
Kyle GarlickPHIOFENoNo4
Phil GosselinPHIOFE017
Yadiel HernandezWASOFE015
Tim LocastroAZOFE017
Jorge OnaSDOFD51116
Tommy PhamSDOFC25RosteredRostered

STARTING PITCHER 

Cole Hamels, Braves: Hamels could return during the Braves' upcoming series in Baltimore beginning Monday or their set against the Mets. Despite missing significant time due to injury and posting the highest WHIP of his career in 2019, the left-hander was signed to a one-year, $18 million contract. So far, that deal has been a bust for the Braves and those who drafted or signed Hamels - including me - as he's been sidelined all season with shoulder and triceps issues that date back to spring training. He tossed threw three simulated innings Friday but likely won't be ready for a starter's workload immediately, although he could get the opportunity to be stretched out in the big leagues and make a few short starts in the final two weeks of the season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (slightly upped bid) 

Caleb Smith, Diamondbacks: Smith, acquired by Arizona in the deal that sent Starling Marte to the Marlins, started Friday and took the rotation spot of Alex Young, who was moved to the bullpen. This outing was Smith's second of the season, as he started in July and went three innings before being sidelined by COVID-19. Smith allowed one run on one hit and a walk while striking out three across three innings Friday and should remain in the D-Backs' rotation for the remainder of the season. He was brilliant the first half of 2019, but struggled his last 12 starts after missing a month with left hip inflammation. Smith offers middling fastball velocity and struggles to limit hard hits and home runs, which could adversely impact him pitching in Arizona. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Drew Smyly, Giants: Smyly, on the IL since Aug. 2 with a left index finger sprain, was activated Thursday. He piggybacked Trevor Cahill and tossed four innings that day, giving up two runs - including one earned - on two hits and a walk while striking out eight. Smyly wasn't viewed as ready for a starter's workload, which is why he pitched in relief. Moving forward, it's unclear which role he will play as he could reenter the rotation, continue to piggyback Cahill, or work in more of a hybrid role based on the Giants' needs. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

Touki Toussaint, Braves: Toussaint, working at the Braves' alternate training site for nearly three weeks, will be called up to start Atlanta's series opener in Baltimore on Monday. His start will allow Cole Hamels (triceps) and Max Fried (back) to get a few extra days of rest before potentially returning to the mound. Toussaint has been quite inconsistent this season and carries a 7.89 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 21.2 innings during six appearances (four starts), so this is likely a one-off outing. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3

Jose Urena, Marlins: Urena, who had been sidelined since the beginning of the season due to COVID-19, was activated and started Monday. He allowed three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out two in his debut. Last year, Urena worked both out of the rotation and the bullpen for the Marlins with terrible results, as his fastball lacks movement and lacks a second solid pitch. Despite this, Urena should be locked into a rotation spot the rest of the way with Miami dealing Caleb Smith to Arizona and Elieser Hernandez (lat) suffering a season-ending injury. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Bryse Wilson, Braves: Wilson tossed four solid innings in relief Wednesday, allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out a batter as he picked up the save over the Marlins. He is still viewed as a starter, but pitching in relief right now. Wilson might get a spot start the last two weeks of the season, but is more likely to be a long-reliever the rest of the way. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

RELIEF PITCHER

Travis Bergen/Stefan Crichton, Diamondbacks: I wrote last week that Arizona traded Archie Bradley to Cincinnati, thereby creating a hole at closer. Manager Torey Lovullo is using a closer-by-committee approach, with Kevin Ginkel notching the first save but was then optioned Thursday to the team's alternate site. Bergen was expected to take on more of a middle-relief role, but recorded the save Thursday. On Friday, Lovullo turned to Crichton - who I profiled last week - and but doesn't profile as a true closer with a sinker/slider combo. Junior Guerra and Hector Rondon may remain in the mix, so figuring out who will be called on any given game is almost impossible. But we will go with who notched the last two saves. Bergen - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5; Crichton - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Genesis Cabrera/Ryan Helsley/Andrew Miller/Alex Reyes, Cardinals: Giovanny Gallegos, who was closing for St. Louis, suffered a groin injury Thursday that could sideline him for the remainder of the season. Helsley was projected as the closer this off-season before he was sidelined with COVID-19 and profiled last week. Miller returned about a week ago from left shoulder fatigue. And Reyes has looked solid since returning from his own injury woes. All three are possible candidates to close with Gallegos out, and Cabrera is last on the list as he is a lefty like Miller - although he has been effective in his role, so he could see a chance or two. Helsley - whose numbers from 2019 weren't exceptional (2.95 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.9 K/9 in 36.2 innings) although the Cardinals were encouraged by the strides he made during the spring – has struggled since returning by allowing runs in each of his four appearances since getting activated. Miller could be the favorite based on his history and has recorded two scoreless appearances – albeit in non-leverage situations – since returning. If Miller doesn't close, Reyes - identified by manager Mike Shildt as a candidate for saves - has posted a 2.70 ERA and 11.5 K/9 in 13.1 innings over 10 appearances (one start) since rejoining the Cardinals in mid-August. However, what could ultimately make Reyes a shaky ninth-inning choice is his trademark lack of control, evidenced this season by his 6.1 BB/9 - although his stuff can be elite. Shildt may mix-and-match depending on situations. Cabrera - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5; Helsley - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7; Miller - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11; Reyes - 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14

Wade Davis, Rockies: Davis, who technically was the Rockies' closer when he hit the injured list in early August with a strained right shoulder, was activated Saturday. Prior to being sidelined, Davis had allowed five runs in 2.2 innings of work while striking out one and walking three, so a change was likely to occur even before he landed on the IL. Given Davis is coming off a 2019 campaign where he posted an 8.65 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP, it's quite possible he's unable to reclaim his role especially considering Daniel Bard has converted all six of his save opportunities. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 (just in case he does close)

Grant Dayton, Braves: Dayton, who picked the win in relief Wednesday, has been solid out of the pen for the Braves. He boasts a 2.25 ERA and an impressive 22:4 K:BB across 20 innings this season pitching in middle-relief. Dayton could be a decent source of holds and post counting stats for your team. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Yimi Garcia, Marlins: Garcia, profiled two weeks ago when he returned after missing nearly all of August due to COVID-19, notched his first save of the season Friday. Manager Don Mattingly elected to hand the save chance to Garcia after using Brandon Kintzler - who had been closing - as the setup man. The 30-year-old Garcia responded by giving up his first run of the year, but still got the job done to pick up his first save in the majors since 2015. It's not clear if Mattingly intends to give Garcia a shot at winning the closer role on a more permanent basis, but his 0.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 12:3 K:BB through 9.2 innings this year and fine numbers across the board last season suggest he's capable of handling the assignment. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16 (in case he is now Miami's closer)

Tyler Rogers, Giants: Rogers' overall numbers are not impressive, but he has a win and save in his last two appearances. Good luck guessing who manager Gabe Kapler will select to close in any game, but Rogers looks to be one of the favorite late-game options along with Tony Watson and Sam Coonrod. Rogers was brilliant in his late-season stint in 2019 with the Giants, so taking a flyer on him would be a wise idea. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

CATCHER 

Victor Caratini, Cubs: Look, it's another Caratini mention. This time it's because Jose Martinez, acquired to act as the team's DH, was sent down the Cubs' alternate site. Caratini should get a decent amount of starts at DH and catcher when Willson Contreras moves out from behind the plate. The season has not been kind so far to Caratini, who was batting .239/.323/.295 with zero home runs and 10 runs driven through 99 plate appearances as of pre-game Friday. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: Rostered

FIRST BASE

Jesus Aguilar, Marlins: After missing five games due to a back issue, Aguilar has been raking since his return. In eight games through Saturday, he has gone 12-for-37 with a pair of home runs, five runs driven in and 11 runs scored with an 10:8 K:BB. Rostered in just 42 percent of leagues as of Saturday night, Aguilar may not have the name recognition as some other first basemen, but has looked more like the hitter he was in 2018 rather than the one who struggled last year. 12-team Mixed: $75, 15-team Mixed: $85 (if not rostered); 12-team NL: Rostered

Mitch Moreland, Padres: Moreland was seeing semi-consistent playing time after first arriving in San Diego. But Eric Hosmer's broken finger has resulted in Moreland assuming the role of starting first baseman. He still may sit versus certain lefties, but should be in the lineup against all righties at a minimum. Rostered in just half of leagues as of Friday, Moreland is a great add for the stretch drive batting smack-dab in the middle of a stacked Padres' batting order. 12-team Mixed: $65, 15-team Mixed: $75 (if not rostered); 12-team NL: Rostered

Rangel Ravelo, Cardinals: Ravelo, sidelined with COVID-19 since early in the season, was activated Sep. 2 and replaced Dexter Fowler. He had shown very little through his first 45 big-league plate appearances, hitting .195/.244/.390. In this go-around, Ravelo is seeing periodic duty at DH and first base while also a potential fill-in at the hot corner. He is 4-for-13 with a home runs and five RBI over his first 13 at-bats of the season. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

Pavin Smith, Diamondbacks: Smith, drafted seventh overall in 2017, was considered a bit of a reach when first selected. He offers a solid eye at the plate and makes decent contact, but until last year had little power. Smith hit .291/.370/.466 with 12 home runs in 507 plate appearances at Double-A Jackson last year, which was the first time he hit for average and power in pro ball. He finished last season hitting .350/.419/.589 over his final 52 games with Jackson, though power was up at every level last season so we will need to see if this was just an aberration. Smith was drafted as a first baseman but could see time in the outfield as Arizona evaluates their talent for the future down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Justin Smoak, Giants: Smoak, batting just .186 with a .642 OPS and five home runs over 33 games for the Brewers, was released last Sunday. San Francisco claimed him off waivers, adding Smoak to their active roster after designating Pablo Sandoval for assignment. San Francisco has Brandon Belt, Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf at first base and DH, so Smoak should see the occasional start down the stretch, but there is no obvious path for him to receive regular playing time. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

SECOND BASE

Josh VanMeter, Diamondbacks: VanMeter was called up Wednesday with Ketel Marte (wrist) landing on the injured list. He was inserted into the lineup Thursday by starting against a right-hander in place of Marte at second base, which is where VanMeter could see consistent playing time. VanMeter plays multiple positions and could be moved around, like fellow utility player Josh Rojas, who also has experience at second base. Prior to joining Arizona, VanMeter batted .059 (2-for-34) over 14 games for the Reds. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

THIRD BASE

Brock Holt, Nationals: Holt saw inconsistent time with the Brewers, and that lack of at-bats coupled with COVID concerns contributed to an .322 OPS in 36 plate appearances with Milwaukee. He was designated for assignment in late-August and was signed shortly thereafter by the Nationals. Holt was seeing consistent playing time at the hot corner, which was to change following the promotion of Carter Kieboom last Saturday. That has not been the case, as Holt is still seeing time at third, the outfield and DH. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Wyatt Mathisen, Diamondbacks: Mathisen, who hit .283 with 23 homers and a 1.004 OPS in 87 games with Triple-A Reno last season, was promoted last Sunday, At 26, Mathisen is not viewed as a prospect, but provides depth across the infield as he played at first, second and third base at Reno last season. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

SHORTSTOP 

Ronald Torreyes, Phillies: Torreyes' contract was selected by the Phillies on Friday to fill the bench infielder role that had belonged to Neil Walker, who was designated for assignment in a corresponding move. He has produced a .279/.308/.370 slash line in 631 career big-league plate appearances and should see minimal action for Philly. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $3

OUTFIELD

Abraham Almonte/Luis Alexander Basabe/Austin Dean/Monte Harrison: Additional outfielders were added by San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis and Miami this week. Almonte was promoted to replace Eric Hosmer (broken finger) on the Padres' active roster. He provides depth at all three outfield spots. Basabe was called up to give the Giants speed off the bench and someone who can play all three outfield positions if needed. Dean was activated off the COVID-19 injured list Thursday to provide depth at first base and in the outfield for the Cardinals. Harrison was called up Monday to return for his second stint with the big club after going 4-for-33 with a 3:21 BB:K over 14 games during his first callup period. With the Marlins acquiring Starling Marte ahead of last week's trade deadline to take over as the team's everyday center fielder, Harrison looks poised to fill a depth role while up with Miami. All - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4

Ryan Braun, Brewers: Only 46 percent rostered as of Thursday. Braun has been plagued by back issues and a lack of consistent playing time, which contributed to his woeful numbers. Prior to missing three games at the end of August and beginning of September, the 36-year-old had a .182/.239/.348 slash line with two homers and nine RBI in 19 games. His power has been off all year, which could stem from back problems. Since returning to action, Braun hit safely in five games going 7-for-18 with two home runs and nine runs drive in. Who knows if this is a momentary burst or portend of things to come, but Braun's track record warrants a look-see if available in your leagues. 12-team Mixed: $55; 15-team Mixed: $75; 12-team-NL: Rostered

Adam Duvall, Braves: Duvall's roster percentage has spiked this month to 51 percent thanks to his ridiculous output at the plate in September. After blasting three home runs Sep. 2 against the Red Sox, he repeated the feat this past Wednesday against the Marlins. From Aug. 31 through Sep. 12, Duvall has blasted nine home runs, despite not going yard since the three home runs he blasted Wednesday. If those numbers don't have you running out and placing a bid on him in your league should he is available, nothing I write will push you in that direction. 12-team Mixed: $85; 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team-NL: Rostered

Kyle Garlick/Phil Gosselin, Phillies: Garlick and Gosselin are seeing outfield at-bats due to the absences of Roman Quinn (concussion) and Jay Bruce (quadriceps). Andrew McCutchen. Adam Haseley and Bryce Harper are usually lined up from left to right field with one of the three of Neil Walker serving as the DH and creating room for Garlick or Gosselin. Neither are great options, though Gosselin has been much better than originally expected, so he would be the one to pursue if available. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4; Gosselin - 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $7

Yadiel Hernandez, Nationals: Hernández, who is 33 years old, was called from the Nationals' alternate site Thursday. Washington's Minor League Player of the Year for 2019, he slashed .323/.406/.604 with 33 home runs and 90 runs driven in for Triple-A Fresno. Signed in 2016 out of Cuba, Hernandez has been one of the oldest players at each level since joining the Nationals. He could play left field if Juan Soto's elbow soreness forces him to DH and his left-handed bat could be utilized in right field - as was the case Saturday - or as DH and pinch-hitter. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $5

Tim Locastro, Diamondbacks: The trade of Starling Marte to the Marlins afforded Locastro semi-regular playing time in the outfield. Add in the injury to Ketel Marte and Locastro should be the beneficiary of additional at-bats. David Peralta and Kole Calhoun should see most of the action at the corner outfield spots with Daulton Varsho covering center field when not catching. But Locastro should continue to see time at all three spots, especially when Varsho is catching or Peralta/Calhoun is the DH. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $7

Jorge Ona, Padres: San Diego reached into their still deep prospect pool - even after all their deadline deals - calling up Ona to replace Luis Campusano (wrist) - another prospect - on the active roster. Ona opened 2019 at Double-A Amarillo where he was crushing the league with a .348/.417/.539 slash through 25 games. However, the campaign was cut short as a sore throwing shoulder required season-ending labrum surgery. Ona will now see time at DH with Mitch Moreland filling in for Eric Hosmer (finger) and at all three outfield spots. His playing time is uncertain but the power potential isn't, so look for him to play often. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: $18 

Tommy Pham, Padres: If per chance Pham was waived in your league - as he was under 60 percent rostered earlier this week when he broke the hamate bone on his left hand Aug. 15 - he may be back shortly. Pham took batting practice for the first time on Wednesday and took swings off a pitching machine Friday. His next step would be to receive live at-bats at the team's alternate training site. If that occurs and Pham suffers no setbacks, he could be back as early as this upcoming weekend. We all know Pham has a high tolerance for pain and many in San Diego feel he wasn't 100 percent healthy all season after dealing with elbow issues this past offseason as well as assorted dings from his pell-mell style of play defensively, resulting in his 207/.316/.293 slash line across 95 plate appearances. Once active, Pham could step back into his left field job, replacing Jurickson Profar, with Trent Grisham in center and Wil Myers in right. His output will depend on how much strength he has regained in his hand and wrist. 12-team Mixed: $25; 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team-NL: Rostered (up as he gets closer to returning)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Levine
Levine covers baseball and hockey for RotoWire. He is responsible for the weekly NL FAAB column for baseball and the Barometer for hockey. In addition to his column writing, he is master of the NHL cheat sheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets and Rangers.
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