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.

PlayerTeamPOSGrade12-team mixed $15-team mixed $NL-Only $
Steven BraultPITSPCNo$1$4
Madison BumgarnerARISPB$5$8rostered
Touki ToussaintATLSPCNo$1$3
Edward CabreraMIASPCNoNo $1
Braxton GarrettMIASPDNo$1$2
Cole HamelsFASPDNoNoNo
Jeff HoffmanCINSP/RPCNo$1$4
Miles MikolasSTLSPBNo$1$4
Michael LorenzenCINRPCNoNo$2
Joey BartSFCBNoNo$1
Rene RiveraWASCENo$1$3
Austin NolaSDCA$3$8$14
David BoteCHC2B/3BCNo No $2
Isan Diaz MIA2BDNo$1$3
Alcides EscobarWAS2BENo$2$4
J.D. DavisNYM3BA$7rosteredrostered
Brian AndersonMIA3BB$5$8$12
Matt Duffy CHC3BDNo No$1
Travis ShawMIL1B/3BDNoNo$1

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.

PlayerTeamPOSGrade12-team mixed $15-team mixed $NL-Only $
Steven BraultPITSPCNo$1$4
Madison BumgarnerARISPB$5$8rostered
Touki ToussaintATLSPCNo$1$3
Edward CabreraMIASPCNoNo $1
Braxton GarrettMIASPDNo$1$2
Cole HamelsFASPDNoNoNo
Jeff HoffmanCINSP/RPCNo$1$4
Miles MikolasSTLSPBNo$1$4
Michael LorenzenCINRPCNoNo$2
Joey BartSFCBNoNo$1
Rene RiveraWASCENo$1$3
Austin NolaSDCA$3$8$14
David BoteCHC2B/3BCNo No $2
Isan Diaz MIA2BDNo$1$3
Alcides EscobarWAS2BENo$2$4
J.D. DavisNYM3BA$7rosteredrostered
Brian AndersonMIA3BB$5$8$12
Matt Duffy CHC3BDNo No$1
Travis ShawMIL1B/3BDNoNo$1
Travis BlankenhornNYM3BENoNoNo
Jordy MercerWASSSDNo$1$3
Nick Maton PHISSDNo$2$4
Lorenzo CainMILOFB$3$8$12
Monte HarrisonMIAOFDNoNo$1
Mike TauchmanSFOFDNoNo$1
Sam HilliardCOLOFDNo$1$2
Travis Jankowski PHIOFDNo$1$3

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.

Starting Pitcher

Steven Brault, Pirates: Brault has yet to throw a pitch for the Pirates this season, but could return as soon as the end of July. After tossing 1.2 scoreless innings with Low-A Bradenton on July 11, he's progressed to Triple-A Indianapolis. Brault's results from 2020 suggest his return is worth noting after posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.20 WHIP across 42.2 innings. His skills do paint a different picture, as he managed only a 9.0 K-BB% during that same span and has never surpassed a K-BB% of 9.3 in his career. Even so, Brault's role with the Pirates should be relatively secure as spots in the rotation should emerge due to either poor performance or the team moving veterans such as Tyler Anderson prior to the trade deadline. 12-team mixed: No, 15-team mixed:  $1, 12 team NL: $4

Madison Bumgarner, Diamondbacks: Bumgarner was highlighted in last week's column and has since returned from the injured list. He pitched well in that contest throwing six innings and allowing just one earned run Friday against the Cubs. Bumgarner's velocity was down across the board, which isn't something to panic about since he just returned a shoulder injury - but it's worth monitoring in future outings. At worst, he should be a good bet for innings and strikeouts considering the 68:19 K:BB across 65.2 innings this season. Bumgarner's ratios are more a roll of the dice, as suggested by the 5.35 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. 12-team mixed: $5, 15-team mixed: $8; 12-team NL: Rostered

Touki Toussaint, Braves: Toussaint has yet to appear in a major-league game after being placed on the 60-day injured list Mar. 27. He was activated Friday and is expected to fill the rotation spot of Ian Anderson (shoulder). If that's the case, Toussaint would line up to start Tuesday against San Diego. He's held a role split between reliever (27 appearances) and starter (11) over three seasons in the bigs. While Toussaint has enjoyed a strong 24.3 K% from 95 innings, he's also walked batters at a 14.3 percent clip. His ability to make hitters earn their way on base will be the key to both maintaining a role in the big leagues and his results. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $3

Edward Cabrera/Braxton Garrett, Marlins: Miami's rotation took a hit with Pablo Lopez (shoulder) hit the injured list. That could lead to the team promoting either Cabrera or Garrett. Cabrera has yet to make his major-league debut, but is an esteemed prospect within the organization. It's possible the team is aggressive with him as a result, though he was only recently promoted to Triple-A and has yet to pitch at the level. Perhaps a more realistic possibility is Garrett, who has already made three appearances and two starts for the Marlins this season where he struck out eight and walked five while posting a 5.56 ERA and 1.76 WHIP over 11.1 innings. He could be starting for the club as early as Sunday against the Phillies. Cabrera- 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: $1; Garrett- 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $2

Cole Hamels, FA: Hamels is a potential watchlist player, as he remains a free agent and will likely need some time to ramp up even after potentially signing with a team. However, he held a showcase Friday and was sitting between 88 and 90 mph with his fastball and could join a big-league team in the near-term as a result. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: No

Jeff Hoffman, Reds: Hoffman remains on the injured list, but it's been confirmed he will draw a start for the Reds on Wednesday against the Mets and that will temporarily create a six-man rotation in Cincinnati. Even so, bids should remain tempered on Hoffman as it's unclear how long the Reds may utilize the expanded rotation and thus how long he will remain a starter. Perhaps even more important is his uninspiring 6.4 K-BB% and is handing out free passes at a 14.4 percent rate. Though Hoffman's 4.61 ERA is passable, his path to remaining a starter is narrow if he can't throw strikes. He should stick with the big-league club as a reliever, at worst. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $4

Miles Mikolas, Cardinals: Mikolas has battled forearm and shoulder injuries for the vast majority of the season, which has limited him to just one start and four innings. However, he's nearing another rehab assignment and could return by the middle of August. Assuming all goes well on the health front, Mikolas should be very secure. The Cardinals will assuredly be without Carlos Martinez and could still be missing Jack Flaherty by the time Mikolas comes back. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $4

Relief Pitcher

Michael Lorenzen, Reds: Lorenzen made his return to the mound Friday after being sidelined for the entire season with a shoulder injury. He managed a scoreless inning in his season debut Saturday and could be ticketed for a high-leverage role given the team's struggles to find consistent production out of the bullpen. Monitor Lorenzen's status prior to making a bid to roster him as he suffered a hamstring injury while running the bases Saturday against the Brewers. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: $2

Catcher

Joey Bart, Giants: The Giants catching depth chart remains in flux due to Buster Posey's status with the veteran on the injured list with a thumb issue, but he's eligible to be activated and could return any day. If Posey's absence is unexpectedly extended, Bart could return to the major-league roster. Bart has logged a few brief stints in the majors this season, but has only earned six plate appearances. However, he's also shown the ability to produce at Triple-A Sacramento by slashing .333/.392/.563 across 158 plate appearances. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; NL 12-team: $1

Rene Rivera, Nationals: The Nationals needed help behind the plate with both Yan Gomes (oblique) and Alex Avila (calf) sidelined. Rivera joined the team on a major-league deal Friday and has started both games since. He's produced a career 71 wRC+, but he should have short-term playing time locked in. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $3

Austin Nola, Padres: Yet another player nagged by injuries to this point in the season, Nola has made at least seven appearances throughout his rehab assignment. While some of that work has come at first base and as a designated hitter, he caught five innings Thursday and that's a positive sign he's nearing a return. Once activated, Nola offers a strong combination of skills and playing time relative to the position. Since making his major-league debut in 2019, he's delivered a 117 wRC+. Assuming Nola's health holds up, he'll also take over primary catching duties from Victor Caratini. 12-team mixed: $3; 15-team mixed: $8; 12-team NL: $14

Second Base

David Bote, Cubs: Bote is in the midst of a rehab assignment and should be closing in on a return from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him since May 30. He'll enter a momentarily crowded Cubs' infield, as Nico Hoerner beat him back from the IL. However, the possibility that any or all of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez are dealt means consistent playing time could be on the horizon for Bote. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL:$2     

Isan Diaz, Marlins: Diaz slugged his way into a promotion back to Miami by putting up a .267/.329/.507 line over 82 plate appearances with Triple-A Jacksonville. However, he faces two significant challenges after his promotion. The first is making consistent contact against big-league pitching considering Diaz has struck out at a 29.4 percent clip across his first 350 big-league plate appearances. Even more of a hurdle, he'll have to earn playing time over the trio of Jazz Chisholm, Jon Berti and Joe Panik. Berti and Panik could be trade candidates if a team is seeking to bolster their bench, but Chisholm remains a stalwart in the lineup. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $3

Alcides Escobar, Nationals: Escobar wasn't able to crack the Royals lineup this season and was instead held at Triple-A Omaha. Not only has he earned regular playing time since joining the Nationals, but he's also regularly hit atop the order. In 11 games since landing in Washington, Escobar has led off nine times – including each of the last nine. He's already slowed considerably after a hot start, though Starlin Castro's uncertain future should allow him to retain significant playing time. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $4

Third Base      

J.D. Davis, Mets: Davis' return to the lineup was covered in last week's column. In that edition, it was noted he isn't guaranteed playing time due to both his poor defense and Jonathan Villar's relatively strong play. However, Francisco Lindor is on the injured list with a Grade 2 oblique strain, which should allow Villar to shift to shortstop and open full-time at-bats at third base. Davis showcased what he's capable of with full playing time by slugging a pair of home runs against the Pirates on Saturday. 12-team mixed: $10; 15-team mixed: rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered

Brian Anderson, Marlins: Anderson began a rehab assignment Friday. Given that he's been out since late May, he'll likely need quite a few more appearances before being activated. Though Anderson has only recorded a .687 OPS on the season, he was heating up at the plate prior to his injury by posting a 1.006 OPS across his final 11 contests. He should have a full projection of plate appearances given his ability to play both corner infield positions and right field. 12-team mixed: $5; 15-team mixed: $8; 12-team NL: $12

Matt Duffy, Cubs:  Duffy has made three appearances and made 11 at-bats with Triple-A Iowa during a rehab assignment. Like Bote, it's unclear exactly how Duffy figures into the team's plans for the rest of the season. Though playing time could open depending on who exactly the team deals away, it's difficult to imagine the team emphasizing forcing the 30-year-old Duffy into their lineup ahead of Bote, Hoerner and perhaps even Patrick Wisdom. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: $1

Travis Shaw, Brewers: Shaw is set to start swinging a bat again this week for the first time since hitting the IL with a shoulder injury. He benefited from a lack of talent at both of the corner infield positions in Milwaukee to begin the year. But since Shaw was sidelined in early June, Willy Adames and Luis Urias have both hit well and significantly increased the production out of the team's left side of the infield. Shaw could also fit at first base, though it's not clear he represents a significant upgrade over any of Keston Hiura, Rowdy Tellez or Jace Peterson. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: $1

Travis Blankenhorn, Mets: Blankenhorn took the roster spot of Francisco Lindor. While he may stick around as a bench piece, he's already been on four different rosters this season and isn't likely to see significant action without another injury to the Mets' lineup. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: No

Shortstop

Jordy Mercer, Nationals: Mercer was activated from the injured list Friday. He had been sidelined since early June and won't get significant playing time at his natural position of shortstop as long as Trea Turner remains healthy. However, Mercer has found playing time at both second and third base this season, positions that were impacted by Starlin Castro being placed on administrative leave. Mercer's bat lacks power, though he's hitting .278 across 84 plate appearances this season and has been above .250 in all but one season since 2016. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $3  

Nick Maton, Phillies: Maton was originally recalled at the outset of the CoVID-19 outbreak that affected the Phillies - and, more specifically, sidelined Alec Bohm. He was a strong candidate to start along the Phillies' infield - particularly against lefties when Brad Miller will sit – but is now day-to-day himself with a laceration on his right middle finger. When Bohm is able to return, Maton's role figures to shrink and he could be sent back down to the minors. In the meantime, Maton has produced a pair of home runs and stolen bases this season across 125 plate appearances. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $4

Outfield

Lorenzo Cain, Brewers: Cain is through a substantial portion of a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville while accumulating 15 plate appearances and appears to be closing in on a return to the Brewers. Assuming the rest of his assignment goes according to plan, he could return as early as this Tuesday against Kansas City. Given Jackie Bradley's struggles, Cain should have no issue taking back a primary role as the team's center fielder. 12-team mixed: $3; 15-team mixed: $8; 12-team NL: $12

Monte Harrison, Marlins: Harrison was recalled by the Marlins just before the All-Star break. He remains without a significant role, as he's earned just one plate appearance in four contests since. Assuming the Marlins are motivated to move either or both of Starling Marte and Adam Duvall, Harrison could see his role expand in the coming weeks. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: $1

Mike Tauchman, Giants: Tauchman returned to rejoin the crowded Giants' outfield depth chart after recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him since Jul. 1. Acquired by the club part way through the season, he's delivered little across 179 plate appearances hitting .187/.292/.297 with four home runs and three stolen bases. Given both Tauchman's struggles and the emergence both LaMonte Wade and Steven Duggar, there are few clear paths for him earning consistent and significant playing time. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: No; 12-team NL: $1

Sam Hilliard, Rockies: Hilliard botched a chance to claim a starting role in Colorado to begin the season and struggled with a 46.5 percent strikeout rate and a .146/.186/.366 line across 43 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Yonathan Daza has been sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols, which most directly gives Garrett Hampson more playing time. Hilliard was also recalled and could be in line to remain on the roster and earn more plate appearances within the next two weeks with the Rockies looking like strong candidates to sell. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $2

Travis Jankowski, Phillies: Odubel Herrera was placed on the 10-day IL on Jul. 10 with a left ankle injury. He's eligible to return Tuesday, though it has not yet been made clear whether he will be ready at that time. Jankowski should be in line for significant action so long as Herrera is sidelined, particularly against right-handed pitching. His primary appeal from a fantasy perspective has been his base-stealing ability having managed three swipes despite accruing only 57 plate appearances in 2021. 12-team mixed: No; 15-team mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $3

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Marcus
Dan started covering fantasy sports in 2015, joining Rotowire in 2018. In addition to Rotowire, Dan has written for Baseball HQ and Rotoballer.
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