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 is 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 $
Jason AlexanderMILSPENo05
Graham AshcraftCINSPD2711
Anthony DeSclafaniSFSPD147 (early spec return bid)
Braxton GarrettMIASPD147
Dallas KeuchelAZSPD015 (in case he finds his stuff with Strom)
Caleb KilianCHISPC147 (stash bid)
Sam LongSFSPE015
Andre PallanteSTLSPE147
Stephen StrasburgWASSPD159 (slightly upped return bid)
Luke WeaverAZ

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 is 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 $
Jason AlexanderMILSPENo05
Graham AshcraftCINSPD2711
Anthony DeSclafaniSFSPD147 (early spec return bid)
Braxton GarrettMIASPD147
Dallas KeuchelAZSPD015 (in case he finds his stuff with Strom)
Caleb KilianCHISPC147 (stash bid)
Sam LongSFSPE015
Andre PallanteSTLSPE147
Stephen StrasburgWASSPD159 (slightly upped return bid)
Luke WeaverAZSPE015
Seranthony DominguezPHIRPC3914
Brad HandPHIRPD2711
Adrian MorejonSDRPDNo04
Curt CasaliSFCE017
Austin WynnsSFCENoNo4
Nick FortesMIACENoNo6
Aramis GarciaCINCDNoNo6
Chris OkeyCINCENoNo3
Andrew KniznerSTLCENoNo5
Colin MoranCIN1BENoNo5
Mark MathiasMIL2BENoNo4
Matt ReynoldsCIN2BD017
Jon BertiMIA3BC511Rostered (stolen bases)
Didi GregoriusPHISSD2711
Bryson StottPHISSC816Rostered
TJ FriedlCINOFENoNo5
Khalil LeeNYMOFDNoNo4
Heliot RamosSFOFCNoNo5
Jack SuwinskiPITOFD39Rostered

STARTING PITCHER

Jason Alexander, Brewers: Alexander, profiled last week, gets another mention as he'll remain in the rotation for at least one or two more turns with Brandon Woodruff now dealing with hand numbness in addition to his sprained ankle. He's pitched 12 innings over his first two career starts, giving up just three runs combined while relying on limiting hard contact as seen by notching just four strikeouts. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

Graham Ashcraft, Reds: Ashcraft has more than carried forward his minor-league success to the majors. He's won his past three starts and has given up a single run over 19.1 innings during that stretch. The 24-year-old has posted a 1.14 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 13:5 K:BB across 23.2 frames through the first four outings of his MLB career. Despite a fastball that has averaged 97.4 MPH and topped out at 99 in the show, Ashcraft gets most of his outs from weak contact rather than strikeouts. But that may be nitpicking if he continues to have success at this level. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14

Anthony DeSclafani, Giants: DeSclafani, out since Apr. 22 with an ankle injury and on the 60-day IL, made a rehab start at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. He isn't eligible to return until at least late June, but he's hopeful he'll be cleared to rejoin the Giants after making just two rehab starts. Disco posted a 6.08 ERA and 1.80 WHIP in 13.1 innings over three starts prior to sustaining his ankle injury after a career-best 3.17 ERA while starting 31 times last season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid) 

Braxton Garrett, Marlins: With the Marlins rotation short-handed, Garrett made his first start of the season last week and allowed four earned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five in 3.1 innings. With Jesus Luzardo (forearm) and Cody Poteet (elbow) stuck on the injured list and Elieser Hernandez having been sent down, Garrett got a second turn in the rotation Saturday and that went far better allowed only one unearned run on six hits and a walk while striking out five in 5.2 innings to earn the win. His fine performance – especially the improvement in his walk rate - likely earned him at least one more turn in the rotation. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Dallas Keuchel, Diamondbacks: Keuchel signed a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks on Monday after he was designated for assignment and ultimately released by the White Sox in late May. He "earned" that DFA by producing a career-worst 7.88 ERA and 2.16 WHIP in 32 innings over eight starts with the White Sox. Keuchel will attempt to resurrect his career in the Desert and his agreement with the Diamondbacks reunites him with pitching coach Brent Strom, whom he worked with for five years in Houston. He wasn't an option to start Sunday, but could be in the mix in a week or two. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (in case he finds his stuff with Strom)

Caleb Kilian, Cubs: Kilian, profiled last week as a possible call-up candidate, did get promoted and made his major-league debut this past week giving up three earned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six over five innings Saturday and was subsequently optioned down. He leaned on his 93 MPH sinker (touched 97) and his 89 MPH cutter (touched 92) while also mixing in a 95 MPH four-seamer and his curveball to retire hitters. With Marcus Stroman on the IL and replaced by Wade Miley, Kilian could soon get another call. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (stash bid)

Sam Long, Giants: Long started Saturday and tossed three scoreless innings to give him a shot to remain in the SF rotation with Jakob Junis sidelined with a Grade 2 strained hamstring. With Alex Cobb (neck) out, the Giants elected to start Long rather than cobble together another bullpen game. He only pitched on three days' rest after his longest outing of the season Tuesday versus the Rockies of three innings. The southpaw entered Saturday with a 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 10:7 K:BB through 15.1 innings in 11 appearances (three of those starts) this year. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Andre Pallante, Cardinals: Pallante, taken with the 125th pick in the 2019 first-year player draft, opened the season in the St. Louis bullpen. With Jack Flaherty (shoulder) and Steven Matz (shoulder) sidelined, the team turned to Pallante to start last Saturday and he gave up one run on four hits and four walks over four innings while tossing 64 pitches. He was even better this past Friday with 5.1 shutout innings while allowing four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 78 pitches to earn the victory. As a result, Pallante will make at least one more start. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: Strasburg's return Thursday did not go well as he allowed seven runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batsman while striking out five in 4.2 innings against Miami. The veteran righty threw 83 pitches over six scoreless innings during his final rehab start the previous Friday paving the way for his activation. If there is good news, it's that the four-time All-Star is finally back after missing significant time following surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. It was just Strasburg's eighth start since winning the 2019 World Series MVP and re-signing with Washington on a seven-year, $245 million contract. That deal still has four seasons and $140 million remaining, so don't expect the Nationals to push him too hard in 2022. But now active, Strasburg should start at the back end of the team's rotation and possibly work his way into the third spot if healthy and productive. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (slightly upped return bid) 

Luke Weaver, Diamondbacks: Weaver completed his rehab assignment and is a candidate to start Sunday against the Phillies. He allowed two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five over six innings across two rehab starts with Triple-A Reno and came out of a bullpen session Friday without incident. Weaver tossed 40 pitches in his four-inning start Tuesday, so he'll likely be limited to 55-60 pitches if he goes on Sunday. He's battled injuries the last few seasons and may be better suited to relieving, but he'll initially get a chance to start. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

RELIEF PITCHER

Seranthony Dominguez/Brad Hand, Phillies: Corey Knebel experienced tightness in his shoulder while warming up during Saturday's game against Arizona. He'll be evaluated Sunday, with a trip to the IL seemingly a possibility. Dominguez's dominant numbers – 1.61 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 29:7 K:BB in 22.1 innings - suggest he deserves the first shot at the closer role should Knebel be forced to miss time. But seniority could grant Hand - who's enjoying a solid year despite a 1.47 WHIP - and his 127 career saves the opportunity instead. Dominguez - 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14; Hand - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Adrian Morejon, Padres: Morejon, recovering from Tommy John surgery in April of last year, tossed two perfect innings against the Mets on Tuesday while striking out one batter in his first major-league appearance of the year. He was promoted to replace Robert Suarez, who likely will miss a month after undergoing knee surgery. The left-handed Morejon, once a big-time prospect for the Friars, started eight of the 16 major-league games in which he has appeared. But given San Diego's stacked rotation, he'll likely be used out of the bullpen during this stint. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4

CATCHER

Curt Casali/Austin Wynns, Giants: Joey Bart was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday where he'll look to find his stroke at the plate after struggling. To fill the hole at catcher, San Francisco will turn to Casali and Wynns, the latter acquired from the Phillies on Wednesday in exchange for Michael Plassmeyer and cash considerations. Casali has shown a bit of power in spot duty, but now should see most of the playing time with Bart down. Backing him up is Wynns, who was unable to win an Opening Day roster spot with Philadelphia this year but was dominant at Triple-A Lehigh Valley to begin the season slashing .365/.504/.500 with three homers, 21 runs, 20 RBI and a stolen base in 33 games. Casali is playing through a hamstring injury, which could result in Wynns seeing additional at-bats. Casali - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7; Wynns - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Nick Fortes, Marlins: Fortes, called up May 27 from Triple-A Jacksonville, has started nearly half of the Marlins' games since his promotion. He has been limited to 24 plate appearances, but racked up seven hits - including two home runs - six RBI and 10 runs scored through six contests. Continued success at the plate could see Fortes begin to chip away at Jacob Stallings' playing time, though nothing in his minor-league track record suggests he'll keep this up for long. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $6

Aramis Garcia/Chris Okey, Reds: Tyler Stephenson will miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured right thumb, creating a huge hole behind the plate for Cincinnati. That gap will be filled by Garcia and Okey, the latter called up to replace Stephenson on the active roster. Garcia is a career backup while Okey is a replacement, so don't expect that much for either, but target Garcia if adding one to your roster. Garcia - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $6; Okey - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3 

Andrew Knizner, Cardinals: With Yadier Molina slumping, Knizner has seen a small uptick in playing time. That increase has not resulted in a corresponding rise in performance, but Knizner will continue to get chances for as long as Molina struggles. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

FIRST BASE 

Colin Moran, Reds: After being sent down to Louisville last Friday, Moran rejoined the Reds on Thursday. With Cincy banged up, he'll see occasional starts at first and third as well as DH. His production prior his demotion was nothing special and he's at risk for being demoted again when the Reds are fully healthy. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

SECOND BASE 

Mark Mathias, Brewers: Mathias appeared in a couple games for the Brewers in late May before heading back to Nashville. He was brought back Saturday to take the roster spot of Kolten Wong (calf), who landed on the injured list. Mathias will provide infield depth for the Brewers until Wong is ready to return. While Wong is sidelined, look for Luis Urias and Jace Peterson to start at second and third base. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Matt Reynolds, Reds: Reynolds is benefitting from playing at Great American Ballpark, blasting all three of his home runs with a .300 batting average at home. His production versus lefties far exceeds his output against righties, providing clear decisions for those in DFS leagues. As long as Mike Moustakas (illness) and Jonathan India (hamstring) remain sidelined, Reynolds should have a clear path to playing time at second. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

THIRD BASE 

Jon Berti, Marlins: Berti should continue to operate as the Marlins' starting third baseman with Brian Anderson (back) dealing with a mild disc bulge in his lumbar spine and Joey Wendle (hamstring) still sidelined. His stolen base Saturday was the 11th of the season, nine which have come in his last 14 contests. This is where Berti provides most of his value while usually filling a super-utility role for Miami, though most of his playing time is at third base both currently and in the short-term. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered (stolen base production)

SHORTSTOP 

Didi Gregorius, Phillies: Gregorius, who was out since May 4 with a knee injury, returned to action on May 31. With Johan Camargo (knee) and Jean Segura (finger) sidelined, Bryson Stott is starting at second, leaving shortstop for Didi. While he's still in search of his first homer of the year, he's been productive at the plate posting a .306/.354/.431 line through 79 plate appearances. While Gregorius is far from the hitter he was with the Yankees from 2016-18, he should benefit from playing half his game in Philly's home park. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Bryson Stott, Phillies: Stott opened the year with the Phillies after a strong stint, but was sent down following a slow start. He spent a few weeks in the minors before rejoining the parent club in early May. With Johan Camargo (knee) landing on the 10-day injured list, Stott has a clear path to playing time at the keystone. He was already taking major strides going 11-for-33 with four long balls, 10 RBI, 12 runs scored and a stolen base over nine contests. Add Stott now if available in your leagues. 12-team Mixed: $8, 15-team Mixed: $16; 12-team NL: Rostered

OUTFIELD

 TJ Friedl, Reds: Friedl, who's bounced up and down to the minors four times this season, is back again in Cincy after being recalled on Monday. He did very little with his earlier sporadic opportunities hitting .179/.237/.254 in 20 games, though he did produce four steals. With Nick Senzel (back) and Albert Almora (shoulder) dealing with minor injuries, Friedl should see some playing time. But be warned he's a likely candidate to be sent back when Cincy is healthy. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team-NL: $5

Khalil Lee, Mets: With Starling Marte dealing with a quad injury, Lee was promoted Wednesday. He recorded a .221/.336/.393 slash line over 34 games for Triple-A Syracuse, but was 16-for-44 with four home runs and 11 runs drive in over his last 11 games in the minors. The 23-year-old saw 11 games of action in the majors last season and provides outfield depth while Marte is sidelined. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Heliot Ramos, Giants: Ramos was promoted for the third time this season Saturday. He slashed a solid .272/.323/.399 with four home runs, 30 RBI, 30 runs scored and eight stolen bases in 229 plate appearances at Triple-A Sacramento after a midseason promotion last year. This year, Ramos was hitting just .212/.300/.332 with six home runs and two steals in 47 games at Triple-A, but received the nod due to the Giants being banged up. He may only be up for a few days unless Evan Longoria lands on injured reserve. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

Jack Suwinski, Pirates: Suwinski has found his power stroke at the plate the last week going 10-for-26 with three home runs, two doubles, five RBI, six runs and a stolen base during his past eight games. Despite Pittsburgh recently promoting several outfield prospects – including Cal Mitchell and Travis Swaggerty - Suwinski has locked in playing time with his performance. The eight home runs to date shouldn't be a surprise, as he went yard 19 times in the minors last season. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team-NL: Rostered

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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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