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 $
Edward CabreraMIASPD147 (same early spec return bid)
Justin DunnCINSPD015 (same early spec return bid)
Jakob JunisSFSPC2711 (upped return bid)
Jesus LuzardoMIASPC147 (early spec return bid)
Steven MatzSTLSPC/D39Rostered (slightly upped return bid)
Max MeyerMIASPA/B3914 (upped call up bid)
Anibal SanchezWASSPENo04 (injury return bid)
Mike SorokaATLSPB147 (same

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 $
Edward CabreraMIASPD147 (same early spec return bid)
Justin DunnCINSPD015 (same early spec return bid)
Jakob JunisSFSPC2711 (upped return bid)
Jesus LuzardoMIASPC147 (early spec return bid)
Steven MatzSTLSPC/D39Rostered (slightly upped return bid)
Max MeyerMIASPA/B3914 (upped call up bid)
Anibal SanchezWASSPENo04 (injury return bid)
Mike SorokaATLSPB147 (same early injury return bid)
Yerry De Los SantosPITRPC159
Kyle FinneganWASRPD3914
Drew PomeranzSDRPDNo04 (early spec injury return bid)
Robert SuarezSDRPDNo04 (early spec injury return bid)
Jason DelayPITCENoNo4
Yadier MolinaSTLCC/D147 (bid to be upped as return gets closer)
Frank SchwindelCHI1BD159
Robinson CanoSD2BE027
Jace PetersonMIL3BD5RosteredRostered
Johan CamargoPHISSENoNo5
Greg AllenSDOFD147 (spec injury return bid)
Diego CastilloSDOFD159
Jake MarisnickSDOFE016
Cal MitchellSDOFE2711
Aristides AquinoCINOFENo06 (upped early spec return bid)
Sam HilliardCOLOFENoNo4
Travis JankowskiNYMOFENo06
Jake McCarthyAZOFENoNo4
Wil MyersSDOFC159 (same early spec return bid)
Esteury RuizSDOFB51116 (up if think he sticks and starts)

STARTING PITCHER

Edward Cabrera, Marlins: Cabrera, on the 15-day IL since Jun. 15 with right elbow tendinitis and then delayed in his return due a personal matter, tossed a two-inning live batting practice session Monday and is close to embarking out on a rehab stint. He should need 2-3 starts prior to rejoining the Marlins, likely putting his return around the last week of July or early August. Cabrera made three outings for Miami after his Jun. 1 call up before being sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec return bid) 

Justin Dunn, Reds: Dunn, traded from the Mariners to the Reds in March, opened the year on the injured list due to the right shoulder strain that kept him out for much of last season. He began a rehab assignment with High-A Dayton on Jun. 27, progressing to Triple-A for his last three appearances. Dunn struck out two and gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks over four innings and 74 pitches Tuesday for Triple-A Louisville. He's being built up a starter and will make one more rehab start and should be ready to return after the All-Star break. It's unclear if Cincinnati will clear a spot for Dunn in the big-league rotation right away with five healthy starters, though Luis Castillo and/or Tyler Mahle could be dealt by the Aug. 2 trade deadline. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec call up bid)

Jakob Junis, Giants: Junis, out since Jun. 11 with a hamstring injury, made his second rehab start in the Arizona Complex League on Jul. 11 and threw 44 pitches over two innings before being activated off the IL Saturday. He was available out of the bullpen this weekend and will move back into the Giants' starting rotation after the All-Star break. Prior to being out, Junis posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through nine outings and is expected to slot into Anthony DeSclafani's spot. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (upped return bid) 

Jesus Luzardo, Marlins: Luzardo, on the injured list since May 15 with a strained left forearm, threw a two-inning live batting practice session on Tuesday. The 24-year-old lefty made his first rehab start with Single-A Jupiter on Friday. Luzardo enjoyed an impressive spring and opened the season in the team's rotation making six starts before being sidelined while allowing four runs over 2.2 innings in that final outing. If he can recapture his early season form, he could slide into the third or fourth rotation slot when he returns from injury likely in mid-to-late August. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid) 

Steven Matz, Cardinals: Matz, out since May 22 with left shoulder impingement, was activated to start Sunday. He pitched well in his fourth and final rehab appearance Tuesday by striking out seven while giving up two hits and two walks over 81 pitches in 4.1 innings for Triple-A Memphis. Matz should slide back into the middle of the St. Louis rotation with Jack Flaherty sidelined. Prior to being injured, Matz had posted a 6.03 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in his first nine starts as Cardinal. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: Rostered (slightly upped injury return bid) 

Max Meyer, Marlins: Meyer, out since May 17 with ulnar nerve irritation in right elbow, returned to action a month later and made five minor league appearances - the last four back at Triple-A Jacksonville. The time is now for him and he made his major-league debut Saturday where he gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out five in 5.1 innings, though it's not clear if he'll stick with the Marlins. Meyer posted a 3.72 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 65:19 K:BB across 58 innings with Jacksonville this year, but those numbers are skewed by allowing 14 earned runs in eight innings his last two starts before landing on the IL. Drafted third overall in 2020, he boasts an elite fastball-slider combination and logged a 2.27 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 130:42 K:BB over 111 innings, with 20 starts last season coming at Double-A and two at Triple-A. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped call up bid)

Anibal Sanchez, Nationals: Sanchez made his way back from a cervical neck impingement that sidelined him since just before the season began to make his first major-league start since Sep. 2020 on Thursday. He gave up four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out five in five innings after making four rehab starts, the last of which he surrendered just one earned run in 5.1 innings for Triple-A Rochester. Sanchez struggled mightily in his last stint in the bigs during 2020 with a 6.62 ERA, 1.66 WHIP across 11 starts before sitting out all of 2021. He should remain in the Nationals' rotation, but could be dealt by the Aug. 2 deadline if healthy and a team needs a depth pitching option. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 (injury return bid) 

Mike Soroka, Braves: Soroka, who last appeared in a game in Aug. 2020 due to multiple tears of his Achilles, threw a bullpen session Monday with no apparent issues. He'll need to progress to live BP and probably a sim game and doesn't yet have a target date for beginning a minor-league rehab assignment. Soroka hasn't suffered any setbacks in his recovery process and did face live hitters at the team complex, but was slowed slightly by a comebacker that hit him in his knee and left a bruise. Atlanta is preparing for him to return from the 60-day injured list as a starting pitcher, so he'll likely need most of the 30-day rehab window to get fully ramped up whenever his minor-league assignment begins. Soroka likely won't be limited when he returns, as he expects to throw 60-100 innings this season - including the playoffs.  12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team-NL: $7 (same early spec return bid) 

RELIEF PITCHER

Yerry De Los Santos, Pirates: De Los Santos continues to excel in the Pirates' pen while David Bednar has been ineffective of late after a solid stretch earlier in the month. He tossed a scoreless inning Wednesday to lower his season ERA to 2.65 with a 0.94 WHIP and 20:5 K:BB in 17 innings through 16 appearances. Those numbers build on De Los Santos' success at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he notched a 1.72 ERA, 0.64 WHIP with two wins and three saves in 15.2 innings over 12 relief appearances. No changing of the guard is expected at the back end of the Pittsburgh bullpen, but there is a shot Bednar is dealt by the trade deadline and that would potentially allow De Los Santos to close. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Kyle Finnegan, Nationals: Imagine mine and other fantasy players surprise when the Nationals placed Tanner Rainey (sprained UCL) on the 60-day injured list between their doubleheader games Wednesday to leave a hole in the bullpen. Manager Dave Martinez cleared up any doubt as to who will have the role by labeling Finnegan as "the guy" for the closer role Thursday. He's operated in a setup role this season with 12 holds with a 3.89 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 41:13 K:BB across 34.2 innings. The right-hander also recorded 11 saves while operating as the Nationals' closer during the second half of last season. Washington doesn't generate many save chances, but Finnegan will get the first chance to close if they do. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 

Drew Pomeranz/Robert Suarez, Padres: Pomeranz, recovering from flexor tendon surgery last August, threw off the Petco Park mound with teammates in the batter's box Jul. 10 and the hitters not taking swings. The effort is like a bullpen session, just with a different look for the pitcher. Pomeranz is getting closer to tossing a simulated game or a live bullpen session, but he's likely still weeks away from pitching in a game and could be a mid-to-late August add to the Friars' pen. Suarez underwent right knee surgery to clean up "some loose impediments" in early-June and was recently placed on the 60-day IL. He's likely looking at a relatively similar return date to Pomeranz with both possible set-up men for Taylor Rogers. Both - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 (early spec injury return bids) 

CATCHER

Jason Delay, Pirates: Delay, promoted nearly two weeks ago, has carved out a platoon role in Pittsburgh. Switch-hitting Tyler Heineman - who just came off the family medical emergency list Friday - may be the Pirates' preferred catcher, but Delay looks like he'll still see occasional starts especially against southpaws. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Yadier Molina, Cardinals: Molina dealt with right knee inflammation the first few months of the season before hitting the injured list in mid-June. The Cardinals has received poor production from the likes of Andrew Knizner, Austin Romine and Ivan Herrera while their top backstop has been sidelined, which likely means the team will explore free agency or trade market this offseason as Yadi is expected to retire. He's on track to begin rehabbing in late July and is expected to be ready to return the first week of August. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (bid to be upped as he gets closer) 

FIRST BASE 

Frank Schwindel, Cubs: Schwindel was activated Thursday after being sidelined since Jun. 18 with lower-back tightness. Prior to landing on the IL, he had finally showed some signs of life at the plate having wrested the first base job back from Alfonso Rivas. Schwindel went 2-for-18 with a solo homer during a five-game rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa and should start almost daily at first for the Cubs. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

SECOND BASE

Robinson Cano, Braves: Cano is on his third team after being traded from the Padres to the Braves. He produced a .149 average with one home run, four RBI and four runs over 74 at-bats in 24 games with the Mets and Padres this season prior to accepting a minor-league assignment with San Diego. Prior to the trade, Cano had slashed .333/.375/.479 with three home runs in 21 games at Triple-A El Paso. With Ozzie Albies sidelined, Cano is initially filling the large side of a platoon at second base with the righty-hitting Orlando Arcia entering the lineup versus left-handed pitching. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 

THIRD BASE

Jace Peterson, Brewers: Peterson, even with the Brewers healthy, continues to start nearly every day and logs time at a variety of positions. His long ball Wednesday was his eighth of the season, which puts him within striking distance of becoming the 15th player in baseball with both double-digit home runs and stolen bases (with 10 of the latter). The homers represent a career-high, while he is four swipes shy of a new high and could exceed the 52 RBI he posted in 2015 with Atlanta. Enjoy the production if you got in cheap on Peterson. 12-team Mixed; $5; 15-team Mixed- Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered

SHORTSTOP 

Johan Camargo, Phillies: Camargo, out since Jun. 26 for the second time due to a strained right knee strain, completed a weeklong minor-league rehab assignment and was activated Saturday. He should slot back into his utility role and see time at all four infield spots - but especially at second and short - for the Phillies now that he's been reinstated from the injured list. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

OUTFIELD 

Greg Allen/Diego Castillo/Jake Marisnick/Cal Mitchell, Pirates: Allen, on the 60-day IL all season while recovering from strains of both hamstrings, moved his rehab assignment from Single-A Bradenton to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. His status will be reassessed after the All-Star break as he's only played five rehab games. Allen likely will remain with Indianapolis for week or so before joining the Pirates. Marisnick (surgery to repair UCL damage in left thumb) was reinstated from the 60-day IL Monday and took the roster spot of Bryan Reynolds (oblique), who was placed on the 10-day IL. With Reynolds and Allen out, Castillo and Marisnick look like they'll split time in right field, though several players will see playing time with Jack Suwinski optioned and Mitchell promoted. Prior to his injury, Marisnick had hit .163 with two doubles, five runs, an RBI and a stolen base over 22 games, but started the first four games after coming off the IL with three of those against southpaws. When Pittsburgh is healthy, Castillo should continue sufficient playing time at several positions with Marisnick sliding in as the fourth/fifth outfielder. Mitchell, sent down by the Pirates in late June, rejoined the major-league roster after Suwinski was optioned to Indianapolis on Friday. Your guess is as good as mine as to what Pittsburgh is doing with their outfielders. Mitchell will presumably have the chance to carve out a regular role in the Pirates' lineup in right field, though Castillo and Marisnick are also in the mix. Allen - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (spec injury return bid); Castillo - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9; Marisnick - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6; Mitchell - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Aristides Aquino, Reds: Aquino hit the injured list on Jun. 13 after hurting his ankle with an awkward slide at home plate the previous day. The injury was to sideline him for 4-6 weeks and he began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday while taking live batting practice Tuesday. Aquino could return to the Reds shortly after the break barring any setbacks and resume his role as a backup outfielder. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 (upped early spec return bid) 

Sam Hilliard/Travis Jankowski/Jake McCarthy: Fourth/fifth outfielders were promoted/activated in Colorado, New York and Arizona. Hilliard was promoted Monday to fill in for Kris Bryant (personal), who returned from paternity leave Thursday. Despite Bryant being back and hitting only .161 with two homers, 13 runs, 12 RBI and two stolen bases over 41 games to begin the season before being demoted, Hilliard has remained with the Rockies. Jankowski, out since May 27 surgery to repair a fractured fourth metacarpal on his left hand, completed a short rehab assignment and was activated Monday. He filled in for Jeff McNeil (paternity list) and has now shifted back as the backup at all three outfield spots with McNeil back. Jankowski replaces Ender Inciarte and is a mild stolen base option in single leagues. McCarthy is back in the majors after nearly a month in the minors. He slashed .333/.397/.485 with two triples, six doubles, 13 runs, eight RBI and four stolen bases over 16 minor-league games following his demotion. McCarthy should operate as outfield depth for Arizona after Cooper Hummel was optioned to Reno. Hilliard/McCarthy - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4; Jankowski - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6

Wil Myers, Padres: Myers, sidelined since early June after being diagnosed with right knee inflammation, kicked off a rehab assignment at Single-A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday. The veteran outfielder has dealt with the nagging injury throughout the first half of the season, which could be a factor in his mediocre numbers thus far. Myers registered a .234/.276/.306 slash line with just one home run, 19 RBI and no stolen-base attempts in 32 games prior to his placement on the IL. Once active, he should see time almost daily in either right or left field, though Nomar Mazara has been solid in right, Jurickson Profar has taken over in left and Esteury Ruiz was just promoted. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (same early spec return bid) 

Esteury Ruiz, Padres: Ruiz, profiled last week, gets another mention as he finally and a bit surprisingly got the call to The Show. He had been running like mad in the minors with 60 stolen bases in 69 attempts over 77 games between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso. Ruiz posted a 1.085 OPS at Double-A to earn a promotion and responded with a .315/.457/.477 slash line with El Paso to receive the call-up. Jurickson Profar is back off the 7-day IL, which could impact Ruiz's playing time. The same when Wil Myers (knee) returns, though Ruiz could operate at all three outfield spots. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16 (up if you think he sticks and plays almost daily) 

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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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