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 CabreraMIASPD2711 (upped spec return bid)
Cade CavalliWASSPB147 (early spec call up bid)
Danny DuffyLASPD015 (stash bid)
Dakota HudsonSTLSPD27Rostered
Jesus LuzardoMIASPC3914 (upped spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPB3914 (upped early spec return bid)
Wade MileyCHISPC/D147 (same spec return bid)
Nick NeidertMIASPENo05
Marcus StromanCHISPB/C

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 CabreraMIASPD2711 (upped spec return bid)
Cade CavalliWASSPB147 (early spec call up bid)
Danny DuffyLASPD015 (stash bid)
Dakota HudsonSTLSPD27Rostered
Jesus LuzardoMIASPC3914 (upped spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPB3914 (upped early spec return bid)
Wade MileyCHISPC/D147 (same spec return bid)
Nick NeidertMIASPENo05
Marcus StromanCHISPB/C15RosteredRostered
Luis GarciaSDRPC2711 (saves spec)
Adrian MorejonSDRPD016 (saves spec)
Mychal GivensCHIRPC3914 (stash closer bid)
Trevor MayNYMRPD016
Kirby YatesATLRPD016
Drew PomeranzSDRPDNo04
Robert SuarezSDRPDNo16 (early spec return bid)
James McCannNYMCD016
Yadier MolinaSTLCC/D2711 (same spec return bid)
Lewin DiazMIA1BD015
Mike FordATL1BENoNo4
Edwin RiosLA1BC/D027
Yonny HernandezAZ2BENoNo4
Nick MadrigalCHI2BD027 (same spec return bid)
Zach McKinstryCHI2BD027
Jean SeguraPHI2BD147 (same spec return bid)
Charles LeblancMIA3BD016
Jason VoslerSF3BENoNo4
Paul DeJongSTLSSD147 (slightly upped bid)
Jake FraleyCINOFENoNo5
Luis GonzalezSFOFD2711
Jordan LuplowAZOFENo06
Jake McCarthyAZOFD3914
Bligh MadrisPITOFENo06
Wil MyersSDOFC51116 (upped return bid)
James OutmanLAOFDNo05
Trayce ThompsonLAOFD1118Rostered

STARTING PITCHER

Edward Cabrera, Marlins: Cabrera, on the 15-day injured list since Jun. 15 with right elbow tendinitis and then delayed in his return due a personal matter, was dominant in his third rehab appearance. He allowed one hit and no walks while striking out seven across five scoreless innings and 44 pitches – eight shorter in his last start - in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Jacksonville on Thursday. Cabrera likely will need another one or two starts prior to rejoining the Marlins, but he or Jesus Luzardo - also rehabbing from an injury - could join the Marlins for his next start with Max Meyer out and in need of Tommy John surgery. He made three outings for Miami after his Jun. 1 call up before being sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (upped spec return bid) 

Cade Cavalli, Nationals: After missing a pair of starts due to a blister, Cavalli tossed five scoreless innings Wednesday allowing three hits and three walks while striking out three. After a rough start to the season, he hasn't given up an earned run across three July starts for Triple-A Rochester while posting a 16:3 K:BB through 15.2 innings. On the season, the 23-year-old carries a lackluster 4.03 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but boasts a 1.90/0.96 over his last eight starts dating back to May 28. With Washington in full-blown punt mode, it's possible Cavalli receives a late-summer promotion. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec call up bid) 

Danny Duffy, Dodgers: Duffy, acquired by the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2021, has yet to appear for the team due to a forearm flexor strain. That may change late this month or early September as he could go on a rehab assignment in a couple weeks. Duffy has been facing hitters in Arizona and his fastball velocity is 92-93 MPH. When/if able to return, he could slot into the LA rotation if there is an opening, though he's more likely to be a multi-inning reliever. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (stash bid) 

Dakota Hudson, Cardinals: Hudson returned from missing the minimum with a strained neck to start Saturday and gave up two runs on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out one on 83 pitches over 4.1 innings. The right-hander struck out six over five frames and allowed one earned run on five hits and three walks while throwing 79 pitches (49 strikes) in a rehab start to pave the way for his return. Prior to being sidelined, Hudson had posted a 4.10 ERA and 1.36 WHIP that was offset by a poor 4.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: Rostered

Jesus Luzardo, Marlins: Luzardo, on the injured list since May 15 with a strained left forearm, made his third rehab start with Triple-A Jacksonville on Wednesday. He struck out six and allowed two earned runs on three hits and four walks in 4.2 innings and 75 pitches. This outing comes after Luzardo tossed four innings and 51 pitches in his prior rehab start. He may need one more rehab start before slotting back into the Miami rotation in early August. But with Max Meyer out and in need of Tommy John surgery, Luzardo or Edward Cabrera could immediately join the Marlins' rotation. Luzardo had an impressive spring and opened the season in the team's rotation and made six starts before getting hurt, giving up four runs in 2.2 innings in that final outing. If he can recapture his early season form, he could slot into the third or fourth rotation slot upon returning. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped spec return bid)

Dustin May, Dodgers: May, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2021, allowed two hits and no walks while striking out six across three innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City in his third overall rehab outing Thursday. He topped out at 99.9 MPH while throwing three fewer pitches in one more inning than his prior appearance. May is to add an inning per outing until he's ready to rejoin the Dodgers, which could come after he throws five innings in a start. It's unclear if the club will bring May back as a starter or if they prefer to use him in a multi-inning relief roll to manage his workload coming off surgery, but all signs point to him to joining the rotation and that could happen in early-to-mid August. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped early spec return bid) 

Wade Miley, Cubs: Miley opened the year on the injured list due to inflammation in his pitching elbow. After coming off the IL in May, he made three starts before being shut down with a strained left shoulder. Miley returned to action for one outing before landing back on the IL the next day. He threw a 28-pitch bullpen session Monday, leading to his start Friday for High-A South Bend where he gave up five runs - four of those earned - on six hits with one strikeout and a walk while tossing 36 pitches (25 strikes) across 2.1 innings. Miley will need to make several rehab outings before rejoining the Cubs, likely mid-August at the earliest. He had posted a 2.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 12 strikeouts over 19 innings in four starts. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same early sec return bid)

Nick Neidert, Marlins: Neidert was recalled from Triple-A Jacksonville to start Saturday against the Mets replacing Trevor Rogers, who was scratched with back spasms. He allowed two runs on five hits with three strikeouts over five innings. Neidert made eight average appearances in the majors prior to Saturday, but posted a 2.02 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 39:6 K:BB in 35.2 innings from his last eight starts at Triple-A. His stint in the majors may only last until Edward Cabrera and/or Jesus Luzardo are activated. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

Marcus Stroman, Cubs: Stroman has not had a particularly good first season with the Cubs, but he's doing his best to salvage it lately limiting opponents to one or zero runs for four straight starts since returning from a shoulder injury. The right-hander has a 3.99 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 62:18 K:BB through 67.2 innings, numbers that evidence how poor his year was prior to the injury. Stroman may still be able in shallower leagues and is worth grabbing for the last two months of the season. 12-team Mixed: $15, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered 

RELIEF PITCHER

Luis Garcia/Adrian Morejon, Padres: Manager Bob Melvin announced Friday the Padres will be giving the struggling Taylor Rogers "a little bit of a break" from closing. Filling the role - at least in the short-term - could be Garcia or Morejon, though Robert Suarez might factor in when he returns from injury this week. Garcia, a righty who has 18 holds, is the likely favorite to get the lion's share of chances with Morejon, a lefty who returned two-plus weeks ago from left shoulder inflammation, second in line. Garcia - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11; Morejon - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (saves spec bids) 

Mychal Givens, Cubs: Givens picked up his second save of the year this past week after David Robertson worked in consecutive games. Robertson is still the closer, but all expect him to be moved by Tuesday's trade deadline. If Givens doesn't follow him out the door, he may be the favorite to slide into Robertson's role, though Scott Effross may be in the mix. The right-hander has six wins and six holds this season in addition to his saves and hasn't allowed an earned run in 17 straight appearances while posting a 0.98 WHIP and 20:6 K:BB through 17.1 innings over that impressive stretch. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (stash closer bid) 

Trevor May/Kirby Yates: The Mets and Braves could welcome back rehabbing relievers this week. May, on the 60-day IL with a strained triceps, began a rehab assignment last Sunday. He pitched Wednesday and was scheduled to go both Saturday and Sunday. And if all went well, May would rejoin the big club Wednesday. Once active, he'll get a chance to resume his role as one of Edwin Diaz's setup men. Yates, who had Tommy John surgery in late May last year, began a rehab assignment in mid-July and steadily moved up the minor-league ladder. He may be just a few more appearances away from joining the Braves where he could help set up Kenley Jansen. Both - 12-team $0: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Drew Pomeranz/Robert Suarez, Padres: Pomeranz, recovering from flexor tendon surgery last August, threw 19 pitches in a simulated game Saturday. This is the next step in the progression of his return from the injury with him slated to toss another bullpen session before potentially kicking off a minor-league rehab assignment. Pomeranz 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 placed on the 60-day IL in July. He began a rehab assignment Tuesday and could be back when first eligible Aug. 5 where he could be involved with the Padres giving Taylor Rogers "a little bit of a break from closing". Pomeranz - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4; Suarez - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (early spec injury return bids)

CATCHER

James McCann, Mets: McCann, out for the second time this year, this time since Jul. 10 with a strained oblique, kicked off a rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton Thursday. He's expected to be activated Thursday when the Mets open a series against the Braves. McCann, who has struggled at the plate since signing a four-year, $40 million deal two seasons ago, should assume the primary catcher duties once active assuming the Mets don't trade for someone to slot above him on the depth chart. Tomas Nido has been solid calling and framing pitches, though not as good as McCann and the Mets may be looking to bolster the spot if they view Francisco Alvarez - who's now at Triple-A and scuffling slightly - isn't ready. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Yadier Molina, Cardinals: Molina began a rehab assignment Thursday, but was hit by a pitch in his left hand that forced him to miss Friday's contest. He caught five innings Saturday and is on target to be activated Tuesday. Molina dealt with right knee inflammation the first few months of the season before going on the injured list in mid-June. The Cardinals has received poor production from the likes of Andrew Knizner, Austin Romine and Ivan Herrera at catcher while its 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. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (same spec return bid)

FIRST BASE

Lewin Diaz, Marlins: Diaz was promoted Tuesday from Triple-A Jacksonville replacing Garrett Cooper (wrist) after he was placed on the 10-day IL. He produced a .252 average with 19 homers, 64 RBI and 55 runs over 325 at-bats in 82 contests with Jacksonville this year. Diaz has struggled in his prior stints in the majors, but he's seeing consistent playing time against right-handed pitching with Cooper out. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Mike Ford, Braves: Atlanta recalled Ford from Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday to replace Adam Duvall (wrist) on the active roster. He hasn't managed over 37 at-bats with the Giants, Mariners and Braves this season, but gives Atlanta some infield depth and left-handed bat off the bench - at least until the trade deadline.  12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 

Edwin Rios, Dodgers: Rios, who sustained a right hamstring tear in early June landing him on the 60-day IL, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. He's expected to spend at least two weeks on that assignment before returning. Rios hit .244/.293/.500 across 92 plate appearances prior to going down, though it's not clear how he'll fit into the Dodgers' plans upon his return. Unless the Dodgers are willing to install Gavin Lux as their full-time left fielder and play Max Muncy at second base more regularly, Rios may not have a regular path to starts at third base or DH once reinstated from the IL. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 

SECOND BASE

 Yonny Hernandez, Diamondbacks: Hernandez was called up Friday for his second stint this season in the Desert. He was sent down by the Diamondbacks on May 22 and has gone .211 with a homer, three triples, two doubles, 22 runs, 16 RBI and 12 stolen bases over 38 minor-league games since. Despite his lackluster results in Reno, the 24-year-old was recalled to provide infield depth at second, third and short. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Nick Madrigal, Cubs: Madrigal has been on the IL most of the season, first with back tightness and recently with a tightness in his left groin. After being shut down for two weeks after aggravating his injury in a rehab game, he restarted his assignment the prior Friday for Triple-A Iowa. Madrigal has appeared in six games in Triple-A and should be close to rejoining to the big-league roster, potentially right after the trade deadline. Madrigal went crosstown in Chicago this past offseason, coming over for Craig Kimbrel. A hamstring injury cost him most of last season and he was off to slow start prior to the injuries. With the infield mostly set, Madrigal likely will end up in a utility role when he comes back. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team-NL: $7 (same spec call up bid)

Zach McKinstry, Cubs: McKinstry was traded from the Dodgers to the Cubs on Saturday in exchange for Chris Martin. With Chicago looking to the future, McKinstry should get a chance to see consistent playing time the last two months of the regular season. The 33rd-round pick in produced a .323/.401/.550 slash line with 18 home runs in 114 games at Triple-A, but his .210/.266/.403 career line in 74 games in the majors is less impressive. McKinstry played at every position besides catcher, first base and center field this year, which adds to his value - especially in single leagues. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 

Jean Segura, Phillies: Segura, on the shelf since fracturing his right index finger in late May, kicked off a rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He may be activated Sunday, at which point he'll likely back up Bryson Stott - who's taken over as the starting second baseman - but also can fill in at short and third. Prior to getting hurt, Segura was productive hitting six home runs with six stolen bases, 19 runs drive in and 22 runs scored with a .731 OPS. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 (same spec return bid)

THIRD BASE

Charles Leblanc, Marlins: Leblanc was promoted from Triple-A Jacksonville on Friday with Willians Astudillo designated for assignment. He earned the call-up by slashing .302/.381/.503 with 14 homers, 47 runs, 46 RBI and six stolen bases across 87 games. Leblanc could see solid playing time at the hot corner with Brian Anderson (shoulder) recently joining Jazz Chisholm (back) and Jon Berti (groin) on the injured list. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Jason Vosler, Giants: Vosler was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday and should get playing time at the hot corner while Evan Longoria (hamstring) is on the IL. He was hitting .222/.300/.426 with 12 home runs and two steals in 57 games at Triple-A. Vosler has several others in the mix for at-bats at third base and likely will head back down once Longoria returns. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

SHORTSTOP

Paul DeJong, Cardinals: DeJong opened the season as St. Louis' starting shortstop thanks to a hot spring. After a month in the majors, he was demoted having slashed just .130/.209/.208 with a career-worst 29.1 percent strikeout rate. DeJong was recalled this past weekend, earning his way back after racking up 17 home runs while maintaining a .552 slugging percentage across 230 plate appearances at Triple-A Memphis. It's unclear what his role may be upon his return to St. Louis, but he could vie for playing time at shortstop backing up Tommy Edman and as DH. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (slightly upped bid) 

OUTFIELD

 Jake Fraley, Reds: Fraley, on the 60-day IL due to right knee inflammation and bone bruise, was reinstated and activated Friday to take the roster spot of Tyler Naquin, who was traded to the Mets on Thursday. He joined the Reds this season as part of the Jesse Winker-Eugenio Suarez trade with Seattle, but had been limited to 15 games with his new team due to injuries. It's not yet clear how much playing time Fraley will see, particularly once Albert Almora (illness) returns from the COVID-19 injured list, but could receive semi-regular action. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

Luis Gonzalez, Giants: Gonzalez, who had already seen an uptick in playing time, now has less competition in the short-term with Joc Pederson (concussion) on the IL. The Giants are rumored to be purging some veterans, which should afford Gonzalez a chance to remain in the lineup. He's provided a bit of power and speed, and as a left-handed hitter could end up on the strong side of any platoon. Even when Pederson returns, Gonzalez should see time at all three outfield spots and at DH. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Jordan Luplow/Jake McCarthy, Diamondbacks: With David Peralta traded to the Rays, Luplow and McCarthy will get the chance to cover left field for the Snakes. McCarthy has produced three multi-hit efforts in eight games since the All-Star break batting .333 during that span. He's up to a .263/.315/.432 slash line with four steals, three home runs, 12 RBI, 24 runs scored, nine doubles and a triple in 128 plate appearances. McCarthy should start against all righties with Luplow potentially going against southpaws. Luplow - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6; McCarthy - 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 

Bligh Madris, Pirates: Madris was called up Friday for his second stint in the majors to take the roster spot of Bryan Reynolds (personal). He started in right field while hitting fifth Friday and is expected to see time at several positions - including first base - during this go-around. Madris posted a subpar.246/.283/.386 slash line across his first 60 plate appearances in the majors, so temper your expectations. 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, continued his rehab assignment this week for Triple-A El Paso. He's now played in 12 games between Single-A and Triple-A, proving that his knee is fully sound and healthy. Myers dealt with the nagging injury throughout the first half of the season, which might have been a factor in his mediocre numbers before being sidelined. He registered a .234/.276/.306 slash line with just one homer, 19 RBI and no stolen-base attempts in 32 games prior to his placement on the IL. Myers should return Sunday and start almost daily, likely in right field replacing Nomar Mazara, though he'll also see time in left and center. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16 (upped return bid) 

James Outman, Dodgers: Outman was recalled Saturday from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take the place of Zach McKinstry, who was shipped to the Cubs in exchange for reliever Chris Martin. He earned the promotion by posting a .279/.381/.534 slash line with a 28.5 percent strikeout rate and 12.6 percent walk rate in 404 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A. Outman will operate as a lefty bench bat, defensive replacement and occasional starter. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

Trayce Thompson, Dodgers: Thompson, who was traded from the Tigers to the Dodgers in late-June in exchange for cash considerations, has been a godsend to the LA lineup and outfield. Since arriving, he's posted a .301/.383/.542 slash line with four home runs, 17 RBI and a stolen base across 30 games. That production builds on when he did in the minors in 41 games between Triple-A El Paso and Triple-A Toledo this year while slashing .305/.365/.721 with 17 home runs, 36 RBI, 33 runs and two stolen bases. If you rostered Thompson when he arrived in Cali, congrats and enjoy the roll. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $18; 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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