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 $
Justin DunnCINSPDNo05
Dustin MayLASPA/B112233 (upper spec return bid)
Wade MileyCHISPC2711 (upper spec return bid)
Ryan PepiotLASPC/D015
T.J. ZeuchCINSPENoNo5
Matt BushMILRPD2711
Alexis DiazCINRPB51116
Seranthony DominguezPHIRPB11rosteredRostered
Carl EdwardsWASRPC/D159
Brusdar GraterolLARPC147
Blake TreinenLARPC

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 $
Justin DunnCINSPDNo05
Dustin MayLASPA/B112233 (upper spec return bid)
Wade MileyCHISPC2711 (upper spec return bid)
Ryan PepiotLASPC/D015
T.J. ZeuchCINSPENoNo5
Matt BushMILRPD2711
Alexis DiazCINRPB51116
Seranthony DominguezPHIRPB11rosteredRostered
Carl EdwardsWASRPC/D159
Brusdar GraterolLARPC147
Blake TreinenLARPC147
Brandon HughesCHIRPD015
Rowan WickCHIRPC51118
Tylor MegillNYMRPCNo14
Steven OkertMIARPD016
Trevor RosenthalMILRPD015 (early stash bid)
Eric StoutPITRPENoNo5
Kirby YatesATLRPCNoNo4
Dom NunezCOLCENoNo4
Brian ServenCOLCD147
Tomas NidoNYMCDNo06
Lewin DiazMIA1BD/E147
Joey MenesesWAS1BD3914
Emmanuel RiveraARI1BD2711
Jon BertiMIA2BB/C1118Rostered
Vaughn GrissomATL2BB2711 (up if think he sticks)
Alejo LopezCIN2BENoNo4
Nick MadrigalCHI2BC51116
Brian AndersonMIA3BD016
J.D. DavisSF3BD51116
Elehuris MonteroCOL3BC159
Joey MenesesWAS1BENoNo0
Rodolfo CastroPITSSD147
Wynton BernardCOLOFE016
Trent GrishamSDOFC816Rostered
Guillermo HerediaATLOFENoNo4
Sam HilliardCOLOFD159
Cooper HummelAZOFENoNo5
Franmil ReyesCHIOFC112233
Juan YepezSTLOFC714Rostered

STARTING PITCHER

Justin Dunn, Reds: Dunn, originally drafted by Mets and traded to the Mariners in the Edwin Diaz deal, was acquired by Cincy from Seattle in the Jesse Winker deal. The shoulder strain he suffered last June sidelined him to begin the season and he kicked off a rehab stint in mid-June. Over his seven outings at Triple-A spanning 26 innings, Dunn compiled a 6.92 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and 23:16 K:BB but was promoted to start against the Mets on Monday. He gave up three runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 4.2 innings and will remain in the rotation for at least one more turn with Hunter Greene (shoulder) and Robert Dugger (shoulder) on the IL. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

Dustin May, Dodgers: May, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2021, will return from the injured list to start Aug. 20 against the Marlins. He made his fifth and final rehab start Sunday after throwing five innings and 68 pitches in his prior rehab outing. May was to have added an inning per outing until he was ready to rejoin the Dodgers, so he should have tossed six innings Sunday. He'll slot back into the starting rotation, but may initially be limited to 5-to-6 innings depending on pitch count, 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: $33 (significantly upped return bid) 

Wade Miley, Cubs: Miley opened the season 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 for one start before landing back on the IL the next day on Jun. 11. He made his third rehab start Wednesday and will require one more before returning to the Cubs. Miley allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five in 4.2 innings during Wednesday's start at Triple-A Iowa and tossed a bullpen session Sunday. He posted a 2.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 12 strikeouts over 19 innings in four starts this season. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (upped spec return bid) 

Ryan Pepiot, Dodgers: Pepiot, profiled last week, gets another mention as he's likely to make one more turn through the LA rotation. He allowed four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four batters over 4.1 innings against Minnesota on Wednesday, but should start early this week. Clayton Kershaw (back) is not yet throwing, but Dustin May (elbow) is slated to return to action Friday and that should push Pepiot back to the minors. His main value is in keeper leagues, barring further injuries to the Dodgers' rotation. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

T.J. Zeuch, Reds: The Reds have three starters on the IL, creating a huge hole in the rotation. Zeuch, released by the Cardinals in late May, signed with Cincy a week later and pitched well in the minors to earn a call up. He posted a 3.63 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 22.1 innings over five starts at Triple-A Louisville, but surrendered six runs on six hits and two walks over four innings Wednesday against the Mets. Zeuch could get another turn or two until the Reds' staff begins to get healthier. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

RELIEF PITCHER 

Matt Bush, Brewers: Bush, acquired from the Rangers at the trade deadline, notched the Brewers' second straight save, though this one was earned in extra innings after Devin Williams pitched the ninth. It's clear Bush will be used in high-leverage situations for Milwaukee. For the season, he's produced a 3.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 51:12 K:BB through 41 innings between Milwaukee and Texas while adding three saves and nine holds. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Alexis Diaz, Reds: Hunter Strickland was moved out as closer this week, paving the way for Diaz to take over. A formal announcement of him assuming the role has not been made, but all signs point to him filling that slot. Diaz has posted a 1.90 ERA, 0.96 ERA and 56:22 K:BB in 42.2 innings while notching four saves and 13 holds. His performance has improved as the season continued and he should be the favorite to enter 2023 as the Reds' closer. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16 

Seranthony Dominguez, Phillies: After David Robertson was traded to the Phillies and notched the save in his first game, most felt he was the team's closer. Not so fast as Dominguez posted saves on Aug. 9 and 10, showing the role is a job-share with no specific favorite. That slightly impacts the value of both pitchers since neither is the main closer, but Dominguez hasn't been scored upon for almost the past month while racking up 11 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Carl Edwards, Nationals: Manager Dave Martinez used closer Kyle Finnegan in high-leverage situations twice this past week, opening the door for Edwards to notch a pair of saves. Those mark his first saves since 2020 when he was a member of the Mariners. Finnegan is still the closer, but his usage pattern indicates Edwards could see a handful of additional save chances the rest of the season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Brusdar Graterol/Blake Treinen, Dodgers: Los Angeles is on the verge of getting a pair of late inning relievers back shortly. Graterol, who last pitched on Jul. 10 and sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, issued one walk and struck out one batter in a scoreless inning and 14 pitches for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday. Before being sidelined, the right-hander posted a 3.35 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 35:10 K:BB while logging three saves, nine holds and a 2-3 record in 40.1 innings as the Dodgers' primary setup man to Craig Kimbrel. Treinen, on the injured list since Apr. 14 with right shoulder discomfort, progressed to game action and struck out one batter in a perfect inning for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday. His fastball sat in the 95-96 MPH range, which is close to his norm. Both pitchers will need to make a few more rehab appearances prior to returning. Both - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid)

Brandon Hughes/Rowan Wick, Cubs: Hughes has been tremendous out of the Cubs 'pen since Jul. 1 collecting a win while providing an 1.62 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 21:4 K:BB in 16.2 innings over his 17 appearances out of the Cubs bullpen. And with all the changes in the team's bullpen, he posted holds in his last two appearances to add to his value. Wick, profiled last week after the trade deadline, gets another mention as he's the clear first option to close in Chicago by notching three saves and a win since the purge in the bullpen. He also hasn't given up a run in over a month, tossing 12.1 scoreless innings with a 15:3 K:BB over his last 11 appearances. If you failed to pick Wick up last week, this might be your last chance. Hughes - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5; Wick - 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $18

Tylor Megill. Mets: Megill, who landed on the IL in mid-June due to strained right shoulder, was slated to throw a 15-pitch bullpen session Sunday. Since he'll work out of the bullpen once activated, he won't need as long of a rehab assignment if returning as a starter. Megill's long-term appeal remains intact as he's expected to build back up as a starter over the winter. Rostering him is mainly for those in keeper leagues since his value this season will be limited by his role. 12-team $0: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $4

Steven Okert, Marlins: Okert moved into the Marlins' role as the team's top setup man from the left side when Tanner Scott took over the closer role. He's provided some solid fantasy value with five wins, a 2.77 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and a career-high 31.3 percent strikeout rate through 39 innings and 45 appearances  in addition to his 14 holds. Okert won't register many saves, limiting his overall value. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Trevor Rosenthal, Brewers: Rosenthal signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Giants in late July, then was dealt to the Brewers at the trade deadline. He suffered a cramp in his hamstring area following a showcase in early June, which put him on the injured list. Rosenthal hasn't pitched in the majors since 2020 due to shoulder and hip issues, but earned double-digit saves in four of his last five seasons. He begins a rehab assignment at Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday and will likely require multiple rehab appearances before being cleared to join the Brewers' bullpen where he'll help set up Devin Williams and Matt Bush. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early stash bid) 

Eric Stout, Pirates: Stout notched a one-out save Wednesday. He should continue to be used as a lefty out of the Pirates' pen and is unlikely to receive many save opportunities. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

Kirby Yates, Braves: Yates underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2021 and signed a two-year, $8.25 million contract with the Braves in November of that year. The contract also includes a $5.75 million team option for 2024. Yates began a rehab assignment in mid-July, posting a 1.08 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 8.1 innings over eight appearances in the minors to earn a call up this past week. He is operating as a middle reliever or setup man for Atlanta since the team has Kenley Jansen and Raisel Iglesias available for late-inning work, but offers closing experience if needed. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

CATCHER 

Dom Nunez/Brian Serven, Rockies: Elias Diaz hit the 10-day IL on Friday due to a ligament damage in his left wrist. To replace him, Nunez was promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque to split time behind the plate with Serven. Look for Serven, who ran with the catching job for a whole before he slumped in July, to see most of the playing time until Diaz is ready to return. Diaz - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4; Serven - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7

Tomas Nido, Mets: Nido, who was getting most of the playing time while James McCann was sidelined, started for the fifth time in seven games Saturday. He's not as accomplished in pitch framing as McCann, but has been solid behind the plate. Nido's bat has woken up somewhat, allowing him to be more productive than McCann at the plate 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 

FIRST BASE 

Lewin Diaz, Marlins: Diaz, profiled two weeks ago when he was promoted from Triple-A Jacksonville, is expected to work as Miami's primary first baseman against right-handed pitching. He originally was called to replace Garrett Cooper (wrist) on the active roster, but will still see a larger share of the playing time at the position even with Cooper back. Diaz has not shown much in the minors, but produced a .252 average with 19 homers, 64 RBI and 55 runs over 325 at-bats in 82 contests with Jacksonville in 2022. If he struggles, Cooper could recapture more of the role. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Joey Meneses, Nationals: After spending 10 years in the minors, Meneses finally is getting his chance and making the most of it going 12-for-31 in his first nine big-league games with seven homers and seven RBI. He registered solid numbers the past three seasons, including at Triple-A this season. And while Meneses' age and lack of pedigree don't suggest he'll be able to keep this pace up for long, Washington doesn't really have any better options for playing time. Ride the wave. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 

Emmanuel Rivera, Diamondbacks: The change of scenery from Kansas City to Arizona has paid immediate dividends for Rivera. Since joining the Diamondbacks from the Royals on Aug. 1, he's gone 9-for-23 with four homers, three doubles and six RBI through seven contests. Beware of the small sample size when evaluating Rivera, but he likely should be in the lineup daily to give him a chance to post counting stats. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

SECOND BASE 

Jon Berti, Marlins: Berti, sidelined nearly a month with a strained left groin, was activated off the injured list Friday following a four-game rehab stint with Tiple-A Jacksonville. He still leads the league with 28 stolen bases. Joey Wendle has settled in as Miami's primary second baseman, but Berti should still see regular playing time between the infield and outfield thanks to his versatility. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $18; 12-team NL: Rostered (bid based on SB potential) 

Vaughn Grissom, Braves: Atlanta dipped into their prospect base by calling Grissom up from Double-A Mississippi on Wednesday. He played a month at that level after being promoted from High-A Rome. Grissom showcased an intriguing blend of power, speed and contact skills between his two stops this season slashing .315/.405/.494 with 36 extra-base hits and 27 steals in 442 plate appearances. He couldn't have had a better debut, homering over the Green Monster and added a second long ball Saturday. Grissom's stint may only last until Ozzie Albies returns, which might come at the end of the month. But if he hits, Atlanta will find a roster and lineup spot for him. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (up if think he sticks)

Alejo Lopez, Reds: Lopez rejoined the Reds this week with Mike Moustakas (calf) going on the IL. He joins Matt Reynolds as a utility option off the Cincinnati bench while Donovan Solano is getting the first chance at replacing Moustakas as the Reds' everyday DH. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Nick Madrigal, Cubs: Madrigal, on the injured list most of the season first with back tightness and recently with a tightness in his left groin, was activated Aug. 2 and has gone 9-for-23 with five runs scored and a stolen base in the eight games since returning. He went crosstown in Chicago this past offseason, coming over for Craig Kimbrel. A hamstring injury cost Madrigal most of last season and he was off to slow start prior to the injuries. He's taken over as the team's starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: $16

THIRD BASE 

Brian Anderson, Marlins: Anderson, sidelined since Jul. 23 with a sprained left shoulder, was reinstated from the 10-day injured list Friday after playing four games for Triple-A Jacksonville. Injuries have limited him to just 54 games this season. Anderson could operate as the Marlins' primary third baseman now that he's back to full health. But given that Charles Leblanc has been hitting extremely well in his place, he might see significant action in an outfield corner instead. Miami is missing both Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia, but have promoted Peyton Burdick and JJ Bleday in recent weeks to leave one possible spot for Anderson - though Jon Berti, who also returned Friday, will get time in the outfield. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 

J.D. Davis, Giants: A move back to the West Coast - and specifically his home state of California - coupled with more secure playing time has agreed with Davis. The 29-year-old went 8-for-24 with three homers in the first seven appearances for the Giants after he was acquired from the Mets last week. Davis has become close to an everyday player for San Francisco after riding the pine and seeing most his at-bats versus southpaws for the Mets. With the Giants playing out the string, look for Davis to remain in the lineup almost daily. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16

Elehuris Montero, Rockies: Montero, profiled last week after he was recalled by Colorado at the beginning of August, gets another mention due to his production at the plate. The Rockies are playing him at first and third base - the latter due to Kris Bryant (foot) remains sidelined - and at designated hitter. Montero has made the most of that opportunity by recording hits in eight consecutive games following his promotion until his 0-for-4 Thursday. Colorado should continue to run him out there, especially while Bryant is out. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

SHORTSTOP 

Rodolfo Castro, Pirates: Castro, who spent most of May in the majors and posted a .565 OPS in 78 plate appearances before being demoted in early June, was called back up Tuesday. He's logging most of his action at the keystone, but will also play the hot corner and possibly shortstop. Pittsburgh looks like they will play Castro almost daily and the infielder has a little bit of power with some speed. Now if he can only remember to leave his cell phone in his locker. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

OUTFIELD 

Wynton Bernard, Rockies: Bernard, who spent 10 years in the minors, was promoted and made his major-league debut Friday. He's providing outfield depth for the Rockies after Yonathan Daza (shoulder) was placed on the 10-day IL. Bernard is enjoying the best year of his career having slashed .325/.374/.588 with eight homers, 78 runs, 74 RBI and 26 steals over 87 games with Triple-A Albuquerque. He went on to notch a single, stolen base and run in his debut. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Trent Grisham, Padres: Grisham brought his average over the Mendoza Line for the first time since Apr. 8 by going 2-for-3 on Saturday. Despite the low BA, he's slugged 15 home runs and driven in 46 runs while scoring 47 of his own. With Fernando Tatis suspended for the rest of the season, that removes one competitor for at-bats. Grisham should continue to start nearly daily in center field for San Diego. 12-team Mixed: $8, 15-team Mixed: $16; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Guillermo Heredia, Braves: Heredia, sent down Sunday, was brought back to the bigs Friday after Ehire Adrianza (undisclosed) was placed on the injured list. He saw sporadic playing time prior to his demotion and will likely be used in a depth role now that he's back with the Braves. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 

Sam Hilliard, Rockies: The injury to Yonathan Daza (shoulder) creates a hole in the Rockies' outfield. Wynton Bernard was promoted and will earn some playing time, but Hilliard may be the primary beneficiary. He was already seeing an uptick in action and now could be close to an everyday player and help in batting and on-base averages. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Cooper Hummel, Diamondbacks: Hummel was recalled from Triple-A Reno on Tuesday to make another appearance with the D-Backs. He earned a secondlook at the big-league level by going 16-for-47 with a couple homers and eight RBI over his last 11 games with Reno. Hummel can catch, taking the roster spot of catcher Jose Herrera, but may also see time in left field and the DH spot. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

Franmil Reyes, Cubs: Reyes was designated for assignment last Sunday and claimed by the Cubs on Monday. His prodigious power had been more than enough to offset his contact issues over his first four years in the league, but everything fell apart for him this season with a .213/.254/.350 slash line this year over 263 at-bats in 70 games to pave the way for his release. Chicago has nothing to lose but run Reyes out there daily. And so far, he's 5-for-12 in four games while hitting his first home run Saturday. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: $33

Juan Yepez, Cardinals: Yepez, out since mid-July with a Grade 2 forearm strain, could be reinstated from the IL as early as Tuesday. He began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday and was scheduled to play at least six innings in right field Saturday. Yepez was to go between six and nine innings in right field Sunday, and will rejoin the Cardinals on Tuesday presuming no setbacks. Once active, he'll take playing time away from both Tyler O'Neill and Lars Nootbaar while also possibly Nolan Gorman. 12-team Mixed: $7, 15-team Mixed: $14; 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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