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 $
JT BrubakerPITSPD7RosteredRostered
Jose ButtoNYMSPD/E015
Roansy ContrerasPITSPC159 (up in keeper leagues)
Tommy HenryAZSPE147
Steven MatzSTLSPC2711 (early spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPA/B112233 (same return bid)
Wade MileyCHISPC2711 (same spec return bid)
Bobby MillerLASPB147 (stash bid)
Mike SorokaATLSPA/B2711 (upped spec return bid)

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 $
JT BrubakerPITSPD7RosteredRostered
Jose ButtoNYMSPD/E015
Roansy ContrerasPITSPC159 (up in keeper leagues)
Tommy HenryAZSPE147
Steven MatzSTLSPC2711 (early spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPA/B112233 (same return bid)
Wade MileyCHISPC2711 (same spec return bid)
Bobby MillerLASPB147 (stash bid)
Mike SorokaATLSPA/B2711 (upped spec return bid)
Freddy TarnokATLSPD015 (stash bid, up in keeper leagues)
Luis GarciaSDRPC/D159
Robert SuarezSDRPC2711
Brusdar GraterolLARPC147
Blake TreinenLARPC147
Brandon HughesCHIRPC/D3914 (upped bid)
Dinelson LametCOLRPD015
Drew PomeranzSDRPD015 (early spec injury return bid)
Trevor RosenthalMILRPD015 (same early stash bid)
P.J. HigginsCHICD159
Matt ReynoldsCIN1BE017
Yolmer SanchezNYM2BENoNo4
Brett BatyNYM3BA/B91827
Ryan GoinsATL3BENoNo4
Kevin PadloPIT3BENoNo4
CJ AbramsWASSSB71422
Ji-hwan BaePITSSD015 (spec call up bid)
Jose AzocarSDOFENoNo4
Josh PalaciosWASOFENoNo4
Corbin CarrollAZOFA2711 (stash bid, up as he gets closer to MLB)
Jerar EncarnacionMIAOFD147
Jake FraleyCINOFC/D3914
Sal FrelickMILOFB/C147 (early spec call up bid)
TJ FriedlCINOFDNoNo6
Ben GamelPITOFC/D27Rostered
Stone GarrettAZOFC1711
Matt VierlingPHIOFD147
Bradley ZimmerPHIOFCNoNo5

STARTING PITCHER

JT Brubaker, Pirates: Brubaker continued to his hot stretch Thursday by striking out seven in seven scoreless innings while allowing two hits. The only negative is that he was pulled after just 84 pitches after he developed a blister. Over his last 10 starts, the 28-year-old is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, three homers allowed and a 59:18 K:BB in 56.1 innings. Roll with Brubaker while he's hot. 12-team Mixed: $7, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Jose Butto, Mets: With the bulging disc in Taijuan Walker's back prevented him from starting against the Phillies on Sunday, Butto could make his major-league debut. He was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 8 after producing a 4.00 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 108 punchouts over 92.1 innings in 20 appearances with Double-A Binghamton. Butto made two appearances at Triple-A while allowing three runs in five innings in his first start before going just an inning on Aug. 18 in case he's needed for this appearance. He has a deceptive delivery along with a fastball and curveball, but lacks a third pitch and his curveball needs more bite. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Roansy Contreras, Pirates: Contreras showed in the minors he was ready to return to the majors, which happened this week. Prior to being sent back down, he had turned in a 3.78 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 50:22 K:BB in 50 innings. Contreras allowed four runs on six hits and four walks over six innings while striking out three. As he's already thrown 30 more innings than last year, Pittsburgh will likely somewhat manage his workload but not allow him to go deep in games and potentially getting an extra day of rest. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (up in keeper leagues) 

Tommy Henry, Diamondbacks: Henry's alternated between decent and mediocre through his first four starts for Arizona. He's pitched his way to a 3.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 17:9 K:BB through 22.2 innings overall. Drafted in 2019, Henry took a major step forward in the minors this season and is providing similar production since his promotion. He should be used as a spot or depth starter. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Steven Matz, Cardinals: Matz, out since May 22 with left shoulder inflammation, returned to start Jul. 23. That start was cut short as he tore his left MCL. Matz made four rehab appearances at Triple-A Memphis in his first rehab stint, posting a 2.13 ERA, 17:3 K:BB and 0.95 WHIP in 12.2 innings. The southpaw made four starts in May prior to landing on the injured list and logged a 5.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 19.2 innings over that span. Matz is still likely a week or more away from beginning a minor-league rehab assignment, so he's not expected to be a rotation option for the Cardinals until September at the earliest. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (early spec return bid)

Dustin May, Dodgers: May, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2021, returned from the IL to start Aug. 20 against the Marlins and gave up one hit and walked two batters while notching nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings and 71 pitches to earn the win. He made his fifth and final rehab start Sunday, punctuating his minor-leagues appearances with a five-inning, 10-strikeout performance at Triple-A. May tossed 70 pitches and will likely be limited to 85 or so pitches this start. He may be limited to five or six innings initially depending on pitch count. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: $33 (same return bid) 

Wade Miley, Cubs: Miley may finally be on his way back to the Cubs, though that's not set in stone. He was to be checked out by the team training staff Saturday after his shoulder failed to get loose enough for him to throw Friday. 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 to action for one start before going back on the IL the next day on Jun. 11. He made his fourth and what should be final rehab start Tuesday striking out two while allowing one unearned run on two hits and one walk across five innings and 75 pitches, though his activation will depend on his exam Saturday. Miley posted a 2.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 12 strikeouts over 19 innings in his four big league starts this year. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (same spec return bid)

Bobby Miller, Dodgers: Miller was promoted from Double-A Tulsa to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday, taking the place of the returning Dustin May (elbow) who returned from the 60-day injured list to start for the Dodgers on Saturday. He generated a 4.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in his 20 outings (19 starts) at Tulsa this season, but was especially dominant over his final seven appearances managing a 3.67 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while striking out 54 and issuing just 10 walks in 34.1 innings. Miller offers a mid-90s sinker that touches 99 MPH along with a low-90s plus slider plus a changeup and curveball that have above-average potential. Command and control have been issues along with an inability to go deep in games, but he has second starter upside if he can put it all together. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (stash bid) 

Mike Soroka, Braves: Soroka, who last appeared in a game in Aug. 2020 due to multiple tears of his right Achilles, pitched for the first time in 743 days on Tuesday. He kicked off a rehab stint for High-A Rome by tossing 45 pitches with eight strikeouts over four scoreless innings. Soroka has moved up to Triple-A Gwinnett for his next start Sunday and could be ready to rejoin the Braves as a starter after two more rehab appearances. His return would lengthen an already solid Atlanta rotation. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team-NL: $11 (upped early spec return bid) 

Freddy Tarnok, Braves: Atlanta recalled Tarnok from Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday and sent him back down Thursday when Max Fried (concussion) was cleared to pitch. Between stops at Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi this season, the 23-year-old Tarnok posted a 3.63 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 101 strikeouts over 89.1 innings. While his experience this time was limited to two-thirds of an inning Wednesday, the future is bright for the young starter. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (stash bid, up in keeper leagues)

RELIEF PITCHER 

Luis Garcia/Robert Suarez, Padres: Garcia and Suarez, each profiled a few weeks, could close while the Padres give the struggling Josh Hader "a little break" from the closer role. Nick Martinez and Adrian Morejon are also in the mix, but Garcia with his 19 holds and Suarez - who was a star closer in Japan before making the jump to MLB this year - are the favorites to fill in. Suarez, who underwent right knee surgery to clean up "some loose impediments" in early June and was placed on the 60-day IL in July, returned to action on Aug. 6. He's been great since his return allowing one run on six hits and two walks while striking out six over seven innings to lower his season ERA to 2.67 with a 1.09 WHIP. Garcia - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9; Suarez - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Brusdar Graterol/Blake Treinen, Dodgers: As stated last week, LA is on the verge of getting a pair of late inning relivers back shortly. Graterol, who last pitched on Jul. 10 and sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, will be activated Monday. He made four relief appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City, paving the way for his return. Before being sidelined, the right-hander had 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 last week to game action and has made two relief appearances at Triple-A. His fastball is sitting in the 95-96 MPH range, which is close to his norm. Treinen 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, Cubs: Hughes, profiled last week, gets another mention as he notched saves Thursday and Friday for the Cubs. He's been tremendous out of the 'pen since Jul. 1 collecting one win, two holds and those aforementioned two saves while providing a 1.70 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 25:5 K:BB in 21.2 innings over his 22 appearances. Rowan Wick, profiled the last two weeks, is still in the saves mix and likely was given two days off after closing out Cubs' wins on Tuesday and Wednesday. But it's clear Hughes is now in the closer picture, aiding his value while adversely impacting Wick's. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped bid)

Dinelson Lamet, Rockies: Lamet was claimed off waivers by Colorado earlier this month. Acquired by Milwaukee in the Josh Hader deal, he was designated for assignment two days later. Lamet has battled injuries and ineffectiveness most of his big-league career, save for his 2020 season. This year has been no different with a 9.49 ERA and a 14.5 percent walk rate in 13 relief appearances. Lamet has been solid in his first five appearances for the Rockies and expect the team to offer him salary arbitration to keep him in 2023. His mid-90s four-seam fastball-slider combination earned him a fourth-place finish in the 2020 NL Cy Young Award voting. But if Lamet can somehow develop a changeup - which is in the works - he could move back to the starting rotation. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Drew Pomeranz, Padres: Pomeranz, recovering from flexor tendon surgery last August, had his rehab assignment transferred to Triple-A El Paso on Tuesday. He's logged four appearances between the Arizona Complex League, Single-A Lake Elsinore and El Paso while allowing four runs in 3.2 innings, evidencing he needs work and is still shaking off the rust from his absence. Pomeranz has struck out six batters, so the stuff is still there, and could be a late-August add to the Friars' pen. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec injury return bid)

Trevor Rosenthal, Brewers: Rosenthal kicked off a rehab assignment Wednesday at Triple-A Nashville, hitting 98 MPH with his fastball. He signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Giants in late July, then was dealt to the Brewers at the trade deadline. Rosenthal suffered a cramp in his hamstring area following a showcase in early June, which landed him on the IL and delayed his return to the majors. He 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. Rosenthal 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 (same early stash bid)

CATCHER 

P.J. Higgins, Cubs: Higgins has given Chicago way more they could have expected from the 29-year-old career minor leaguer having blasted six home runs - the most he's hit in any level in one season - while driving in 20 runs across 114 at bats. He could earn himself a little more playing time down the stretch, potentially at first base where he's seen time lately because Willson Contreras and Yan Gomes are ahead of him at catcher. If Patrick Wisdom's finger injury forces him to miss time, Higgins would be the primary beneficiary. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

FIRST BASE 

Matt Reynolds, Reds: Check your league's eligibility rules, as Reynolds has played just five games at first. But he may be in line for a small uptick in playing time with Joey Votto undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn left rotator cuff. Mike Moustakas returned from the IL on Friday and is slated to see most of the playing time at first, but Reynolds should also receive opportunities there and the other three infield spots and potentially left field. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

SECOND BASE

Yolmer Sanchez, Mets: Sanchez was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox on Thursday. He provides the team infield depth with Eduardo Escobar (oblique) and Luis Guillorme (groin) sidelined. Once one or each return, Sanchez is likely to be waived. Don't expect much playing time or production from him. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

THIRD BASE

Brett Baty, Mets: Baty, the Mets' third baseman of the future, started his major-league career this past week. New York planned on keeping him in the minors a bit longer, but their hand was somewhat forced by the injuries to Luis Guillorme (groin) and Eduardo Escobar (oblique) that landed each on the IL. Escobar's struggles at the plate also had Mets' fans calling for a change that likely would have happened soon enough. The 12th overall pick of 2019, Baty continued to rake at Triple-A Syracuse following his promotion from Double-A Binghamton on Aug. 8. Between his two minor-league stops this season, he slashed .315/.410/.533 with 19 home runs. Look for Baty to play nearly every day, sitting possibly against certain lefties and certainly made his presence felt immediately by hitting a home run on his first swing. 12-team Mixed: $9, 15-team Mixed: $18; 12-team NL: $27

Ryan Goins, Braves: Goins, hitting .220/.249/.271 in 250 plate appearances at Triple-A Gwinnett, was promoted this week to provide the Braves additional depth in the infield after Ehire Adrianza (illness) was placed on the COVID-19 list last weekend before being transferred to the 10-day IL. Vaughn Grissom, Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley are still expected to see the overwhelming majority of starts at second, shortstop and third, so Goins' opportunities with Atlanta are likely to be scarce while up with the club. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Kevin Padlo, Pirates: Padlo was promoted to take the place of Ke'Bryan Hayes (back) on the Pirates' 25-man roster. Claimed off waivers from the Mariners, he's enjoyed success in the minors but carries a minuscule .411 OPS in the majors. Padlo provides infield depth until Hayes returns. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

SHORTSTOP 

CJ Abrams, Nationals: Abrams, one of the centerpiece returns for the Nats in the Juan Soto trade, was promoted to the bigs this past Monday replacing Luis Garcia (groin) on the 25-man roster. The 21-year-old shortstop went .314/.364/.507 with seven home runs and 10 steals in 30 games at Triple-A while with San Diego and then was 9-for-27 at the same level for Washington prior to his promotion. Abrams experienced a difficult time in his first stint in the majors earlier this season by posting an underwhelming .232/.285/.320 slash line over 139 plate appearances. His solid plate discipline and speed should aid him in his second go-around, this time in the Nation's Capital. 12-team Mixed: $7, 15-team Mixed: $14; 12-team NL: $22

Ji-hwan Bae, Pirates: Bae, out with a strained oblique since late July, was reinstated from the 7-day injured list at Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. Before being sidelined, he slashed .300/.367/.453 with eight homers, 59 runs, 41 RBI and 20 stolen bases over 83 games to begin the year. Bae's fringe arm means he may end up at second base, but his speed could allow him to hit at the top or bottom of the lineup once promoted. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (spec call up bid)

OUTFIELD

Jose Azocar/Josh Palacios: The Padres and Nationals called up fifth outfielders on Saturday. Azocar was called up from Triple-A El Paso as a corresponding move to designating Nomar Mazara for assignment. He slashed .233/.280/.323 over 143 plate appearances in the big leagues this season. Palacios was promoted Saturday to provide the Nats outfield depth with Yadiel Hernandez (calf) on the IL. He hit just .188/.188/.250 in a small sample with the big-league team compared to .298/.382/.433 across 76 games at Triple-A Rochester. Expect both to get spot duty. Both - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks: Carroll will make his major-league debut before the end of the season. After missing most of last year due to a shoulder injury in May, he's made up for lost time by hitting .313/.430/.643 in 58 Double-A contests while adding 16 home runs and 20 steals to earn a promotion to Triple-A Reno in early July. Through Thursday's games, Carroll has slashed .308/.461/.548 with five homers and 18 RBI over 26 contests. The 21-year-old center fielder is one of the top prospects in baseball and has performed like one so far in 2022, prompting Arizona to eventually call him up this year and start his service clock a season early. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (stash bid, up as he gets closer)

Jerar Encarnacion, Marlins: Encarnacion was promoted Friday with Garrett Cooper (concussion) hitting the 7-day injured list. He's making his second appearance in the bigs having spent two days in The Show in June, which included a grand slam in his first game Jun. 19 against the Mets. Encarnacion has been solid for Triple-A Jacksonville and should receive playing time at both corner outfield spots with Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

Jake Fraley, Reds: Fraley has been on a roll since coming off the 60-day injured list Jul. 29 slashing .405/.458/.738 with four home runs, nine RBI, nine runs and 5:4 BB:K in his last 14 contests as of Thursday. He came over in March from Seattle in the Jesse Winker deal and looks like he'll be a mainstay in the Cincinnati lineup in left field over the final six weeks of the season. Moving forward as a left-handed hitter, Fraley could be on the strong side of any platoon. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14

Sal Frelick, Brewers: Frelick, drafted in the first round last season, is knocking on the door for a promotion having gone 22-for-50 (.440) with four extra-base hits, five RBI, two steals and an 8:5 BB over 13 games since being promoted to Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 7. He earned that call up by raking at Double-A Biloxi, continuing a trend since he was drafted. Due to the rules of the new CBA, Frelick can be promoted after Aug. 23, which might happen if the current Milwaukee center fielders continue to struggle. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec call up bid) 

TJ Friedl, Reds: Friedl joined the Reds to provide depth with Donovan Solano (paternity, then restricted list) sidelined. Before being optioned to the minors on Jun. 19, Friedl batted .200 with six extra-base hits in 29 games for Cincy. The outfielder will likely return to Louisville once Solano returns. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $6

Ben Gamel, Pirates: Gamel is 19-for-63 (.300) with 14 RBI and eight extra-base hits through 17 games this month. Production is production, regardless of where it comes from or which team the player is on, so ignore the fact Gamel plays for the Pirates and be happy with the output. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: Rostered

Stone Garrett, Diamondbacks: Garrett, selected in the eighth round of the 2014 Draft by the Marlins, spent six years working his way up the ladder before they released him in 2020. He hooked on with the D-Backs in 2021 while hitting .280/.317/.516 for Double-A El Paso and then blasting 28 homers to go with 96 RBI, 15 stolen bases and a .900 OPS for Triple-A Reno in 2022 to earn a promotion this week. With Arizona in rebuilding mode, look for Garrett to play daily between the two corner outfield spots. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Matt Vierling/Bradley Zimmer, Phillies: The Phillies claimed Zimmer off waivers from the Blue Jays on Thursday. The lefty Vierling and righty Zimmer have a path to playing time in center field with Brandon Marsh on the IL with an ankle injury. Vierling has enjoyed a few solid moments this season, but has struggled overall. Zimmer has been markedly worse slashing just .105/.209/.237 with a 37.9 percent strikeout rate over 87 plate appearances before being waived. Vierling - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7; Zimmer - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

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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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