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 $
Javier AssadCHISPD147
Cade CavalliWASSPB2711
Bailey FalterPHISPD016
Adrian HouserMILSPENo05
Steven MatzSTLSPC015 (reduced spec return bid)
Cristopher SanchezPHISPD015 (up if he sticks in rotation)
Mike SorokaATLSPA/B2711 (upped spec return bid)
Jason AlexanderMILRPENoNo4
Andrew BellattiPHIRPD147
Adam OttavinoNYMRPC39

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 $
Javier AssadCHISPD147
Cade CavalliWASSPB2711
Bailey FalterPHISPD016
Adrian HouserMILSPENo05
Steven MatzSTLSPC015 (reduced spec return bid)
Cristopher SanchezPHISPD015 (up if he sticks in rotation)
Mike SorokaATLSPA/B2711 (upped spec return bid)
Jason AlexanderMILRPENoNo4
Andrew BellattiPHIRPD147
Adam OttavinoNYMRPC3914
David PriceLARPC/D147
Manuel RodriguezCHIRPD2711 (saves spec)
Blake TreinenLARPC145 (early spec return bid)
Luis CampusanoSDCD016
Chuckie RobinsonCINCENoNo4
Alfonso RivasCHI1BDNoNo5
Jace PetersonMIL2BD147
Eduardo EscobarNYM3BD017
Colin MoranCIN3BD/E147
Yolmer SanchezNYM2BENoNo4
Stuart FairchildCINOFENoNo5
Luis GonzalezSFOFDNo06
Avisail GarciaMIAOFD159
Garrett MitchellMILOFC147 (up slightly if he sees consistent PT)
Lars NootbaarSTLOFC714Rostered

STARTING PITCHER

Javier Assad, Cubs: Assad was promoted to make his major-league debut this past week. Over 36.2 innings at Triple-A Iowa since getting bumped up from Double-A Tennessee earlier this summer, he produced a 2.95 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 37:7 K:BB. Assad tossed four scoreless innings Tuesday against St. Louis and allowed four hits and four walks while striking out three. This start was expected to be a one and done and he may still get sent back down, but the Cubs appear set to give the rookie a longer look with Keegan Thompson (back), Kyle Hendricks (shoulder), Alec Mills (back) and Wade Miley (shoulder) all out. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

Cade Cavalli, Nationals: Cavalli was promoted from Triple-A Rochester to make his major-league debut Friday. That outing did not go as hoped as he gave up seven runs in 4 .1 innings, though he did strike out six. The 2020 first-rounder managed a 3.71 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 20 starts at Rochester this season and has perhaps been the International League's most dominant starter since the start of July. Over his final seven outings at Triple-A spanning 36.2 innings, Cavalli generated a 1.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 43:12 K:BB. He has a mid-90s four-seam fastball that touched triple digits last year and a bevy of quality secondary offerings. Cavalli's slider is currently his best off-speed pitch, but his curveball and changeup show promise to provide a complete repertoire. The Nationals are weak, but he has the potential to help in the ratio and counting categories besides wins. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Bailey Falter, Phillies: Falter is rejoining the Philly rotation and filling the spot created when Zack Wheeler (forearm) was placed on the 15-day injured list Thursday. He was promoted to start one game of a doubleheader last weekend against the Mets, allowing one earned run on two hits and two walks while striking out three across six innings to earn the win. That was Falter's first start in the majors since Jul. 29 and he should make at least one or two more outings while Wheeler is sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Adrian Houser, Brewers: Houser's return after two months on the IL didn't go as hoped Wednesday. He needed 81 pitches to retire just seven batters and gave upfive runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four over 2.1 innings. Despite those struggles, look for Houser to likely remain in the rotation for now with Aaron Ashby (shoulder) recently hitting the injured list. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

Steven Matz, Cardinals: Matz (torn left knee MCL) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Wednesday with no problems. He's likely to require a multi-start rehab assignment in the minors before being reinstated from the IL and shouldn't be expected back for at least a couple more weeks. Matz, originally out since May 22 with left shoulder inflammation, returned to start Jul. 23. That appearance was cut short as he tore his left MCL. The southpaw made four starts in May prior to landing on the injured list, logging a 5.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 19.2 innings over that span. Matz is expected to return as a reliever, cutting his fantasy value. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (reduced spec return bid) 

Cristopher Sanchez, Phillies: Sanchez, called up to make his first major-league start since Jul. 10, earned the victory by allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven across six innings against the Reds. The 25-year-old has surrendered three runs or fewer in all three of his starts for the Phillies and pitched five innings or more in two of them. Sanchez enjoys a 2.60 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 17.1 innings over his last six outings. This might just be a spot start for him with Bailey Falter replacing Zack Wheeler in the team's rotation. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (up if he sticks in rotation)

Mike Soroka, Braves: Soroka made his third rehab start Saturday, allowing four earned runs in 4.2 innings and 75 pitches. The good news is that he went from 58 to 75 pitches, but only 47 of those were for strikes. Soroka, who last pitched in the majors in Aug. 2020, likely will make one to two more rehab outings before he joins the Braves rotation. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team-NL: $11 (same early spec return bid) 

RELIEF PITCHER

 Jason Alexander, Brewers: Alexander was called back up Monday after being sent down Wednesday after Aaron Ashby (shoulder) was placed on the 15-day injured list. Milwaukee will likely use Alexander in a long-relief, spot starter role. In 12 appearances (seven starts) in the majors this year prior to his recent promotion, he's posted a 5.18 ERA and 1.66 WHIP across 48.2 innings. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Andrew Bellatti, Phillies: Bellatti notched his second save of the season Monday. David Robertson is still the main closer in Philly, but Bellatti is one of several Phillies expected to see some ninth-inning work with Seranthony Dominguez (triceps) out. On the season, Bellatti has produced a 3.73 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 60:16 K:BB and six holds in 41 innings of work. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

Adam Ottavino, Mets: Ottavino is the clear choice of manager Buck Showalter to close when Edwin Diaz is unavailable. He recorded his first two saves of the season Thursday and Saturday while giving Diaz a day off. After a bit of a rough spot in early-May, Ottavino has been brilliant since then giving up just five runs in 42 innings while posting a 44:9 K:BB ratio. He may pick up a handful of saves down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 

David Price, Dodgers: Price blew the save Friday, but earned the win. Closer Craig Kimbrel was deployed in the eighth inning and Price was chosen to handle the bottom of the ninth after the Dodgers took a one-run lead in the top of the frame. Despite not holding the lead, the veteran southpaw has been effective since the All-Star break with a 1.15 ERA and 0.64 WHIP over 15.2 innings while picking up two Ws, a save and a hold. Don't expect many save chances for Price, but he should see high-leverage opportunities as one of the main lefties out of the LA pen. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Manuel Rodriguez, Cubs: Rodriguez (strained elbow) was activated off the 60-day injured list Friday after allowing one run while striking out 12 batters across six rehab innings. His first appearance in the majors this season resulted in a converted save opportunity on the day he was activated. Brandon Hughes, who has been closing along with Rowan Wick, blew the save chance Friday while Wick was not used. Rodriguez should see high-leverage opportunities. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (saves spec bid)

Blake Treinen, Dodgers: Los Angeles got back Brusdar Graterol last Monday and is on the verge of getting Treinen back as well. Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts suggested last Sunday Treinen (shoulder) is on track to return from the 60-day injured list Sep. 2. That date is not set in stone as he's struggled his last two appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma City after making three scoreless appearances. Treinen, on the IL since Apr. 14 with right shoulder discomfort, will slot back as one of Craig Kimbrel's setup men when activated. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec return bid)

CATCHER

Luis Campusano, Padres: Campusano was called up from Triple-A El Paso on Friday. He's been in the minors since the start of May, but rejoined the Padres' active roster to provide depth behind primary catcher Austin Nola after Jorge Alfaro (knee) was placed on the 10-day injured list. Campusano hit .083 with a run, an RBI and two strikeouts in four big-league games earlier in the year, but maintained a .293/.363/.483 with 14 home runs, 60 RBI and 62 runs scored in the minors. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 

Chuckie Robinson, Reds: Robinson was promoted from Triple-A Louisville to replace Michael Papierski on the big-league roster. He had slashed .253/.301/.402 in 27 games at Triple-A this season and will split time behind the plate with Austin Romine. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

FIRST BASE 

Alfonso Rivas, Cubs: Rivas was promoted Saturday to take the roster spot of the injured Patrick Wisdom (finger). This is Rivas' fifth stint with the parent club and has hit .232 (41-for-177) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs and 24 RBI. He'll compete with P.J. Higgins for playing time at first in Wisdom's absence. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

SECOND BASE

Jace Peterson, Brewers: Peterson, out since Jul. 20 with a sprained left elbow, was activated Friday after completing a short rehab assignment at High-A Wisconsin. He played the planned three games there before rejoining the parent club. Now reinstated from the IL, Peterson will settle back in as the Brewers' top utility man and log most of his time at the hot corner. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

THIRD BASE

Eduardo Escobar, Mets: Escobar, who missed less than two weeks with a strained oblique, was activated off the injured list Saturday and will start at third with a lefty on the mound. He'll have to settle for a short-side platoon, starting against southpaws, or utility role – backing up at second base or shortstop - with Brett Baty remaining with the club. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Colin Moran, Reds: Moran was promoted Saturday with Mike Moustakas (calf) landing on the 10-day IL. He spent the last two and a half months in the minors after batting .210 with four home runs, 22 RBI and eight runs over 37 major-league games earlier in the year. Moran should have a chance to carve out playing time at first and primarily versus right-handed pitchers in Moustakas' and Joey Votto's absence. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

SHORTSTOP

Eguy Rosario, Padres: Rosario, profiled in late July, has shot up the prospect rankings this season. That spike was aided by him raking at the plate at Triple-A El Paso earlier this season. Rosario has slowed somewhat, but still has slashed .291/.372/.518 with 21 homers, 92 runs, 76 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He'll operate as a utility infielder and will receive time at second, short and third. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (steals spec) 

OUTFIELD

Stuart Fairchild, Reds: Fairchild was promoted Tuesday from Triple-A Louisville to provide depth in the Cincy outfield. He slashed .208/.316/.250 in 14 games at Triple-A since being demoted at the beginning of August. Fairchild is replacing Albert Almora (shoulder contusion) on the Reds roster. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

Avisail Garcia, Marlins:  Garcia, sidelined since Aug. 2 with a strained hamstring, reported to Triple-A Jacksonville to begin a rehab assignment Saturday. Signed to a four-year, $53 million contract by the Marlins last November, he's had a brutal first season in Miami slashing .232/.269/.322 with seven home runs and 30 runs driven in. Garcia should be back sometime this week and get consistent playing time in right field. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Luis Gonzalez, Giants: Gonzalez, sent down to the minors on Aug. 17, was called up to the majors Saturday. A 1-for-30 slump preceded his trip to the minors, but he's back with the Giants after a short stint in the minors. Gonzalez has recorded a .256/.326/.374 slash line with four home runs, 32 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 78 games this year. He should see some starts at both corner outfield spots. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6

Garrett Mitchell, Brewers: Mitchell, selected 20th overall in 2020, got his first call to The Show on Saturday. He had a rough go of it with Double-A Biloxi in 2021 and got off to a slow start at the same level this year. However, Mitchell was on fire after recovering from a midseason oblique injury by posting a .973 OPS over 63 plate appearances to earn a promotion to Triple-A El Paso. In 20 games at that level, he hit .342/.435/.466 with a homer and nine steals to earn the call to the bigs. Mitchell doesn't boast much power and lists a high K rate while offering some speed, though it's unclear how much playing time he'll receive. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (up slightly if he sees consistent playing time) 

Lars Nootbaar, Cardinals: Nootbaar continues to make the most of his opportunities having become the Cardinals' starting right fielder and leadoff hitter. He's gone 20-for-70 with three home runs, nine runs driven in and 16 runs scored the past three weeks. Even more impressive is the 16 walks and less strikeouts during that stretch. With St. Louis leading the Central and trying to hold off Milwaukee, look for Nootbaar to keep his current roles. 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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