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 $
Graham AshcraftCINSPD147 (early injury return bid)
MacKenzie GoreWASSPB/C147 (same injury stash and keeper bid)
Hunter GreeneCINSPB15RosteredRostered (same bid as prior)
Drey JamesonAZSPD159
Mitch KellerPITSPC/D1122Rostered
Steven MatzSTLSPC015 (same spec return bid)
Luis OrtizPITSPD147 (stash bid)
Drew SmylyCHISPC/D1122Rostered
Hayden WesneskiCHISPc3914 (upped

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 $
Graham AshcraftCINSPD147 (early injury return bid)
MacKenzie GoreWASSPB/C147 (same injury stash and keeper bid)
Hunter GreeneCINSPB15RosteredRostered (same bid as prior)
Drey JamesonAZSPD159
Mitch KellerPITSPC/D1122Rostered
Steven MatzSTLSPC015 (same spec return bid)
Luis OrtizPITSPD147 (stash bid)
Drew SmylyCHISPC/D1122Rostered
Hayden WesneskiCHISPc3914 (upped bid from prior)
Dylan FloroMIARPC1122Rostered (upped bid)
Tylor MegillNYMRPD016 (same bid as prior)
Reyes MorontaAZRPD159
Tomas NidoNYMCD159
Albert PujolsSTL1BD511Rostered
Jared YoungCHI1BENoNo4
Rodolfo CastroPIT2BC/D511Rostered
Thairo EstradaSF2BC/D815Rostered
Jordan GroshansMIA3BC2711 (up in keeper leagues)
Luis GuillormeNYMSSDNo05
Ezequiel TovarCOLSSC147 (up in keeper leagues)
Aristides AquinoCINOFD816Rostered
Yonathan DazaCOLOFD2711
Jordan LuplowAZOFENo04
Kevin PillarLAOFD/ENo06
Heliot RamosSFOFD017

STARTING PITCHER

Graham Ashcraft, Reds: Ashcraft was sidelined with biceps soreness after his Aug, 14 start and made his first rehab start Wednesday. He allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and a walk over three innings for Double-A Chattanooga and is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Louisville. Ashcraft had gotten off to a nice start to the second half with a 2.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 24:8 K:BB in 33.2 innings in his last five starts before landing on the IL. He could rejoin the Reds for the final week of the season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early injury return bid) 

MacKenzie Gore, Nationals: Gore, out since leaving his Jul. 25 start with a sore left elbow, tossed 1.2 scoreless innings for Triple-A Rochester last Sunday in his first rehab start. He followed that up with a bullpen session Wednesday and was slated to start Friday for Rochester with a goal of three innings and 45-50 pitches. Manager Dave Martinez said the club would like to get Gore's pitch count to approximately 75 before he comes off the IL. Gore held down a rotation spot for the Padres for the better part of the first half and struck out more than a batter per inning, but a few blowups in June and July inflated his ERA and WHIP to 4.50 and 1.47 before hitting the IL. He landed in Washington as part of the Juan Soto deal and is viewed as a key rotation piece for the future. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team-NL: $7 (injury stash and keeper bid) 

Hunter Greene, Reds: Greene, sidelined since Aug. 1 with a strained right shoulder, made his third rehab start at Triple-A Louisville on Sunday. He was lifted after only three innings, but built up to 66 pitches and struck out five while allowing one earned run on four hits and one walk. Greene was activated and started Saturday against St. Louis where he pitched six scoreless frames and gave up only four hits and zero walks while fanning 11 batters. Prior to being sidelined, he had been dialed in logging a 2.70 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 23.1 innings across his last four starts. 12-team Mixed: $15, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered (same bid as prior) 

Drey Jameson, Diamondbacks: Jameson, a first-round pick in 2019, was promoted from Triple-A Reno to start and make his major-league debut Thursday. He tossed seven shutout innings while allowing just two hits, walking one while striking out five. Jameson generated 10 groundballs and threw 90 pitches - 62 for strikes - to notch the win. He posted a 2.41 ERA and 0.93 WHIP across four Double-A Amarillo outings to earn a promotion to Reno at the end of April. Jameson had a 6.95 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 109:42 K:BB in 114 innings there, though a large portion of those struggles can be attributed to pitching in the hitter-friendly PCL. He should have a chance to remain in the team's rotation the last two-plus weeks of the season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Mitch Keller, Pirates: Keller toed the rubber Friday against the Mets looking to build on his recent and long-term success. In his first two September starts, he tossed 13 scoreless innings but also walked five. Over his last 11 outings prior to Friday, Keller had produced a 2.55 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 49:19 K:BB in 60 innings to live up to some of his hype while cementing a rotation spot for next season. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Steven Matz, Cardinals: Matz (torn left knee MCL) made his third and final rehab appearance Thursday tossing a scoreless inning while throwing eight strikes in nine pitches. He returned in a St. Louis uniform Saturday and earned the win in relief with a perfect 11th inning performance. Matz will continue to operate as either a multi-inning reliever or high-leverage option against lefties. Originally out since May 22 with left shoulder inflammation, he returned to start on Jul. 23. That was cut short as Matz tore his left MCL. The southpaw made four starts in May prior to landing on the injured list with a 5.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 19.2 innings over that span. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Luis Ortiz, Pirates: Ortiz, signed as an international free agent in Oct. 2018, was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis to start on Tuesday. This was his second promotion this year after being moved up to Indianapolis at the beginning of September. Over 26 appearances (25 starts) between Double and Triple-A, Ortiz posted a 4.34 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 138:34 K:BB in 124.1 innings. The right-hander tossed 5.2 shutout innings, allowing one hit while striking out five while relying on his slider and 99MPH fastball. Ortiz was sent back down Wednesday, but could get another look if the Bucs need an additional starter down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (stash bid) 

Drew Smyly, Cubs: Smyly continued his recent hot roll Wednesday against the Mets by allowing two runs on four hits and a walk from five innings. Excluding a terrible outing in St. Louis when he gave up seven runs in only 2.1 innings, the lefty has been phenomenal since the start of August with just four earned runs in 35 innings across seven starts. Keep in mind though when determining Smyly's deployment that the 33-year-old has been far better at home with a 2.38 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 41.2 innings compared to a 4.23 and 1.28 in 61.2 innings away from Wrigley. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Hayden Wesneski, Cubs: Wesneski, profiled last week, gets another mention as he should remain in the Cubs rotation the rest of the way. He followed up five shutout innings in his first outing by allowing only one run on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts across seven innings Saturday. Wesneski, one of the primary players acquired from the Yankees in the Scott Effross deal, generated a 3.92 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while striking out 106 across 110.1 innings between Triple-A Iowa and the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His numbers at Iowa were not that impressive, but he did allow just one earned run in 15 innings from his last three starts prior to his call up and has built off that streak in the bigs. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped bid from prior)

RELIEF PITCHER 

Dylan Floro, Marlins: Floro, profiled last week, gets another mention as he is the clear closer in Miami. The right-hander notched his fifth save Thursday and been effective in the second half with a 2.35 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 26:6 K:BB through 23 innings since the All-Star break with a win, three saves and two holds. With Tanner Scott dealing with continued control issues and relegated to setup duty, Floro – who was slated to begin the season as the team's closer before being sidelined by injury – should continue to see almost all the save chances for the Marlins. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: Rostered (upped bid)

Tylor Megill. Mets: Megill, who landed on the IL in mid-June due to a strained right shoulder, completed the final stage of his rehab Friday. He gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in two-thirds of a inning Tuesday - the day before he was to be activated - resulting in the Mets to deciding to have him finish one inning and complete another before being promoted. Megill completed that assignment Friday and will rejoin the team Monday. His long-term appeal remains intact as he's expected to build back up as a starter over the winter. Rostering Megill 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 (same bid as prior)

Reyes Moronta, Diamondbacks: Moronta continued his strong late-season push with a scoreless inning against the heart of the Padres order Thursday. He's pitching late innings in close games while recording three holds, a blown save and a win and allowing one earned run and striking out five in 5.2 innings over seven September outings. With Arizona's closer situation unsettled, the 29-year-old right-hander could be a sneaky add in deep leagues in case he gets a chance to close. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

CATCHER

Tomas Nido, Mets: The Mets production from the catcher spot the first five months of the season was brutal. Since September began, Nido and James McCann have provided the team above-average output. Nido is splitting with McCann, but has blasted his first two long balls of the season while driving in seven and scoring six runs. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.  12-team Mixed: $1 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

FIRST BASE

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: Pujols is closing out what is expected to be his final season in style. His second homer in as many days last Sunday was the 697th of his career to pass Alex Rodriguez and take over sole possession of fourth all-time, leaving the 42-year-old well within striking distance of 700. On Jul. 9, Pujols was hitting just .198 with four homers and it seemed impossible he would pass A-Rod, let alone reach 700. Since then, he's posted a .315/.379/.685 slash line with 15 homers in 143 plate appearances but isn't playing daily. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered

Jared Young, Cubs: Young was promoted Wednesday to replace Rafael Ortega (finger), who went on the 60-day injured list. He posted a .225/.308/.408 slash line with 16 home runs, 57 RBI and 60 runs in 450 plate appearances a Triple-A Iowa. Young likely won't see much playing time in Chicago due to the other options available at first. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

SECOND BASE

Rodolfo Castro, Pirates: Castro's home run Wednesday gave the rookie a combined 21 long balls between Triple-A Indianapolis and the majors this season. Add in 60 runs driven in and 53 scored and it's been a solid campaign for him. Even more impressive that since being recalled to Pittsburgh Aug. 9, Castro boasts a solid .254/.309/.508 line in 135 at-bats to put his initial struggles in the past. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered

Thairo Estrada, Giants: Estrada recorded consecutive multi-hit efforts Sunday and Monday to snap a 0-for-10 skid. He's 13-for-47 with two steals, two home runs, four RBI and six runs scored through the first 13 games in September (through Thursday's contests). The hot stretch has boosted his season slash line to .262/.319/.407 with 13 home runs, 55 runs driven in, 62 runs scored and 18 stolen bases through 125 contests. Estrada has become a starter in SF and seeing most of his time at either the keystone or hot corner, but has also played 13 games in the outfield. 12-team Mixed: $8, 15-team Mixed: $15; 12-team NL: Rostered

THIRD BASE                                                                                      

Jordan Groshans, Marlins: Groshans, promoted from Triple-A Jacksonville on Tuesday, batted eighth and played third in his first big-league game while flying out twice and grounding out once. Miami acquired the former top prospect in a deal that sent Zach Pop and Anthony Bass to Toronto before the trade deadline. Since joining Triple-A Jacksonville in August, Groshans posted a .301/.399/.416 slash line with two homers and a 19:19 BB:K in 31 games. Look for him to start at second, third and short while providing a solid batting average down the stretch for the Marlins. The big question is whether his power will develop in the future, though he did homer off Noah Syndergaard on Thursday. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (up in keeper leagues 

SHORTSTOP

Diego Castillo/Yairo Munoz: Backup infielders were promoted in Pittsburgh and Philly to provide additional depth. Castillo's numbers – both in the majors and minors – don't inspire much confidence so add him only in single, deep leagues. The same can mostly be said for Munoz, who was called up with Edmundo Sosa (hamstring) going on the injured list. Both - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Luis Guillorme, Mets: Guillorme, out since straining his groin Aug. 14, was activated Tuesday. Now back with the parent club, he's resumed his resume as a utility infielder and operating most of the time at second and third base. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (same bid as prior) 

Ezequiel Tovar, Rockies: Tovar, on the IL since July due to hip and groin issues, completed his rehab assignment and was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday. He slashed .314/.383/.542 with 13 home runs, 47 RBI, 39 runs and 17 stolen bases in 66 games at Double-A Hartford to begin the season before being sidelined. One of the Rockies' top prospects, Tovar might only make a brief pit stop at Triple-A and could be promoted before the end of the year. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (stash bid, up in keeper leagues) 

OUTFIELD

Aristides Aquino, Reds: Aquino gets profiled for the second straight week as his hot streak rolls on. Beginning with his games Aug. 31 through Friday's contest, he's gone 19-for-52 with seven runs scored, five home runs and 11 runs driven in. Aquino has also struck out 13 times during that stretch, but his production has offset his swing-and-miss issues. Roll with him until he cools off. 12-team Mixed: $8, 15-team Mixed: $16; 12-team NL: Rostered

Yonathan Daza, Rockies: Daza has been raking since returning from the injured list on Sep. 6. He's produced multiple hits in six of his last seven games while batting .444 with a home run, three doubles, six RBI and eight runs scored. Daza won't give many counting stats, but can help you in BA and OBA. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Jordan Luplow, Diamondbacks: Luplow was recalled from Triple-A Reno on Monday replacing Wilmer Difo on the Arizona roster. After being sent down to Triple-A on Aug. 29, Luplow played in 10 games for Reno and mashed a 1.089 OPS with 14 RBI. The 28-year-old will provide depth for Arizona's outfield and likely see the field mostly when facing left-handed pitching. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6

Kevin Pillar, Dodgers: Pillar, sidelined after missing over three months with a left shoulder fracture, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City this week. Originally expected to miss the rest of the year after being injured, he made a quicker than expected recovery. Once activated, Pillar will operate as a backup outfielder and earn time against some left-handed pitching. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6

Heliot Ramos, Giants: Ramos, once a big-time prospect, has seen that status wane a bit. He had a cup of coffee earlier this season, but was sent to the minors in mid-June. Ramos slashed .233/.307/.335 with three homers, 29 runs, 17 RBI and four stolen bases over 54 games following his demotion, but was called up to replace Willie Calhoun on Saturday. He started in right field and batted ninth against the Dodgers and will be a candidate to see action against lefties down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7

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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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