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 $
Ian AndersonATLSPENoNo4
Bryce ElderATLSPD016
Dylan DoddATLSPD147 (same as prior)
Jared ShusterATLSPC/D2711 (same as prior)
Gordon GraceffoSTLSPB016 (early spec bid)
Michael GroveLASPC147
Tylor MegillNYMSPD016
David PetersonNYMSPC/D3914 (upped bid from prior)
Ryne NelsonAZSPD147 (same as prior)
Johan OviedoPITSPD

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 $
Ian AndersonATLSPENoNo4
Bryce ElderATLSPD016
Dylan DoddATLSPD147 (same as prior)
Jared ShusterATLSPC/D2711 (same as prior)
Gordon GraceffoSTLSPB016 (early spec bid)
Michael GroveLASPC147
Tylor MegillNYMSPD016
David PetersonNYMSPC/D3914 (upped bid from prior)
Ryne NelsonAZSPD147 (same as prior)
Johan OviedoPITSPD147
Andrew ChafinAZRPD159
Brad HandCOLRPE015
Pierce JohnsonCOLRPD2711
Dinelson LametCOLRPD016
Justin LawrenceCOLRPENoNo4
A.J. PukMIARPC3914 (upper bid from prior)
Jason DelayPITCENoNo3
Roberto PerezSFCENoNo3
Luis TorrensCHICENoNo3
Blake SabolSFCD159
Gary SanchezSFCE015 (early spec bid)
Edwin RiosCHIDHD147
Yuli GurrielMIA1BDNoNo5
Connor JoePIT1BDNoNo5
Luke VoitMIL1BC/D2711
Miles MastrobuoniCHI2BD017
Rougned OdorSD2BENoNo4
Mike BrosseauMIL3BDNoNo6
Brice TurangMILSSC2711
Jose AzocarSDOFENoNo4
David DahlSDOFD/E017
Matt BeatySFOFENoNo4
Will BensonCINOFE3914 (upped bid from prior)
Bryan De La CruzMIAOFD2711 (slightly upped bid from prior)
Stuart FairchildCINOFENoNo5
Sam HilliardATLOFENoNo4
Bryce JohnsonSFOFD016
Kyle LewisAZOFE159 (upped bid from prior)
Tim LocastroNYMOFENoNo5
James OutmanLAOFB51116 (upped bid from prior)
Cristian PachePHIOFD/ENo06
Canaan Smith-NjigbaPITOFE029 (upped bid from prior)
Joey WiemerMILOFC147

STARTING PITCHER

Ian Anderson/Bryce Elder, Braves: Max Fried, who strained his hamstring Opening Day, will be placed on the injured list and miss two starts. That means either Anderson or Elder will get the nod. The 24-year-old Anderson posted a rough 5.00 ERA over 22 major-league starts in 2022 and struggled to find the strike zone in Grapefruit League play before being sent down. Elder turned in a 3.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 47;23 K:BB across 54 innings over his 10 appearances (nine starts) with the big club last year and likely has the edge. Anderson - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4; Elder - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Dylan Dodd/Jared Shuster, Braves: Dodd and Shuster, both profiled last week, each get another mention as both are beginning the season in the Atlanta rotation. Kyle Wright was given a cortisone injection back in January to combat soreness in his right shoulder and simply ran out of time in getting ramped up for the season. He was placed on the 15-day injured list last Monday, opening the door for both pitchers. When Wright returns, one of the two will be optioned down to Triple-A. But for now, Dodd and Shuster are getting a chance to start. Dodd - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7; Shuster - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (same bid as prior)

Gordon Graceffo, Cardinals: Graceffo, taken 151st out of Villanova in the 2021 Draft, shot up the prospect rankings last season posting a 2.97 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 139:28 K:BB over 139.1 innings (26 starts) between High-A Peoria and Double-A Springfield. He mixes a 100MPH fastball along with a sharp slider and a promising changeup and is currently at Triple-A Louisville. Graceffo could push his way onto the parent club this season.12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (early spec bid)

Michael Grove, Dodgers: Grove was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City last week with Ryan Pepiot initially claiming the final spot in the Dodgers' season-opening starting rotation, but Pepiot is now on the 15-day IL because of a left oblique strain. Grove will now slot in as the fifth starter. A three-pitch arsenal (mid-90s fastball, high-80s slider, high-70s curveball) enabled him to produce 90 K in 76 minor-league innings last year, though he was unable to duplicate that success in the majors. Grove should hold the spot until Tony Gonsolin (ankle) is ready to return, which should approximately cover three starts. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

Tylor Megill/David Peterson, Mets: Megill and Peterson were profiled last week as they were battling for the Mets' fifth rotation spot. Megill had a strong beginning to camp, but faltered his last two outings the open the door for Peterson, who allowed no runs on one hit with 13 strikeouts albeit with eight walks across 12 innings. Justin Verlander was placed on the 15-day injured list Thursday with a low-grade teres major strain, allowing Megill to join the Mets as their fifth starter while Peterson slotted into the second spot. Both went five innings in their season debut with Megill notching the win Saturday. Megill - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6; Peterson - 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (slightly upped bids from prior)

Ryne Nelson, Diamondbacks: Nelson was mentioned last week and is repeated here as he beat out Drey Jameson for the final rotation spot in the Desert. Both Nelson and Jameson struggled early this spring, but the former showed steady enough improvement in each outing to earn the role. Jameson forced a promotion from Double-A last season, but the PCL got the better of him over 22 starts. He was then brilliant in four September starts following his call-up to the majors. Nelson also experienced difficulties in the PCL, but pitched well in three MLB starts before being sidelined by shoulder inflammation. Nelson has the role for now, but Jameson and Brandon Pfaadt loom in the minors. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same bid as prior) 

Johan Oviedo, Pirates: Oviedo is opening in the Pittsburgh starting rotation, filling in for JT Brubaker (forearm). He enjoyed a decent spring by posting a 4.58 ERA and 1.42 WHIP with a 24:7 K:BB from 19.2 innings. Oviedo notched a 3.23 ERA in seven starts down the stretch last season after being acquired from the Cardinals in the Jose Quintana deal. He added a sinker this spring to his four-seam fastball, helping him win the battle for the fifth spot. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

RELIEF PITCHER

Andrew Chafin, Diamondbacks: Chafin, who posted an impressive 2.83 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 67:19 K:BB over 57.1 innings in 2022 with the Tigers, opted out of his deal to sign a one-year, $6.25 million contract with D-Backs in February. Expected to be used in high-leverage situations, Chafin replaced an ineffective Scott McGough to notch the save Friday. The closer situation in Arizona is far from clear, but at least initially Chafin looks to be in the mix. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Brad Hand/Pierce Johnson/Dinelson Lamet/Justin Lawrence, Rockies: Daniel Bard is starting the year on the 15-day IL, creating a hole at the back end of the Colorado bullpen. Hand offers the most closing experience, though he's a lefty and struggled with command. Lamet has the best upside, though he's suffered from injuries and inconsistency. Johnson enjoyed the most recent success with San Diego in 2021, but was limited to 14.1 innings due to an injury. Lawrence carries strong minor-league numbers, but has struggled while in the majors. He had a solid spring with a 13:3 K:BB over 7.1 IP and has a frisbee like slider, so he might also factor in. Johnson notched the save Friday to take the early lead, but we're likely still looking at a closer committee. Hand - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5; Johnson - 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11; Lamet - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6; Lawrence - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

A.J. Puk, Marlins: The Marlins will deploy a closer committee to begin the year with four high-leverage arms in the mix, but Puk received and converted the team's first closing chance Friday. Puk, profiled last week, came over from the A's for JJ Bleday and boasts the upside to close full-time and that could happen later in the season. Matt Barnes, Dylan Floro and Tanner Scott - the other southpaw in the pen - will also have their chances, but Puk received the first one. That opportunity came against the heart of the Mets order, which might mean Puk could be used in similar situations earlier in games, so tread lightly in your bidding. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped bid from prior)

CATCHER

Jason Delay/Roberto Perez/Luis Torrens: Backup/third catchers made the Pirates, Giants and Cubs. Delay won the gig in Pittsburgh by opening 2023 as the team's backup beating out Tyler Heineman and Kevin Plawecki. Perez is SF's third backstop to Joey Bart and Blake Sabol. Torrens, who played in Seattle last season, is behind the platoon of Tucker Barnhart and Yan Gomes in Chicago. All - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3 

Blake Sabol, Giants: Sabol, who San Francisco claimed as a Rule 5 selection over the winter, slashed .349/.474/.651 with three home runs, two stolen bases and an 11:13 BB:K in 19 Cactus League contests. He started in left field Opening Day and may handle a near-everyday role in the corner outfield to begin the season while Mitch Haniger (oblique) is on the shelf. Once the Giants are back at full strength, Sabol may transition back to the third catcher and part-time starter, but that may be a few weeks away. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Gary Sanchez, Giants: Sanchez, who struggled in Minnesota last year after spending the first seven years of his career with the Yankees, signed a minor-league contract with the Giants. He'll first report to the team's spring training complex in Arizona before eventually being assigned to an affiliate. Sanchez slashed .195/.287/.394 the last three seasons, albeit with 49 homers during that span and can opt out of his contract if he's not promoted to the majors by May 1. The Giants currently have Joey Bart and Robert Perez handling catching duties with Blake Sabol third catcher/utility player, so Sanchez may need an injury or show he's regained prior form to earn a call-up. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec bid)

DESIGNATED HITTER

Edwin Rios, Cubs: Rios logged four games at first, four at third and 20 at DH last season, making him a DH in most leagues. Signed as a free agent by Chicago in February, he altered his approach at the plate this spring while lowering his leg kick. Rios will be part of a timeshare at third base alongside Patrick Wisdom and Nick Madrigal with Madrigal likely to face "starters with great swing-and-miss stuff", Wisdom for the "soft-tossing lefties", and Rios the righties. This was not the case on Opening Day as Rios was on the bench against righty Corbin Burnes, so temper your expectations. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

FIRST BASE

Yuli Gurriel, Marlins: Gurriel inked a minor-league deal with the Marlins in March and earned a bench role. Garrett Cooper represents the primary first baseman, meaning Gurriel will be limited to pinch-hit and spot duty against both lefties and righties. He's 38 and only slashed .242/.288/.360 across 584 regular-season plate appearances in 2022, so don't expect much. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

Connor Joe, Pirates: Joe, who played the past two seasons in Colorado, was traded to Pittsburgh in December. He earned a roster spot and will be deployed as a reserve corner outfielder/first baseman, mostly against lefties. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

Luke Voit, Brewers: Voit opted out of his minor-league deal with Milwaukee last weekend, but re-signed Monday on a one-year deal that includes a club option for 2024. After solid campaigns in 2019 and 2020, Voit took a step back the next two seasons and was unable to land a major-league contract this offseason. The 32-year-old should play regularly against left-handers, mainly at first base, and will get a little action at DH versus righties when Jesse Winker is in the outfield. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

SECOND BASE

Miles Mastrobuoni, Cubs: Mastrobuoni spent most of last season with Triple-A Durham and slashed .300/.377/.469 with 23 steals in 26 attempts. His exploits earned him a late September promotion in Tampa, but he struggled after getting called up. Mastrobuoni was dealt to Chicago in November and received a roster spot thanks to an .833 OPS, two stolen bases and a 6:4 BB:K this spring. His versatility and lefty bat will result in him seeing time all over the field. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

Rougned Odor, Padres: Odor, who hit 30 or more home runs three times between 2016 and 2019, has seen his playing time and status drop since. He slashed .316/.422/.474 with two home runs and two stolen bases across 45 plate appearances for San Diego in the Cactus League to earn a roster spot. Despite the strong performance, Odor will likely be limited to spot duty. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

THIRD BASE

Mike Brosseau, Brewers: Brosseau recorded a strong spring to beat out several players to earn a roster spot in Milwaukee. He slugged six homers and posted a 1.512 OPS over 14 exhibition appearances to earn that role. Brosseau will open the season in a utility role, but figures to play plenty against southpaws as that was how he was mainly deployed last season. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 

SHORTSTOP

Brice Turang, Brewers: Turang, a first-round pick from 2018, took a major step back in 2021, but regained his prospect status last season by hitting more homers than he totaled over his first three seasons in the minors while also swiping 34 bags in 36 attempts. He continued that ascent to make the Brewers this spring after slashing .282/.349/.385 with one homer and three stolen bases. Turang is slated to be the regular second baseman at least against right-handed pitching, with Owen Miller starting versus southpaws.. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team-NL: $11

OUTFIELD 

Jose Azocar/David Dahl, Padres: Azocar had a solid spring and beat out others to earn a roster spot, with defense and speed the keys to him remaining with the parent club. Dahl, a former top prospect with the Rockies, battled injuries and spent all of 2022 in the minors with Milwaukee and Washington. He signed a minor-league contract with San Diego in December and slashed.288/.311/.458 while driving in 10 RBI through 61 plate appearances. Azocar and Dahl will likely split time until Fernando Tatis returns from his suspension with Dahl primarily facing righties. Azocar-12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4; Dahl-12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $7

Matt Beaty, Giants: Beaty was a last-minute add to the SF roster, coming over from Kansas City on Thursday. His acquisition resulted in Bryce Johnson heading to the minors. Beaty provides the Giants with additional corner outfield depth while Austin Slater (hamstring), Mitch Haniger (oblique) and Luis Gonzalez (back) begin the season on the IL. Since he's a lefty, Beaty doesn't profile as a potential platoon option for an already lefty-heavy outfield that includes Joc Pederson, Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski and Blake Sabol. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4

Will Benson, Reds: Benson, profiled last week, deserves another mention as he made the Reds' Opening Day roster. Traded from the Guardians in February, he was the 14th overall pick in 2016. He offers decent power and some speed, but scuffled in his first exposure to the majors last season. Benson went .327 with a homer, five runs, three RBI and six stolen bases over 17 spring appearances to earn the roster spot. He's in the mix to operate as the Reds' primary center fielder to begin the year and offers decent power and speed upside. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped bid from prior) 

Bryan De La Cruz, Marlins: De La Cruz was brought up last week and is here again after making the club out of spring training. He finished with a huge September last year and posted impressive batted-ball data all year, making him an intriguing late-round fantasy option. De La Cruz will receive the bulk of the reps in the third outfield spot in left alongside Jazz Chisholm and Avisail Garcia to begin. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team-NL: $14 (upped bid from prior)

Stuart Fairchild, Reds: Fairchild, originally drafted by the Reds in the second round of 2017, has made his way back to where he started his professional career. He slashed .302/.393/.472 in his final 61 plate appearances of 2022 with Cincy, but was on the outside looking in earlier last week. Fairchild ended up being added to the Opening Day roster Thursday and is currently positioned as a backup outfielder, though he could force his way into meaningful playing time with a strong start. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $5 

Sam Hilliard, Braves: Hilliard won a bench spot in Atlanta after hitting .417 (20-for-48) in Grapefruit League play and being out of minor-league options. He should only get occasional starts in the outfield while Atlanta's starters are healthy, but could stick around as a frequent late-game defensive replacement. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4 

Bryce Johnson, Giants: Johnson had an excellent shot to break camp with the parent club as the Giants were a little banged up in the outfield. He earned the place with his play this spring by posting an .914 OPS while going 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts, though he was sent down before Opening Day. That minor league stint didn't last long as Johnson was called up Saturday. His speed represents a nice end-game option, especially in single leagues. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $6

Kyle Lewis, Diamondbacks: Lewis, profiled last week, gets another mention as he did break camp with the Snakes. The COVID-season shortened 2020 AL ROY has been unable to stay on the field ever since. The talent and upside are there if Lewis can find a way to stay healthy considering he slashed .429/.529/.857 with three home runs and three doubles across 34 plate appearances to participate as an extra outfielder and could pick up consistent playing time if - repeat after me again - he can stay healthy. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team-NL: $9 (upped bid from prior)

Tim Locastro, Mets: Locastro gets another mention here as he's taken the fourth/fifth outfielder role. Darin Ruf, who struggled after coming to the Mets last season and in camp while battling arthritis in his right wrist, was designated for assignment Monday. That move created a roster spot for Locastro, giving the team a solid back up option in center field and speed off the bench. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $5

James Outman, Dodgers: Outman was also discussed last week and earned his roster spot with a big spring. He boasts big time power and a smattering of speed and looks, at least initially, to be the primary center fielder with Chris Taylor playing against southpaws. Outman has strikeout concerns and will sit against tough lefties, but his power - as displayed with a homer on Opening Day - and speed potential make him worth rostering and starting in deeper formats. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: $16 (upped bid from prior)

Cristian Pache, Phillies: Pache, out of minor-league options, was traded from A's to the Phillies. Known for his glove, he's impressed with his defensive prowess but has only hit .156 with a .439 OPS over 155 career MLB games. Pache will receive opportunities at all three outfield spots and could carve out additional playing time in right field over Jake Cave, at least until Bryce Harper returns as the DH and move Nick Castellanos to right. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 

Canaan Smith-Njigba, Pirates: Smith-Njigba, profiled last week, gets another mention as he made the team thanks to an impressive spring where he posted a .333 batting average and .991 OPS across 48 Grapefruit League at-bats and was in the Opening Day lineup. Smith-Njigba has the potential for above-average power and should log most of his time against right-handed pitching. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $9 (upped bid from prior)

Joey Wiemer, Brewers: Wiemer is back this week as he was promoted Saturday. Luis Urias went on the injured list to create the opportunity for Wiemer, who could see substantial starts in right field if Brian Anderson is used more at the hot corner. He's a plus-runner with major power, but had a poor 2022 campaign until his monster September - though he did well in the spring to receive the opportunity. Wiemer could split time with Garrett Mitchell, but the outfield at-bats aren't yet set in stone. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 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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