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 $
Cade CavalliWASSPC/D$1$4$7 (same early spec return bid)
Josiah GrayWASSPD$0$2$7 (same early spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPC/D$1$4$7 (early spec return bid)
Tylor MegillNYMSPD/E$1$4$7 (same return bid)
Tobias MyersMILSPENo$1$5
David PetersonNYMSPD$1$4$7 (slightly upped spec return bid)
Robbie RaySFSPC/D$0$1$6 (very early spec return bid)
Blade TidwellNYMSPB/C$1$1$6 (early spec

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 $
Cade CavalliWASSPC/D$1$4$7 (same early spec return bid)
Josiah GrayWASSPD$0$2$7 (same early spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPC/D$1$4$7 (early spec return bid)
Tylor MegillNYMSPD/E$1$4$7 (same return bid)
Tobias MyersMILSPENo$1$5
David PetersonNYMSPD$1$4$7 (slightly upped spec return bid)
Robbie RaySFSPC/D$0$1$6 (very early spec return bid)
Blade TidwellNYMSPB/C$1$1$6 (early spec call up and stash bid)
Jordan WicksCHISPD$1$4$7 (same spec return bid)
Brandon WilliamsonCINSPENo$0$4 (early sec return bid)
Drew SmylyCINRPD$0$1$6 (early spec return bid)
Patrick BaileySFCD$2$7$11
Joey BartSFCD$1$5$9
Joey GalloWAS1BDNoNo$5
Otto LopezMIA2BD$0$2$7
Kevin NewmanAZ2BD$1$5$9
Mark VientosNYM3BC/D$5$11$18 (upper bid from prior)
Geraldo PerdomoAZSSC/D$1$5$9 (slightly upper spec return bid)
Luis VazquezCHISSENoNo$4
Tyler WadeSDSSD/ENoNo$5
Harrison BaderNYMOFD$3$9Rostered
Sean BouchardCOLOFD$0$1$6
Kris BryantCOLOFD$1$4$7 (same return bid)
Hunter GoodmanCOLOFD/E$0$2$7
Ji Hwan BaePITOFD$1$5$9
Nick MartiniCINOFENoNo$5
Andrew McCutchenPITOFD$2$7Rostered
Ryan McKennaSFOFENoNo$4
Garrett MitchellMILOFD$0$2$7 (same early spec return bid)
David PeraltaSDOFD$1$5$9
Joey WiemerMILOFENoNo$5

STARTING PITCHER

Cade Cavalli, Nationals: Cavalli, out since March 2023 Tommy John surgery and profiled the last two weeks, gets another mention as he struck out five and allowed one hit and one walk in 2.2 scoreless innings and 44 pitches Monday in his first rehab start for the Nationals' rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate. He progressed to this stage by throwing live bullpen sessions following non-live outings. Cavalli will likely require the full 30 days on his assignment, after which the Nationals will decide if he's promoted or sent back down. He pairs his fastball with a plus curveball, above-average slider and a decent fourth pitch changeup, but has endured control issues in the past and may struggle with his command upon his return. Cavalli may offer the best stuff and upside on the team's roster, making him certainly worth a speculative add even if he isn't in Washington when the rehab stint ends. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec return bid)

Josiah Gray, Nationals: Gray, sidelined since his Apr. 6 start with a right elbow/forearm flexor strain and discussed last week, was slated to throw a two-inning live batting practice Saturday. If all went well, the Nationals could look to send the 26-year-old right-hander – who built up to this step with several bullpen sessions - on a rehab assignment. Gray will likely require a few starts and is looking at an mid-June  activation if all goes according to plan. He went 0-2 with a 14.04 ERA in two starts before being sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec return bid)

Dustin May, Dodgers: May, who underwent surgery on his right flexor tendon and UCL last July, has started throwing off a mound at the Dodgers' team facility in Arizona. The right-hander will progressively increase his workload on the mound before likely throwing live batting practice and ultimately going on an extended minor-league rehab assignment. LA could get May and Clayton Kershaw back around the All-Star break, which will create a rotation logjam. James Paxton and Gavin Stone have pitched well enough at the back end, so time will tell how May will be reincorporated into the Dodgers' staff. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid) 

Tylor Megill, Mets: Megill, who left his season debut on Mar. 31 after four innings due to right shoulder discomfort, returned to the Mets' active roster and started Monday. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out seven over five innings. Jose Butto was sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Megill, who performed well over his four minor-league rehab starts across stops with High-A Brooklyn, Double-A Binghamton and Syracuse while striking out 23 and only allowing one earned run on nine hits and one walk across 14 frames. New York also is getting David Peterson back while Butto and Blade Tidwell are just a call away, so Megill will need to pitch well to keep his place. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same return bid)

Tobias Myers, Brewers: Myers was called back up to the Brewers taking the roster spot vacated by Joe Ross (back). With Ross sidelined, Myers is also a candidate to assume his place in the rotation, as is Aaron Ashby - who's still in the minors - but he is initially being used in relief as he was Tuesday. Myers holds a 5.29 ERA and 17:9 K:BB from 17 innings covering four starts with Milwaukee this season. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

David Peterson, Mets: Peterson, who underwent left hip surgery during the offseason and is on the 60-day IL, tossed 89 pitches in what could be his final rehab appearance Friday with Triple-A Syracuse. The 28-year-old southpaw only lasted four innings and gave up three runs - two earned - on seven hits and walk while striking out six. Peterson made three rehab starts for Single-A St. Lucie, where he posted a dazzling 16:1 K:BB across 8.2 scoreless innings before moving up the ladder. He allowed five hits and struck out eight in 5.1 shutout frames in his sole rehab start for Double-A Binghamton and one earned on five hits and a walk while fanning five through 5.1 during his first rehab start at Syracuse. Peterson could step into the rotation for Adrian Houser if the Mets stick with a six-man starting staff despite his so-so outing Friday. Peterson struck out 128 in 111 innings last year, yetwalked 50 and produced a 5.03 ERA after a solid 2022. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (slightly upped spec return bid) 

Robbie Ray, Giants: Ray, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, threw to hitters for the first time this season on Saturday. When healthy, he still has some of the better swing-and-miss stuff of any left-handed pitcher in baseball and has seen a dramatic improvement in his ability to throw strikes the past two seasons thanks to some mechanical changes made after joining the Jays in the middle of 2020. Traded to the Giants from the Mariners last offseason, Ray could be a few weeks away from beginning a rehab assignment and starting rotation option around the All-Star break. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (very early spec return bid) 

Blade Tidwell, Mets: Tidwell, taken 52nd overall in 2022, has steadily advanced through the ranks. He logged a 1.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP between rookie and Single-A ball after being drafted to start 2023 at High-A Brooklyn. Tidwell dominated his last 12 starts at that level last year to earn a promotion to Double-A Binghamton, where he registered a 2.41 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 44 strikeouts over 37.1 innings from seven appearances - including five starts - to earn a bump up to Triple-A Syracuse last Sunday. He's incorporated a cutter into his arsenal along with his mid-90s fastball and slider, and the results have been impressive. Tidwell could debut in Queens during the summer as most of the Mets' veteran starters are on one-year or the final season of their contracts. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec call up and stash bid)

Jordan Wicks, Cubs: Wicks, on the shelf since Apr. 28 with a left forearm strain, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Friday. He started throwing off a mound a week ago and has made it through several bullpen sessions without any setbacks. Given that Wicks was sidelined almost a month, he may require two or three starts before being ready to rejoin the Cubs. Prior to being sidelined, he posted a 4.70 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 28:9 K:BB across 23 innings before going on the IL and likely will replace Ben Brown in the rotation once he's ready. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec return bid) 

Brandon Williamson, Reds: Williamson, a second-round pick in 2019 for Seattle and one of the key pieces acquired by the Reds from the Mariners in the Jesse Winker/Eugenio Suarez trade, notched a 4.46 ERA and 1.28 WHIP through 23 starts in Cinci last season. He's been on the shelf all season with a left shoulder strain and began a rehab assignment with High-A Dayton on May 14. Williamson pitched last Sunday for Triple-A Louisville and will need at least another rehab appearances to get fully stretched out for a traditional starting role. With Nick Lodolo (groin) tentatively in line to return from the 15-day injured list Monday to bring the Reds' rotation back to full strength, Williamson may have to settle for a bullpen role once activated. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 (early spec return bid)

RELIEF PITCHER

Drew Smyly, Cubs: Smyly, placed on the 15-day injured list Apr. 23 with a right hip impingement, made his first rehab start Tuesday. He struck out five over three perfect innings and 40 pitches for High-A South Bend. The lefty had been working exclusively as a reliever prior to going on the shelf. And even with the Cubs moving the struggling Kyle Hendricks to the bullpen earlier this week, Smyly - who also pitched as a reliever last season for Chicago - will be used in a multi-inning relief role in his return. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (early spec return bid)

CATCHER

Patrick Bailey, Giants: I too am getting tired of profiling Giants' clippers, but Bailey gets a mention as he returned from the 7-day concussion IL this week. If healthy, he's the starter backed up by Curt Casali with Blake Sabol optioned down. Bailey has been highly productive when healthy and warrants a spot in almost all leagues, even one-catcher formats. At worst, he is a No. 2 in NL-only and mixed leagues even if the improvement is a mirage. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Joey Bart, Pirates: Bart been hot of late by going 9-for-23 (.391) with three extra-base hits in his last seven games on the heels of a 0-for-14 stretch. With Yasmani Grandal nursing a groin injury, Bart could be in line for additional playing time behind the plate. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

FIRST BASE

Joey Gallo, Nationals: Gallo has been receiving regular work at first with six straight starts there since coming off the injured list. While Joey Meneses has moved to DH, the Nationals might not have regular room in the lineup for Gallo once Lane Thomas (knee) returns - perhaps as soon as this weekend. Meneses could be demoted while Victor Robles is also at risk of being waived. Whichever of Gallo or Meneses isn't on the ML roster, the other will start at first. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 (only if you are desperate) 

SECOND BASE 

Otto Lopez, Marlins: Lopez started at second while Tim Anderson was sidelined as Vidal Brujan was filling in at shortstop. With Anderson back, Brujan would normally start at second, but Lopez has started the past few outings at the keystone. Manager Skip Schumaker seems content to stick with Lopez there while the 25-year-old is wielding a hot bat as he's slashed .286/.326/.476 with two homers, two steals, 10 RBI and four runs across 13 appearances. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 

Kevin Newman, Diamondbacks: Newman has taken over for Blaze Alexander filling in at shortstop for Geraldo Perdomo, who may return in two weeks. He's also logged seven games at second, which could be his position when Perdomo returns with Ketel Marte getting some time in the outfield and DH. Newman could also play third base and start at DH, especially if he remains hot as he has been in May going 21-for-54 with 11 runs scored. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9           

THIRD BASE

Mark Vientos, Mets: Vientos, profiled last week when he was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse, is back here as all signs point to him taking over as the starting third baseman. Friday marked his 10th game at the position to qualify him in many leagues, including two straight starts versus righties over Brett Baty. Through 31 games at Triple-A this year, Vientos slashed .284/.376/.500 with six homers and 30 RBI to earn the call up. He carried forward his fine performance at the plate to the majors to earn the additional playing time. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: $18 (upped bid from prior) 

SHORTSTOP

Geraldo Perdomo, Diamondbacks: Perdomo, who underwent surgery to repair a torn right meniscus in early April and was discussed the last two weeks, gets another mention as he should come off the IL in about two weeks. He has taken live at-bats, hit in the cages and fielded ground balls, but has yet to run full speed or perform quick adjustments or turns. Next up will be those hurdles, after which he should progress to a rehab assignment. Blaze Alexander initially ably stepped in while Perdomo was sidelined, yet has slumped the last few weeks to open the door for Kevin Newman, who could shift to second or third once Perdomo returns. Perdomo should regain his starting role once he's back, likely in early June. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team-NL: $9 (slightly upped spec return bid) 

Luis Vazquez, Cubs: The Cubs promoted Vazquez to give the team depth with Nico Hoerner (hamstring) banged up. He batted .262 with three homers over 39 games with Triple-A Iowa this season and made his major-league debut on Wednesday. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4

Tyler Wade, Padres: Wade could see a short-term increase in playing time with Xander Bogaerts (fractured shoulder) landing on the injured list. Luis Arraez is sharing first and second with Jake Cronenworth, so the Padres are set in the infield even with Bogaerts out. But his absence could allow Wade at-bats at multiple positions to afford others periodic rest. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $5 

OUTFIELD

Harrison Bader, Mets: Bader expressed mild frustration with his playing time over a few weeks. His recent production at the plate has made it almost impossible for manager Carlos Mendoza to take him out of the lineup going 10-for-36 with a homer, six RBI and three steals across 11 games, though that's come with a 10:3 K:BB. Bader is slashing .273/.325/.350 with 17 runs scored, 13 RBI and eight stolen bases across 44 games as the Mets' primary center fielder. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Sean Bouchard, Rockies: Bouchard was sent down earlier in the week after slashing .222/.333/.370 in 18 games and was then recalled Sunday with Jordan Beck fracturing his hand after making a diving catch in the first inning on Saturday. With Beck out indefinitely and Nolan Jones (back/knee) still on the mend, Bouchard could see ample playing time in the corner outfield spots. Bouchard has yet to take advantage of consistent playing time in the past, but looks to be getting another shot. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $6

Kris Bryant, Rockies: Bryant was included here last week and is back after being activated off the IL Tuesday. Out since Apr. 13 with back issues, he progressed from infield drills to batting practice and then minor-league game action to pave the way for his return to active duty. Since Bryant was initially sidelined, he's suffered disc and arthritis issues in his lower back that likely will plague him moving forward and only slashed .149/.273/.255 over 13 games before getting injured. He's dealt with major injury woes in four of the last five years with his numbers substantially declining, so be careful not to overrate once he's back. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same return bid)

Hunter Goodman, Rockies: Goodman's start on Thursday was his fourth in five games - and his third at DH - as he looks to have established a hold on a semi-permanent role. His inclusion in the lineup Thursday came while the Rockies rested four key regulars (Kris Bryant, Charlie Blackmon, Elias Diaz and Brendan Rodgers), though recent usage suggests he'll be a priority in the lineup over Elehuris Montero - who didn't start either of the past two days following Bryant's return from the IL. In leagues with one-game position eligibility, Goodman qualifies at catcher. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7

Ji Hwan Bae, Pirates: Bae was promoted Tuesday from Triple-A Indianapolis based on his fine performance in the minors. He began the season on the injured list with a hip issue and was optioned once healthy. Bae has earned the call up by posting a .367/.479/.551 line with four homers and seven stolen bases across 27 games. He's capable of covering a handful of positions, but is mostly a second baseman and center fielder and should be in the lineup almost daily against righties for Pittsburgh with his speed the main attraction. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team-NL: $9 

Nick Martini, Reds: Martini was recalled by the Reds on Tuesday. He posted a .529 OPS for the Reds before being optioned to Louisville on May 7, though he managed a .364/.563/.818 slash line from eight games during his time at Triple-A to earn the promotion with Cincy banged up. When the Reds are closer to full health, Martini will likely compete for playing time at DH with Mike Ford. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: Cutch has turned back the clock this year by posting a 40.2 per cent hard hit rate. That has helped him go 18-for-52 with four home runs, seven RBI and 12 runs scored across his last 13 games. McCutchen's overall numbers still are subpar, though his hot stretch has upped his OPS over .700 on the season. He's unlikely to be moved having signed a one-year deal this offseason to remain in Pittsburgh and should remain the starting DH while he's hot. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Ryan McKenna, Giants: McKenna was claimed off waivers from Baltimore last Sunday. He holds a .224/.302/.332 career slash line across four seasons in the majors, and the 27-year-old provides depth in an outfield that is now without Jung Hoo Lee (shoulder) for the rest of the season. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $4

Garrett Mitchell, Brewers: Mitchell, on the IL all season after suffering a fractured finger during spring training and profiled last week, is repeated as he began taking swings off a tee Friday in Boston. The next steps would be for him to go to Arizona to build up ABs and then start and complete a minor-league rehab stint. Mitchell's goal is a return to the field in Anaheim on Jun. 17. He was limited to 19 games last year after suffering a labrum tear in his left shoulder. Once active, Mitchell could either end up as the fourth outfielder or possibly start in center field while pushing Sal Frelick to one of the corner spots. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec return bid)

David Peralta, Padres: Peralta, inked to a minor-league deal by the Friars on May 18 after he opted out of a similar deal with the Cubs, was called up Wednesday. He only went .259/.294/.381 across 422 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season and .217/.341/.348 with two homers from 20 games at the Triple-A level before opting out. Peralta replaced the injured Xander Bogaerts (shoulder) on the Padres' 26-man active roster and will receive time at both corner outfield spots and DH against righties. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Joey Wiemer, Brewers: Wiemer, who missed most of May with a left knee strain, was activated Monday. He provides outfield depth and could draw the occasional start against lefties. Wiemer's roster spot is less than secure, but he's worth a bid in NL-only leagues while in the bigs. 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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