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.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Cade CavalliWASSPC$1$5$9 (same spec return bid)
Kyle FreelandCOLSPD/ENo$0$5 (spec return bid)
Josiah GrayWASSPD$1$4$7 (upped spec return bid)
Kyle HendricksCHISPD/ENo$0$5
DJ HerzWASSPC/D$2$7$11
Clayton KershawLASPC$1$5$9 (slightly upped early spec return bid)
Steven MatzSTLSPD/E$0$1$6 (same early spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPB/C$1$4$7 (early 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.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Cade CavalliWASSPC$1$5$9 (same spec return bid)
Kyle FreelandCOLSPD/ENo$0$5 (spec return bid)
Josiah GrayWASSPD$1$4$7 (upped spec return bid)
Kyle HendricksCHISPD/ENo$0$5
DJ HerzWASSPC/D$2$7$11
Clayton KershawLASPC$1$5$9 (slightly upped early spec return bid)
Steven MatzSTLSPD/E$0$1$6 (same early spec return bid)
Dustin MayLASPB/C$1$4$7 (early spec return bid)
Roddery MunozMIASPE$0$1$6
Tobias MyersMILSPD$1$4$7 (up if believe he sticks in rotation)
Robbie RaySFSPC$1$4$7 (early spec return bid)
Colin ReaMILSPD$1$4$7 (up if believe he sticks in rotation)
Carson SpiersCINSPD$0$1$6
Devin WilliamsMILRPB$1$5$9 (early spec return bid)
Jason DelayPITCENoNo$4
Hunter GoodmanCOLCD$1$5$9
Jacob StallingsCOLCE$1$4$7
Rafael MarchanPHICENoNo$4
Garrett StubbsPHICE$0$2$7
Joey MenesesWAS1BD$2$7$11
Trey LipscombWAS2BD/ENoNo$5
Blaze AlexanderAZ3BD$1$5$9
Cavan BiggioLA3BENo$0$6
Noelvi MarteCIN3BB/C$2$7$11 (early spec return bid)
Nick AhmedSFSSD/ENo$0$5 (return bid)
Geraldo PerdomoAZSSC/D$1$5$9 (same spec return bid)
Charlie BlackmonCOLOFC/D$5$11Rostered
Ramon LaureanoATLOFD$1$5$9
J.P. MartinezATLOFENo$0$6
Nick MartiniCINOFENoNo$4
Garrett MitchellMILOFD$1$4$7 (same early spec return bid)
Alek ThomasAZOFD$1$4$7 (spec return bid)

STARTING PITCHER

Cade Cavalli, Nationals: Cavalli, out since March 2023 Tommy John surgery and profiled several times in May, threw a bullpen session Saturday. Washington pulled him off his rehab after his May 30 start, but should resume that assignment shortly now that he's throwing again. Cavalli struck out 10 batters in 5.1 innings over his first two appearances, one in the rookie-level Florida Complex League and one with High-A Wilmington. He'll likely require the full 30 days on his assignment before the Nationals will decide if he's promoted, possibly around midseason. Cavalli pairs a fastball with a plus curveball, above-average slider and a decent fourth pitch changeup, though has had control issues in the past and may struggle with his command upon returning. But he may have the best stuff and upside on the team's roster, making him certainly worth a speculative add even if he isn't promoted when the rehab stint ends. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (same spec return bid) 

Kyle Freeland, Rockies: Freeland, sidelined since mid-April with a strained pitching elbow, kicked off a rehab stint Jun. 8 at the Arizona Complex by tossing two innings. He threw four innings and gave up one run for Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday and should rejoin the Rockies after his next rehab outing. Freeland struggled to a 5.03 ERA in 29 starts while seeing his K rate plummet before suffering an oblique strain in mid-September, which ended his season a couple weeks early. He should slot in at the back end of the Colorado rotation and eat innings. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (spec return bid) 

Josiah Gray, Nationals: Gray, sidelined since his Apr. 6 start with a right elbow/forearm flexor strain and profiled the last month, began a rehab assignment with Single-A Fredericksburg last Sunday where he allowed three runs on three hits (one homer) and one walk with two strikeouts across three innings. He moved up to start for Double-A Harrisburg on Friday and completed four innings while conceding one run (a home run) on four hits and fanning two and upping his pitch count to 41 (27 strikes). Gray will likely need one to two more rehab starts and is looking at a late-June-or-so 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: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (upped spec return bid) 

Kyle Hendricks, Cubs: Hendricks threw 4.1 scoreless innings of relief on Friday and has logged 8.2 scoreless frames over his last three appearances. While he still sports an ugly 8.20 ERA, he's the next man up in the Cubs' rotation with Ben Brown (neck) and Jordan Wicks (oblique) sidelined. Bid if a believer that Hendricks has turned the corner. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

DJ Herz, Nationals: You punch out 13 batters in any start – let alone your third major-league outing – and you get a mention here. Herz was dominant Saturday as he notched 21 swinging strikes on 84 pitches against the Marlins. Granted, some of the numbers can be discounted because he was facing Miami, but his minor-league 12.9 K/9 indicates a potential to rack up strikeouts. Herz now holds a 3.77 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 21 Ks through 14.1 innings for the Nationals and will need to continue to pitch well with Josiah Gray and Cade Cavalli likely back in July. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw, who underwent shoulder surgery last November, completed three simulated innings at Dodger Stadium on Thursday and could be ready to pitch in rehab games with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. His fastball hit 88-89 MPH, which is in the range of his usual velocity the past three seasons. The original plan was for Kershaw to build up an additional inning every five or six days in simulated games before going out on a rehab assignment, though he's way ahead of schedule. Despite that, he'll require several rehab appearances and likely won't be back until the All-Star break. Once active, Kershaw should slide back into the LA rotation, though maybe towards the middle rather than the top. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (slightly upped early spec return bid) 

Steven Matz, Cardinals: Matz, recovering since May 3 from a protruding disc in his lower back, made his second rehab start Tuesday where he allowed three hits and a walk while striking out three on 35 pitches - most of those in the second inning when he was pulled. He'll have his third start of the rehab assignment on Sunday with Double-A Springfield and is expected to make at least two more to get him to 75-to-80 pitches before returning to the Cardinals. In the third year of a four-year contract, Matz was brutal in 2022, very good last year, and off to a lousy start this year as he went 1-2 over six starts with a 6.18 ERA and 1.73 WHIP before landing on the injured list. A return around the third week of June is still on the table if he doesn't have any hiccups during his assignment. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (early spec return bid) 

Dustin May, Dodgers: May, who underwent surgery on his right flexor tendon and UCL last July, has been throwing at the Dodgers' complex in Arizona and has topped 90 MPH on his fastball. His velocity has a way to go before it's back to pre-injury level, though a late-July return could be in the cards. 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 back into the Dodgers' staff. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid)

Roddery Munoz, Marlins: Munoz came into his Thursday start against the Mets with a 5.95 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 22:11 K:BB over 19.2 frames across four outings for the Marlins. He went on to produce six scoreless innings while giving up one hit and one walk and striking out five. That effort should allow the rookie right-hander to remain in the rotation while Miami waits for the likes of Edward Cabrera (shoulder), Ryan Weathers (finger) and Sixto Sanchez (shoulder) to come back from the IL. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $6

Tobias Myers, Brewers: Myers has reeled off consecutive strong outings where he's only conceded one run on four hits from 14 innings. He posted a 3.76 ERA and 1.16 WHIP through his first eight starts, though has been fortunate on balls in play (.238 BABIP) while listing a 4.21 SIERA. The 25-year-old has made a case to stick in the Brewers rotation due to Joe Ross (back), Robert Gasser (elbow), Jakob Junis (shoulder) and DL Hall (knee) all being sidelined, though Junis will be back this week and Hall may not be far behind. Myers will need to continue to pitch well to retain his rotation spot. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (up if believe he will keep his rotation spot)

Robbie Ray, Giants: Ray, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, has made three rookie-league appearances and is on track for an All-Star break return. When healthy, he still boasts 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 Blue Jays in 2020. Traded to the Giants from the Mariners this offseason, Ray should slot into the middle of the rotation once activated. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid) 

Colin Rea, Brewers: Rea enjoyed his best outing of the season on Monday as he gave up one run on three hits and no walks with four strikeouts over seven innings. While he's alternated starts with bulk relief appearances during his last four, he's gone 2-0 and yielded only four runs over 22 innings. On the season, Rea has recorded a 3.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 48:23 K:BB in 11 starts and two in relief. He should stick in the Brewers rotation during the short-term due to Joe Ross (back), Robert Gasser (elbow), Jakob Junis (shoulder) and DL Hall (knee) all sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (up if believe he will keep his rotation spot)  

Carson Spiers, Reds: Spiers was promoted last Sunday and is set to start on Monday against the Pirates. Prior to the call-up, he had already been stretched out as a starter at Triple-A Louisville and compiled a 2.51 ERA and 1.06 WHIP across 46.2 innings. On the heels of Spiers' impressive showing out of the bullpen last weekend when he tossed 5.2 scoreless innings and struck out seven, he's getting a chance to fill the vacancy in the rotation that was created by Graham Ashcraft's recent demotion. Rushed to the majors last season, Spiers has continued to improve in the minors to earn a second chance. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

RELIEF PITCHER

Devin Williams, Brewers: Williams, shut down during spring training due to multiple stress fractures in his back, is expected to be cleared to throw off a mound soon. He also remains on track to return just after the All-Star break, though that is less certain since he's yet to throw off a mound and will then require a rehab stint. Trevor Megill has operated as the Brewers' primary closer with Williams on the shelf and has gone 12-for-13 in save chances, so Milwaukee may not need to rush Williams back. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (early spec return bid) 

CATCHER

Jason Delay, Pirates: Delay was promoted Saturday with Henry Davis placed on the 7-day IL due to a concussion. He'll back up Yasmani Grandal for now. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Hunter Goodman/Jacob Stallings, Rockies: Elias Diaz went on the injured list Friday with a strained left calf muscle suffered Monday. In his absence, Goodman and Stallings will cover at catcher. Stallings figures to receive most of the action behind the plate supported by Goodman, whose inclusion here depends on the eligibility rules in your league. Both benefit from playing at Coors Field while Stallings is the more experienced catcher and Goodman the better hitter who'll also play in the outfield. Goodman - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9; Stallings - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Rafael Marchan/Garrett Stubbs, Phillies: J.T. Realmuto (knee) was put on the 10-day IL this past week and will undergo surgery on his meniscus. Splitting time behind the plate will be Marchan - who was called up last week - and Stubbs. The original expectation was that Stubbs would get most of the playing time. But based on early usage, it seems as though he and Marchan will be in a near 50-50 split behind the plate. Despite that, Stubbs offers more fantasy upside as a hitter. Marchan - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4; Stubbs - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7

FIRST BASE

Joey Meneses, Nationals: Meneses seemingly came out of nowhere to rake down the stretch in 2021. He got off to a solid start last year before experiencing a power drought after June, which was partially explained by him playing through a knee injury. That "excuse" hasn't been the case this season as Meneses is struggling, but is enjoying a modest five-game hit streak where he's gone 7-for-15 with a homer and six RBI. He had been losing out on playing time of late, but is making the most of his opportunities since Joey Gallo (hamstring) went on the IL Wednesday. Enjoy the run while it lasts. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

SECOND BASE

Trey Lipscomb, Nationals: Joey Gallo was placed on the 10-day IL to open the door for Lipscomb to be recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday. Though he stole 10 bases over 121 plate appearances with the Nationals earlier this year, the 23-year-old only slashed .252/.331/.290 and has been even more unproductive at Triple-A with a .576 OPS from 98 at-bats. Lipscomb can play the infield and outfield, but right now is being limited to pinch-hit and spot duty. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5          

THIRD BASE

Blaze Alexander, Diamondbacks: Alexander started at third Wednesday, and Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said the utility infielder will see more opportunities at the position going forward. Eugenio Suarez, Arizona's everyday third baseman through the first two-plus months of the campaign, has struggled offensively to provide Alexander with additional opportunities. With Geraldo Perdomo (knee) back in action, Alexander isn't needed at shortstop while Kevin Newman will get work at second. Suarez will also operate at the hot corner, though Alexander could take over as the primary starter. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Cavan Biggio, Dodgers: Biggio was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays after slashing .200/.323/.291 and a 32.3 percent strikeout rate through 130 plate appearances. The Dodgers were desperate for a third baseman and infield depth, so they traded for him. Miguel Rojas had received time at the hot corner, but is likely the odd man out following this deal. With Max Muncy (oblique) remaining on the IL and Enrique Hernandez sitting, it appears Biggio is the primary option going forward at third versus righties. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 

Noelvi Marte, Reds: Marte, nearing the end of his 80-game suspension due to violating MLB's joint drug prevention and treatment program by taking PEDs, started his rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Louisville. He'll mostly play at third during his assignment, but will also get some reps at shortstop and second. Defense represents the weakest part of Marte's game, which was evident in his 35-game stint in the majors last year and why he could move to left field down the road. The Reds right now are infield heavy, so his combination of power and speed may have him logging time at multiple positions when he returns to Cincy on Jun. 27. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $14 (same early spec return bid) 

SHORTSTOP 

Nick Ahmed, Giants: Ahmed, out since early May with a left wrist sprain, was activated off the injured list Friday after only making three rehab appearances for Triple-A Sacramento. Marco Luciano filled on at shortstop before landing on the injured list along with Brett Wisely. Ahmed is more known for his defense and will likely resume his role as the team's starting shortstop, though could cede time if his bat doesn't produce. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team-NL: $5 (return bid) 

Geraldo Perdomo, Diamondbacks: Perdomo, who underwent surgery to repair a torn right meniscus in early April and was profiled the last four weeks, gets another mention as he was activated off the IL on Tuesday. He completed a seven-game rehab assignment between the Arizona Complex League and Triple-A Reno. Blaze Alexander initially ably stepped in while Perdomo was sidelined but he slumped to give more work to Kevin Newman, who is now a utility infielder following Perdomo's regaining the lead role. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team-NL: $9 (same spec return bid) 

OUTFIELD

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: Blackmon has enjoyed a solid June by going 17-for-51 with six doubles, a homer and eight runs scored. His overall numbers are still below what he posted in 96 games last year, but his recent hot streak makes him shallow-league viable. Blackmon is splitting his time between right field and DH and is in the lineup against all but the toughest of southpaw starters. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: Rostered

Ramon Laureano/J.P. Martinez, Braves: Atlanta placed Michael Harris on the 10-day injured list Saturday with a Grade 2 hamstring strain and no timetable for a return. Laureano was promoted Saturday to take Harris's spot on the roster and could get consistent work in right with Adam Duvall in left and Jarred Kelenic sliding over to center. Laureano's career slid backwards after a brilliant 2019 with the A's as he produced lowly .494 OPS in 31 games with the Guardians earlier this season before getting released. He seemed to find his footing at Triple-A Gwinnett with a 1.028 OPS and three homers across 14 contests. Martinez should see an uptick in playing time with Harris sidelined, though that may be dependent on what the three aforementioned outfielders can do. Laureano - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9; Martinez - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 

Nick Martini, Reds: The Reds recalled Martini from Triple-A Louisville Friday to take the roster spot vacated by Blake Dunn, who was optioned down Thursday. He slashed .200/.242/.355 with four home runs in 38 games with the big club early this season. Martini could see the occasional start against righties, yet mostly figures to operate as a bench bat. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Garrett Mitchell, Brewers: Mitchell, on the injured list all season after suffering a fractured finger during spring training and mentioned the last two weeks, had his rehab moved to Triple-A Nashville this past Thursday. He kicked off that assignment Jun. 10 in the Arizona Complex League after progressing from live batting practice. Mitchell's goal was to return to the field in Anaheim on Jun. 17, though he'll receive an extended period of time in the minors and probably won't rejoin the Brewers until early July. He was limited to 19 games last year after suffering a labrum tear in his left shoulder. Once active, Mitchell could either be the fourth outfielder or 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) 

Alek Thomas, Diamondbacks: Thomas, out since straining his left hamstring on Mar. 31, suffered a setback during his recovery but finally kicked off a rehab assignment in the Arizona Complex League on Thursday. He'll continue his rehab assignment at Triple-A Reno Tuesday and is hoping to rejoin the Diamondbacks on Jun. 25 for the start of a six-game homestand. Thomas slashed .230/.273/.374 with nine homers and 39 RBI over 402 plate appearances. He'll battle Jake McCarthy to be the starting right fielder, with the loser likely the fourth outfielder. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7 (spec return bid)

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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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