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 serves as 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 $
Edward CabreraMIASPD147 (early spec return bid)
Justin DunnCINSPD015 (early spec return bid)
Braxton GarrettMIASPD15Rostered
Jakob JunisSFSPD147 (same early spec return bid)
Sam LongSFSPE015
Steven MatzSTLSPC/D27Rostered (same spec return bid)
Cristopher SanchezPHISPENo05
Drew SmylyCHISPD159 (early spec return bid)
Mike SorokaATLSPB14

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 serves as 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 $
Edward CabreraMIASPD147 (early spec return bid)
Justin DunnCINSPD015 (early spec return bid)
Braxton GarrettMIASPD15Rostered
Jakob JunisSFSPD147 (same early spec return bid)
Sam LongSFSPE015
Steven MatzSTLSPC/D27Rostered (same spec return bid)
Cristopher SanchezPHISPENo05
Drew SmylyCHISPD159 (early spec return bid)
Mike SorokaATLSPB147 (early injury return bid)
Jose UrenaCOLSPENo05
John BrebbiaSFRPDNo16
Seranthony DominguezPHIRPB/C12RosteredRostered
Junior FernandezSTLRPDNo16
Dylan FloroMIARPC/D2711
Dinelson LametSDRPDNo04
Joey BartSFCC/D147
Patrick MazeikaNYMCENoNo4
Tomas NidoNYMCENo05
Darick HallPHI1BC112233
Yermin MercedesSF1BENoNo4
Yoshi TsutsugoPIT1BDNoNo6 (same bid as prior)
Sergio AlcantaraAZ2BENoNo4
Buddy KennedyAZ2BD147
Alec BohmPHI3BC511Rostered
David VillarSF3BD017
Kevin NewmanPITSSENoNo5
Aristides AquinoCINOFENo04 (early spec return bid)
Jose AzocarSDOFDNo06
Brent RookerSDOFENoNo4
Corbin CarrollAZOFA/B147 (stash bid)
Corey DickersonSTLOFENo06
Ben GamelPITOFD017
Travis JankowskiNYMOFE015 (same injury spec return bid)
Jake LambLAOFENoNo6
Zach McKinstryLAOFENoNo4
Trayce ThompsonLAOFE147
Wil MyersSDOFC159 (early spec return bid)
Tyler NaquinCINOFD3914 (same injury return bid)
Esteury RuizSDOFB159 (same early spec call up bid)

STARTING PITCHER

Edward Cabrera, Marlins: Cabrera, on the 15-day injured list June 15 with right elbow tendinitis and then delayed in his return due a personal matter, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Monday. He likely will throw 1-2 bullpen sessions before heading out on a rehab stint. Cabrera should need 2-3 starts prior to rejoining the Marlins, likely putting his return around the last week of the month. He made three starts for Miami after his June 1 call up before he was sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid) 

Justin Dunn, Reds: Dunn, traded from the Mariners to the Reds in March, opened the year on the injured list due to the right shoulder strain that sidelined him for much of last season. He began a rehab assignment with High-A Dayton on June 27, progressing to Triple-A for his last two appearances, including 48 pitches over 2.2 innings Wednesday. Dunn is being built up as a starter and should be ready to return after the All-Star break, though it's unclear if Cincinnati will clear a spot for him in the big-league rotation right away with five healthy starters. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec call up bid) 

Braxton Garrett, Marlins: Garrett turned in his best outing of the season, allowing one run on four hits and one walk while striking out four across 7.1 innings Monday. That outing was two innings longer than any of his prior starts. Prior to Saturday's start, Garrett had posted a 4.25 ERA and 1.45 WHIP with a 26:7 K:BB over 29.2 innings on the year with some of his gains this year due to a substantial improvement in his command and control. The ERA will rise slightly, as he allowed three runs on three hits and one walk while striking out three over 5.2 innings against the Mets on Saturday. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Jakob Junis, Giants: Junis, out since June 11 with a hamstring injury, will make a rehab start with the Giants' rookie-level Arizona Complex League affiliate Monday. That outing comes after he threw two innings in a rehab start Thursday following several bullpen sessions. Junis, who had posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through nine outings this season, could be ready to return shortly after the All-Star break. Once active, he should slot into Anthony DeSclafani's rotation spot. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec return bid) 

Sam Long, Giants: Long started Friday's game with the Giants down several starters, allowing three runs on four hits and struck out two in 2.1 innings to take the loss. Mostly working in low-leverage situations or long-relief, Long had impressed prior to Friday's effort with a 1.78 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 19:8 K:BB across 30.1 innings on the season. Jakob Junis is working his way back, but likely will not return until after the All-Star break, affording Long at least one more start. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Steven Matz, Cardinals: Matz, sidelined since May 22 with left shoulder impingement, made his third rehab start Thursday, allowing two runs on a pair of hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings. That outing provided the length Matz and the Cardinals wanted as the lefty was slated to toss 60 pitches and threw 59 in his outing. Despite that workload, Matz still could be activated this week and pitch out of the bullpen, though St. Louis might opt to have him make one more minor-league start and return after the All-Star break. Prior to being injured, Matz had posted a 6.03 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in his first nine starts as Cardinal. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: Rostered (same spec injury return bid) 

Cristopher Sanchez, Phillies: Sanchez was promoted to start Tuesday against the Nationals. Over his previous eight outings, Sanchez turned in a 4.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 15:6 K:BB in 15.2 innings. On Tuesday, the 25-year-old southpaw gave up two hits and two walks while striking out two over five scoreless innings. That start earned Sanchez another outing, though he will pitch behind opener Nick Nelson on Sunday. He will likely only stick in the rotation until Ranger Suarez (back) or Zach Eflin (knee) are ready to return. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

Drew Smyly, Cubs: Smyly is expected to be activated from the injured list either Saturday or Sunday to make a start against the Dodgers. He was cleared for that start after throwing a bullpen session Thursday and four innings in a rehab outing with High-A South Bend on Monday. The veteran southpaw was placed on the injured list June 1 after he exited with an oblique injury after throwing 49 pitches across three no-hit innings in his previous start. Smyly has a 3.80 ERA and 34:10 K:BB in 42.2 through nine starts this season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Mike Soroka, Braves: Soroka, who last appeared in a game in August of 2020 due to multiple tears of his Achilles, doesn't yet have a target date for beginning a minor-league rehab assignment., While he hasn't had any setbacks in his recovery process and faced live hitters at the team complex, he'll be slowed slightly by a comebacker that hit him in his knee, leaving a bruise. Atlanta is preparing for Soroka to return from the 60-day injured list as a starting pitcher, so whenever his minor-league assignment begins, he'll likely need most of the 30-day rehab window to get fully ramped up. He likely won't be limited when he returns, as Soroka expects to throw 60-100 innings this season, including the postseason. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team-NL: $7 (same early spec return bid)

Jose Urena, Rockies: Urena made four appearances for Milwaukee to start the season, then landed with Colorado after his release. He turned in a 7.29 ERA and 2.14 WHIP across 21 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League but was promoted to start Wednesday for the Rockies. Urena was stellar in that start, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing one run on five hits and three walks while striking out two. That fine outing likely earned Urena another start with Antonio Senzatela (shoulder) on the 15-day injured list. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

RELIEF PITCHER 

John Brebbia, Giants: Brebbia continues to excel in the Giants' bullpen. He has a 2.39 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 35:11 K:BB across 37.2 innings while adding eight holds in a mid-leverage role for the season. Brebbia's main value is in NL-only leagues, but he might be worth a roster spot in deeper mixed formats. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Seranthony Dominguez, Phillies: Dominguez is still splitting time in the ninth inning with Brad Hand but could be on the verge of grabbing a larger share of the role. He closed the game Thursday, with Hand pitching the eighth despite the fact that tough lefty Juan Soto was due up in the final frame. That may be a sign that Dominguez is the go-to guy moving forward. His 100+ mph heater and nasty slider are closer material, and those pitches plus his confidence on the mound have resulted in a 40:7 K:BB in 32 innings. Keep in mind, though, that Hand got the save Friday with Dominguez pitching the eighth, and with both unavailable Saturday, Corey Knebel closed out the win for the Phillies. 12-team Mixed: $12, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered

Junior Fernandez, Cardinals: Fernandez has been brilliant since his June 22 promotion, allowing two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in nine scoreless innings. He has been aided by a ridiculously low .143 BABIP, which will result in a rise in his ERA, but his 2.48 FIP suggests that a massive regression might not occur. Fernandez's success should result in him seeing more high-leverage opportunities than he currently gets in his middle-relief role. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 

Dylan Floro, Marlins: Floro was potentially set to open the season as the Marlins' closer but was sidelined due to injury until the second week of May. Since returning, Floro has mainly worked in middle relief, though he has seen some more high-leverage chances recently, including notching back-to-back saves last Sunday and Monday. Tanner Scott is still relatively secure in the closer role, but he has shown some wildness and blew his third save in extra innings Saturday, possibly opening the door for Floro to see more chances. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Dinelson Lamet, Padres: Lamet was demoted in mid-May after struggling to a 9.72 ERA across his first 10 relief outings of the year, but he was promoted back to the majors Saturday with Craig Stammen landing on the injured list. Both Lamet's 23.8 percent strikeout rate and his 16.7 percent walk rate prior to his demotion represented career worsts, but he's been far better in nine outings for Triple-A El Paso, cruising to a 0.93 ERA and 34.9 percent strikeout rate, though his 11.6 percent walk rate remains elevated. He will pitch in low-leverage situations at least initially for San Diego. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 

CATCHER 

Joey Bart, Giants: Bart was promoted back to the majors with Curt Casali set to be sidelined 3-4 weeks with a strained oblique. He opened the season with the Giants but posted a .596 OPS in 22 games before being demoted to the minors. Bart was slightly better at Triple-A Sacramento, though not to the point where he deserved a promotion. Still, he looks to have taken over as the starting catcher, with Austin Wynns sliding in as the backup. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Patrick Mazeika/Tomas Nido, Mets: James McCann left Saturday's game with discomfort in his left side and underwent tests Sunday. It's not clear as of writing whether McCann will land on the injured or just be sidelined a few days. If he is placed on the IL, Mazeika will be promoted and he and Nido will split time behind the plate, as they did when McCann was out after surgery on his left hamate bone. Neither player will produce much, but the pecking order is Nido then Mazeika, as Francisco Alvarez is unlikely to be promoted right after his recent promotion to Triple-A. Mazeika - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3; Nido - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

FIRST BASE

Darick Hall, Phillies: Hall was profiled last week when he got the call after slashing .269/.346/.548 with 20 home runs, 67 RBI, 47 runs and five stolen bases with a 20 percent strikeout rate in 315 plate appearances at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's hit the ground running, blasting three home runs since his promotion, and is in a good position to continue seeing steady at-bats with Bryce Harper (thumb) on the IL. Nick Castellanos has remained in right field, opening up starts for Hall at DH. Hall has shown power, though it's been offset by a lack of plate discipline, which could result in solid power production but a poor batting average. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: $33 

Yermin Mercedes, Giants: Mercedes was called back up to the majors last Sunday, four days after getting sent down. Thairo Estrada (illness) was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list, resulting in Mercedes' return. Estrada is now back, but Mercedes is sticking around as a short-side platoon option at either first base or designated hitter. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pirates: Tsutsugo, sidelined since May 26 with a lumbar muscle strain, was activated Tuesday. Since his return, Tsutsugo has seen consistent playing time at first base with Michael Chavis moving to second to platoon with Josh VanMeter. Prior to being sidelined, Tsutsugo struggled to a .177/.281/.257 line through 35 games this season while Chavis had seemingly hit well enough to maintain his hold on the starting role at first base, so Tsutsugo will need to produce to hold Chavis off. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $6 (same as prior)

SECOND BASE

Sergio Alcantara/Buddy Kennedy, Diamondbacks: Alcantara, who began the season with Arizona before being claimed off waivers by San Diego in early May, rejoined the Diamondbacks this week after being designated for assignment by the Padres. He will serve as a utility infielder, backing up at several positions, including second base. Kennedy, promoted in late June, was hitting .340/.427/.472 with two home runs, three triples and seven doubles while striking out at a 19.3 percent clip and walking 14 percent of the time in his last 39 games at Triple-A Reno prior to his call-up. He's become the Snakes' primary option at the keystone with Ketel Marte serving as the DH due to a hamstring injury. Kennedy has not wowed at the plate, but Arizona looks like be giving him a long look at the position. Alcantara - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $No; 12-team NL: $4; Kennedy - 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

THIRD BASE 

Alec Bohm, Phillies: Bohm opened the season as the Phillies' starting third baseman but hit a little bit of a lull in early-June. He has picked up his pace again the past month, though some of that has been empty production in batting average, as he has driven in just 11 runs while scoring 13 before blasting a pair of solo home runs Friday. Bohm is locked into the hot corner spot as he looks recapture the magic he had after his 2020 call-up. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: Rostered

David Villar, Giants: Villar should fill in for Evan Longoria, who landed on the injured list Wednesday with a strained left oblique. Promoted Monday when Brandon Crawford (knee) was sidelined, Villar will now stick around even though Crawford returned to action Tuesday. Villar slashed .284/.409/.633 with 21 home runs, 62 RBI, 53 runs scored and 15 doubles in 66 games for Triple-A Sacramento to earn the opportunity. Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada will also factor into the hot-corner mix. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

SHORTSTOP 

Kevin Newman, Pirates: Newman, out since April 26 with groin and hamstring injuries, was activated Friday after completing a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis. Newman, who opened the season as the Bucs' starting shortstop, will move into a backup role due to the relatively recent promotion of Oneil Cruz, but he could see some action at second base. However, Pittsburgh has several other options at the keystone, making Newman a possible trade or bench candidate. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

OUTFIELD 

Aristides Aquino, Reds: Aquino landed on the injured list June 13 after injuring his ankle with an awkward slide at home plate the prior day. The injury was expected to sideline Aquino 4-6 weeks. He took live batting practice Tuesday but still needs to complete a running program and prove he can handle the outfield before he's sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment. He could return to the Reds shortly after the All-Star break, barring any setbacks, and resume his role as a backup outfielder. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 (early spec return bid) 

Jose Azocar/Brent Rooker, Padres: Azocar could be in line for a short-term bump in playing time with Jurickson Profar landing on the injured list with a concussion and a neck strain following his collision with CJ Abrams on Thursday. Profar was starting in left field, with Azocar seeing some starts against southpaws. Azocar may now start close to daily until Profar returns and should provide some counting stats, though his playing time will decline once Wil Myers returns. Rooker, slashing .279/.401/.596 with 14 homers, 45 runs, 44 RBI and four stolen bases over 49 games in Triple-A El Paso this year, was promoted to fill Profar's spot on the roster. He will be on the short side of any platoon until Profar or Myers return.  Azocar - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6; Rooker - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks: Carroll missed most of last season after suffering a shoulder injury in May. He's made up for lost time, hitting .313/.430/.643 in 58 Double-A games while adding 16 home runs and 20 steals. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Reno on Saturday. The 21-year-old center fielder is one of the top prospects in baseball and has performed like one so far this season, but Arizona might elect to keep him in the minors until next season to avoid starting his arbitration clock. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (stash bid)

Corey Dickerson, Cardinals: Dickerson, sidelined since exiting a June 4 game against the Cubs with a left calf strain, was activated off the injured list and started Saturday. His rehab appearances were broken up by some soreness in his calf, but he's finally made his back to the majors. Tyler O'Neill (hamstring/wrist) remains on the IL, so Dickerson should see his fair share of playing time in left field in the near future. Prior to his absence, Dickerson slashed .194/.245/.286 with two homers, 11 runs and 11 RBI over 38 games. When O'Neill returns, Dickerson will shift back to a part-time role. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6 

Ben Gamel, Pirates: Gamel was activated Tuesday after being out since May 29 with a strained left hamstring. Though the 30-year-old was playing regularly against right-handed pitching prior to landing on the shelf, Gamel may need to settle for a reserve role down the road with the rebuilding Pirates probably inclined to give younger players a look in the outfield. Currently, though, Gamel is seeing regular playing time with only Jack Suwinski remaining in the majors among that young group, as Bligh Madris and Cal Mitchell were recently optioned back to the minors. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7

Travis Jankowski, Mets: Jankowski, out since May 27 surgery to repair a fractured fourth metacarpal on his left hand, began a rehab assignment Monday. The injury was to sideline Jankowski 6-8 weeks, so he might be activated for the team's series against Atlanta this week. When active, Jankowski should resume his role as the backup at all three outfield spots, likely replacing Ender Inciarte or Starling Marte, if the latter's groin injury lands him on the IL. He'll be a mild stolen base option in single leagues. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (same injury spec return bid) 

Jake Lamb/Zach McKinstry/Trayce Thompson, Dodgers: Chris Taylor was placed on the injured list with a fractured foot Wednesday, creating a hole in left field for the Dodgers. Lamb, who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City last week, McKinstry, who returned from a neck injury Wednesday, and Thompson, who was acquired June 20 from Detroit, all will be in the mix along with Gavin Lux to fill in for Taylor. Thompson should see most of the playing time now that Mookie Betts is back and playing right field, with the others filling in as needed, though Lamb has seen semi-regular playing time against righties. Lamb - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $6; McKinstry: 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5; Thompson: 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Wil Myers, Padres: Myers was sidelined since early June after being diagnosed with right knee inflammation but is close to beginning a rehab assignment. The veteran outfielder has dealt with the nagging injury throughout the first half of the season, which could be a factor in his mediocre numbers thus far. Myers registered a .234/.276/.306 slash line with just one home run, 19 RBI and no stolen-base attempts in 32 games prior to his placement on the injured list. Once active, he should almost daily in either right or left field, though Nomar Mazara has been solid in right and Jurickson Profar has taken over in left. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (early spec return bid)

Tyler Naquin, Reds: Naquin, out since May 31 with a quadriceps injury, was activated off the injured list Tuesday after completing a short rehab assignment. This return comes right in the middle of his original 4-6 week estimated timeline. Once active, Naquin should start almost daily in right field against righties while sitting against southpaws. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (same injury return bid) 

Esteury Ruiz, Padres: Ruiz gets another mention after being profiled two weeks ago, as he's been running like mad at Triple-A. Through Wednesday's games, Ruiz had stolen at least one base in seven consecutive games for El Paso, hitting .333/.471/.521 with four homers and 20 swipes in 24 games since being promoted. That stolen base streak ended Thursday, but Ruiz has already stolen 57 bases while getting caught just nine times in 74 games between Double- and Triple-A. San Diego has given no indication when Ruiz will be promoted, so for now, he'll continue to bide his time in the minors. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (same early spec call up 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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