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 $
Tucker DavidsonATLSPD159
Austin GomberCOLSPE39Rostered
Tony GonsolinLASPD816 (upped bid)Rostered
Chi Chi GonzalezCOLSPE027
Caleb SmithAZSPD159
Kohl StewartCINSPENoNo4
Tejay AntoneCINRPC1511
Lucas SimsCINRPD714Rostered
Rex BrothersCHIRPE015
Shane GreeneATLRPD015
Seth LugoNYMRPC/D159 (same

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 $
Tucker DavidsonATLSPD159
Austin GomberCOLSPE39Rostered
Tony GonsolinLASPD816 (upped bid)Rostered
Chi Chi GonzalezCOLSPE027
Caleb SmithAZSPD159
Kohl StewartCINSPENoNo4
Tejay AntoneCINRPC1511
Lucas SimsCINRPD714Rostered
Rex BrothersCHIRPE015
Shane GreeneATLRPD015
Seth LugoNYMRPC/D159 (same return bid)
James McCannNYMCD11RosteredRostered
Colin MoranPIT1BD1525Rostered
Pavin SmithAZ1BD1525Rostered
Joey VottoCIN1BD/E2711
Patrick WisdomCHI1BE147
Travis BlankenhornNYM2BENoNo4
Mike FreemanCIN2BENoNo4
Tucupita MarcanoSD2BENoNo4
Alan TrejoCOLSSENoNo4
Ildemaro VargasAZ2BENoNo4
Brandon DruryNYM2BENo06
Jose PerazaNYM2BENo17
Asdrubal CabreraAZ3BD715Rostered
Luis GuillormeNYM3BE017
Nick AhmedAZSSD918Rostered
Paul DeJongSTLSSD511Rostered
Luis UriasMiLSSE2711
Abraham AlmonteATLOFENoNo4
Lewis BrinsonMIAOFENoNo4
Travis JankowskiPHIOFENoNo4
Pablo ReyesMILOFENoNo4
Harrison BaderSTLOFD411Rostered
Steven DuggarSFOFD513Rostered
Adam HaseleyPHIOFENo05 (early spec bid)
Jake MarisnickCHIOFE159 (up if Pederson misses time)
Kevin PillarNYMOFD511Rostered
Tyrone TaylorMILOFENo06
Mason WilliamsNYMOFENo05

STARTING PITCHER

Tucker Davidson, Braves: Davidson, profiled a few weeks ago after his first start in the majors, gets another mention as he recently made his second start. With Huascar Ynoa out after breaking his hand punching the dugout and Mike Soroka sidelined for several more weeks, the Braves had a hole in their rotation. Davidson received the first chance to fill that spot and allowed three runs, a homer, and one walk while tossing 53 of his 72 pitches for strikes in six innings, but was sent down. Command and control issues have plagued the lefty in the past, but he's been solid in the minors this year by only surrendering two runs while posting a 23:4 K:BB ratio across 20 innings to earn another call up. Davidson allowed one hit and five walks while striking out five in 5.2 scoreless innings Thursday and should remain in the Atlanta rotation. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Austin Gomber, Rockies: Gomber sat with a 6.31 ERA after his May 7 start, but he's figured it out over the past month compiling a 1.53 ERA and 0.82 WHIP coupled with an exceptional 32:3 K:BB in 29.1 IP. He's been far better at home than on the road, with a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 innings at Coors and 5.44 in 43 innings away from home. Gomber's improved command and control have played big parts in his recent success, which bode well for him to somewhat maintain his recent performance. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: Rostered

Tony Gonsolin, Dodgers: Gonsolin, sidelined since just before the season started with right shoulder inflammation, has rejoined the Dodgers in Atlanta and will make his season debut next week against the Pirates. He made his third and final rehab start Thursday, but was limited to 60 pitches – his high mark in the three starts - due to a stomach bug. Gonsolin is expected to replace David Price in the Dodgers' rotation, though it remains to be seen if that will be the case in his first appearance. He was 6-4 with a 2.60 earned-run average in 20 games (14 starts) across the last two seasons, deploying a four-pitch mix with a fastball averaging 95 MPH about half the time and a show-me curveball as well as a slider against righties and splitter against lefties. 12-team Mixed: $8, 15-team Mixed: $16; 12-team NL: Rostered (upped return bid) 

Chi Chi Gonzalez, Rockies: Gonzalez, moved out of the Colorado rotation after his May 19 start, will return to the Rockies' rotation in place of Jon Gray (strained flexor tendon). No word has been given as to how long Gray will be out, but Gonzalez figures to make several starts in his stead. He posted a 4.54 ERA over 41.2 innings as a starter, with less success in the bullpen and a low strikeout rate limits his upside. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7

Caleb Smith, Diamondbacks: Smith returned to the Arizona rotation Tuesday and allowed two runs in five innings. He'll remain there, at least in the short-term, due to the injury to Madison Bumgarner (shoulder). After making one start to begin the season, Smith shifted to the bullpen and pitched well with a 2.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 36:13 K:BB across 30 innings. He improved his changeup while working out of the bullpen, not only becoming a better strike-thrower while working as a reliever while refining his changeup into a usable fourth pitch. Smith now has the opportunity to make several more starts and could remain in the rotation the rest of the way if he pitches well enough. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Kohl Stewart, Cubs: With Trevor Williams out following an appendectomy, Stewart impressed in his first start of the season Monday by limiting the Padres to an unearned run on three hits and one walk while striking out two en route to his first big-league win since July 2019. That outing earned him a second start, which was much less successful as he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five in 3.2 innings Saturday against San Francisco. Williams may be back at the end of this week, which would likely result in Stewart's removal from the rotation. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

RELIEF PITCHER

Tejay Antone/Lucas Sims, Reds: Antone has been the Reds' most consistent reliever and extended his scoreless inning streak to 15.2 with a clean frame Saturday. He now has a 1.45 ERA and 40:11 K:BB in 30.1 innings on the season. Antone's ability to throw multiple innings is a major reason why he's operating in a setup role, rather than closing. Cincy has not named a formal closer, but Sims is the closest thing the team has to that. He notched another save Saturday, his fourth in his last five appearances. The ERA is still kind of ugly at 4.91, but Sims has produced 33 K in 22 innings pitched and looks to be fairly entrenched as the team's best ninth inning option. Antone and Amir Garrett will also factor in the mix, but Sims looks to be in the lead. Antone - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $11; Sims - 12-team Mixed: $7, 15-team Mixed: $14; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Rex Brothers, Cubs: Remember when Brothers was to be the next big thing in the Rockies' pen? He was great in 2013, but saw his performance go south. Brothers has resurrected his career this year in Chicago by notching seven holds with a 3.38 ERA and 30 strikeouts across just 18.1 innings as he helps to set up Craig Kimbrel. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Shane Greene, Braves: Greene, who went unsigned all winter and into the season, re-signed with Atlanta on May 9. He joined the big-league roster after making just four appearances at Triple-A Gwinnett. Greene posted a 2.60 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 21:9 K:BB over 27.2 innings for Atlanta in 2020 and will be one of the main setup men for Will Smith. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Seth Lugo, Mets: Lugo, who underwent surgery to remove a loose body from his elbow in mid-February, was activated off the 60-day injured list Monday. His return came after completing a relatively short rehab stint in the minors. Lugo was brilliant out of the pen as a multi-inning weapon last year. And after starting in that role last season, moved back to the rotation where he faltered. With Lugo back, he's part of the set-up crew in front of Edwin Diaz, where his fastball gets a spike in velocity and his curveball enables him to strike out hitters at a high rate while being used as a multi-inning reliever. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (same return bid)

CATCHER

James McCann, Mets: McCann, signed to a four-year, $40 million contract this offseason by the Mets, was off to a horrific start and had lost playing time to Tomas Nido. The move to first base while Pete Alonso was sidelined seems to have unlocked his bat. McCann is 10-for-26 in his last seven games while homering three times and driving in nine runs. The backstopper is now up to 227/.288/.362 with five home runs, 19 RBI and 11 runs scored in 42 games this season and seems likely to hit double-digit homers for the second time over his last three years. 12-team Mixed: $11, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered

FIRST BASE

Colin Moran, Pirates: Moran, on the injured list since May 9 with left groin discomfort, began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. It's not entirely clear how many games he'll need to play with Indianapolis before being activated to the major-league roster, but will likely rejoin the parent club sometime this week. Once activated, Moran - who was slashing .297/.352/.468 with four homers and 19 RBI when injured - will resume his role as the Bucs' starting first baseman. 12-team Mixed: $15; 15-team Mixed: $25; 12-team NL: Rostered

Pavin Smith, Diamondbacks: Smith's red-hot performance at the plate has forced manager Torey Lovullo to pencil his name in the lineup almost daily. He extended his hit streak Thursday to 14 games Thursday, during which he has gone 21-for-50 with six extra-base hits - including two homers - eight RBI and nine runs scored. Smith is either starting at first base with Christian Walker sitting or in the outfield depending where an equally hot Josh Reddick is deployed. Smith has provided an .805 OPS while striking out in only 15.9 percent of his 220 plate appearances this season. 12-team Mixed: $15, 15-team Mixed: $25; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Joey Votto, Reds: Votto, out since he fractured his left thumb May 5, began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. It's unknown how long the Reds plan to have him spend with Louisville, but he seems likely to rejoin Cincinnati's lineup sometime this week. Manager David Bell said Votto's biggest obstacle is managing the pain of catching the baseball, so it's possible the team may give him a few more games in the minors to see how well he can deal with the discomfort. Votto is no longer a power hitter or one that provides a solid batting average, so his value is higher in leagues that use OBA due to his solid walk ratio. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Patrick Wisdom, Cubs: Wisdom, profiled last week when he was called up from Triple-A Iowa to provide much-needed infield depth while Matt Duffy (back) spends time on the injured list, gets another mention as he's made the most of his playing time going 12-for-30 with five home runs in his 12 appearances since being promoted. The Cubs are playing Wisdom mainly at third base with Kris Bryant shifting to the outfield due to team injuries. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (up if he remains in the lineup) 

SECOND BASE

Travis Blankenhorn/Mike Freeman/Tucupita Marcano/Alan Trejo/Ildemaro Vargas: The Mets, Reds, Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks acquired or called up backup middle infielders this week. Blankenhorn was claimed off waivers by the Mets from the Mariners on Tuesday and added to the team's 26-man roster ahead of Tuesday's game against Arizona. He will see some time at second or third base while New York is dealing with injuries, but is also a candidate to be DFA'd when Luis Guillorme returns. Freeman was promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday, joining the Reds for the first time this year. He's struggled with a .208 average in 48 Triple-A at-bats this season, so don't expect much from him when in the lineup. Marcano was promoted last Sunday, his third stint with the major-league club this year. He's backing up Jake Cronenworth at second and could see action at shortstop and the outfield. Trejo, recalled Tuesday, fills the roster spot of Connor Joe and is receiving some time at shortstop until Trevor Story (elbow) recovers from injury. Vargas is back with Arizona after stints with Pittsburgh and Chicago. The D-Backs will deploy him around the infield, but the return of Asdrubal Cabrera and solid play of Josh Rojas limit his upside. All - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Brandon Drury/Jose Peraza, Mets: Drury and Peraza receive mild upgrades as they have been covering third and second base with Jonathan Villar sidelined with hamstring tightness. Neither has been stellar, but both have been mildly productive and counting stats are counting stats -  especially in NL-only leagues, where obtaining position players is somewhat challenging. When Villar returns, Drury is the one most likely impacted and will return to the bench. Drury - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6; Peraza - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7

THIRD BASE

Asdrubal Cabrera, Diamondbacks: Cabrera, out since May 14 with strained right hamstring, was projected to miss at least four weeks and possibly much longer. He originally considered surgery, but opted to rehab first. Cabrera ran at 70-80 percent earlier the week, but healed faster than expected and was surprisingly activated Friday. He hit quite well before suffering a hamstring injury by posting a .289/.393/.474 slash line with four home runs and 18 runs batted in. Cabrera was activated but not in the lineup Friday, though he should see playing time at least until Arizona flips him for a prospect before the trade deadline. 12-team Mixed: $7; 15-team Mixed: $15; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Luis Guillorme, Mets: Guillorme, out since Apr. 30 with a strained right oblique, is expected to rejoin the Mets at the end of the week. He began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse on Friday, where he will play a few games. Once back with the club, Guillorme could see substantial playing time with Jeff McNeil (hamstring) and J.D. Davis (hand) banged up, though McNeil may begin a rehab assignment in a week or so. In addition, Jose Peraza and Brandon Drury are also in the infield mix. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7

SHORTSTOP

Nick Ahmed, Diamondbacks: Ahmed is putting an abysmal start to the season behind him, as the shortstop has heated up since late May. He was hitting just .187 as of May 23, but has gone 15-for-41 over his last 11 games and up his average to .232. Ahmed was once a glove-only shortstop, but his 16 home runs in 2018 and 19 in 2019 while driving in 152 runs over those two years and was on pace for similar numbers in a shortened campaign last year. His slow start may have made him available in your leagues and the upside warrants a look. 12-team Mixed: $9; 15-team Mixed: $18; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Paul DeJong, Cardinals: DeJong will start a rehab assignment at Triple-A Nashville Saturday and hopes to rejoin the Cardinals at some point during their series with the Cubs next week. Since landing on the 10-day injured list May 14 with a non-displaced rib fracture, he's slowly eased back into baseball activities and is ready to see game action. Prior to getting injured, DeJong was hitting just .177/.277/.371 with seven homers, three doubles, 17 RBI and 18 runs through 33 games in 2021. Edmundo Sosa has stepped in as the Cardinals' everyday shortstop since DeJong was shut down with the injury and will transition to spot duty when the latter returns - although he'll need to show he deserves the starting spot. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered

Luis Urias, Brewers: Urias, displaced at shortstop when Milwaukee acquired Willy Adames, will start at second with Kolten Wong (oblique) landing on the injured list. Since shifting to a utility role, Urias has been hot at the plate blasting four of his seven home runs and driving in 10 of his 25 runs the past three weeks. He should now be in the lineup daily until Wong returns from the injured list, which figures to be sometime in late-June at the earliest. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

OUTFIELD

Abraham Almonte/Lewis Brinson/Travis Jankowski/Pablo Reyes: The Braves, Marlins, Phillies and Brewers acquired or called up fifth outfielders this week. Almonte's contract was selected by Atlanta on Monday after he hit .403 with three home runs, 19 RBI and 16 runs in 19 games with Triple-A Gwinnett. He will see some time in left field, though Ehire Adrianza looks to be the clear-cut starter at the position. Brinson was reinstated from the injured list Thursday and optioned to Triple-A, but made a quick return to the major-league roster with Elieser Hernandez (quad) landing on the injured list. His inability to make consistent contact limits upside, but he provides outfield depth for Miami. Jankowski's contract was selected by the Phillies last Sunday with Roman Quinn hitting the 60-day injured list with an Achilles injury. With Bryce Harper (forearm) also out and Adam Haseley (personal) not yet ready to return, Jankowski is being deployed in right and center field. Reyes faired decently in his first stint with Milwaukee this season by slashing .270/.270/.324 across 37 plate appearances. With Kolten Wong (oblique) landing on the 10-day injured list Friday joining Lorenzo Cain (hamstring), Reyes has rejoined the big club and could get opportunities in the outfield. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Harrison Bader, Cardinals: Bader, out since May 25 with a right rib hairline fracture, was seen wearing a fielder's glove and doing light throwing Friday. He's slowly increased his activity and it's not yet clear if he'll need a rehab stint or be activated to the active roster off the injured list. Bader hit three home runs his first eight games off the injured list, but just one more before he was sidelined. Dylan Carlson has handled most of the starts in center in Bader's absence, but the latter should regain his starting spot with Carlson shifting to right and Tyler O'Neill in left. 12-team Mixed: $4; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: Rostered 

Steven Duggar, Giants: Duggar is in line for additional playing time with Mike Yastrzemski hitting the injured list with a thumb injury. Heading into Friday, Duggar had a .319/.364/.542 slash line across 77 plate appearances while hitting safely in eight of nine contests. He's added three home runs, 12 RBI, 13 runs scored and a steal while sharing time in center field in San Francisco's crowded outfield, which has seen players shuffled in and out. Duggar and  Austin Slater - to a lesser extent - benefit from Yastrzemski's absence and Mike Tauchman's slump. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $13; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Adam Haseley, Phillies: Haseley, on the restricted list since Apr. 14, reported to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment. Despite being out, he rejoined the Phillies for workouts about three weeks ago and is now ready to get some competitive at-bats in the minors before returning to the active roster. Odubel Herrera has since taken over as the Phillies' everyday center fielder, but Haseley could still factor into the mix for regular at-bats in right once activated if Bryce Harper (forearm) remains on the injured list. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec return bid) 

Jake Marisnick, Cubs: Marisnick, out since May 9 with a strained right hamstring, has rejoined the Cubs but has yet to be activated. He took batting practice in San Francisco for a second straight day and participated in running/agility drills Saturday, so he is close to returning. Joc Pederson left Saturday's game with back tightness, so Marisnick could be in line for additional playing time if activated and Pederson misses some time. Jason Heyward, out with a hamstring injury of his own, returned Saturday and is back in right field. Marisnick will see some time in center or left field once activated. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (up if Peterson misses time)

Kevin Pillar, Mets: Pillar, struck in the face with a fastball on May 17, returned to action two weeks later. The hit-by-pitch resulted in surgery to repair several multiple facial fractures. Pillar is wearing a protective mask on his face while playing the field, as his surgically repaired nose remains broken and won't fully heal for 2-to-4 more weeks. Since returning, he's started four straight while resuming the role from before playing at all three outfield spots with Brandon Nimmo (finger) and Michael Conforto (hamstring) still sidelined. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Tyrone Taylor, Brewers: Taylor was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday to replace Lorenzo Cain, who landed on the 10-day IL Tuesday with a strained right hamstring, He rejoins the Brewers just a week after being optioned to Nashville. Taylor slashed just .203/.298/.365 in 84 plate appearances when he was sent down, but has enjoyed a bit more success with a pair of home runs Tuesday and two runs driven in Saturday. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6

Mason Williams, Mets: Williams, who has bounced around three other organizations, was promoted by the Mets on Monday. He earned that call up by slashing .373/.458/.569 with a home run and two stolen bases in 19 games with Triple-A Syracuse. Williams started several games in center field, but has ceded time to Kevin Pillar as he puts the injury in the rear-view mirror. Williams should retain his spot on the roster thanks to his ability to play all three outfield spots and solid defense, at least until the Mets get one or two of Jeff McNeil (hamstring), Michael Conforto (hamstring) or Brandon Nimmo (finger) back from the injured list. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 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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