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 $
Aaron AshbyMILSPDNo05
Edward CabreraMIASPD147
Erick FeddeWASSPD2711
Braxton GarrettMIASPENoNo3
Tony GonsolinLASPD816 (same return bid)Rostered
Sammy LongSFSPE016
Alec MillsCHISPE027
Aaron SanchezSFSPD015
Sixto SanchezMIASPC147
Tony SantillanCINSPENo05
Thomas SzapuckiNYMSPDNo05
Dylan

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 $
Aaron AshbyMILSPDNo05
Edward CabreraMIASPD147
Erick FeddeWASSPD2711
Braxton GarrettMIASPENoNo3
Tony GonsolinLASPD816 (same return bid)Rostered
Sammy LongSFSPE016
Alec MillsCHISPE027
Aaron SanchezSFSPD015
Sixto SanchezMIASPC147
Tony SantillanCINSPENo05
Thomas SzapuckiNYMSPDNo05
Dylan FloroMIARPE147
Tommy NanceCHIRPE015
Curt CasaliSFCENoNo4
Jose LobatonCHICENoNo4
Brandon BeltSF1BC/D715Rostered
Lewin DiazMIA1BENo15
Connor JoeCOL1BENoNo5
Albert PujolsLA1BC/D1118Rostered
Daniel VogelbachMIL1BE159
Joey VottoCIN1BC/D91625 (upper bid from prior week)
Matt CarpenterSTL2BD/E511Rostered
Chris OwingsSD2BENoNo5
Andy BurnsLA3BENoNo4
Phillip EvansPIT3BE017
Luis GuillormeNYM3BE015 (slightly dropped bid from prior week)
Luke WilliamsPHI3BE016
Paul DeJongSTLSSD511Rostered
Albert AlmoraNYMOFENo05 (early spec return bid)
Aristides AquinoCINOFE016 (slightly upped return bid)
Kole CalhounAZOFC/D3914 (early spec return bid)
Ender InciarteATLOFE016
Jake MarisnickCHIOFE159
Brandon NimmoNYMOFC/D2711 (early spec return bid)
Jared OlivaPITOFD147 (early spec call up bid)
Jace PetersonMILOFENoNo4
Luke RaleyLAOFENoNo4

STARTING PITCHER 

Aaron Ashby, Brewers: Ashby, who opened the year in the rotation, moved to the bullpen at Triple-A Nashville to work as a multi-inning reliever in preparation for an eventual call-up. He logged a 1.02 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 17.2 innings over his final three starts at Triple-A, but surrendered two earned runs on one hit and two walks while striking out three in two innings during his first appearance as a multi-inning reliever Wednesday. The Brewers will likely stretch Ashby back out in 2022 when he could compete for a spot in the big-league rotation, but look for him to be brought up as a reliever within the next few weeks. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec call up bid) 

Edward Cabrera, Marlins: Cabrera dealt with right shoulder discomfort and a back issue last year and was diagnosed with an inflamed nerve in his biceps that resulted in a late start to this season. He pitched three scoreless innings in his 2021 debut Sunday for Low-A Jupiter allowing two hits and no walks while striking out three over his 37-pitch outing. Cabrera made a second rehab appearance on Friday and could advance to Double-A for a start or two before moving to Triple-A Jacksonville. He pairs a plus breaking ball with his plus-plus fastball, while his third-pitch changeup is still a bit of a work in progress as is his command. Considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, Cabrera could get a look in the bigs at some point after the All-Star break if he's able to string together a few quality outings at Triple-A once he completes his rehab assignment. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early bid, upped as he gets closer) 

Erick Fedde, Nationals: Fedde, on the COVID-19 IL since May 19, made his first Major League start Saturday since May 16. He was sharp in his return by limiting San Francisco to only four singles while issuing no free passes and striking out seven in five innings over 82 pitches to notch the win. Fedde, who lowered his ERA to 3.86 and is now averaging nearly a K per inning with Saturday's outing, lines up to start one of the games during next Friday's doubleheader against the Mets. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

Braxton Garrett, Marlins: Garrett, unimpressive in his first exposure to the majors, was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Jacksonville to fill the roster spot of Daniel Castano (shoulder) who landed on the 10-day injured list. Having held opponents scoreless in two of his last three minor-league starts, Garrett produced a 1.69 ERA and 17:4 K:BB over his last three starts (16 innings) at Triple-A. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three across four innings to take the loss against the Rockies. Garrett will likely will toe the rubber for one more turn through the rotation, depending on the timeline for several Miami starters to return to the mound. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3

Tony Gonsolin, Dodgers: Gonsolin, sidelined since just before the season started with right shoulder inflammation, made his season debut Wednesday against the Pirates allowing a run on two hits and five walks with four strikeouts in 1.2 innings while only throwing 33 of 66 pitches for strikes. He's replaced David Price in the Dodgers' rotation, though he needs to stretched out after maximizing at 60 pitches in his minor-league rehab outings. Gonsolin went 6-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 20 games (14 starts) across the last two seasons, deploying a four-pitch mix and using 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 (same return bid)

Sammy Long, Giants: Long, drafted in the 18th round in 2016 by Tampa Bay, allowed one run on a hit and a walk in four innings while striking out seven in his major-league debut Wednesday against the Rangers. He earned his first big league callup after logging a 1.99 ERA with 37 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in six appearances (five starts) between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento this year. Long tossed 69 pitches as a bulk reliver and is expected to join the starting rotation Monday against the Diamondback. His repertoire includes a mid-90s fastball, 12-to-6 curveball and changeup and he could hold the role until Aaron Sanchez is ready to return. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Alec Mills, Cubs:  Mills, out since May 16 with a strained lower back, was activated Tuesday. His return to the Cubs comes after he worked six scoreless innings for Triple-A Iowa in his most recent rehab start Jun. 2 where he scattered two hits and one walk while striking out four in the 60-pitch outing. Mills worked in long relief for Chicago before the injury, but he's been built up for starting duty through his first three rehab outings in Iowa. He may be a candidate to step into the big-league rotation in the near future – possibly even Monday - with Trevor Williams (abdomen) and Adbert Alzolay (finger) on the injured list and Kohl Stewart far from inspiring confidence as a replacement for both. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team NL: $7

Aaron Sanchez, Giants: Sanchez, on the 10-day injured list with right biceps tightness since May 8, joined Triple-A Sacramento for a rehab assignment Monday and allowed one run on two hits over two innings. Prior to being sidelined, Sanchez posted a 3.18 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 24:10 K:BB through 28.1 innings, but did record an out in the sixth inning as the Giants limited his innings. He'll likely need 2-3 more minor-league starts before returning to the major-league roster. Once back, Sanchez will be a candidate for the fifth-starter spot. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec return bid)

Sixto Sanchez, Marlins: Sanchez, dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder since the end of March, gets another mention as he resumed his throwing program Tuesday after getting shut down for a bit. If all goes well in coming weeks, he should remain on track for a return to action sometime in the first half of July. Sanchez, drafted by the Phillies in 2015, looked good in his seven-start debut last season cruising to a 3.46 ERA, but has dealt with injuries throughout his career. When healthy, he boasts three 70-grade pitches in his 97 MPH sinker, 99 MPH four-seamer and 89 MPH changeup while also mixing in a power slider and mid-80s curveball. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (same early spec bid)

Tony Santillan, Reds: Santillan looked to be on track to debut with the Reds in 2019 after a fine 2018 campaign, but he regressed in his second go-around at Double-A to dim his prospect status. He started this season well at Triple-A Louisville by posting a 2.51 ERA and a 34.4 percent strikeout rate through six starts to earn a call up. Santillan will step into the rotation for at least one start with Sonny Gray (groin) and Jeff Hoffman (shoulder) both injured, though he could stick if he pitches well with Hoffman out for a bit longer. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5

Thomas Szapucki, Mets: Szapucki, taken in the fifth round in 2015, has endured an injury-plagued minor-league career, but has been productive when on the mound. If the Mets do need another starter – as their rotation has been beset by absences – Szapucki might be next in line. He struggled in his last start, but his excellent fastball-curve combination should play up in the majors. Due to doubleheaders on the 19th (in Washington) and 21st (versus Atlanta), the Mets will soon need to temporarily add sixth and seventh starters to the mix and Szapucki would appear to be a strong candidate to fill one of the openings. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4

RELIEF PITCHER

Dylan Floro, Marlins: Floro notched the save Saturday - his second of the season - after Yimi Garcia pitched each of the last two games. The 30-year-old has only been scored upon in three of 30 appearances this season, although he got tagged for a total of 10 runs in those other three outings resulting in a 3.33 ERA and 23:10 K:BB through 27 innings with two wins and eight holds in addition to his saves. Floro looks to be next in line for saves whenever Garcia is unavailable. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Tommy Nance, Cubs: Nance continues to excel out of the Cubs pen, having gone 11.1 innings without allowing a run and striking out 13 since being called up from Triple-A Iowa on May 16. The 30-year-old rookie has been an excellent bridge to Craig Kimbrel notching four holds since his promotion. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

CATCHER

Curt Casali/Jose Lobaton: The Giants and Cubs activated or called up backup catchers this week. Casali wound up missing slightly more than the minimum 10 days with a left wrist strain, as he was activated Saturday. He'll resume his role as Buster Posey's backup, with Chadwick Tromp heading to Triple-A. Lobaton joined Chicago on Friday with P.J. Higgins (forearm) landing on the 10-day injured list. He should see limited opportunities while serving as the backup to starter Willson Contreras. All - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

FIRST BASE

Brandon Belt, Giants: Belt, who dealt with side tightness in mid-May that finally landed him on the injured list May 26, returned to action Tuesday. With Evan Longoria (shoulder) gone to the IL on Monday with an injury that will likely sideline him 4-to-6 weeks, Belt should be in the lineup daily now. Overall, it's been a disappointing season for him after managing a career-best slash line last season. But Belt had been red-hot before the side issues began and will be counted on to some degree to cushion the blow from the loss of Longoria. 12-team Mixed: $7, 15-team Mixed: $15; 12-team NL: Rostered

Lewin Diaz, Marlins: Diaz was called up from Triple-A Jacksonville on Wednesday as a replacement for first baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar strain. Jesus Aguilar is locked in at first base, meaning Diaz will likely serve mainly as a left-handed bat off the bench as he's limited defensively to first base. He clubbed a pinch-hit home run Saturday and could be a factor at DH when Miami plays in AL parks. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Connor Joe, Rockies: Joe, in the majors for May, was sent back down at the beginning of June. He was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday after Matt Adams (elbow) was placed on the injured list. The 28-year-old will likely take on a depth role for Colorado and see the occasional start at first base. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

Albert Pujols, Dodgers: Pujols, profiled when he first joined the Dodgers from the Angels, gets another mention as he is in line for almost daily playing time with Max Muncy landing on the injured list with a strained oblique. A return to the National League appears to have reinvigorated the future Hall-Of-Famer as he's raised his slash line from .198/.250/.372 to .225/.276/.451 after 19 games with Los Angeles while batting .268/.317/.571 with five home runs and 13 RBI through Friday's action. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $18; 12-team NL: Rostered

Daniel Vogelbach, Brewers: Vogelbach's overall numbers are nothing to write home about, though he has been better of late. He's seeing consistent playing time again with Keston Hiura recently sent back to Triple-A. Vogelbach has hit three of his six home runs this season over the past two weeks and is worth a flyer with Hiura down the in the minors since he should be in the lineup almost daily. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Joey Votto, Reds: Votto, out since he fractured his left thumb May 5, was activated Tuesday after completing a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. While no longer a power hitter or one that provides a solid batting average, his value is higher in leagues that use OBA due to his solid walk ratio. Votto did homer Thursday and Friday and was heating up before he was sidelined, so jump on board and hope the run continues. 12-team Mixed: $9, 15-team Mixed: $16; 12-team NL: $25 (upped bid from prior week) 

SECOND BASE

Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: Carpenter saw an uptick in playing time when Paul DeJong hit the 10-day injured list with a non-displaced rib fracture on May 14. He moved back into the starting lineup while playing second base and pushing Tommy Edman to shortstop. Carpenter is 9-for-29 with five doubles, seven RBI, four walks and two runs across his last 11 games. DeJong returned Thursday, but Carpenter is still starting at second with Edman now playing right or left field with Harrison Bader sidelined and Dylan Carlson in center. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: Rostered

Chris Owings, Rockies: Owings, who sprained his thumb in early April badly enough to require surgery and a trip to the 60-day injured list, is expected to begin a rehab assignment Sunday. His rehab assignment probably won't be short, but it won't be too long before he's back on the big-league roster. Owings will back up at several position for the Rockies once back in the majors. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

THIRD BASE

Andy Burns, Dodgers: Burns was promoted Saturday to give the Dodgers additional bench strength with Max Muncy on the IL. The 30-year-old started the season quite well for Triple-A Oklahoma City by hitting .330/.427/.598 with five homers and seven steals across 30 games. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

Phillip Evans, Pirates: Evans, sidelined since suffering a left hamstring strain in mid-May, was reinstated from the 10-day injured list Tuesday. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Jun. 1 prior to rejoining the Pirates. Evans was in a 7-for-53 funk before getting hurt, so it will be interesting to see whether he can find his stroke after a month-long layoff. The 28-year-old figures to continue serving as a reserve utility man going forward, but he could see more time in left field with Ka'ai Tom struggling and third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes and first baseman Colin Moran both healthy - although Moran is nursing a minor hand injury. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $7 

Luis Guillorme, Mets: Guillorme, out since Apr. 30 with a strained right oblique, was activated from the 10-day injured list Friday after completing a six-game rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse. Now back with the Mets, Guillorme could see substantial playing time - largely at second base - with Jeff McNeil (hamstring) and J.D. Davis (hand) banged up, but McNeil is expected back at the end of the week. In addition, Jose Peraza and Brandon Drury are also in the infield mix. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (slightly dropped bid from prior week) 

Luke Williams, Phillies: Williams, selected in the third round in 2015, was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He earned the call-up by slashing an impressive .352/.439/.465 across 82 plate appearances at Triple-A before going to help Team USA qualify for the Olympics. Williams made his major-league debut this week and will see time at second, third, short and outfield now that he is up with Philly. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

SHORTSTOP 

Paul DeJong, Cardinals: DeJong was activated Thursday after completing a short rehab assignment at Triple-A Nashville. Since going on the 10-day injured list May 14 with a non-displaced rib fracture, he slowly eased back into baseball activities, peaking with a rehab stint and now activation. Prior to the injury, 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 DeJong will need to show he deserves retaining the starting spot. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered 

OUTFIELD

Albert Almora, Mets: Almora, out since May 11 with a left shoulder bruise after crashing into the center field wall, joined Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday to begin a rehab assignment. Brandon Nimmo (finger), Michael Conforto (hamstring) and Johneshwy Fargas (shoulder) are all on the injured list, forcing New York to mix-and-match in the outfield while Kevin Pillar (nose) returned to action over a week ago. When Almora returns, his playing time will be dictated if any of those aforementioned players have come back and the play of those brought in or called up. Nimmo is close to starting a rehab assignment with Conforto not far behind. When everyone is healthy, Almora will resume his role as a spot-starter and defensive specialist. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec return bid)

Aristides Aquino, Reds: Aquino, who underwent wrist surgery in mid-April and landed on the 60-day injured list, could return from when first eligible Sunday. He certainly looks ready to go judging by his numbers in six rehab games going 5-for-19 at the plate with a homer, eight walks and obly one strikeout. Brilliant in 2019, Aquino returned to earth last season and was plagued by an inability to hit the breaking pitch or a changeup hitting .118 against breaking pitches and going hitless against off-speed offerings. Look for him to be a backup outfielder when promoted due to the depth in the Cincy outfield coupled with that weakness. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 (slightly upped return bid)

Kole Calhoun, Diamondbacks: Calhoun, sidelined since Apr. 27, could be back when eligible Jun. 27. With Arizona in last place in the NL West, the team will likely look to shop him at the trade deadline as he's in the final year of a two-year, $16 million contract that includes a team option for 2022. The 33-year-old hit .292/.333/.479 with two home runs and one steal in 13 outings prior to suffering the injury. Calhoun has recently been a moderate source of power, albeit with a weak batting average. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (early spec return bid)

Ender Inciarte, Braves: Inciarte started his third straight game in center field Saturday. After looking to be behind Guillermo Heredia on the depth chart, Inciarte now appears as the primary option. A platoon between the pair could be a natural setup, with the left-handed Inciarte getting the majority of the opportunities ahead of the right-handed Heredia. Despite seeing more action lately, Inciarte hasn't been productive thereby limiting his upside and his potential on the job. Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6 

Jake Marisnick, Cubs: Marisnick, out since May 9 with a strained right hamstring, was activated Tuesday. He was off to a strong start this season with a .973 OPS and four homers through 27 games before the injury and should continue seeing regular time as Chicago's fourth outfielder while starting mainly against southpaws. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (same as prior week)

Brandon Nimmo, Mets: Nimmo, out since May 1 with a small ligament tear near the base of his left index finger, could begin a rehab assignment sometime this week. Originally thought to be dealing with a nerve issue, a second opinion revealed the actual injury. Nimmo appears to be tracking toward a late-June activation from the injured list if he avoids setbacks. Once activated, he should start almost daily while sitting against certain lefties and provide solid across-the-board production especially in leagues that count OBA. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (early spec return bid, up as he gets closer)

Jared Oliva, Pirates: Oliva, out since the spring with a strained left oblique, joined Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. Speed is his main weapon, but he has the body type, frame and athleticism to add more power as he matures. Left field has been a nightmare for the Pirates almost all season, so Oliva could be a candidate for a major-league call-up in the near future if he's able to get off to a hot start at the plate. Once up, Pittsburgh has little to lose from regularly putting him in the lineup. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec call up bid)

Jace Peterson/Luke Raley: The Brewers and Dodgers called up fifth outfielders this week. Peterson was promoted from Triple-A Nashville, where he'll look to improve upon a .208/.321/.458 slash line that he posted in 28 major-league plate appearances during April. He took the roster spot of Keston Hiura, who was optioned down. Peterson could be in the mix for starts at the hot corner along with Daniel Robertson and Pablo Reyes with Luis Urias needed at second to cover for the absence of Kolten Wong (oblique) - though Wong may be back in a week. With Max Muncy forced to go on the injured list with a right-oblique strain, a spot opened up for Raley to return to the big leagues. He posted a subpar .182/.280/.273 slash line across 50 plate appearances during his previous stints with the big club this year and will be a bench bat again in this stint. Both - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

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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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