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 $
Elieser HernandezWASSPC/D511Rostered
Kwang Hyun KimSTLSPD147 (early spec return bid)
Miles MikolasSTLSPD2711 (upped spec return bid)
Dillon PetersPITSPE016
Justin SteeleCHISPD015
Keegan ThompsonCHISPE015
Luke WeaverAZSPD159 (upped spec return bid)
Jordan YamamotoNYMSPE015
Huascar YnoaATLSPC112233 (upped return bid)
Tejay AntoneCINRP

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 $
Elieser HernandezWASSPC/D511Rostered
Kwang Hyun KimSTLSPD147 (early spec return bid)
Miles MikolasSTLSPD2711 (upped spec return bid)
Dillon PetersPITSPE016
Justin SteeleCHISPD015
Keegan ThompsonCHISPE015
Luke WeaverAZSPD159 (upped spec return bid)
Jordan YamamotoNYMSPE015
Huascar YnoaATLSPC112233 (upped return bid)
Tejay AntoneCINRPB/C147
Tyler ClippardAZRPC/D51116
Kyle FinneganWASRPD71422
Codi HeuerCHIRPD2711
Riley AdamsWASCD2711
Patrick MazeikaNYMCENoNo4
Chance SiscoNYMCENoNo4
Frank SchwindelCHI1BD51116
Nico HoernerCHI2BC2711, if not Rostered
Gavin LuxLA2BC015 (higher in keeper leagues)
Jurickson ProfarSD2BD147
Yoshi TsutsugoPIT3BE159
Jose BarreroCINSSB/C015 (up in keeper leagues)
Freddy GalvisPHISSC2711 (early spec return bid)
Alan TrejoCOLSSENoNo4
Shogo AkiyamaCINOFENo05
Aristides AquinoCINOFD/E159
Jorge BonifacioPHIOFE015
Austin DeanSTLOFENoNo3
Lane ThomasWASOFE015
Ben GamelPITOFE159
Michael HermosilloCHIOFE147
Jesus SanchezMIAOFB1122Rostered

STARTING PITCHER

Elieser Hernandez, Marlins: Hernandez, who left his first start of the year in the third inning with biceps tendon inflammation and was placed on the 60-day injured list twice, was activated and started Sunday. He allowed a run on four hits and a walk over 5.1 innings, striking out four while not factoring in the decision. Hernandez's second start wasn't as successful, as he lasted just 4.2 innings against the Reds on Friday giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out six and tossing 54 of his 68 pitches for strikes. His return came after three minor-league rehab starts at Triple-A Jacksonville, where he surrendered only one run while posting an 18:0 K:BB across 11.2 innings. Hernandez's stuff screams major upside, but limited innings last year means he's unlikely to pitch much more than 100 this year - presuming he's able to stay healthy. But the upside makes the 26-year-old right-hander an intriguing pitcher to stash in leagues where he's on the waiver wire. 12-team Mixed: $5: 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: Rostered (same bid from prior) 

Kwang Hyun Kim, Cardinals: Kim, sidelined since Aug. 8 with left elbow inflammation, began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. He allowed two earned runs on a pair of solo home runs across two innings while striking out two on 34 pitches. Manager Mike Shildt said the team hopes to build the southpaw back up to a starter's workload before being activated, but Kim could return before back to his full pitch count if the Cardinals encounter any more injuries on their pitching staff. Prior to being sidelined, Kim posted a 3.36 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP over 91 innings, though he struggled his last three starts before landing on the IL. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid)

Miles Mikolas, Cardinals: Mikolas, on the shelf since late May while recovering from the forearm injury, returned to action for St. Louis on Friday. He pitched five innings and allowed two unearned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out five. That start came after Mikolas covered seven innings while giving up three earned runs and striking out eight on 86 pitches last Saturday at Triple-A Memphis in what marked the fifth outing of his rehab assignment. He needed the extra time in the minors after struggling in a handful of rehab starts, but will likely remain in the Cardinals' rotation the rest of the way. Mikolas ended 2019 with a sore flexor tendon that lingered into 2020 and resulted in a late start to this season. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (upped return bid) 

Dillon Peters, Pirates:  Peters, acquired from the Angels in mid-July, made his first major-league appearance of 2021 giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts over 4.2 innings to take the loss Sunday against Milwaukee. With Bryse Wilson (general soreness) on the shelf, Peters remained in the Bucs' rotation for at least one turn. That outing came Saturday, where he allowed a run on three hits and a walk while striking out three in five innings to likely earn at least one more start. Peters compiled a 7-8 record and 5.83 ERA over two seasons each with the Marlins (2017-18) and Angels (2019-20) in 31 games (24 starts), so tread carefully. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Keegan Thompson, Cubs: Thompson was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to start Saturday against the Royals. He allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one while tossing 73 pitches over four innings. Though Thompson worked out of the bullpen in all but one of his 27 appearances with the Cubs this season and posted a 2.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 43:22 K:BB over 40.2 innings, he was stretched out as a starter at Triple-A since being demoted in late July. He built up to 62 pitches during his most recent start for Iowa last Sunday, spinning 4.1 no-hit innings while striking out seven. With Chicago looking for the future, Thompson could earn a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season to audition for a full-time starting role in 2022. He could also shift back to the bullpen when Adbert Alzolay (hamstring) is ready to return. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Luke Weaver, Diamondbacks: Weaver, on the shelf since mid-May with a strained rotator cuff, made his third rehab start Friday covering 4.1 innings for Triple-A Reno. He surrendered three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out six and threw 50 of his 73 pitches for strikes. Weaver could be activated off the 60-day injured list and rejoin the Diamondbacks rotation this week. Before he was shut down in late May with a right rotator cuff strain, he made eight starts for Arizona logging a 4.50 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 40 innings. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (upped spec return bid) 

Jordan Yamamoto, Mets: Yamamoto, on the injured list since late May due to a sore right shoulder, began a rehab assignment with the rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate Friday. That appearance, where he tossed a scoreless inning, comes a few weeks after resuming mound work in mid-July. Yamamoto will likely require several appearances in the minors before he rejoins the major-league club. However, he should be available as a starting option for the Mets if they need one in September, which looks somewhat likely. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (early spec return bid)

Huascar Ynoa, Braves: Ynoa, who fractured his hand on May 17, allowed three hits and one walk with four strikeouts across 5.1 scoreless innings and 80 pitches in his first start off the IL Tuesday against the Marlins. That outing came after three minor-league rehab appearances in which he tossed 10.1 innings. Prior to the injury, Ynoa posted a 3.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 50:11 K:BB through 44.2 innings. 12-team Mixed: $11; 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: $33 (upped return bid)

RELIEF PITCHER

Tejay Antone, Reds: Antone, on the shelf since late June with a strained forearm, could return from the injured list next Tuesday. He's already made six rehab appearances while striking out eight and allowing two runs – one earned - on four hits and three walks over 5.2 innings of work. Antone pitched Wednesday and Thursday, meeting the condition to appear in back-to-back days before being cleared to return. He'll likely get one more outing on Sunday before the club makes a decision on whether to activate him. Mychal Givens has settled the back-end of the Cincy bullpen while Lucas Sims just returned from his injury, so Antone might be limited to setup duty but could see some save chances. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Tyler Clippard, Diamondbacks: Clippard, who returned in late July from a capsule sprain in his right shoulder suffered midway through spring training, has grabbed control of the closer role in Arizona. Not every save has been easy and he's been helped by some injuries in the back-end of the D-Backs bullpen, but he's saved four of five chances while posting a 2.45 ERA with nine strikeouts and three walks over 11 innings. Noe Ramirez and others could still factor in the mix, but Clippard looks to be the one to roster. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16

Kyle Finnegan, Nationals: Finnegan continues to get the job done as the closer in Washington having picked up all five of his saves since Jul. 29 while carrying a 0.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 5:2 K:BB over 9.2 innings since. He assumed the role after Brad Hand was traded to the Blue Jays and setup man Daniel Hudson dealt to the Padres. Finnegan enjoyed a breakout year in the minors in 2019, which he credited to lowering his arm slot and finally got his chance at the major-league level in 2020 posting a 25.2 K% leading to a .226 BAA. 12-team Mixed: $7, 15-team Mixed: $14; 12-team NL: $22

Codi Heuer, Cubs: Heuer, acquired from crosstown rival White Sox in the Craig Kimbrel deal, notched his first save for the South Siders on Tuesday pitching two perfect innings of relief with two strikeouts. Since coming over from the Pale Hose, the righty has posted an impressive 1.80 ERA across 10 innings of work with six strikeouts. The 25-year-old, who offers closer-like stuff, hadn't been able to transfer that into production this season with a 5.12 ERA for the White Sox before the trade. Heuer notched a 1.53 ERA in 23.2 innings last year and could see more save opportunities down the stretch as the Cubs take stock of young players heading into next season. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 

CATCHER 

Riley Adams, Nationals: Adams, profiled when promoted a few weeks ago, gets another mention as he's been red-hot. Acquired from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent Brad Hand to Toronto last week, Adams hit an ugly .107 across his first 30 major-league plate appearances. He's getting a fresh start with Washington while offering a little pop in his bat and is slashing .333/.412/.600 with a pair or homers and seven RBI in 13 games with the Nationals. Adams also blasted his first major-league home run Saturday. He technically is the No. 2 catcher behind Tres Barrera, but Barrera hasn't shown much. With Keibert Ruiz struggling in the minors, Adams could hold the starting job the rest of the campaign. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Patrick Mazeika/Chance Sisco, Mets: With James McCann dealing with back spasms and landing on the IL on Friday retroactive to Aug. 17 and Tomas Nido (thumb) also on the IL, Mazeika and Sisco were recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. The 27-year-old Mazeika spent a month-and-a-half in the minors, but has handled starting duties with McCann sidelined. Sisco, who was claimed off waivers from Baltimore on Jun. 25, played in 23 games for the Orioles hitting .154 with two doubles. He will back up Mazeika and could remain even when McCann is ready to return. Both - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4

FIRST BASE 

Frank Schwindel, Cubs: Schwindel, profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention as he's laid claim to the starting first base job. He was claimed off waivers by the Cubs from the A's in mid-July and subsequently promoted Jul. 29 after Chicago traded away Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. Schwindel slashed .317/.362/.630 with 16 homers, 42 runs and 41 RBI in 45 games at Triple-A Las Vegas to earn the call up. He's played well for the Cubs with a .940 OPS, four home runs and 15 RBI through 27 games, meaning the 29-year-old should remain the primary option at first the rest of the way. 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16

SECOND BASE

Nico Hoerner, Cubs: Hoerner, sidelined since straining his oblique on Jul. 29, was to begin a rehab assignment with High-A South Bend on Sunday. The infielder is expected to progress to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, which would line him up for an activation around the middle of next week. Prior to being injured, Hoerner had slashed 313/.388/.388 with 14 RBI and three stolen bases through 39 games but was sent to the minors before the season started and dealt with forearm and hamstring injuries. Once officially activated from the injured list, he'll likely immediately reclaim his job as the primary second baseman or shortstop. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: Rostered, if not, $11 

Gavin Lux, Dodgers: Lux, out with a strained left hamstring since Jul. 18, was activated off the 10-day injured list Tuesday. The 23-year-old was locked into an everyday role before going down with the hamstring injury, and now appears to be the odd man out in the infield with Corey Seager healthy and Trea Turner joining the mix at the trade deadline. Lux, who appeared in seven games for Triple-A Oklahoma City during his rehab assignment, started at third in his return to action. He'll operate as a utility infielder and see some time around the diamond - except for first base - though will likely find himself on the bench more often than not with the team healthy. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (higher in keeper leagues) 

Jurickson Profar, Padres: Profar, who landed on the IL Aug. 6 due to COVID-19, was activated Friday. He made three rehab appearances at Triple-A El Paso, going 1-for-10 with a run, four walks and a strikeout. Profar will resume his role as the Padres' top utility player and will play first, second and all three outfield spots. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

THIRD BASE 

Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pirates: Tsutsugo, claimed off waivers from LA, joined Pittsburgh this past week. He is on his third organization for the year, after starting with Tampa Bay. The Pirates will likely give the right-handed hitter some starts at first base against southpaws, but Colin Moran figures to see the bulk of playing time over the remainder of the schedule. Tsutsugo could also factor into the left field mix, as he homered in back-to-back games this week for the Bucs. Check your league eligibility requirements, as he played 14 games at the hot corner last season. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team-NL: $9

SHORTSTOP

Jose Barrero, Reds: Barrero, one of the Reds' top prospects, was promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Monday. The 23-year-old infielder joined the big club for the first time this year after getting a 24-game trial with Cincinnati during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, but struggled at the plate. Barrero improved his plate approach and tapped into more power slashing 303/.378/.532 while slugging 17 home runs between Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga in 2021 after having left the yard only 14 times across his first three professional seasons. He also stole 15 bases between the two levels. With Jonathan India raking at the plate and Kyle Farmer holding his own at shortstop, Barrero - despite his status as a potential long-term solution in the middle infield - is relegated to a depth role during this stint in the majors. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (up substantially in keeper leagues)

Freddy Galvis, Phillies: Galvis, acquired from Baltimore at the deadline, kicked off a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. Out with a strained right quad since late June, the 2006 Phillies draftee and member of the team through 2017 may be activated within the week. Once fully healthy, Galvis will be an option to spell Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura and Alec Bohm in the infield. He was hitting .249/.306/.414 with nine home runs in 72 games prior to suffering the injury. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (early spec return bid) 

Alan Trejo, Rockies: Trejo was called up by Colorado on Tuesday with Austin Gomber hitting the paternity list in a corresponding move. Gomber was activated Saturday to start, though Trejo has stuck around with the parent club. Trejo made his big-league debut earlier this season and didn't do much in his 45 trips to the plate going .244/.289/.366, but gives the Rockies an extra bench bat. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $4 

OUTFIELD

Shogo Akiyama/Aristides Aquino, Reds: With Jesse Winker (intercostal) landing on the 10-day injured list this past Monday, Akiyama and Aquino have each received additional playing time in the Cincinnati outfield. The lefty-hitting Akiyama is playing alongside Tyler Naquin and Nick Castellanos versus right-handed pitching, while the righty Aquino usually replaces Akiyama or Naquin versus southpaws. Winker has yet to resume baseball activities, meaning his absence will last a while longer. Akiyama has done little to show he deserves more playing time, but the injury gives him another chance to see increased action. Aquino offers some power in his bat and should remain in the lineup until Winker is activated if he gets hot. Akiyama - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team-NL: $5; Aquino - 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team-NL: $9

Jorge Bonifacio, Phillies: Bonifacio, who landed a minor-league deal with the Phillies in late May, was promoted and started in center Friday. He appeared in 71 games between Philly's Double-A and Triple-A clubs slashing .273/.372/.546 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI, 49 runs and four stolen bases. Bonifacio could split time in center with Odubel Herrera, who returned to the starting lineup Saturday after missing Friday's contest with a right elbow injury suffered Thursday. 12-team Mixed: $0: 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Austin Dean/Lane Thomas: The Cardinals and Nationals called up fourth/fifth outfielders this past week. Dean was recalled by St. Louis on Tuesday to give the Cardinals additional outfield depth with Dylan Carlson (wrist) landing on the injured list. He hasn't done much in 352 career plate appearances at the major-league level, going .224/.279/.391 and could be sent back down when Carlson possibly returns this week…Thomas, acquired from the Cardinals, was called up by the Nationals from Triple-A Rochester last Sunday. He hit .385 (5-for-13) in three games with the Red Wings and will see the occasional start at a corner outfield spot. Dean - 12-team Mixed: No: 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3; Thomas - 12-team Mixed: $0: 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Ben Gamel, Pirates: Gamel, out from Aug. 5 with a strained right hamstring, was activated from the 10-day injured list last Sunday. Now back from the IL, he's slotted in as the Pirates' everyday left fielder in place of Anthony Alford, who landed on the 10-day IL due to back spasms - though Yoshi Tsutsugo could also factor in the mix. Prior to being shut down, Gamel was slashing .261/.343/.417 with six home runs and zero stolen bases across 250 plate appearances. 12-team Mixed: $1: 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Michael Hermosillo, Cubs: Hermosillo, who produced a .310/.448/.600 line with 10 homers and seven steals in 42 games for Triple-A Iowa, was called up by the Cubs on Tuesday. With Chicago looking to the future, he's earned his chance to make his case for a role in the outfield. Hermosillo hadn't had much success at the plate in 118 career MLB plate appearances slashing just .188/.288/.287 with a single home run. He's seen time at all three outfield spots since his promotion while mainly taking time away from Ian Happ and Jason Heyward, but also in center from 30-year-old Rafael Ortega. 12-team Mixed: $1: 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7

Jesus Sanchez, Marlins: Sanchez, on the COVID-19 IL since mid July, was activated off the IL Monday after completing a short rehab assignment at Triple-A Jacksonville. He has posted .265/.315/.434 with three home runs in 23 games following his promotion after raking in the minors. Sanchez is expected to serve as Miami's starting left fielder now that he's been reinstated to the lineup. 12-team Mixed: $12: 15-team Mixed: $22; 12-team NL: Rostered

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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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