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 operates 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.

This is the second column of the season. Last week's article covered a substantive number of the players that might have been included this week. Those players' whose status have changed have been covered this week.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Roansy ContrerasPITSPB159 (up in keeper leagues)
Jordan HicksSTLSPD015
Nick MartinezSDSPC/D159
Tylor MegillNYMSPC/D3914 (upper bid from prior)
Justin SteeleCHISPD147 (upped bid from prior)
Kyle WrightATLSP

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 operates 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.

This is the second column of the season. Last week's article covered a substantive number of the players that might have been included this week. Those players' whose status have changed have been covered this week.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $NL-Only $
Roansy ContrerasPITSPB159 (up in keeper leagues)
Jordan HicksSTLSPD015
Nick MartinezSDSPC/D159
Tylor MegillNYMSPC/D3914 (upper bid from prior)
Justin SteeleCHISPD147 (upped bid from prior)
Kyle WrightATLSPD159 (upper bid from prior)
Daniel BardCOLRPD2711 (upped bid from prior)
Anthony BenderMIARPC51116 (upped bid from prior)
Cole SulserMIARPC/DRosteredRolstered7 (save speculation)
Alexis DiazCINRPENo04
David RobertsonCHIRPD3914 (upped bid from prior)
Taylor RogersSDRPBRosteredRostered75 (aggressive bid)
Tony SantillanCINRPE015
Spencer StriderATLRPDNoNo5
Aramis GarciaCINCENoNo3
Jose HerreraAZCENoNo3
Andrew KnappPITCENoNo3
Dom NunezCOLCENoNo3
Alfonso RivasCHI1BENo06
Thairo EstradaSF2BD147
Alec BohmPHI3BC/D159
Johan CamargoPHI3BENoNo3
Drew EllisAZ3BENo05
Evan LongoriaSF3BC/D159 (early return spec bid)
Edwin RiosLA3BD159
Diego CastilloPITSSD147
Jose AzocarSDOFENoNo3
Bryan De La CruzMIAOFENoNo3
Cooper HummelAZOFENo05
Jake McCarthyAZOFENoNo3
Simon MuzziottiPHIOFENo03
Matt VierlingPHIOFD017

STARTING PITCHER

Roansy Contreras, Pirates: Contreras was sent down to start the season, but was promoted back to the majors Friday. The headliner for Pittsburgh in the Jan. 2021 trade that sent Jameson Taillon to the Yankees represents the Pirates' top pitching prospect and relies on a 96-mph four-seamer that he compliments with an 85-mph slider to retire hitters. In addition, Contreras mixes in a curveball and changeup that lag behind as third and fourth offerings. He'll be used out of the bullpen initially, but the team will keep him on close to a starter's schedule and try to use him for multiple innings as he gets stretched out to potentially fill a rotation spot. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (up in keeper leagues)

Jordan Hicks, Cardinals: Hicks, originally slated for a bullpen role in St. Louis, is opening the season as part of the team's starting rotation. With Jack Flaherty (shoulder) on the injured list to start, the Cardinals shifted gears. The right-hander hasn't yet started at the major-league level and posted a 5.40 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 10 innings across 10 relief appearances last year. Hicks may log lighter workloads in his first couple of outings, but the Cardinals plan to have him steadily build up his pitch counts during his starts, which would mark his first time in the rotation since 2017 in High-A. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5

Nick Martinez, Padres: Martinez was profiled last week and gets another mention as he broke camp in the Padres' rotation. His case was aided by the demotion of MacKenzie Gore to Triple-A, Mike Clevinger finding himself on the injured list and the trade of Chris Paddack to the Twins. Martinez posted a 1.62 ERA in 23 starts in Japan last season, but was less successful in the majors registering a 4.77 ERA and 1.45 WHIP across 415.1 career innings. He signed a four-year contract this offseason and enjoyed a strong spring to bolster his case for the fifth starter spot. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

Tylor Megill, Mets: Megill was also mentioned last week and deserves a repeat after his brilliant Opening Day start where he threw five scoreless innings while allowing three hits and striking out six and walking none. He hit 99 mph with his fastball, a few ticks above what we've seen in the past. Solid early last season before regressing, Megill had seemingly lost his spot with the acquisition of Chris Bassitt before Jacob deGrom (shoulder) went down with an injury. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (upped bid from prior) 

Justin Steele, Cubs: The Cubs built Steele up as a starter this spring sliding him into their rotation to begin the season with starters Adbert Alzolay (lat) and Wade Miley (elbow) sidelined. Once Chicago gets healthy, Steele may transition back to the bullpen. If he pitches like he did Saturday against Milwaukee with five shutout innings, but more importantly improved command and control, he could stick in that role even when others get healthy. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $$; 12-team NL: $7 (upped bid from prior)

Kyle Wright, Braves: Wright, a first-round pick in 2017, broke camp with the Braves as their fifth starter. He was brilliant in his debut tossing six shutout innings and striking out six while earning the win. The talent has always been there for Wright and the consistency less so, as seen by his career 6.56 ERA across 70 innings. But he's only 26 and boasts the kind of stuff and repertoire that could make him a rotation staple. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (upper bid from prior) 

RELIEF PITCHER

Daniel Bard, Rockies: Alex Colome was penciled in by many as the team's closer after inking a one-year deal. But Bard received the first save opportunity and closed out Saturday's win. Bard saw plenty of ninth inning work last year and converted 20 of 28 save chances with a 5.21 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 65.2 innings across 67 appearances, but ceded the job to Carlos Estevez partially due to his issues vs. LH batters. Colome and Estevez will be part of a three-headed closing committee, making figuring out who to grab a nightmarish possibility. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11 (upped bid from prior)

Anthony Bender/Cole Sulser, Marlins: With Dylan Floro sidelined with arm soreness, Bender opened 2022 as the Marlins' closer. After blowing his first save opportunity, he converted his second chance to strengthen his initial hold on the role. Sulser, penciled in as the Orioles closer, was recently dealt to the Marlins. The right-hander converted eight of 11 save chances last year and posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 63.1 innings across 60 relief appearances last year. Floro (arm) is the probable closer when he returns with Bender and Anthony Bass filling that role as of now, but Sulser should be in the mix for some late-inning work in 2022. Bender - 12-team Mixed: $5, 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team NL: $16  (upped bid from prior); Sulser - 12-team Mixed: Rostered, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: $7 (save speculation) 

Alexis Diaz, Reds: Diaz is working in low-leverage situations after making the Reds out of spring training, but offers the arm and upside potential on which to speculate. He bypassed the Triple-A level entirely by making the jump from Double-A Chattanooga to the majors to begin 2022. The 25-year-old righty produced a 3.83 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 42.1 innings for Chattanooga in 2021 while limiting opposing hitters to a .194 average. The Reds' pen isn't set in stone, so keep an eye on Diaz as the year wears on. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $4 

David Robertson, Cubs: Robertson, profiled last week, gets another mention, as he notched the save on Opening Day. He closed in 2014-2016 and part of 2017 but had shifted back into a regular bullpen role. In addition, Robertson had thrown just 18.2 innings in the majors the last three seasons but was tapped and closed out Thursday's win. Manager David Ross may mix and match at the end of the game, so this will be a situation worth monitoring, though Robertson gets an initial bump in value. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14  (upped bid from prior)

Taylor Rogers, Padres: Rogers, acquired from the Twins along with Brent Rooker for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, will operate as the Friars' closer. All those who grabbed Robert Suarez can send him back to the waiver wire unless your league counts holds and you need to fill relief slots. Rogers has been at least a part-time closer since 2019, picking up a combined 48 saves with a 3.06 ERA across 121 appearances with none of those saves coming last year. Spend big as Rogers should be primed for a huge year. 12-team Mixed: Rostered, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: $75 (aggressive bid) 

Tony Santillan, Reds: Santillan was tied for the league-lead in saves after one game. As noted in our update after the save, manager David Bell indicated in late March the right-hander was even being considered for a spot in the starting rotation, so the organization obviously values his versatility. It seems unlikely Santillan would be handed full-time closer duties after one successful outing, though he handled the role on Thursday throwing 11 of 15 pitches for strikes and retiring the side in order. As noted last week, Cincy has a cast of thousands for the role with Lucas Sims out, so be careful not to overbid for Santillan even though saves are saves. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 

Spencer Strider, Braves: Strider struck out five while throwing two perfect innings Thursday. He figures to handle a multi-inning role in a stacked Atlanta bullpen to begin the season. Strider's ability to pile up strikeouts while collecting the occasional win or hold should still give him fantasy value in deeper formats even if he doesn't graduate to a more high-profile gig. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

CATCHER 

Aramis Garcia/Jose Herrera/Andrew Knapp/Dom Nunez: The Reds, Diamondbacks, Pirates and Rockies filled their second and third catcher spots with rosters expanding to 28 until May 1. Garcia, who beat out Andrew Knapp for the spot, hit .205 with three homers, eight runs and seven RBI across 32 appearances with Oakland last year and is unlikely to see much playing time as long as Tyler Stephenson remains healthy. Herrera, with the D-Backs since 2014, made the major-league roster for the first time in his career. Arizona initially wants Daulton Varsho to only play center field, opening the door for Herrera. Knapp landed in Pittsburgh, where he'll deputize for Roberto Perez and could see a decent amount of playing time. Nunez beat out Carlos Perez and Brian Serven to begin his third season as the Rockies' backup catcher. All - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $3 

FIRST BASE

Alfonso Rivas, Cubs: Rivas, acquired from the A's in Jan. 2020, made the Cubs' Opening Day roster and started at first base Friday. The 25-year-old isn't a big prospect, but hit .318/.388/.409 in his 18-game debut last season after slashing .284/.405/.411 for Triple-A Iowa. Rivas's start Friday came at the expense of Frank Schwindel, who was there on Thursday. Rivas bats left-handed and Schwindel from the right side, but it's too early to call this a platoon situation as the Brewers started righties (Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff) in the first two games. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $6

SECOND BASE

Thairo Estrada, Giants: Estrada is operating as the Giants' primary second sacker with Tommy La Stella (Achilles) sidelined. In 52 games last season, he slashed .273/.333/.479 with seven home runs, 22 RBI, 19 runs scored and a stolen base. No timetable has been given for La Stella's return, giving Estrada a chance to earn a larger role even when the former is back in action. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

THIRD BASE

Alec Bohm/Johan Camargo, Phillies: Bohm made the Phillies' Opening Day roster. Heading to the end of spring training, that spot appeared to be in some doubt as a result of his poor spring and the strong performance of Bryson Stott. While Bohm is on the roster, his playing time is far from set in stone. He started Saturday and will see at-bats versus lefties at third and occasionally spell Rhys Hoskins at first while Stott can start at either middle infield spot. Camargo gives the Phils another bench bat who can fill in at several positions. Bohm - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9; Bohm - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $3 

Drew Ellis, Diamondbacks: Ellis was originally optioned to Triple-A Reno, but made a quick return to the D-Backs training in the wake of Josh Rojas' oblique injury. The 26-year-old received the start at the hot corner on Opening Day, but was replaced by Sergio Alcantara in the seventh. For now, Ellis and Alcantara will share third base with Rojas out, but Arizona picked up another option for the position in Yonny Hernandez from the Rangers and he's starting at Triple-A Reno. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team NL: $5 

Evan Longoria, Giants: Longoria, who undergo surgery Mar. 28 to repair a ligament in his right index finger, could return in four rather than the six weeks originally projected. Wilmer Flores, profiled last week, is manning the hot corner in Longoria's absence. The former Ray had stitches removed Friday and has already begun grip exercises with the next steps playing catch, dry swings and then batting in the cage. When Longoria returns, he should start nearly every day at third. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 (early return bid, up as he gets closer to returning) 

Edwin Rios, Dodgers: Rios' big spring earned him a roster spot in LA. Manager Dave Roberts likes to give his players' plenty of rest, so he's in line to log a decent amount of action. Look for Rios to see at-bats at first and third base as well as in the outfield. He underwent surgery to repair a partially torn right labrum in May 2021, but looks to be fully healthy this spring. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9

SHORTSTOP

Diego Castillo, Pirates: Castillo parlayed a strong spring into a roster spot in Pittsburgh, aided by the demotion of Oneil Cruz to the minors. He managed 19 homers and nine steals in 104 games split across the two highest levels of the minors last season while slashing .278/.355/.487 before erupting for five homers in 28 Grapefruit League at-bats this spring. Castillo will receive at-bats at second, shortstop and third. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

OUTFIELD

Jose Azocar/Bryan De La Cruz/Cooper Hummel/Jake Marisnick/Jake McCarthy: San Diego, Florida, Arizona and Pittsburgh filled their fourth/fifth/sixth outfielder spots with rosters expanding to 28 players until May 1. Azocar broke camp with the Padres, but his spot might last only until recent acquistion Brent Rooker settles in. He posted a .289/.308/.447 slash line in 49 games for Triple-A El Paso last season and provides the Padres added outfield depth. De La Cruz was optioned down on Mar. 26, but was promoted and broke camp with the Marlins. The 25-year-old appeared in 58 games for Miami last year and slashed .296/.356/.427 with five home runs, 19 RBI and 17 runs. He will see sporadic use at all three outfield spots. Hummel and McCarthy each earned places on the D-Backs roster, aided by the injury to Jordan Luplow (oblique). Acquired from the Brewers last season in the Eduardo Escobar trade, Hummel went .311/.432/.546 with 12 home runs, 21 doubles, six triples, 52 RBI and 70 runs scored over a combined 92 games at Triple-A Nashville and Triple-A Reno in 2021. The switch-hitter will fill a depth role and could emerge as a platoon option for any of David Peralta, Pavin Smith or Daulton Varsho as the only rostered outfielder who bats from the right side. Marisnick, released by the Rangers last Tuesday, signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh ahead of the regular season. He'll provide additional depth and solid glove in the outfield with Anthony Alford (wrist) and Greg Allen (hamstring) out to start . McCarthy, another lefty bat in Arizona, can play all three outfield positions and offers a speed element for manager Torey Lovullo while playing well enough to earn a spot. De La Cruz/Marisnick/McCarthy - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team-NL: $3; Hummel - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team-NL: $5 

Simon Muzziotti/Matt Vierling, Phillies: Center field in Philadelphia is becoming a MASH unit. Odubel Herrera missed Opening Day with a mild oblique strain and could be out for 4-to-6 weeks. Mickey Moniak was to be the strong side of a platoon, but suffered a broken hand and will miss at least a month. To help fill the breach, Muzziotti was promoted. He should be able to handle the defensive side of things, but his bat may not be ready at this point. Muzziotti has only played in 20 games over the last two years due to the canceled minor league season in 2020 and visa troubles in 2021, with just 12 of those outings coming above High-A. Vierling, likely better suited to a corner, has begun the season as the Phillies' primary center fielder. To provide depth, Roman Quinn was signed to a minor-league deal and is beginning the year at Triple-A. Muzziotti - 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $0; 12-team-NL: $3; Vierling - 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $7 (same as prior)

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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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