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 is 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 $
Tyler AndersonLASPC27Rostered
Matthew LiberatoreSTLSPB/C147 (stash candidate)
Chad KuhlCOLSPD147
Wade MileyCHISPC3914 (slightly upped bid)
Adrian MorejonSDSPD015 (stash candidate)
Ryan PepiotLASPC016
Joe RossWASRPD015 (early stash bid)
Stephen StrasburgWASRPC/D147 (stash candidate)
David BednarPITRPB/C18RosteredRostered
Alexis DiazCINRPD147 (closer

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 is 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 $
Tyler AndersonLASPC27Rostered
Matthew LiberatoreSTLSPB/C147 (stash candidate)
Chad KuhlCOLSPD147
Wade MileyCHISPC3914 (slightly upped bid)
Adrian MorejonSDSPD015 (stash candidate)
Ryan PepiotLASPC016
Joe RossWASRPD015 (early stash bid)
Stephen StrasburgWASRPC/D147 (stash candidate)
David BednarPITRPB/C18RosteredRostered
Alexis DiazCINRPD147 (closer spec bid)
Dylan FloroMIARPC3914 (same closer spec bid)
Francisco MoralesPHIRPD015
Rowan WickCHIRPC/D3914 (saves spec)
Kirby YatesATLRPD014 (stash candidate)
William ContrerasATLCC2711
Aramis GarciaCINCE016
Patrick MazeikaNYMCENoNo3
Tomas NidoNYMCENo06
Luke VoitSD1BC/D3914 (slightly upped bid)
Robinson CanoSD2BD147
Rodolfo CastroPIT2BD/ENoNo5
Brendan DonovanSTL2BD159
Ildemaro VargasCHI2BENoNo5
Donovan WaltonSF2BENoNo5
Brian AndersonMIA3BD2711
Evan LongoriaSF3BC3914 (same return bid)
Miguel VargasLA3BA/B147 (stash candidate)
Sergio AlcantaraSDSSENoNo5
Ben GamelPITOFD511Rostered
Mickey MoniakPHIOFD015 (early spec return bid)

STARTING PITCHER

Tyler Anderson, Dodgers: Anderson has more than ably filled in for Andrew Heaney (shoulder) in the Dodgers' rotation. Heaney recently resumed throwing, though Anderson was expected to get at least one more turn. This was before Clayton Kershaw landed on the injured list with right SI joint inflammation Friday, but initial reports indicate the team believes he'll only require a minimum-length absence. Kershaw's absence means Anderson will get least one maybe two more starts, despite coming off his worst outing of the season. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: Rostered

Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals: Liberatore, acquired from the Rays for Randy Arozarena, has been up-and-down this season at Triple-A Memphis mixing three stellar outings with three subpar ones over his seven starts. He posted a 4.04 ERA and 1.25 WHIP last year in Memphis, but finished strong with a 2.67 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 57:17 K:BB in 57.1 innings over his final 10 starts. In addition to Liberatore's low-90s fastball and plus slider, he throws a curveball and a changeup and both offer above-average potential. He's ready for promotion, which could happen later this season depending on his consistency and need in St. Louis. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (stash candidate)

Wade Miley, Cubs: Miley, out with left elbow inflammation, was activated and started Tuesday after making just one first rehab start logging four shutout innings for Triple-A Iowa on May 5. The veteran lefty threw 41 pitches (28 strikes) in that appearance and allowed three runs on five hits and five walks with one strikeout across three innings in his first MLB start of the season. Miley tossed 64 pitches and should be in the 75-80 range next timeout. He started out 2021 on fire with a 2.79 ERA and 1.17 WHIP through the first half, but struggled in the second half for the Reds. Miley was claimed off waivers by Chicago and slots in as the third starter. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (slightly upped bid)

Adrian Morejon, Padres: Morejon, recovering from Tommy John surgery in April of last year, tossed three innings for Single-A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday while allowing one run on two hits and striking out five. He threw 40 pitches, 29 of those strikes. The left-hander was once a big-time prospect for the Friars and started eight of the 16 major-league games in which he's appeared, but given San Diego's stacked rotation he'll likely be used out of the bullpen when he rejoins the big club. Morejon is eligible to return from the IL on Jun. 7. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (stash bid)

Ryan Pepiot, Dodgers: Pepiot made his major-league debut Wednesday giving up one hit and walking five while striking out three across three scoreless innings against the Pirates. He earned the promotion after turning in a 2.05 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 36:12 K:BB across 26.1 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Pepiot was sent back down right after, but could get another chance with Clayton Kershaw out. To stick, he'll need to alleviate the control issues he's experienced in the minors and that were also on his display during his first MLB start. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Joe Ross/Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: Ross and Strasburg, each working their way back from injuries, threw two simulated innings at the Nationals' extended spring training complex Friday. Ross has been out since undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow in early March while Strasburg is making his way back from thoracic outlet surgery. Both will still need to build up to a starter's workload and likely are at least a month away from returning, but each took a positive step forward Friday. Ross - 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $5 (each spec return bid); Strasburg - 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (early spec return bid)

RELIEF PITCHER

David Bednar, Pirates: When the year started, the Pirates' closer spot was undecided between Bednar and Chris Stratton with a timeshare seemingly in place. Based on early season returns, Bednar is the clear main closer and should retain the role having recorded each of the Pirates' last five saves while posting a 1.05 ERA and a 25:3 K:BB across 17 innings. 12-team Mixed: $18, 15-team Mixed: Rostered; 12-team NL: Rostered 

Alexis Diaz, Reds: Diaz could be a stealth closer candidate with the Reds bullpen in a state of flux following Lucas Sims' placement on the injured list due to a bulging disc in his back. The younger brother of the Mets' Edwin Diaz and 12th round pick in 2015, he pitched 42.1 innings at Double-A last season before making the jump to the majors this year. Diaz has hit the ground running with a 0.59 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 18:7 K:BB over 15.1 innings across his first 14 relief appearances this season. Art Warren, Tony Santillan, Luis Cessa and Hunter Strickland may still be ahead of Diaz in the pecking order when it comes to save opportunities, but all four have struggled to a certain extent. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 (closer spec bid)

Dylan Floro, Marlins: Floro returned Monday from the shoulder injury that sidelined him the first month-plus of the season. He made five minor-league rehab stints, including pitching on back-to-back days to show he was ready to return. Floro, who came to Miami last offseason, converted 15 of 21 save opportunities with a 2.81 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 62:25 K:BB over 64 innings. He also recorded a career-high 11 holds while tallying six wins to cap off an outstanding season in high-leverage. Now active, Floro will compete with Anthony Bender to close for the Marlins. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (same closer spec bid) 

Francisco Morales, Phillies: Morales joined the Phillies last week with Zach Eflin (COVID) landing in the IL. Cristopher Sanchez, who started in place of Eflin, was sent back to the minors with Morales remaining. Morales has operated as a multi-inning arm out of the Reading bullpen this season while recording more than three outs in seven of his nine relief appearances while logging a 0.55 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 28:6 K:BB across 16.1 frames. He could fill a similar role for the Phillies, as he threw a pair of scoreless innings on May 9 and notched a shaky save Friday with Corey Knebel unavailable and after Jeurys Familia blew the chance in the ninth inning. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $6

Rowan Wick, Cubs: Wick notched his second save of the season Wednesday tossing two scoreless innings. He's stepped in as Chicago's closer with David Robertson on the injured list due to COVID. Robertson has been lights out this year with a 1.50 ERA, though Wick has also been stellar at a minuscule 0.77 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11.2 innings to go along with two saves. Both pitchers should offer fantasy value, and Wick could garner the lion's share of the save chances post-deadline with Robertson a likely trade target. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (saves spec) 

Kirby Yates, Braves: Yates, out after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late-May late year, signed a two-year, $8.25 million contract with Atlanta this past offseason which includes a team option for a third season at $5.75 million. He's likely out until August, but tossed a 25-pitch bullpen session last Friday consisting of only fastballs. The next step will be to incorporate breaking pitches and then move steadily - health permitting - through the various stages of rehab. Yates is a deeper-league stash candidate in case he can make it back. 12-team Mixed: $0, 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team NL: $4 (stash candidate)

CATCHER

William Contreras, Braves: Contreras, promoted when Manny Pina landed on the injured list at the end of April, looks like he'll stay with the team the rest of the season with Pina now undergoing surgery. He hit .292 with three doubles, eight RBI and two runs in 13 games at Triple-A Gwinnett before being called up. Contreras is backing up Travis d'Arnaud and slugged four homers in five starts since his promotion in late April while batting .375 (6-for-16) with seven RBI. He's seeing enough playing time behind the plate and occasionally at DH to warrant a spot in two-catcher mixed leagues. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team-NL: $11

Aramis Garcia, Reds: Garcia could be in for an uptick in playing time if the Reds use Tyler Stephenson at first base to ease his load behind the plate. Stephenson left Saturday's game against the Pirates after taking a foul ball off his facemask, but manager David Bell said afterward he passed initial concussion tests. As noted in our news update, Stephenson has suffered three concussions during his playing career, including one earlier this year in a collision at home plate with the Padres' Luke Voit. To help keep his bat in the lineup, Stephenson could end up filling in for Joey Votto as the team's primary first baseman in the near-term and down the road as well. If that happens. Garcia will pick up additional action at catcher. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $6

Patrick Mazeika/Tomas Nido, Mets: James McCann underwent X-rays on Friday and was diagnosed with a fractured hamate in his left wrist which will require surgery and sideline him for six weeks. McCann has struggled early in the season with a .196/.266/.286 slash line, but losing his defensive prowess behind the plate is a significant blow for the Mets. Nido will take over as the starter and will be backed up by Mazeika, who played in 27 games last season for New York and hit the game-winning home run Saturday. 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: $6

FIRST BASE

Luke Voit, Padres: Voit was profiled last week and expected to remain in the minors a bit longer to regain his swing, but was activated Tuesday. He got off to a nightmarish start with San Diego hitting .143 with 17 strikeouts in 54 plate appearances before injuring his bicep. Out since Apr. 23, Voit played five games on a rehab stint at Triple-A El Paso and his production worsened going 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts and two walks. He blasted two home runs Wednesday and should see most of the at-bats at DH, though the presence of Robinson Cano could change that equation if Voit struggles again. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (slightly upped bid) 

SECOND BASE

Robinson Cano, Padres: Cano, designated for assignment and waived by the Mets, landed with the Padres on Friday. Off to a horrible start in New York this season with a .195/.233/.268 slash line and 25.6 percent strikeout rate, San Diego took a low-risk flyer since New York is paying the rest of his previous contract. Cano, whose bat speed had declined and plate discipline regressed, figures to see most of his opportunities at designated hitter, though Luke Voit figures to be the top option for now coming off a two-homer performance. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team NL: $7 

Rodolfo Castro, Pirates: Castro was hitting .250/.397/.402 while offsetting a still-elevated 26.7 percent strikeout rate with an excellent 17.2 percent walk rate at Triple-A Indianapolis before being promoted Thursday. He spent a stretch of time in the majors in the second half of last season, but largely failed to impress going .198/.258/.395 in 31 games. Contact and plate discipline look like they'll be the keys to whether Castro will be given enough opportunities to let his power shine. This stint may last until Kevin Newman (groin) is ready to return, but for now Castro, Josh VanMeter and Michael Chavis will operate at the keystone. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

Brendan Donovan, Cardinals: Donovan, profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention as he is line for at least semi-regular playing following the demotion of Paul DeJong to Triple-A. Tommy Edman has slid over from second base to shortstop in the short term with Donovan getting the first look as St. Louis' primary option at the keystone. Donovan, a seventh-round pick in 2018, hit .285/.386/.429 with 21 homers and 23 steals in 242 games as a professional. He started at every position except catcher and center field in the minors and now gets a chance at second. 12-team Mixed: $1, 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team NL: $9 

Ildemaro Vargas/Donovan Walton: Backup middle infielders were promoted this week in Chicago and San Francisco. Vargas missed out on Chicago's Opening Day roster, but received a big-league opportunity Tuesday after Nick Madrigal (back) was placed on the injured list. He's filling in as depth - especially in the middle infield - while Madrigal is unavailable. Walton was traded from the Mariners to the Giants on Wednesday and promoted Saturday. He did little in Seattle and expect similar with San Francisco. Both - 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5

THIRD BASE

Brian Anderson, Marlins: Anderson, on the COVID-19 list for the past week, was activated and started at third base Friday. He's seen most of his action at the hot corner, but also logged eight games in the outfield and is set to see most of his action at third for the foreseeable future with Joey Wendle (hamstring) moving to the 10-day IL. Anderson's production has waned the past two years partially impacted by his shoulder injury and surgery, but he blasted a home run Saturday. 12-team Mixed: $2, 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team NL: $11

Evan Longoria, Giants: Longoria, profiled the last two weeks, gets another mention as he was activated Wednesday following a five-game rehab stint at Triple-A Sacramento. He underwent surgery Mar. 28 to repair a ligament in his right index finger which was to sideline him for 4-to-6 weeks. Longoria began a hitting progression in mid-April and increased his intensity, paving the way for him to start the rehab assignment and leading to his activation. Wilmer Flores and Jason Vosler covered the hot corner in Longoria's absence. Now active, Longoria should start nearly every day at third base, but remember shoulder and hand injuries limited him to 291 PA in 2021. 12-team Mixed: $3, 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team NL: $14 (same return bid)

Miguel Vargas, Dodgers: Vargas, a top-20 prospect in nearly all circles, got off to a slow start at Triple-A Oklahoma City but has been raking this month. He hit .319/.380/.526 with 23 home runs, a 16.4 K% and an 8.3 BB% in 120 games at High-A and Double-A evidencing the upper-tier hit and power tool he boasts. Vargas impressed this spring and has improved his plate discipline in the minors putting him on a fast track to the majors. When that happens and where he will exact fit remains to be determined, but LA will find a place for him when deemed ready. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team-NL: $7 (early stash bid)

SHORTSTOP

Sergio Alcantara, Padres: Alcantara was claimed off waivers by the Padres on Monday. He played in 23 games for the Diamondbacks to begin the year, but hit just .189 with a homer, seven RBI and six runs prior to him being DFA'd. Alcantara will attempt to carve out a backup role in San Diego after Matt Beaty (shoulder) was placed on the 10-day IL Monday. 12-team Mixed: No, 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team NL: $5 

OUTFIELD

Ben Gamel, Pirates: Gamel, who scuffled his first year in Pittsburgh, has hit the ground running through the first month-plus of this season. After going 2-for-4 with a solo homer and a pair of runs scored Friday, he's up to strong .307/.381/.475 with three home runs and 15 runs driven in over 32 games. On a one-year deal, Gamel represents a candidate to be dealt at the trade deadline, but until then he should be in the Bucs' lineup nearly every day. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team-NL: Rostered

Mickey Moniak, Phillies: Moniak, who broke his hand just before the start of the regular season and lost a spot on the Opening Day roster, will take live batting practice Monday. Odubel Herrera has returned from the oblique injury that sent him to the injured list to start the year, so there's no guarantee Moniak immediately returns to the big leagues. But with Bryce Harper dealing with a sprained UCL and locked in at DH, Moniak could see time at all three outfield spots after he completes a rehab stint at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. 12-team Mixed: $0; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team-NL: $5 (early spec return bid)

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
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.
MLB Best Bets at DraftKings Sportsbook Today: MLB Picks and Player Props for Tuesday, June 28
MLB Best Bets at DraftKings Sportsbook Today: MLB Picks and Player Props for Tuesday, June 28
DraftKings MLB: Tuesday Breakdown
DraftKings MLB: Tuesday Breakdown
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Tuesday Picks
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Tuesday Picks
FanDuel MLB: Tuesday Targets
FanDuel MLB: Tuesday Targets