This is our weekly look at American League free agents. We have two goals for this article:
1. Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Estimate how much of your free-agent budget you should bid on them.
One size does not fit all, and we could never hope to encompass all league structures, so bids are based on:
• 12-team league (either AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
• 5x5 categories
• $100 FAAB budget
Jose Berrios, Twins - An elite prospect, Berrios has a 3.23 ERA between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester with 126 strikeouts and 35 walks over 128.1 innings. Considering Mike Pelfrey had a 5.35 ERA in June, a 4.30 ERA in July, and is working on a 5.40 ERA this month, it might not be much longer until we see Berrios make his MLB debut. He could use some more seasoning in the minors, but at this point he's better off making those starts in the majors, as the Twins push for a wild-card berth. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Matt Boyd, Tigers - In his Tigers debut, Boyd held the Royals to just one run over seven innings with no walks and two strikeouts for a win. Part of the David Price trade, Boyd was destroyed for seven earned runs by the Red Sox and didn't even get one out in his previous and final start for the Blue Jays. Between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A with Buffalo and Toledo, he had a 1.65 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 27 walks over 114.2 innings. I'd be much more on board if he didn't face the Royals and Astros on the road this week. That said, if he passes those two tests, he'll be a must-own in AL formats the rest of the way. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Aaron Brooks, A's - Part of the Ben Zobrist trade, Brooks has been a nice return for the A's, as he's made two starts and given up two earned runs with 12 strikeouts and just one walk. At Triple-A Omaha earlier this season with the Royals, he had a 3.71 ERA (3.19 FIP) with 92 strikeouts and 21 walks over 106.2 innings. Not considered an elite prospect, Brooks projects as more of a back of the rotation type arm, though he's been an ace in his first two turns. This week he gets the Blue Jays on the road. If he turns in another solid performance, it'll be time to really get on the bandwagon. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Tyler Duffey, Twins - Introduced to the majors by starting against the Blue Jays on the road, Duffey only lasted two innings, as he gave up six earned runs with two walks and one strikeout. He was optioned to the minors thereafter, but could be back up this week, when the team needs a starter on Saturday against the Indians. Between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester, he has a 2.66 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 30 walks over 132 innings. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Scott Feldman, Astros - Since coming off the DL in mid-July, Feldman has a 3.65 ERA (5.00 FIP) with 10 strikeouts and five walks over 24.2 innings. The numbers aren't exactly pretty, but he did have a 3.16 ERA (3.88 FIP) in the second half last season, so maybe this is his time of the year. Owned in AL formats, he's worth a second look in deeper mixed leagues. This week he gets the Giants on the road. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.
Mike Fiers, Astros - Fiers was bombed by the Rangers in his Astros debut, but I'm still bullish on what he can do in the AL down the stretch. He has 127 strikeouts over 123 innings and his ERA has dropped every month this season, entering August. Last season with the Brewers he posted a 2.09 ERA (2.79 FIP) as a starter over 64.2 innings, so he's done it before. If his league debut scared off owners, take advantage. This week he gets the Tigers at home. Mixed: Owned; AL: $20.
Derek Holland, Rangers - After pitching 3.2 innings combined in his last two rehab starts, Holland will look to pitch deeper in his next start Sunday at Triple-A Round Rock, as he works his way back from a shoulder strain. He has only pitched 38 innings in the majors since 2013, so it's fair to question what version of Holland we'll get when he does return. Keep him on your radar. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Daniel Norris, Tigers - After two starts with the Tigers, Norris has looked excellent against the Orioles and terrible against the Red Sox, showing his youth and potential. On the season he has a 4.24 ERA (4.80 FIP) with 26 strikeouts and 13 walks over 34 innings, though much of those innings came with the Blue Jays in April, before he went to the minors and was eventually traded, as part of the David Price deal. In the minors, his numbers got worse and worse, until he was traded and called up, making his most recent implosion not all that surprising. An elite prospect, he's taking his lumps in the majors, as he learns on the job. This week he gets the Royals on the road. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Henry Owens, Red Sox - Owens made his MLB debut last week and pitched five innings with three earned runs, one walk, and five strikeouts at the Yankees. He deserved a bit better for his efforts but looked poised and ready for the challenge, after succeeding at Triple-A Pawtucket with a 3.16 ERA (3.71 FIP), 103 strikeouts and 56 walks over 122.1 innings. On Sunday he'll get the Tigers on the road, then the Mariners at home. He'll likely be up-and-down, as he adjusts to majors, but he has the talent to hold value in AL formats the rest of the way. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Martin Perez, Rangers - Still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Perez was lights out against the Giants last Sunday, as he pitched 8.1 innings with just two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts in just 81 pitches. The dominant performance was needed, after he was blitzed by the Yankees in his previous outing. On Saturday, he pitched six innings against the Mariners and gave up two earned runs with one walk and five strikeouts. I've been pretty pessimistic about Perez, but these last two starts are eye-opening and show what he can be, as the rust comes off and the command improves. This week he gets the Rays at home; I'm buying. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Luis Severino, Yankees - In his MLB debut, Severino held the Red Sox to one earned run over five innings with no walks and seven strikeouts in a solid start. At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he had a 1.91 ERA (2.55 FIP) with 50 strikeouts and 17 walks over 61.1 innings, as he didn't miss a beat after being promoted from Double-A Trenton. Considering Michael Pineda (forearm) is on the shelf and CC Sabathia is in the rotation to just eat innings, we could very well see Severino finish the season in the team's rotation. This week he gets the Indians on the road and the Blue Jays on the road. Mixed: $4; AL: $12.
Steven Wright, Red Sox - Over his last three starts, Wright has a 2.33 ERA (3.88 FIP) with 21 strikeouts and six walks in 19.1 innings, as his knuckleball has been dancing to the right beat lately. Previously in the minors and in the bullpen, Wright should be given a second look, despite his 4.12 ERA (5.11 FIP) this season. This week he gets the Marlins on the road. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Edward Mujica, Sean Doolittle, A's - Mujica pitched a clean ninth inning Saturday against the Astros for his first save of the season and the first save for the A's in almost a month (July 11). I still believe Fernando Rodriguez is a better option, as he misses more bats and doesn't give up as many home runs as Mujica, but Mujica has the experience closing and that might ultimately matter most. Sean Doolittle (shoulder) is on a rehab assignment and as soon as he can string together a few nice outings, we'll likely see him activated and take over the closer role. Considering how poorly the A's have played and continue to play, we might not be talking about that many saves the rest of the way. That said, there hasn't been much turnover in closer roles in the AL lately, so bid depending upon your need. Mujica - Mixed: $3; AL: $9. Doolittle - Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Alex Wilson, Bruce Rondon, Tigers - Wilson got the first two saves, in the post-Joakim Soria era, but it was Rondon the team turned to Saturday night to close out the Red Sox, as Wilson was unavailable due to right shoulder fatigue. It doesn't sound serious, but relievers are a fickle bunch, so make sure Rondon is owned in your league, just in case. Performance wise in the second half, Wilson hasn't allowed a run, while Rondon has a 3.72 ERA, but has been much more dominant with 14 strikeouts against just three walks. Expect Wilson to carry the job, as long as his shoulder checks out OK. Wilson - Mixed: $3; AL: $9. Rondon - Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Robinson Chirinos, Rangers - On the DL with a shoulder injury, Chirinos received a platelet-rich plasma injection this week. He's eligible to return Aug. 15, and when he does come back, he'll likely go back to starting the majority of the time. He has hit .226 with nine home runs over 258 PA this season. The cheap power is worth a bid in AL only formats, if he's been dropped. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Chris Herrmann, Twins - Herrmann was recalled from the minors Thursday, as the team cleared roster space for him to be the new backup catcher. At Triple-A Rochester, he hit .260/.364/.342 with one home run and three stolen bases over 88 PA. He's unlikely to see much playing time, even with Kurt Suzuki struggling this season. He's a lefty, so maybe the team gives him some extra at-bats against righties. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Jesus Montero, Mariners - Montero got somewhat consistent at-bats last week and showed some power with three doubles. Since coming up, he's hit .344/.400/.563 with one home run over 35 PA and is looks like a better option than Logan Morrison, who has struggled with a .222 batting average this season. Montero more than earned his promotion earlier this season at Triple-A Tacoma, where he hit .346/.388/.551 with 16 home runs over 410 PA. He needs to be owned in all AL and deep mixed formats. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Richie Shaffer, Rays - Finally promoted from Triple-A Durham, Shaffer could supplant James Loney at first base, as the veteran has hit only four home runs this season. At Durham, Shaffer hit .265/.359/.595 with 16 home runs over 217 PA, as he showed quite a bit of power and a good eye at the plate. He hit a home run last week, not surprisingly, as he has been on a tear most of the season. He's mostly getting playing time against lefties, which limits his value for now. Until he gets more at-bats, he's not an option in mixed leagues. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Travis Shaw, Red Sox - With Mike Napoli now in Texas, the Red Sox first-base job is Shaw's to lose. He debuted with a bang, two actually, as he hit two home runs in a 4-for-4 effort that included a walk and five runs scored. Earlier this season at Triple-A Pawtucket, he hit .249/.318/.356 with five home runs over 322 PA. He's a lefty, so he should be in there most days, if the team wants to platoon him. Despite his early heroics, he's not likely to be a factor in mixed leagues, those in AL only formats, though, will want him for the counting stats. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Ryan Goins, Blue Jays - Devon Travis remains out with a nagging shoulder injury and looks unlikely to miss the minimum and return to the team this week. This leaves Goins as the starter, potentially longer than expected and gives him a small bump in value. He has hit an uninspiring .230 with three home runs over 256 PA this season. If you're looking for some help in the runs-scored department, give Goins a look, as the lineup is potent. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Deven Marrero, Red Sox - Recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, Marrero is unlikely to see much playing time, as the utility infielder for the club. At Pawtucket he hit .237 with five home runs and 10 stolen bases over 307 PA, as he possess low-end power and speed. Don't be surprised to see him head back to the minors, once Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) is activated. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Ketel Marte, Mariners - In his first week of action, Marte has started at second, short and even center, as the team looks for ways to get him in the lineup everyday. He has hit leadoff in each of those starts, which makes him a nice source of runs and potentially stolen bases. At Triple-A Tacoma this season, he hit .314/.359/.410 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 287 PA. He's gone 5-for-23 so far, but has shown a nice eye at the plate with more walks (five) than strikeouts (four). An elite prospect within the organization, Marte may start to have mixed value, if he can tap into his speed on the basepaths. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Jose Ramirez, Indians - In the wake of Jason Kipnis (shoulder) landing on the DL, Ramirez took over as the team's everyday second baseman and leadoff hitter. Ramirez played himself into the minors earlier this season at shortstop, but did well last week to draw six walks over three games as he holds down the fort. Kipnis shouldn't miss more than the minimum, so don't bid more than the minimum on Ramirez if you need a long-term addition. He has decent speed, though, so he might have slight value this week. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Rays - Activated from the DL late last month, Cabrera has come on strong, hitting .500/.538/.833 with six doubles and two home runs since his return. This season, he has seven home runs and three stolen bases over 364 PA, but he seems like a changed man, after the time off. Likely owned in most AL formats, he's worth a flyer in deeper mixed leagues to see how long this hot streak lasts. On Saturday, he went 2-for-4 with a walk, stolen base and run scored, so no slowing down yet. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.
Cliff Pennington, Blue Jays - Traded from the Diamondbacks on Saturday, Pennington adds depth to the Blue Jays' infield, as they deal with the absence of Devon Travis (shoulder). He hit .237 with one home run and three stolen bases over 157 PA in the desert and figures to see a small bump in his counting stats in a Blue Jays' offense. Still, don't expect much from the veteran. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
David Freese, Angels - On the DL with a broken right index finger, Freese could be activated this week. He left with an uninspiring .240/.309/.397 batting line and 11 home runs over 353 PA and will return to Conor Gillaspie taking some of his at-bats. Still, he needs to be owned in all AL formats, as it shouldn't take long before he's starting full time again. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Joey Gallo, Rangers - Gallo went off this week at Triple-A Round Rock with a three home-run game and another game with a solo shot. Overall he has hit .192/.297/.508 with 11 home runs over 138 PA. The power is off the charts, but he is still struggling to hit for contact and his eye at the plate needs much work. At this point, it's unlikely we see him until September, unless an injury strikes. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Chris Johnson, Indians - Traded from the Braves this week, Johnson is likely to share third base with Giovanny Urshela. With a .235 batting average and two home runs over 162 PA this season, Johnson doesn't offer owners or the Indians much offensively. The team would be wise to just let Urshela get the majority of at-bats, as the rookie adjusts to the majors and Johnson offers his veteran presents. A career .280 hitter, Johnson has seen his contact rate steadily decline the last few years and shouldn't be counted on, even in AL only formats. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Abraham Almonte, Indians - The Indians shipped Michael Bourn out of town and called up Almonte from Triple-A Columbus last week to be the team's new starting center fielder. Earlier this season he was with the Padres and hit just .204 with no home runs and one stolen base over 62 PA. He went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three runs scored in his Tribe debut Saturday, so perhaps the change of scenery will get him going. As is, he should steal a handful of bases down the stretch, at the bottom of the lineup. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Byron Buxton, Twins - Buxton (thumb) went 3-for-5 in the first game on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester on Friday. On Saturday, he went 1-for-3 with a walk and stolen base, showing he might not need much more time before he's ready to be activated. An elite prospect, Buxton should get regular playing time when he returns, though it'll be interesting to see how the team handles Aaron Hicks, who looks like he's turned a corner offensively. Fleet of foot, Buxton should tear up the basepaths when activated. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Rusney Castillo, Red Sox - Recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket near the end of July, Castillo is sharing time with Alejandro De Aza in right field. He has hit .389/.421/.528 since his return with one home run and two stolen bases over 39 PA. He has more speed than power, as he showed in Pawtucket with three home runs and 10 stolen bases over 172 PA. Considering he has such little experience playing in the U.S., I'm skeptical as to what value he'll hold the rest of this season, but for now he looks like a nice add in AL formats for those looking for speed. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians - Now that Brandon Moss is in the NL, Chisenhall has taken over as the Indians' regular right fielder. The team's starting third baseman earlier this season, he struggled to build on his promising 2014 season and was eventually demoted to the minors. Since coming back up, he has hit .308 with a home run and stolen base over 26 at-bats. He's only 26, but time is running out for him to prove useful to fantasy owners. Mixed: $2; AL: $5.
Tyler Collins, Tigers - Recalled from Triple-A Toledo last week, Collins has settled into a platoon with Rajai Davis in left field, now that Yoenis Cespedes is with the Mets. Collins is a lefty, so he should be in there most days a righty is on the bump, giving him decent value in AL-only formats. He's hit .270 this season with two home runs over 66 PA in the majors, while at Toledo he hit .247 with two home runs and nine stolen bases over 218 PA. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Coco Crisp, A's - Activated from the DL last week after dealing with a neck injury, Crisp has already been scratched from the lineup due to neck stiffness and had to leave a game early due to a stomach issue. At 35, he's a weak bet to stay healthy the rest of the way, but when he is in the lineup he figures to hit near the top of the order and could possibly be a sneaky source of runs and stolen bases, if the A's offense ever gets going. Last season he hit .246 with nine home runs and 19 stolen bases over 536 PA. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Desmond Jennings, Rays - On a rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham, Jennings is working his way back from knee surgery. It's been slow going at Durham, as he's gone just 2-for-16, but he's been out since late April, so some rust is expected. A career .248 hitter, he's got decent speed, but it remains to be seen how he'll run, post-injury. It's also unclear just where exactly he'd fit into the lineup, though Grady Sizemore is certainly expendable. Likely up in the next week to 10 days, stash him now in AL formats, in hopes that his bat and legs wake up. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Junior Lake, Orioles - Traded from the Cubs in late July, Lake was brought up from the minors and hit from the DH spot in his O's debut on Friday, which included a double. Getting out of the prospect-heavy Cubs organization is likely best for him long term, though this season he'll likely only be asked to provide depth to the Orioles outfield. At Triple-A between Iowa and Norfolk, he hit .316/.411/.464 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 247 PA. Don't expect him to have much value, even in AL formats. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Daniel Nava, Rays - Claimed off waivers by the Rays last week, Nava is a career .284 hitter against righties and figures to have value in AL formats, so long as he gets playing time in right field, while Steven Souza (hand) remains out. He never really got a fair shake in Boston this season, after hitting .270/.346/.361 in 2014. He has mediocre power and speed, though, so his value only goes far. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Ryan Strausborger, Rangers - With Leonys Martin getting sent to the minors, Strausborger got the call from Triple-A Round Rock to take his roster spot and provide the Rangers with some outfield depth. At Round Rock he hit .278 with 10 home runs and 27 stolen bases over 381 PA, so he certainly knows how to take a base. If you're starved for stolen bases in AL only formats, he's worth a flyer. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Trayce Thompson, White Sox - Injuries to Emilio Bonifacio (oblique) and J.B. Shuck (hamstring) have left the Pale Hose thin on outfield depth, so they brought up Thompson from Triple-A Charlotte. There he hit .260 with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases over 417 PA as a 24-year-old. Brother of NBA player Klay Thompson, Trayce is athletic, but doesn't have the on-base skills to excel if he were pressed into full-time duty. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Danny Valencia, A's - Valencia was claimed off waivers by the A's last week and has already started to pay dividends with two doubles and a home run in his first three games. A career .326 hitter against lefties, he should see some at-bats against righties too, like he did Saturday, when he hit cleanup. On the season, he's hit .305/.341/.529 with eight home runs and two stolen bases over 186 PA. He needs to be owned in all AL formats and deeper mixed leagues, especially if he continues to hit cleanup. Mixed: $4; AL: $12.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.