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AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

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 $100 starting free-agent budget you should bid on them.

This year, we're incorporating grids into the FAAB articles, so users can easily see at a glance how certain players stack up against others and how much they should command in a variety of formats.

The grids, which are 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. Andrew Benintendi would have been an "A" grade player last year -- that mark will be reserved for similar high-impact prospects stepping into an everyday role.

As always, if there is a player that was not discussed in the article that you would like to know about, feel free to ask about the player in the comments.

PLAYER TEAM POS GRADE $ (12-Team Mixed) $ (15-Team Mixed) $ (AL-Only)
Christian Bergman SEA SP D No No 2
Jose Berrios MIN SP B 7 15 33
Joe Biagini TOR SP C 1 3 7
Michael Bolsinger TOR SP D No No 1
Alex Cobb TB SP B 3 7 Owned
Jacob Faria TB SP C No No 3
Carson Fulmer CHI SP B No 1 4
Jesse Hahn OAK SP C 2 5 Owned
Brent Honeywell TB SP B No 2 5
Nathan Karns KC SP C 3 7 Owned
Sean Manaea OAK SP B 4 9 Owned
Erasmo Ramirez TB SP C No 2 5
Josh Tomlin CLE SP C 1 4 9
Mychal Givens BAL RP D No No 3
Liam Hendriks OAK RP E No No 1
Darren O'Day BAL RP D 2 5 11
Joe Smith TOR RP D No No 2
Justin Wilson DET RP C 9 21 45
Caleb Joseph BAL C E No No 3
Omar Narvaez CHI C E No No 2
Michael Ohlman TOR C E No No 1
Kevan Smith CHI C E No No 1
Mark Canha OAK 1B D No No 3
Logan Morrison TB 1B C 1 4 Owned
Cliff Pennington LA 2B E No No 2
Yolmer Sanchez CHI 2B E No No 3
Yandy Diaz CLE 3B D No No 2
Matt Duffy TB 3B C No 2 5
Ehire Adrianza MIN SS E No No 1
Erik Gonzalez CLE SS E No No 1
Ezequiel Carrera TOR OF D 1 3 Owned
Ben Gamel SEA OF C 2 5 11
Brock Holt BOS OF C No 2 5

Starting Pitcher

Christian Bergman, Mariners: Seattle's desperate search for healthy rotation arms has led them to Bergman, a 29-year-old former Rockie who put up strong numbers over five starts for Triple-A Tacoma this year. As a righty with a sub-90 mph fastball there isn't a whole lot to recommend him other than the fact that he could stick around for a couple of weeks until folks like James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma return from the DL. Bergman's next turn will come at home against the A's, though, which makes him a decent streaming possibility. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Jose Berrios, Twins: If I seem a little wistful this week, it's because baby's all grown up and is ready to leave the nest. Berrios has been the unofficial mascot of the AL Waiver Pickups of the Week, appearing in five of the first seven columns including this one, but this could well be the last time I write him up in 2017. The Twins bought themselves an extra year of control on him by waiting until May 13 to call him up, and all he did in his first big-league start this season was hold Cleveland to one run over 7.2 innings with a 4:1 K:BB. He was even unfazed by a sixth-inning squirrel delay. Now, Berrios did give up some hard-hit balls, but he was one spectacular Byron Buxton catch away from 7.2 scoreless innings, which is a heck of a debut. If you were waiting to see how Berrios would do in his second tour of the majors before bidding on him, you may have waited too long. 12-team Mixed: $7; 15-team Mixed: $15; 12-team AL: $33

Joe Biagini, Blue Jays: I wrote up Biagini last week and basically dismissed him, but after watching toss nine innings without an earned run across his first two starts I may have been a bit hasty. While his stuff has mostly survived the transition to the rotation, but his most impressive trait has been his control, as he's got a 7:0 K:BB through those two outings. J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano could both be out longer than expected, which could leave the door open for Biagini to get an extended audition as a starter. He's looked good as a setup man, but if he keeps pitching like this while building up his stamina he might never go back to that role. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Michael Bolsinger, Blue Jays: The former Dodger and D-back was looking good for Triple-A Buffalo so the Jays gave him a chance in their rotation, and he didn't look entirely out of place in his first start Tuesday, although a 4:4 K:BB in 5.2 doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. Bolsinger won't overpower anyone, but he could provide Toronto with a couple of decent starts until one of Happ or Liriano are back. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Alex Cobb, Rays: After a bumpy start to the campaign, Cobb has reeled off three straight quality starts with a 2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 10:7 K:BB over 20 innings to put himself back in shallow league consideration. That K rate is understandably worrying, though, and through 71.1 innings since returning from Tommy John surgery (including last year) he hasn't come close to the 8.0-plus K/9 rate he was putting up prior to breaking down, so there is reason to expect regression from his current form. Consider him short-term staff filler in shallow formats, but he could surprise if he finds a few more strikeouts. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Jacob Faria, Rays: Blake Snell's surprising demotion creates some intrigue in the Rays rotation, and while Erasmo Ramirez will be first in line to replace him, they do have a couple of prospects worth noting at Triple-A Durham. Faria is the less heralded of the two, but he's also the current minor-league strikeout king which is a bit hard to ignore. He doesn't have one dominating pitch but mixes four pitches well, but his control (3.7 BB/9 this year, which is an improvement on 2016) and difficulty keeping the ball in the park (1.3 HR/9) could be problems if he gets called up. Unlike Brent Honeywell, though, Faria is on the 40-man roster, giving him a leg up if Tampa decides to leave Snell in the minors for a while to get things figured out. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Carson Fulmer, White Sox: While Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez continue to struggle, Fulmer has enjoyed a solid start to the season at Triple-A Charlotte, posting a 2.72 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 33:12 K:BB in 39.2 innings. Mike Pelfrey and Dylan Covey are, well, terrible, so the White Sox need to start thinking about alternatives in their rotation, especially considering that the AL Central is looking like to will be up for grabs this year. Last season's MLB debut as a reliever was a disaster, but with improved control he could find better results the second time around. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Jesse Hahn, Athletics: Jharel Cotton served up five homers in 11 innings over his last two starts, making Oakland's decision for them when they needed to decide who would head down to the minors when Sean Manaea got healthy. Hahn was making a pretty compelling case to stay on his own, though, tossing quality starts in six of seven trips to the mound while assembling a 2.74 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 33:16 K:BB in 42.2 innings. His 4.28 xFIP is a warning that his 0.2 HR/9 could collapse at any time (especially considering last year's 1.6 HR/9 rate), though, and take his ERA with it. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Owned

Brent Honeywell, Rays: I wrote up Honeywell about a month ago, and all he's done since then is earn a promotion to Triple-A and posted a 32:5 K:BB in 26.2 innings for Durham. The stuff is legit, including a screwball that will probably make me curse Fox for canceling Pitch every time he throws it, and the Snell demotion will get people's hopes up, but despite his very impressive results so far in 2017 the biggest obstacle between Honeywell and major-league innings remains the fact that he's not on the 40-man roster, and that the Rays aren't in the habit of starting service time clocks early. He's an awesome dynasty league stash, but he's also probably long gone in most dynasty leagues. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Nathan Karns, Royals: It's safe to say something has clicked for Karns. He's got a 29:4 K:BB over three starts (17.1 innings) to go with a 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP since the calendar flipped to May, and while his inability go deep into games due to high pitch counts – not to mention the Royals' moribund offense – make him a low-upside play if you're looking for wins, those strikeouts will play in any format. He's flashed periods of dominance before and they never seem to last, but as a short-term rental with the potential to become a long-term asset you could do a lot worse. 12-team Mixed: $3; 15-team Mixed: $7; 12-team AL: Owned

Sean Manaea, Athletics: The Oakland lefty will return from a shoulder issue Monday that cost him a couple of weeks, and his 5.18 ERA on the season and history of injuries might have caused him to be dropped when he hit the DL. Manaea's 3.49 FIP and 3.84 xFIP tell a more pleasant tale, however, as does his career-high 10.0 K/9 through 24.1 innings. If someone else gave up on him, pounce, as if he can stay healthy he has the upside to make an impact. 12-team Mixed: $4; 15-team Mixed: $9; 12-team AL: Owned

Erasmo Ramirez, Rays: The Rays' staff saver will step into the rotation for the second time this season, but this stay could be a little longer as the team tries to get Snell straightened out in the minors. The 27-year-old Ramirez isn't an upside play, but he should be able to give you some solid innings and might fall into a win or two. Both in real life and in fantasy, though, he's purely a rotation stop-gap. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Josh Tomlin, Cleveland: Tomlin's started to put his awful beginning to 2017 behind him, delivering quality starts in four of his last five outings and posting a 3.38 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 21:2 K:BB in 32 innings over that stretch. He's got a long way to go before his 5.87 ERA on the season looks palatable, but that just means now is the time to buy back in if he was dropped in a shallower format. He's still got low strikeout potential, though, making him the rare starting pitcher who's more valuable in old-school 4x4 leagues than 5x5. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: $9

Relief Pitcher

Mychal Givens, Orioles: Things are suddenly looking a bit dicey in the Baltimore bullpen. Zach Britton is out for months instead of weeks, and Brad Brach has started to stumble and got a three-day rest from manager Buck Showalter. If Brach falls apart as the closer, Darren O'Day is the next man up, but don't overlook Givens, who already has three wins and seven holds to go with a 1.89 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 that's actually below the pace he's set the last couple of years. He's a spec saves play, but with the O's fighting for the AL East crown they aren't going to mess around in the ninth inning so Givens' path to the closer role is a bit clearer than it was a week or so ago. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Liam Hendriks, Athletics: This week's high-K plug-n-play relief arm is Hendriks, who has a 0.77 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 11:1 K:BB over his last 11.2 innings. The 28-year-old is dependable, but won't see much high-leverage work, making his fantasy ceiling fairly low. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Darren O'Day, Orioles: The 34-year-old sidearmer had a couple of rough outings in early April that still poison his ratios, but O'Day has put together a 2.31 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 11:3 K:BB over his last 11.2 innings and would get the next chance at the closer role in Baltimore if Brach can't handle the pressure in the ninth inning. O'Day's usually good for a small handful of saves a year in his setup role, but with Britton out until at least July this could be the year it becomes a large handful. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Joe Smith, Blue Jays: Roberto Osuna hasn't allowed a run in nine straight appearances and seems to be back in dominant form, putting to rest any possible closer controversy in Toronto, but Smith does seem to have leapfrogged Jason Grilli as his top setup man. The 33-year-old sidearmer is posting numbers as good or better than anything he managed during his Cleveland peak with a 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and career-high 13.0 K/9, and should be a valuable source of holds if he can keep it up. Smith has three 20-plus hold seasons on his resume already, and with five so far is well on his way to a fourth. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Justin Wilson, Tigers: The Tigers officially pulled the plug on Francisco Rodriguez as their closer Tuesday and named Wilson to the role, but it took until Saturday night for him to notch his first save since the switch. He's been overpowering this season, posting a 1.15 ERA, 0.51 WHIP and 26:4 K:BB through 15.2 innings, and there's no reason to think the lefty will spit the bit now. If you need saves, bid big. 12-team Mixed: $9; 15-team Mixed: $21; 12-team AL: $45


Caleb Joseph, Orioles: Joseph used Welington Castillo's injury as the excuse he needed to get going at the plate, hitting .341/.356/.523 over the last two weeks. Castillo is expected back early next week, but Joseph may have done enough in the meantime to at least earn an extra start a week or so. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Omar Narvaez, White Sox: Geovany Soto's hurt again, so Narvaez will start again. He's also hitting just .236/.354/.273 on the season, numbers right in line with his minor-league performances, so don't expect much from him even with regular at-bats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Michael Ohlman, Blue Jays: Ohlman got called up when Russell Martin hit the DL, and while he's flashed some power in the minors he's only seen three at-bats since Monday's promotion, which doesn't bode well for his chances of displaying it in the majors. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Kevan Smith, White Sox: He'll play against lefties while Soto is sidelined. Smith did have a good line at Triple-A Charlotte thanks to a .455 BABIP, but don't expect that to continue in the bigs. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

First Base

Mark Canha, Athletics: Canha was called back up Tuesday but has only started one game since then, and there's no telling how long he might stick around in Oakland this time. The 28-year-old does have some power, though, and if he can string together some hits he might re-establish himself at Matt Joyce's platoon partner in right field. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Logan Morrison, Rays: LoMo continues to hit for surprising power, and while he has only four hits in the last week all four have gone for extra bases, with three of them leaving the yard. The 29-year-old hasn't hit above .262 since he was a rookie, so a mediocre batting average is to be expected, but he's already hit 10 homers on the season and seems well on his way to his second career 20-plus home run campaign. Morrison might be a poor man's Yonder Alonso this year, but that's still got some value. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Owned

Second Base

Cliff Pennington, Angels: Pennington has moved into a nearly full-time role for the Angels over the last week thanks to Danny Espinosa's struggles, and with Yunel Escobar tweaking his hamstring Saturday there could be even more at-bats available for the veteran utility player. Pennington is hitting .275 at the moment with two steals, but he's still looking for his first extra-base hit of the year and his .393 BABIP won't last. He might get you a handful of counting stats and some position flex while he's seeing regular action, but that's about the best you can hope for. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox: The White Sox stubbornly refuse to being up Yoan Moncada, but that decision still leaves them in need of a second baseman, as Tyler Saladino has flopped in the starting role. Sanchez is the latest player to get a look at the keystone, and the 24-year-old switch-hitter has responded with a .355/.382/.419 line over the last two weeks. He has shown some speed in the minors and while he's just 1-for-3 on the basepaths this year with Chicago, that remains his best route to fantasy significance. His window for establishing himself could be a small one, but if the team is going to wait another month or so to clear Super-2 status for Moncada, Sanchez could be worth picking up if you need help up the middle. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Third Base

Yandy Diaz, Cleveland: Diaz is back in Cleveland after embarrassing International League pitchers with a .395/.509/.558 line in 12 games for Triple-A Columbus. He's started three of six games since his promotion but gone 0-for-9, and the 25-year-old may not have the power to do much damage in the majors. He plays great defense and can take a walk, though, and that skill set has value in real life, if not so much in most fantasy leagues. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Matt Duffy, Rays: Duffy's finally begun a rehab stint and appears to be a couple of weeks away from returning from his heel injury. In his absence Tim Beckham has shown flashes but hasn't really established himself as a viable lineup regular, so the starting shortstop job should still be Duffy's when he gets back on the field. Even if the Rays decide to stick with Beckham, Duffy could simply become the team's next Ben Zobrist and slide into a super-utility role. Either way, at-bats should be plentiful upon his return, and his modest power-speed combo will give him value in deeper formats. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5


Ehire Adrianza, Twins: The former Giant came off the DL last week and slid quietly into a bench spot for the Twins. Adrianza may have a name that seems perfectly designed for Sofia Vergara to say out loud, but in fantasy terms he's a glove-first and glove-second middle infielder who sits behind Eduardo Escobar in the utility pecking order. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Erik Gonzalez, Cleveland: Called up Sunday, Gonzalez will provide an extra body off the bench for Cleveland. His .269/.293/.455 line for Triple-A Columbus isn't impressive but he does have five homers and three steals through 32 games, and has shown a bit of power and speed in the past. He also struck out nearly 30 percent of the time for the Clippers, though, so if he does somehow fall into some at-bats there's no guarantee he'll do anything with them. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1


Ezequiel Carrera, Blue Jays: The outfield pickings are very slim in the Junior Circuit this week, but Carrera's having one of his good streaks, starting five straight games with four straight multi-hit efforts while hitting .378/.378/.568 over the last two weeks. He'll provide the occasional homer and steal while he's hot, and there is a path to a regular gig in left field given Steve Pearce's ongoing struggles, but Carrera's track record indicates he could fade very quickly. Consider him a short-term option to cover for someone better's DL stint. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Owned

Ben Gamel, Mariners: Mitch Hainger's injury has provided Gamel with steady playing time and he's taken full advantage, hitting .339/.446/.532 in 16 games since being called up. Haniger's a couple of weeks away from returning to action, but Gamel's done enough to warrant keeping in the starting lineup, although Guillermo Heredia's been hitting pretty well lately too. Gamel's got modest power/speed potential, and at 24 years old his time may finally have arrived. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

Brock Holt, Red Sox: Boston still needs a third baseman, as Josh Rutledge's recent defensive misadventures have made clear. Holt will be the next man up as he's set to come off the DL early this week, and while he's not going to provide a whole lot of offense the Red Sox are at least comfortable with what he can do in their lineup. Pablo Sandoval may not be too far behind him as he works his way back from a knee injury, though, so Holt's stay in the starting lineup could be a fairly short one before he returns to his usual bench role. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5