AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

AL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week

This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.

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.

We've incorporated 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 upside on an A-E scale, prioritizing skills and talent above role and playing time outlook. Gunnar Henderson would have been an "A" grade player last year – that mark will be reserved for similarly high-impact prospects that could thrive in 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.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Logan EvansSEASPBNoNo1
Bowden FrancisTORSPCNoNo2
Cade PovichBALSPBNo14
Yariel RodriguezTORSPBNo25
Gavin WilliamsCLESPB125
Spencer ArrighettiHOUSPC111
Joey EstesOAKSPC111
JP SearsOAKSPC1

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.

We've incorporated 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 upside on an A-E scale, prioritizing skills and talent above role and playing time outlook. Gunnar Henderson would have been an "A" grade player last year – that mark will be reserved for similarly high-impact prospects that could thrive in 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.

PLAYERTEAMPOSGRADE12-Team Mixed $15-Team Mixed $AL-Only $
Logan EvansSEASPBNoNo1
Bowden FrancisTORSPCNoNo2
Cade PovichBALSPBNo14
Yariel RodriguezTORSPBNo25
Gavin WilliamsCLESPB125
Spencer ArrighettiHOUSPC111
Joey EstesOAKSPC111
JP SearsOAKSPC111
Pedro AvilaCLERPENoNo1
Ben JoyceLARPDNoNo1
Ryne StanekSEARPD125
Bobby DalbecBOS1BDNoNo2
Spencer HorwitzTOR1BCNo25
Tyler LocklearSEA1BBNo37
Connor NorbyBAL2BBNo14
Lenyn SosaCHI2BCNo25
Paul DeJongCHISSC12Rostered
Ezequiel DuranTEXSSC12Rostered
Taylor WallsTBSSCNoNo3
Trey CabbageHOUOFCNoNo2
Oscar ColasCHIOFBNoNo2
Zach DeLoachCHIOFCNoNo1
Duke EllisCHIOFDNoNo1
Joey LoperfidoHOUOFBNoNo2
Justyn-Henry MalloyDETOFCNoNo3
Rob RefsnyderBOSOFC12Rostered
Victor RoblesSEAOFDNoNo1

Starting Pitcher

Logan Evans, Mariners: The 23-year-old righty drew raves in spring training thanks to a velocity spike and an expanded arsenal, and he has emerged as the latest top prospect from Seattle's pitching factory. Evans has posted an eye-popping 1.16 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 50:16 K:BB through 54.1 innings at Double-A this year, and while the lack of an elite strikeout rate might cause him to go overlooked, his K rate isn't far off from what George Kirby produced at the same age in his first crack at Double-A in 2021. Evans' dynasty value is skyrocketing, but even in redraft leagues it's time to put him on the radar, as the M's tend to skip their top arms over the PCL completely. If an injury hits the big-league rotation, it's not out of the question that Evans gets the call. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Bowden Francis, Blue Jays: Francis came off the IL on Tuesday and got thumped by the Orioles as the bulk reliever, but he'll get a start Sunday as the Jays are again scrambling to fill their fifth starter role. The 28-year-old really doesn't seem like a solution though – he's served up six homers in 18 big-league innings this season. If Francis winds up in a tandem with Yariel Rodriguez when the latter gets activated, he could fall into some wins if he's the second guy to take the mound on any given day, but it's hard to project him for any other value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Cade Povich, Orioles: The 24-year-old southpaw made his big-league debut Thursday and didn't exactly shine, coughing up six runs to the Blue Jays and walking more batters than he struck out. Povich was having a breakout campaign for Triple-A Norfolk, and the O's have holes to plug in the rotation, but he'll need to prove he's a better option than Albert Suarez or Cole Irvin to stick around. Of course, he could also be part of a package to land a name-brand arm like Jesus Luzardo, which would give Povich another path to fantasy value in 2024. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Yariel Rodriguez, Blue Jays: Toronto's front office keeps saying they want to limit Rodriguez's workload this season, but circumstances keep pushing the 27-year-old righty toward a rotation role. He was brilliant in his last rehab appearance, walking one batter over three no-hit innings for Triple-A Buffalo, and he was so efficient the Jays had him throw another 15 pitches in the bullpen aftterward. Rodriguez could wind up being deployed as a bulk reliever or working in a tandem with Bowden Francis, and while Rodriguez has more upside of the two, his fantasy utility will largely depend on the win potential that comes with his exact usage. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Gavin Williams, Guardians: Williams has finally begun a rehab assignment, striking out seven batters over 3.1 innings at Triple-A as he gets built up. The 24-year-old righty should be back in Cleveland's rotation by the end of the month, and Carlos Carrasco isn't going to be an obstacle to him regaining his job. If Williams has been dropped in your league, now's the time to stash him given his upside. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Other two-start options, Mon-Sun (12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $1)

Spencer Arrighetti, Astros (at SF, vs. DET)
Joey Estes, Athletics (at SD, at MIN)
JP Sears, Athletics (at SD, at MIN)

Relief Pitcher

Pedro Avila, Guardians: In AL-only formats, long relievers who provide solid ratios and bulk Ks can save your staff. Avila's been doing exactly that of late – since the beginning of May, he's posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 24:5 K:BB in 18.1 innings over 10 appearances. The 27-year-old righty won't see high-leverage work and has zero holds on the year, but he got a three-inning save his last time out and also nabbed a win at the beginning of that effective stretch. Avila's the kind of guy you want on your bench when injuries, or a rash of bad matchups, limit your viable SP options. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Ben Joyce, Angels: I nearly pulled Joyce off the list this week after his bad outing Saturday night against Houston, but he's not a target because I expect him to have short-term value. The 23-year-old righty threw 20 pitches Saturday and 14 of them hit triple digits on the radar gun, with his fastest four-seamer clocking at 103.9 mph. The knock on Joyce dating back to college has been his command – he's not quite Nuke LaLoosh, but it's not an unfair comparison – but prior to his promotion he was showing signs of figuring out where that heat was going, posting a 21:3 K:BB over his last 11.1 Double-A innings. If Joyce ever figures it out, he's got elite closer upside, and Carlos Estevez seems like a prime trade chip for the Halos given that he'll be a free agent this winter. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Ryne Stanek, Mariners: Andres Munoz's back is acting up, which is worrying for any pitcher, and as a result Stanek got a save Thursday before blowing a chance Friday. Matt Brash is done for the year and Gregory Santos isn't expected to return until at least the All-Star break, so if Munoz lands back on the IL or just needs a lot of maintenance days over the next month or so, Stanek is the only real option to handle the ninth in his place. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

First Base

Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox: Boston's still trying to replace Triston Casas at first base, and neither Garrett Cooper nor Dominic Smith have done much. Dalbec was called up this week to help cover for some outfield injuries, but his best chance of sticking around is at first base. The 28-year-old will need to hit for that to happen, of course, and since slugging 25 homers in 2021 he's stumbled to a .205/.275/.343 slash line with a 37.5 percent strikeout rate in roughly a full season's worth of playing time in the majors. Dalbec's got little left to prove in the minors, though – he's slugged 41 homers in his last 140 games for Triple-A Worcester – and he did go yard Saturday, so maybe he earns one last chance with the Red Sox. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Spencer Horwitz, Blue Jays: The Jays' offense has been stuck in the mud all season, which is what happens when you surround your two core stars with a gazillion utility infielders. The front office may finally be wising up though, cutting Cavan Biggio loose to make room for Horwitz. The 26-year-old was seeing action at second base at Triple-A, but he's just as likely to see playing time at DH or first base when Vladimir Guerrero is moonlighting at the hot corner or getting a break from defensive duties. Horwitz hit second in his season debut Saturday, and his on-base skills made that an intriguing assignment – he's reached base in 16 of his last 17 games for Buffalo prior to getting called up, slashing .361/.466/.639 over that stretch. He doesn't offer the traditional power of a first baseman, but he could still provide value in BA/OBP and runs if he hits ahead of Guerrero and Bo Bichette consistently. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Tyler Locklear, Mariners: Seattle has almost become a model franchise when it comes to making sure prospects don't waste their time in the minors. Locklear was a second-round pick in 2022 but he's already in the big leagues and could make his MLB debut Sunday, depending on the health of Ty France's foot. The 23-year-old has slashed a combined .293/.404/.520 between Double-A and Triple-A this year with nine homers and four steals in 51 games, although he'll need to improve his hit tool to maintain anything close to that batting average in the majors. This isn't exactly a Lou Gehrig/Wally Pipp situation, but France's .732 OPS this season doesn't lock him into the starting nine. If he ends up missing time and Locklear rakes in his absence, the kid isn't going back to Tacoma. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: $7

Second Base

Connor Norby, Orioles: Norby, one of Baltimore's seemingly inexhaustible supply of infield prospects, was called up to provide depth while Jorge Mateo was out with a concussion. The 24-year-old has started four of the last six games, going 3-for-14 with his first big-league homer after slashing .286/.374/.510 with nine home runs and seven stolen bases in 51 games for Triple-A Norfolk. Norby likely isn't going to carve out a regular role with the O's this season barring a rash of injuries, but like Cade Povich and Kyle Stowers, the team could be showcasing him for a trade. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Lenyn Sosa, White Sox: The 24-year-old infielder has flopped in previous big-league stints, but Sosa might be figuring things out. In eight games since his latest promotion, he's gone 9-for-23 (.391) with a homer and a respectable 2:4 BB:K. Sosa's mastered Triple-A, so the White Sox are better off sticking with him for a while and determining whether he's a piece of their future core or not. Yoan Moncada could be back after the All-Star break, which gives Sosa about five weeks to prove he belongs. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Shortstop

Paul DeJong, White Sox: DeJong is what he is, but he's hot at the moment, homering four times in the last eight games while batting .276 (8-for-29) and striking out only five times. Eventually his contact issues will rear their ugly head again, but if batting average isn't a concern for you and you're looking for some power from a middle infield spot, the 30-year-old should fit the bill. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Ezequiel Duran, Rangers: Somewhat surprisingly, Duran has been the biggest beneficiary of Evan Carter's absence, starting nine straight games and going a solid 8-for-30 (.267) with a double and three RBI. The 25-year-old has already played at least 10 games at three different positions this season (first base, third base and left field), but the modest power and speed production he showed in 2023 have vanished. While his Statcast numbers say the lack of homers is no fluke, Duran still registers a 93rd percentile sprint speed, so there could be more steals coming if he keeps getting regular playing time. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Taylor Walls, Rays: Offseason hip surgery cost Walls the beginning of the season, but he made his 2024 debut Friday and collected a couple hits while starting at shortstop. The 27-year-old slick glove should keep him busy around the infield, and he's got serious wheels, swiping 22 bags in 23 attempts last year. Walls doesn't offer much with his bat though, limiting his upside. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Outfield

Trey Cabbage, Astros: Called back up when Kyle Tucker got hurt, Cabbage could be sliding into a strong-side platoon role in right field, with Chas McCormick handling the small side. Cabbage has gone 2-for-7 in two starts this month with a homer and three Ks, and after posting a 30-30 season at Triple-A last season in the Angels' system he's collected nine homers and nine steals in 31 games for Triple-A Sugar Land in 2024. Tucker likely won't be out long, but Cabbage could have some short-term value. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Oscar Colas, White Sox: Luis Robert may be back for the White Sox, but now Tommy Pham, Andrew Benintendi and Dominic Fletcher are all on the shelf, so Colas is getting another look. The 25-year-old wasn't exactly lighting it up at Triple-A prior to his promotion, but he's hit safely in four straight games for Chicago, going 4-for-12 with three RBI. There's still upside here despite his train wreck of a 2023 season, and it's possible Colas just needed more time to adjust given his roller-coaster career so far – he spent two years in Japan as a two-way player before defecting from Cuba and not playing at all in 2020 or 2021, and this is only his third season in affiliated ball. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Zach DeLoach, White Sox: Acquired from the Mariners over the winter in the Gregory Santos deal, DeLoach added some speed to his profile at Triple-A this season, swiping 10 bags in 44 games for Charlotte after slugging 23 homers in 138 games for Tacoma in 2023. The 25-year-old has also showed signs of improving his contact rate to semi-respectable levels, so he might have a big-league future and be worth stashing in deep formats. I desperately want to work a Rage Against the Machine reference into this writeup, but Zack de la Rocha's lyrics don't offer a lot of wiggle room. Rally 'round the family with a pocket full of prospects... ? I'll keep workshopping it. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Duke Ellis, White Sox: The third young outfielder called up by the White Sox to cover for their rash of injuries, Ellis is the easiest of the three to dream on from a fantasy perspective. The 26-year-old stole 34 bags in 35 attempts at Double-A Birmingham this season prior to his promotion, albeit while slashing just .258/.341/.308. The best-case scenario here is Jacob Young, with the realistic ceiling something more like Dairon Blanco, but Ellis isn't likely to get enough playing time this season to make any kind of impact on the basepaths. If you need speed there are worse dart throws you could make, though. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Joey Loperfido, Astros: Kyle Tucker's bruised shin opens up a roster spot for Loperfido again in the short term, but he wasn't exactly making a lot of noise at Triple-A after his late-May demotion, batting .209 in nine games for Sugar Land with zero homers and 13 strikeouts. The 25-year-old put up good numbers in his first look at big-league pitching, but Loperfido's defensive limitations and contact issues give him few paths to consistent playing time, especially on a team with Yordan Alvarez around to fill the DH spot. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Justyn-Henry Malloy, Tigers: The Tigers' decision to demote Spencer Torkelson in an attempt to build up his confidence again left them with a hole in the 1B/DH mix, and Malloy got called up to fill it. The 24-year-old has some intriguing power but his own issues making consistent contact, and since his promotion he's gone 2-for-14 with six strikeouts. One of those hits did leave the yard, but JHM doesn't look like he's ready yet to be a contributor. Meanwhile, Tork's gone 7-for-21 in five games for Triple-A Toledo with two doubles, a homer and a 2:4 BB:K, so the duo could switch places again in a couple weeks. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Rob Refsnyder, Red Sox: Boston's injury woes have pushed Refsnyder into a regular spot in the starting lineup over the last couple weeks, and the veteran outfielder has responded by batting .333 (17-for-51) over his last 14 games with five doubles and a homer. His 0:13 BB:K is a red flag, and Refsnyder's playing time will dwindle once Tyler O'Neill, Wilyer Abreu and Masataka Yoshida get back, but for now he could be a hot hand worth riding. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: Rostered

Victor Robles, Mariners: The 27-year-old finally wore out his welcome with the Nationals, and the promise he showed in 2019 when he slugged 17 homers with 28 steals seems like it happened a lifetime ago. The M's grabbed him on waivers to add some outfield depth and provide another short-side platoon option for Luke Raley and Dominic Canzone, but Robles is a long way from being a fantasy asset. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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