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 $
Shane BazTBSPA51121
Joey EstesOAKSPC125
Emerson HancockSEASPCNoNo2
Andrew HeaneyTEXSPC37Rostered
Keider MonteroDETSPCNoNo2
Chris PaddackMINSPC125
Yariel RodriguezTORSPC25Rostered
Jeffrey SpringsTBSPC2

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 $
Shane BazTBSPA51121
Joey EstesOAKSPC125
Emerson HancockSEASPCNoNo2
Andrew HeaneyTEXSPC37Rostered
Keider MonteroDETSPCNoNo2
Chris PaddackMINSPC125
Yariel RodriguezTORSPC25Rostered
Jeffrey SpringsTBSPC2511
Roansy ContrerasLASPC111
Davis DanielLASPC111
Chris FlexenCHISPC111
Kenta MaedaDETSPC111
Scott BarlowCLERPDNoNo3
Andrew ChafinDETRPDNo14
Carson KellyDETCCNo1Rostered
Keston HiuraLA1BCNoNo3
Jon SingletonHOU1BC13Rostered
Lenyn SosaCHI2BC14Rostered
Brett HarrisOAK3BCNo14
Leo JimenezTORSSCNoNo1
Brooks LeeMINSSB51121
Angel MartinezCLESSCNo14
Parker MeadowsDETOFA71525
Hunter RenfroeKCOFC25Rostered
Matt WallnerMINOFCNoNo1

Starting Pitcher

Shane Baz, Rays: Baz likely isn't available in a really competitive league, but just in case he got dropped, he needs to be scooped up ASAP given his upside. The 25-year-old righty has a top-shelf arsenal that includes a high-90s fastball and a plus-plus slider, and he produced a quality start with a 6:1 K:BB against the Rangers in his season debut Friday. Baz might end up heading back to Triple-A once Jeffrey Springs is healthy, but it sure seems from the outside like Tampa traded Aaron Civale to create a permanent spot for Baz in the rotation. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $21

Joey Estes, Athletics: The 22-year-old right-hander is going to draw some bids this week after firing a shutout Wednesday, and while blanking the Angels is a little bit like playing MLB The Show on Beginner/Casual, Estes has actually been looking good for a couple weeks now. He's been tagged for just four runs over his last three starts, posting a 1.74 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 13:4 K:BB in 20.2 innings over that brief stretch, and he lines up for a two-step ahead of the All-Star break (at Boston, then at Philly.) It's not the friendliest two-start week, but his current form makes him an intriguing gamble. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Emerson Hancock, Mariners: Seattle's designated sixth starter came back up for a turn in the rotation Saturday and lasted only four innings against the Jays, but Hancock may not be one and done this time around. Bryan Woo also pitched Saturday on a rehab start with High-A Everett and lasted only 2.2 innings and 45 pitches, so the Mariners could be inclined to give him another rehab start and not bring him back until after the All-Star break. If Hancock does make another start, it would come on the road against the Angels, making him a prime streaming target (see: Estes, Joey). 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $2

Andrew Heaney, Rangers: Heaney had a bumpy start to his Rangers tenure in 2023 and early 2024, but since the beginning of June, he seems to have re-discovered the form he had with the Dodgers in 2022. Over his last seven starts he's reeled off a 2.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 46:10 K:BB through 39.2 innings, numbers more than good enough to be rostered even in shallow formats. Heaney's track record doesn't mark him as the most stable pitching asset, but he's worth riding while he's hot. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Keider Montero, Tigers: With Casey Mize on the shelf until at least the end of July, Montero rejoined the rotation Wednesday and delivered a quality start against the Twins for his first big-league win. The 24-year-old righty has a 54:30 K:BB through 48.1 innings at Triple-A this year, highlighting both his potential and his risk. He's also set to face the Guardians before the ASB and maybe in his first start after it too, which isn't ideal. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $2

Chris Paddack, Twins: Paddack looks set to rejoin the Minnesota rotation at the beginning of the week, which would set him up for a road two-step against the White Sox and Giants. The right-hander has been wildly inconsistent this season and more bad than good, but the last time he faced the ChiSox back in late April, he blanked them over seven innings with a 10:0 K:BB, which is hard to ignore if you're looking for streaming options. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $2; 12-team AL: $5

Yariel Rodriguez, Blue Jays: After a disastrous return to the rotation June 21, Rodriguez saw his next start get paused early due to awful weather in Boston, giving him a little more rest. The extra time off seems to have paid dividends – the right-hander has fired quality starts in his last two trips to the mound, collecting his first MLB win Saturday against the M's with six scoreless innings. The Jays indicated before the season that they wanted to limit Rodriguez's innings this season given his unusual path to the majors and lack of work in 2023, but his health may have taken care of that issue for them, and he's only thrown 49.2 innings so far between Triple-A Buffalo and Toronto. Rodriguez could still be babied in the second half, but he represents the team's best option right now to solidify the No. 5 spot in the rotation. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Jeffrey Springs, Rays: I should have written up Springs sooner, to be honest, but his initial rehab stint got put on pause in late May and the re-start slipped under my radar. His last appearance Wednesday came with Triple-A Durham and he fired four scoreless innings with a 6:0 K:BB, so it seems safe to say things are going much better this time around. The 31-year-old southpaw missed a chance last year to build on his breakout 2022 campaign due to Tommy John surgery, but he's on track to rejoin the Rays rotation after the ASB and seems just about ready to pick up where he left off. Stash him if he's available. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: $11

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

Roansy Contreras, Angels (vs. TEX, vs. SEA)
Davis Daniel, Angels (vs. TEX, vs. SEA)
Chris Flexen, White Sox (vs. MIN, vs. PIT)
Kenta Maeda, Tigers (vs. CLE, vs. LAD)

Relief Pitcher

Scott Barlow, Guardians: Barlow's only real path to saves in Cleveland will open up any time Emmanuel Clase needs a breather, but he's pitching well enough to have value regardless. Since the beginning of June, the former Royals closer has a 2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 22:8 K:BB through 13 innings with four holds, serving as a solid high-leverage bridge to Clase. Barlow's 17 holds on the year are already a career high, and should anything happen to the Guardians' ninth-inning star (I have no Clase shares this season, but I knocked on wood anyway for those who do), he figures to be the next man up. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Andrew Chafin, Tigers: The ninth-inning situation in Detroit is a lot murkier. Jason Foley fell into the closer role early in the year and while he hasn't given up the role yet, he could be hanging by a thread after getting tagged for at least one run in four straight appearances. Over his last 12 games, Foley's stumbled to a 5.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 8:2 K:BB in 11.1 innings. That may be opening the door for Chafin, who replaced Foley in the ninth Saturday for a one-out save. The veteran southpaw had a career-high eight saves in 2023, and he's absolutely locked in right now, posting a 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 12:0 K:BB over his last seven innings. Chafin likely wouldn't take over the full role if Foley gets removed, but he could be the most valuable member of a committee, with Tyler Holton and a bunch of inconsistent right-handers also in the mix. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Catcher

Carson Kelly, Tigers: It's pretty clear at this point that Detroit is sticking with a timeshare at catcher between Kelly and Jake Rogers, but Kelly's had the more reliable bat this season and is on another heater, slashing .297/.366/.649 since June 15 with four homers and 12 RBI in 41 PAs. That RBI pace is unsustainable, but as the Tigers keep adding more young talent to the lineup, the floor for everyone should rise, making Kelly a viable short-term option in shallower formats even if he's not playing every day. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: Rostered

First Base

Keston Hiura, Angels: The Halos are basically one big reclamation project, so the fact that they keep adding players who are arguably on their last chance to prove they are big leaguers has some logic behind it. Hiura is the latest guy to try and resurrect his career in Anaheim. After slashing .360/.429/.853 in 19 games for Triple-A Salt Lake – impressive even once you factor in PCL inflation – the 27-year-old got the call Friday and has banged out three hits in eight at-bats for the Angels. Hiura's issue has always been making contact, and he doesn't seem to have solved it, fanning 29.8 percent of the time with Salt Lake, but if he does enough damage when he gets his bat on the ball, the team won't care (see: Adell, Jo). Hiura's dazzling 2019 debut was a long time and a lot of empty swings ago, but he still has 50 homers and a .213 ISO in just over 1,000 big-league plate appearances. Especially if you're not concerned about batting average, Hiura's upside seems worth gambling on. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $3

Jon Singleton, Astros: Houston hasn't yet picked up a new first baseman, so Singleton still has the job, and he's made a case to keep it the last couple weeks. The 32-year-old is batting .393 (11-for-28) over his last nine games with a double and two homers, and his 5:8 BB:K is plenty acceptable too. The most likely scenario still has him bumped to the bench when the Astros reload ahead of the trade deadline, but it's at least more plausible at the moment that they just stick with what they have at first base. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $3; 12-team AL: Rostered

Second Base

Lenyn Sosa, White Sox: Sosa continues to be mostly shunned by the fantasy community, a product of playing for a bottom-feeding team and likely due to him proving to be a dud in the past, but it's hard to ignore the roll he's on right now. The 24-year-old has hit safely in seven straight games, batting .433 (13-for-30) with three doubles and two homers while locking down the starting job at third base. Yoan Moncada could be back by the end of the month, but there's no way Sosa will get stuck on the bench if he's still contributing. A shift back to second base to dislodge Nicky Lopez seems the most likely scenario. 12-team Mixed: $1; 15-team Mixed: $4; 12-team AL: Rostered

Third Base

Brett Harris, Athletics: Oakland has churned through third basemen this season like they were moonlighting as Spinal Tap drummers, and Harris is the latest guy to get a look and hopefully not spontaneously combust. The 26-year-old has started five straight games at the hot corner, going 5-for-18 with three doubles and five RBI – although a lot of that damage came in Saturday's rout of the O's. Harris was a seventh-round pick in 2021 and has never had much prospect pedigree, but being consistently old for his level may have masked his plate discipline and modest power-speed upside. Abraham Toro should be back at some point after the break, but he really shouldn't be an obstacle for a player who actually has a small chance of becoming a building block for the club. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Shortstop

Leo Jimenez, Blue Jays: The 23-year-old has mostly looked like a future utility player during his minor-league career, flashing a good eye at the plate and a solid glove but little power or speed, but Jimenez may be changing that perception in 2024. He was slashing .271/.416/.431 with seven homers in 57 games for Triple-A Buffalo prior to his first big-league promotion Tuesday, but as per usual the Jays haven't given him much playing time even though both Bo Bichette and Isiah Kiner-Falefa have missed time recently. I mean, when you're 10 games below .500 and wildly below expectations, you don't want to shake things up too drastically. That makes Jimenez just a deep-league keeper stash for now, but if the front office does elect to blow it all up at the trade deadline, there could be a regular spot in the lineup for him over the final couple months. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: No; 12-team AL: $1

Brooks Lee, Twins: I wrote up Lee a couple weeks ago as a potential call-up, but Royce Lewis' latest injury made it official. Lee has started four straight games since his promotion, three at third base and one at DH, and the 23-year-old has merely gone 7-for-15 with a double, a homer and six RBI in four games. The eighth overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, Lee hasn't shown much steals upside in the minors, but he does everything else well and could move the needle even in redraft formats this season if he carves out a regular spot for himself in a crowded Twins infield. Those playing-time concerns are really the only thing that should hold you back from throwing a really big bid his way. Jose Miranda's obviously not going anywhere, Carlos Correa's healthy and raking, and Willi Castro has earned consistent at-bats too. Once Lewis is back, lee could be out of luck if he isn't a clearly superior option to one of those guys. 12-team Mixed: $5; 15-team Mixed: $11; 12-team AL: $21

Angel Martinez, Guardians: The 22-year-old Dominican and second-generation player (he's the son of catcher Sandy Martinez, who briefly played for Cleveland in 2004 before hanging up his spikes) has a rough beginning to the season, hurting his foot in spring straining and then suffering a broken hamate bone in his left hand early in his rehab stint. Finally healthy, Martinez has torn up Triple-A with a .316/.416/.537 slash line and five homers in 26 games to earn what could be a permanent promotion to the majors. He hasn't slowed down, starting three straight games between center field and second base and going 3-for-8 with two doubles and an eye-popping 6:1 BB:K. He's flashed five-category potential – six if you count OBP – and with Tyler Freeman fading out of the picture, Martinez could get a very long look in center for the Guardians. 12-team Mixed: No; 15-team Mixed: $1; 12-team AL: $4

Outfield

Parker Meadows, Tigers: Finally called back up Friday, Meadows has gone 3-for-7 with a double and a homer in two games as Detroit's starting center fielder, looking more like the guy who set the Grapefruit League on fire this spring. The 24-year-old clearly has little left to learn at Triple-A, slashing .308/.413/.479 at the level since the beginning of June with four homers, 12 steals and a 20:24 BB:K in 29 games, and his defense should keep him in the lineup if he's making any kind of offensive contribution at all. Particularly in stolen bases, Meadows has the talent to move the needle for you down the stretch. 12-team Mixed: $7; 15-team Mixed: $15; 12-team AL: $25

Hunter Renfroe, Royals: Renfroe's numbers to begin the season were pretty bad, but some of that was bad luck as despite a career-low 18.5 percent strikeout rate, his .239 BABIP was his lowest mark for a full campaign since 2019. A toe injury and a stint on the IL may have changed his fortunes. Over his last 12 games, the veteran slugger is slashing .325/.386/.550 with three doubles and two homers. Renfroe's always been streaky, so if he got cut loose when he was hurt or struggling, he's worth another look. 12-team Mixed: $2; 15-team Mixed: $5; 12-team AL: Rostered

Matt Wallner, Twins: Wallner's bat woke up big-time with Triple-A St. Paul, and since the beginning of June the 26-year-old was slashing .342/.417/.726 with 12 homers in 29 games. Minnesota called him up, but it's hard to see where he fits in a Twins lineup that has a healthy four-deep outfield, an entrenched DH and a super-utility player looking for playing time too. Wallner's pop isn't in question, but he might be stuck in a bench role. 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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