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August 8, 2013

Free Agent Watch

Week 19

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
I couldn’t resist. In ESPN, A-Rod is only owned in 21.3 percent of all leagues. While there are certainly questions about how long A-Rod can play before the inevitable arbitration hearing takes place and the possible suspension goes down, A-Rod is a must start even in mixed formats. He has 20 HR potential at third base and if completely healthy could exceed that. Moral qualms are fine in real life, but in fantasy baseball you have to take the opportunities where they might come. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Josh Donaldson

Scott Feldman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
At a glance, Feldman’s brief Baltimore tenure looks like proof that his move to the AL has eroded his fantasy value. However, Feldman’s FIP in Baltimore is nearly identical to his FIP in Chicago. He is what he always was: a back-end starter who is probably a decent enough match-up play in mixed leagues. He’s still getting hitters to pound the ball on the ground, so there should be better days ahead. Feldman most certainly isn’t a 5.00+ ERA pitcher. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Andy Pettitte

Deep Mixed

Cody Ross, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Sometimes, just when you think you know a player, he goes ahead and changes things up on you. Ross was a known commodity coming into the season. He’s someone who was on the fringes of ownership in shallow mixed leagues, but should have been owned in just about every deeper mixed league in some capacity. The expectations of a .260 average and 20 homers were reasonable and could be written in pencil on your stat page. But instead, Ross has had a career low strikeout rate (14.8 percent) and a career low isolated power (.134) has owners puzzled and led to ownership levels below his standard. However, since the All-Star break, Ross is hitting .375 with three homers and 13 RBI in just 48 at-bats, while maintaining the low strikeout rate. There may still be a small window of opportunity here to get in before the price goes back to pre-season type values. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Michael Cuddyer

Chris Capuano, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Left for dead around two months ago after he went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, Capuano has turned around his season in impressive fashion. Since coming off the DL on June 19, he is 3-2 with a 3.16 ERA, and a 35-to-4 K:BB ratio. Yes, you read that correctly. But the craziest thing about Capuano since his return is that in those eight starts, he’s only given up either zero runs (five times) or five runs (three times). Nothing else, just those two numbers. On top of that, he has a pretty great projected schedule for the remainder of August. After his start Friday at home against the Rays, he gets the Mets, Marlins, Cubs, and Padres over his next four outings. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Kyle Lohse


Engel Beltre, OF, Texas Rangers
Beltre’s short-term ceiling isn’t that all high, but Nelson Cruz’s suspension opens up some time in the outfield for a few players. Craig Gentry is the obvious playing-time winner, but he’s likely owned in many AL-only leagues. Beltre should be good for some steals and the park should help his batting average out a little bit. He’s not a great play, but as a speculative add at this late juncture you could do worse. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Julio Borbon

Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros
There are plenty of reasons from a skill perspective not to own Josh Fields. He’s walked nearly a batter every other inning and he’s giving up a home run every four innings. Not only are those both pretty terrible on their own, but in concert they can be deadly (and not in a good way). However, when you’re in a deep league, saves are saves and beggars cannot be choosers and other clichés. The no. 1 selection in the Rule 5 draft this past off-season not only got his first save of the season on Monday, but it was a Super Kimbrel™ against the team that left him unprotected. And yes, a Super Kimbrel is an appearance of all strikeouts that lasts more than one inning. He may get more save chances after that dominating appearance, and he may very well implode in his next one, but with his “competition” in that bullpen, he’s worth the risk. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Jim Henderson


Wilmer Flores, IF, New York Mets
After a lot of waiting, the Mets called Flores up to take the place of the injured David Wright at third base. Flores has had his own series of injuries, which have kept him down on the farm. While the opportunity at third might be short lived, Flores’ bat could put him in play for regular at bats the rest of the way somewhere in the Mets’ lineup. Flores’ numbers were inflated by the super friendly hitting context in Las Vegas, but he still has a solid if unspectacular bat. 10-15 HR with a good batting average in the short term isn’t unrealistic, with the potential for somewhat better numbers in the long run —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: David Freese

Tyler Thornburg, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
I’ve actually been on record saying that I don’t think Thornburg is going to be a starting pitcher long term, but with the way the Brewers’ roster has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions, they need him in the short term. And to date, he’s rewarded them with very solid performance, as he has a 1.78 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 30 1/3 innings this year between the bullpen and rotation. The two starts he’s made this season have not exactly come against lineups that frighten you (Cubs and Giants), but he’s taken advantage of them nonetheless. In fact, he hasn’t even allowed a run in those 12 innings. Things don’t get much more difficult next time out either, as he faces the Mariners in Seattle. He’s looking more and more likely to stick in the rotation for the remainder of the season; just keep your expectations in check. He’s only allowed one home run so far this season, despite giving up eight in only 22 innings last year. Even with regression coming on that front, Thornburg remains talented enough to hold value in NL-only formats the rest of the way. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Jeff Locke

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here
Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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