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August 22, 2013

Free Agent Watch

Week 21

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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12-Team Mixed

Mark Reynolds, 3B/1B, New York Yankees

The Yankees brought Reynolds in to provide some additional pop against left-handers. This makes him well and good in AL-only formats, but in mixed leagues, this makes Reynolds a rather tenuous play. Even if the Yankees decided to play Reynolds exclusively at 1B and benched Lyle Overbay, Reynolds’ bad batting average would make him risky. In mixed leagues with daily moves, I’m okay with streaming Reynolds against a weak left-hander. However, not many formats permit this or have roster rules conducive to this type of strategy. I’d leave Reynolds in the free-agent pool in mixed. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Russell Branyan, back in the day

Martin Perez SP, Texas Rangers
Bret wrote Perez up for deeper mixed leagues back on June 27. The next day, Perez went out and threw 6 2/3 shutout innings, making Bret look like a genius. Then, the wheels came off and over Perez’s next five starts he put up an awful 5.81 ERA and 1.671 WHIP in 26 1/3 IP. Mixed-league Perez owners responded by dropping him in short order. Since that time, Perez has quietly reeled off a nice little streak, putting up a 2.12 ERA in his last four starts. Quality of opponent has to be taken into consideration, as Perez faced the Angels, Angels (again), Astros, and Mariners, but what really caught my eye was a moderate spike in strikeouts. Whether or not Perez is worth starting in 12-team mixed comes down to the whiffs. If he’s “only” striking out 3-4 batters a game, he’s a fringe play even if the ERA/WHIP are okay. On the other hand, if Perez can get 6-7 strikeouts per outing, he’s suddenly a viable option, particularly in favorable match-ups —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Matt Harrison

Deep Mixed

Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/OF, Kansas City Royals
It has not been the most memorable of seasons thus far for the elder Bonifacio, who hit .218 with 12 steals and pretty horrific 66-to-13 K:BB ratio. But since coming over to the Royals in a waiver-period trade, he’s stolen four bases in six games (and six days). And let’s face it, that’s all we really want Bonifacio for anyway: speed and eligibility. In fact, he’s two appearances away from gaining third-base eligibility in five-game leagues, which, while not a huge deal on its own, helps the overall package. With the potential to get near every day playing time down the stretch, Bonifacio could provide another 8-10 steals with the amount that Ned Yost likes to run. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Everth Cabrera

Todd Redmond, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
His numbers really do deserve a double take, for someone who prior to this season was best known as an answer to a trivia question in Cincinnati*. Redmond has been in Triple-A since Mike Trout was in high school and he's been the dictionary definition of serviceable. His career 3.83 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 7.7 K/9 at the level are good enough to stick as insurance, but not enough to get too excited about. However, with a 3.32 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and more than a strikeout an inning this season, Redmond is taking full advantage of the opportunity he has north of the border. This party is unlikely to last all that long, but riding the hot hand at this point of the season can be extremely beneficial. Especially when that hot hand starts against the Astros on Friday.

Redmond made the one start for the Reds in 2012 that was not made by their Opening Day starting five of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, and Mike Leake. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Mike Leake

AL ONLY

Max Stassi, C, Houston Astros
A concussion forced Carlos Corporan to the seven-day DL so Stassi gets the call. Jason Castro is likely to continue getting most of the playing time behind the plate for Houston, so Stassi makes for a better long-term/keeper play in AL-only. He took a big step forward this year with the bat, although Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks warns that this is mostly a product of Stassi’s favorable hitting environment. On the other hand, David Rawnsley of Perfect Game USA praises Stassi’s make-up and determination, and notes that Stassi comes from a strong baseball family and is healthy this year for the first time in years. Stassi might not be a superstar, but there’s a good chance he could cobble together a solid major-league career as a second-tier regular or a high-quality backup backstop. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Gregg Zaun in his prime

Kelvin Herrera, RP, Kansas City Royals
If you had told me before the season that Herrera would have been demoted not once, but twice, I would have looked at you like you had five heads. Unfortunately it's not a fever dream, as he's had issues with the long ball all season long--giving up nine in less than 50 innings after allowing only four in 84 1/3 innings in 2012. Since he returned from Omaha on July 19, Herrera has a 1.89 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 24 strikeouts in just 19 innings. But best of all, he's only allowed one home run. The diminutive fireballer appears to be back doing exactly what we thought he'd be doing at the beginning of the season, except without the chance at save opportunities. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Trevor Rosenthal

NL ONLY

Ronny Cedeno, SS, San Diego Padres
Shortly before the suspension of Everth Cabrera, the Padres signed Cedeno to a minor league deal with the hopes of getting him ready to spell Cabrera as quickly as possible. Cedeno will probably play regularly for the Pads down the stretch. That’s probably the best thing he has going for him. Cedeno offers little in the way of power, little in the way of speed, and batting in the bottom third of the line-up limits Cedeno’s opportunities to score runs. Cedeno is a desperation play, even in NL-only. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Clint Barmes

Drew Storen, RP, Washington Nationals
I guess today's theme is highly touted middle relievers from the pre-season who have had disappointing years. Next up is Storen, who punched his ticket back to Triple-A by giving up three runs in two straight outings of less than an inning towards the end of July. Well, he's back now--and in four appearances since his pitstop in Syracuse, has only allowed one base runner in four innings while striking out five. Like Herrera, save opportunities are not going to be there for Storen during the last six weeks of the season, but if this is a sign of a return to form, he can re-establish himself as one of the better middle relievers to own in the National League over the last six weeks of the season. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Tyler Clippard

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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