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April 10, 2014

Free Agent Watch

Week Two

by Mike Gianella

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Hitter: David Ross, C, Boston Red Sox
Suffer an early catching injury? Wondering if you just simply leave a dead slot on your team or try to make a shrewd free agent pick up? Look no further than David Ross. He doesn’t offer much, but a handful of home runs without enough at bats to destroy your batting average is good enough in an AL-only league. Ross should be good for 5-7 home runs assuming he has no lingering concussion effects this year.

Comparable Player: John Buck with more batting average

Pitcher: Roenis Elias, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Even deep league (non-dynasty) owners weren’t aware of Elias until he was tapped to make the Mariners Opening Day rotation just before the season started. After Elias’s first solid start, it might be tempting to roll the dice with him in an only league. However, I would hold off if possible for at least another start or two. His stuff is serviceable but doesn’t speak to a pitcher who will blow anyone out of the water. He has managed to get hitters out at every level, but the jump from Double-A to the majors might prove a little much, particularly once teams get a good look. I’d only stream Elias if I were desperate for a win; it’s way too early for your team to be in this mode yet. Right?

Comparable Player: Tom Koehler


Hitter: Tim Federowicz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s the age-old dilemma in deep fantasy leagues: do I try to pick up catchers for counting stats, or do I stay away from starters who might kill my batting average and do little else? With A.J. Ellis due to miss 6-8 weeks of time, Federowicz will get an opportunity to play. He has a little bit of pop but is mostly going to plod along and offer some RBI and runs for your squad. If he can hit .240 or better he is probably worth it, but be aware that this is anything but a high-end play. You’re making this move in order to get a handful of counting stats that might make a difference in a tight race in September.

Comparable Player: Martin Maldonado

Pitcher: Jean Machi, RP, San Francisco Giants
Owners who added Machi to their rosters prior to Opening Day were rewarded with two cheapie vulture wins during the first week of the regular season. It is impossible to bet on this happening again, but the solid ERA/WHIP and strikeouts from last year are likely to carryover into 2014. Machi makes for a fine middle relief add in an only format…and if he manages to vulture a handful of wins for your squad, even better. As long as you’re not expecting any saves from this play, you’ll be fine with Machi as the ninth man on your staff. He’s also a nice option in mixed leagues that use daily moves and start limits.

Comparable Player: Dale Thayer


Hitter: Alex Presley, OF, Houston Astros
Presley was a waiver-wire afterthought for the Houston Astros, but thus far he has received a decent amount of playing time in an outfield that isn’t exactly littered with household names. Presley can provide some sneaky value in deeper mixed leagues due to his power/speed combination, although he is also the kind of player who can disappear in a hurry. He will lose some at bats when Dexter Fowler is completely healthy, but with only Mark Krauss and L.J. Hoes to contend with, it seems likely that Presley will have some deeper mixed league value all season long… or at least until George Springer is promoted.

Comparable Player: John Mayberry Jr.

Pitcher: Zach McAllister, SP, Cleveland Indians
McAllister is off to a strong start, but he is included here because he has always posted decent strikeout rates even when his ERA hasn’t been spectacular. McAllister should be owned in deeper mixed formats; he’s better than a number of pitchers who are currently on rosters at this time. He is a Travis Wood/Wade Miley type: an arm that doesn’t overpower but manages to keep hitters off balance with a solid assortment that doesn’t overwhelm but gets the job done. This is where the line between standard mixed and deeper mixed leagues is drawn. I probably wouldn’t risk a slot in a 12-team mixed on McAllister, but in a 15 or 16-team format he should at least be a streaming option.

Comparable Player: Wade Miley


Hitter: Casey McGehee, 3B, Florida Marlins
McGehee is off to an incredibly fast start that isn’t sustainable and clearly not reflective of his future value. However, the upside of his quick start is that he’s likely to keep his job for quite a while. The Marlins don’t have any decent options at the position and McGehee is a viable stopgap for all of 2014. He’s still kind of fringy for standard mixed leagues, but he will play.

Comparable Player: Juan Uribe

Pitcher: Scott Feldman, SP, Houston Astros
Feldman is getting grabbed quite a bit in ESPN leagues; his ownership percentage shot up this week from one percent to 17 percent. He is stretched as a mixed league starter but as a streamer in mixed leagues he is a decent enough streamer. Feldman keeps the ball on the ground enough that he doesn’t carry as much risk as other streamers and is a suitable play if you’re just looking for an innings eater at the back of your rotation. He isn’t someone I’d gamble with, or bet on another hot streak like he had last year with the Cubs.

Comparable Player: Wade Miley

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

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