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May 1, 2014

Free Agent Watch

Week Five

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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Welcome back to our weekly walk through some of the players who may want to keep an extra eye on in your leagues. Mike and I will be tackling this topic on Thursdays again and focusing on a singular hitter and pitcher in four of the more popular formats: shallow mixed, deep mixed, NL-only and AL-only. These are certainly not the only players who are worth pickups, but it gives us a nice opportunity to write about players we have close tabs on in our leagues.


Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics
A popular dump after the first two weeks of the season, Reddick was a late round draftee that people just weren’t willing to be patient on. Unfortunately for those owners, Reddick has been on fire since April 18, hitting .410/.439/.615 with a homer and a steal (yay arbitrary endpoints). Of course, it means he’s now hitting a robust .250 on the season, which is above his PECOTA projection of .237. Now all that’s left is for the power to come back around in full force. He’s unlikely to ever match the 32 homers he hit back in 2012, but 20-25 is perfectly reasonable even with the slow start. He makes for a nice last outfielder in shallower mixed leagues with enough upside to entice, but a high enough floor to avoid the waiver wire. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: A poor man’s Adam Dunn

Matt Harrison, SP, Texas Rangers
Yes, the strikeouts are a little low with Harrison, but he also was a top-40 fantasy starter back in 2012 when he won 18 games and had a 3.29 ERA for the Rangers. And he may yet have similar upside again, if he’s past his back troubles—which could always spring up again at any moment. However, in shallower mixed leagues, that is much less important since there is always (repeat after me) pitching available. Given the advantageous ballparks Harrison finds himself in while touring the AL West and his ability to perform in Arlington, he could post a 3.50 ERA with a win every other start for the foreseeable future. It’s tough to find leagues shallow enough where that doesn’t matter. In fact, those numbers look an awful lot like what teammate Martin Perez might put up the rest of the season (less about 40 strikeouts), and Perez is owned in nearly nine times as many leagues. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Martin Perez


Kurt Suzuki, C, Minnesota Twins
Are you in a one catcher or two-catcher league? That is obviously the question, as you wouldn’t bother with Suzuki’s marginal 5-7 home-run power and subpar batting average in a one-catcher format. Suzuki is worth owning right now, but even in a 15-team mixed league Suzuki is borderline. He is getting a fair amount of at bats as Josmil Pinto has been getting some games at DH, but Suzuki is going to lose more and more time behind the plate to Pinto and isn’t going to drive in runs at a 134 RBI clip. Suzuki is fine in this format if you simply want to make sure you get some runs/RBI from this annoying position, but be aware that the fun times aren’t going to last forever. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Geovany Soto with less power

Ricky Nolasco, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Despite the move from the NL to the AL this winter, Nolasco seemed like the rare pitcher who might actually retain or actually gain value with the jump to the more offensively minded circuit. However, not only have the gains he made in strikeouts disappeared but also they have fallen off of the cliff. The result is an incredibly hittable pitcher who isn’t getting results against any opponent. Nolasco seems to be running into the same problems he ran into earlier in his Marlins career: relying too much on his fastball and not mixing up his assortment of steady but non-dominant pitches. He might improve, but unless you are in an AL-only it isn’t the best strategy to put Nolasco in your lineup in the hopes that he does. At the moment, he can’t even be recommended as a Target Field-friendly matchup play. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Tommy Milone


Chris Getz, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Maicer Izturis’s shredded knee and Ryan Goins’s non-surprising suckitude put the uninspiring Getz front and center as the Blue Jays starting second baseman. Royals fans are laughing heartily and having their moment of schadenfreude, but fantasy owners in AL-only leagues know that Getz isn’t an object of scorn but rather a modest buying opportunity. He’s not going to do much of anything outside of the steals department, but 15-25 steals from a middle infielder in an only is worth grabbing hold of, even if your sabermetrically minded friends are going to incessantly make fun of you at their nerdy little parties. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Elliot Johnson without the “power”

Brandon Maurer, SP, Seattle Mariners
The raw statistics haven’t been particularly kind to Maurer so far this season, but then again they weren’t kind to him last year either. However, looking past the ERA, you see a pitcher who actually shows some skills and could succeed given the home park and some better luck. Maurer, in two starts this year, has struck out 20 percent of the batters he’s faced, kept more than half of this balls in play on the ground and has yet to allow a home run. Yes, we’re dealing with eight innings of sample here, but in deep leagues you just look for a slight opening. He gets Houston this weekend in a good deep league streaming matchup, but with Erasmo Ramirez being exiled from Seattle, Maurer will have until James Paxton returns to show he belongs. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Somewhere between good Edwin Jackson and bad Edwin Jackson


Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
The prospect team and most of the fantasy team hate him, casting Grichuk as a fourth outfielder or a second-division starter at best. And they’re probably right. But at the moment there is a narrow window of opportunity for Grichuk on the Cardinals, as Peter Bourjos struggles with the bat and Jon Jay continues to put up OK numbers but nothing spectacular. Grichuk definitely is stretched as a starter in center but that’s where he’s likely to play barring an injury. However, the bat has played at every level in the minors (including in an extremely tough hitters’ environment last year) and Grichuk could be one of those players who defy expectations if he gets the chance to do so. Craig Goldstein’s assessment this past Tuesday is correct: Grichuk is a monitor in standard formats, but in NL-only leagues you have to add him now. He won’t be available if he does go on a hot streak. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Chris Heisey

Gavin Floyd, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves
The Braves appeared to be counting the days until they got Floyd into the rotation before David Hale and Aaron Harang started pitching like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (OK, slight exaggeration). Still, with the former White Sox starter finishing up his rehab assignment and Mike Minor back in the Braves’ rotation, it’s Floyd versus Harang for the fifth spot. The best thing for Floyd was Harang getting harangued (I’m so not sorry) by the Marlins, but with how good he’s looked, it’s likely that Floyd may have to bide his time in the bullpen. The talent has always come and gone with Floyd over the course of his career, but if he gets that job, he should be able to put up around a 4.00 ERA with around seven strikeouts per nine pitching in the NL East, a great division for fantasy starters. So if he’s either available now, or gets dropped by an impatient owner, he makes for a good add in deep leagues. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: 90 percent of good Gavin Floyd from Chicago

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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