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June 12, 2014

Free Agent Watch

Week 11

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.12-TEAM MIXED

Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
When Odor got called up, it was supposed to be a four-to-six week replacement for Jurickson Profar, but not only is Profar not coming back any time soon, but Odor looks to be more major league ready than initially expected. After starting off a bit slow, Odor is hitting .381 with six extra-base hits and 12 RBI in his last 14 games (arbitrary endpoints alert). There may not be a ton of opportunity for Odor to move up in the lineup too much (he currently has been hitting ninth), so over the long run his counting stats may suffer, but there’s enough here to warrant being a middle infield option in shallower leagues based on batting average potential alone. Owners who just lost Neil Walker for a couple of weeks should be considering the 20-year-old. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Daniel Murphy lite

Charlie Morton, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
What if I told you that Morton was more valuable for fantasy this year than Lance Lynn, Yordano Ventura, Ervin Santana, and Yovani Gallardo—all despite only having three wins in his first 13 starts? Well, I’m telling you now. And to be fair, he is on a roll with the wins, picking up all three in his last four starts. April was nothing to write home about for the Salt-man, but since May started, he has a 2.37 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings. In fact, Morton is still fighting his fantasy reputation that he’s a low-strikeout option, but his 17.6 percent strikeout rate is pretty close to league-average for a starting pitcher. There’s no good reason he should only be owned in around 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues and seven percent of ESPN leagues. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Doug Fister

Deep Mixed Hitter

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Wil Myers’ wrist injury has opened the door for Kiermaier, and so far he has come charging through that door with a quick offensive start. Power wasn’t a significant part of Kiermaier’s minor league profile, but he has belted three home runs so far in a mere 46 plate appearances. His value is questionable in standard mixed formats, but in deeper mixed leagues, Kiermaier’s speed combined with Joe Madden’s aggressive approach on the bases could be good for 15 or so steals for Kiermaier. This combined with any sort of power whatsoever make Kiermaier a sneaky fifth outfield option in deeper mixed, particularly as a matchup play against right-handed pitching. His glove and in particular his cannon of a throwing arm will keep him in the lineup for the Rays as long as Myers is out. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Denard Span


J.A. Happ, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
If you’re picking up Happ, it’s for the wins and the strikeouts. His ERA and WHIP are both problematic, and while Happ can string together a few good innings here and there, his history speaks to a pitcher who has trouble dominating over long stretches of time. His five wins are why you might consider him, but even taking Toronto’s strong lineup into consideration wins are a fickle stat. If you’re looking for a rainbow in the middle of the thunderstorm, Happ’s walk rate was torpedoed by an early bullpen outing. Your best bet with Happ is as a streamer against lefty-heavy lineups that strike out a lot. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Kevin Correia


Robinson Chirinos, C, Texas Rangers
If you read this article ever week, you’ll notice that the players profiled in the only section are on teams whose depth charts resemble a tire fire. The Rangers offense this year has featured the likes of Donnie Murphy, Josh Wilson, J.P. Arencibia, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Jim Adduci. Of all of these journeymen, Chirinos has been the best of the bunch for fantasy purposes. It is possible that his power won’t stick, but Chirinos is getting more playing time than he ever has in a favorable hitters’ venue so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him hit another 8-10 home runs if he manages to hang onto the job. Chirinos is one of the better players you’ll see this year on the only side of things: a player who has a shot to keep the job all year long and provide OK value at a tough position to fill. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Chris Gimenez

Hector Santiago, LHP, Los Angeles Angels
For all of the struggles Santiago had both at the major league and minor league levels this season, seeing him shutout the best team in baseball for six innings while striking out eight was one of the most surprising performances of the season thus far. He came into the season with a lot of sleeper hype (I was certainly guilty of that as well), and he took a good first step towards getting a chance to rebuild that trust with fantasy owners in his first start replacing Tyler Skaggs in the rotation. The Angels are currently throwing Matt Shoemaker out there as their fifth starter, so there’s plenty of opportunity for Santiago to reclaim this spot. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Lance Lynn with fewer wins


Matt den Dekker, OF, New York Mets
With both Juan Lagares and Eric Young on the shelf, den Dekker has a short-term window to pick up some regular playing time. Terry Collins seems more committed of late to using Chris Young less against right-handed pitching so den Dekker has an opportunity to pick up a fair amount of at bats against right-handed pitching over the next couple of weeks. Den Dekker’s minor league numbers were underwhelming—particularly when you consider that the venue was hitter friendly Las Vegas—but he does have sneaky power and speed and could put up a 10 HR/10 SB pace as a starter. In NL-only, you can—and will—do far worse. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Jordan Danks

Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
There are plenty of NL-only leagues where most of the top pitching prospects are already owned. If you’re looking for Andrew Heaney, Noah Syndergaard, Matthew Wisler, Archie Bradley, or anyone else of that ilk, you’ll find them on other people’s rosters. But one name that you likely won’t see owned is the 22-year-old left-hander Biddle. Let’s face it, I’m not a big Biddle believer long-term and he hasn’t been particularly impressive in his second tour of Double-A (3.99, 1.33 WHIP with just over a strikeout per inning), but the Phillies do not have any rotation depth and who knows when Cliff Lee is coming back. The Phillies could give Biddle a shot in July or August if they’re out of it, and any warm body with some semblance of talent in the rotation is worth rolling out there in this format. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Randy Wolf

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Waiver Wire

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