July 10, 2014
Free Agent Watch
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.
Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox
After a very strong start to the season, Viciedo has seen his ownership dwindle as the weather has warmed up. However, in July, the bat is starting to show some signs of life again as he's hit .321/.367/.679 with three homers and just two strikeouts in 30 plate appearances. He's already on pace to set a new career low in strikeout rate, and the increased contact makes the profile a little more attractive in mixed leagues. Hitters who can hit 20 homers and hit .250 are available in 12-team mixed leagues. The ones who can hit .270 are owned, and Viciedo may be trending in that direction. —Bret Sayre
Comparable Player: The good version of Will Middlebrooks
Ryan Vogelsong, RHP, San Francisco Giants
It seems like Vogelsong's fantasy viability in mixed leagues ebbs and flows in a more extreme manner than many other starters out there. After seeing his ERA sitting at 7.71 after four starts this season, the Pennsylvania native ripped off eight starts of a 2.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and nearly a strikeout per inning over 52 2/3 frames (along with a 4-1 record). Then three poor starts followed (7.31 ERA), but the tides have turned again. All of the back and forth has led Vogelsong to a very middle-of-the-road stat line (3.92 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 90 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings), but with the best FIP of his career, he remains a strong bet to return value the rest of the season. And like a similarly under-owned and under-appreciated starting pitcher, Dillon Gee, Vogelsong is best deployed in San Francisco, as his ERA is nearly two runs higher on the road this season (and has skewed that way in each of his four seasons in San Francisco). —Bret Sayre
Comparable Player: Dillon Gee
Chris Colabello, 1B/OF, Minnesota Twins
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. April’s fantasy flavor-of-the-month Colabello all too predictably crashed and burned in May, earning a demotion to the minors. A Joe Mauer injury has once again opened up playing time for Colabello, and so far Colabello has responded with a 5-for-16 performance, two doubles, and two home runs. Nothing has changed in Colabello’s profile from a scouting perspective, so he will probably morph back into a marginal player yet again, but if he’s playing regularly he’s worth at least a bench spot in deep mixed. Keep an eye on what the Twins do at the deadline. If they decide to ship Kendrys Morales out of town, Colabello is likely to get regular playing time down the stretch. —Mike Gianella
Comparable Player: The 2012 version of Bryan LaHair
Rex Brothers, LHP, Colorado Rockies
Brothers is yet another object lesson in why you shouldn’t waste good auction money or draft picks on a closer-in-waiting. LaTroy Hawkins is arguably the worst closer in baseball, and with a paltry 4.06 whiff rate per nine innings he is definitively the worst closer in fantasy baseball. But while Hawkins has been pedestrian, Brothers not only hasn’t opened the door but has also slipped considerably. His velocity and strikeout rate are both down and Brothers has been very hittable this year as a result, with a line drive rate close to 30 percent. It isn’t the end of the world if you continue to hold onto Brothers as a Hawkins handcuff in your deeper mixed league, but if you have more pressing needs than saves, it is probably time to wave goodbye to Brothers, at least in 2014. —Mike Gianella
Comparable Player: Chris Perez (unfortunately)
Robert Refsnyder, 2B, New York Yankees
With Yankees fans worn out on Brian Roberts, there has been a significant amount of buzz surrounding Refsnyder and hopes that he can eventually supplant Roberts at the big league level. Refsnyder is a fan’s type of player without a doubt. He has an excellent work ethic, and happily changed positions (he was an outfielder in college) and worked diligently to make his defense adequate at the keystone. The question—in both fantasy and reality—is whether or not the bat can play in the majors. Refsnyder has added some power this year but it is still an open question whether that power would translate to anything more than a smattering of home runs, even at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Refsnyder has done enough to push himself into the conversation for a utility role, but it remains to be seen if the Yankees will promote him this year even if they don’t decide to upgrade via trade. The downside is a washout if Refsnyder does get promoted, but you have to bid $10-15 in a $100 FAAB league if the Yankees do give him the job. The odd thing is that from a power/speed standpoint Refsnyder would probably be comparable to the guy Yankees fans are kvetching about: the 2014 version of Roberts. —Mike Gianella
Comparable Player: Johnny Giavotella
Samuel Deduno, RHP, Minnesota Twins
The uncertain near future of Ricky Nolasco leaves Deduno as the likely fifth starter in Minnesota (at least until they deem either Alex Meyer or Trevor May ready). He's been in and out of the Twins' plans this year, but has been surprisingly solid as a fifth starter/swingman since his coming out party in the 2013 WBC. His stuff and command/control doesn't exactly have "MLB Quality" stamped all over it, but he keeps the ball on the ground at a fantastic rate (56 percent in 2014, 58 percent for his career). The strikeouts aren't plentiful, but they're good enough to help those in AL-only leagues who need some help in the category to match his mild win potential. —Bret Sayre
Comparable Player: Fausto Carmona
Chris Coghlan, OF, Chicago Cubs
One of the biggest post-Rookie of the Year flops this side of Joe Charboneau (look it up, whippersnappers), Coghlan landed with the Cubs after the Marlins finally gave up on him at the end of 2013. He hadn’t done much this year until a ridiculous 12-game hot streak that saw Coghlan put up an absurd .405/.447/.643 slash line through Tuesday’s action. As a result, his overall .262/.336/.438 is acceptable for a starter, particularly in 2014’s offensive context. The other reason Coghlan is worthy of your consideration in NL-only is that the Cubs don’t exactly have many worthy alternatives, particularly since they don’t seem interested in moving Kris Bryant to the outfield in the short term. Coghlan’s raw numbers aren’t going to put you over the top, but he’s played his way into regular playing time, and a 12-home-run, 12-steal pace with a slightly above average batting average isn’t out of the question. —Mike Gianella
Comparable Player: Brett Gardner without almost all of the speed
Vidal Nuno, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The newest addition to the NL pool, Nuno was excellent in his debut in the desert on Tuesday, going seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, while allowing only four base runners. Chase Field may not be the greatest place to pitch, especially when you have a 36.3 percent ground ball rate, but it's a vast improvement from the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium and the tougher lineups of the American League. The short left-hander has always had a strong control profile in the minor leagues, and should be good for a reasonable WHIP, despite what is likely to be an inflated ERA. He should have a rotation spot until he pitches his way out of it, as he is unlikely to be the player demoted to make room for the impending return of Trevor Cahill. —Bret Sayre
Comparable Player: Brandon McCarthy with fewer strikeouts
Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Click here to see Bret's other articles.
You can contact Bret by clicking here