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July 31, 2014

Free Agent Watch

Week 18

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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12-TEAM MIXED

Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox
It’s pretty incredible that Eaton is still owned in fewer than half of Yahoo leagues and barely more than that in ESPN formats. Eaton returned from the All-Star Break with a vengeance, and he’s been taking it out on opposing pitchers to the tune of a .413/.471/.478 line with seven runs and two steals (along with five walks and five strikeouts). Sure you’d like to see him hit for a little more power, even if it’s not the over-the-fence variety, but if he keeps getting on base at the top of the White Sox lineup, he’s going to score a lot of runs the rest of the way. Additionally, the power (which there is enough of here to make him a double-digit homer guy over a full season) that hasn’t shown up lately will push him toward being an outfielder who needs to be owned in all leagues in August and September. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Christian Yelich

Brad Boxberger, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
We’re getting to the point of the season when you really have to start thinking about innings and start limits, if you happen to play in a league that enforces those. Enter Boxberger, who has been as dominant as any reliever in baseball over the past month or so—and has worked his way into a high-leverage role for the streaking Rays. Since the beginning of July, he has not allowed an earned run over 12 1/3 innings, while striking out 20 and walking just two. The fact that he’s not actively earning saves or anything more than vulture wins doesn’t matter here—he’s been the eighth best relief pitcher in mixed leagues over the last 30 days, per the ESPN Player Rater, and that’s with him firmly behind Jake McGee for saves in Tampa. While guys like Wade Davis and Dellin Betances are likely to be owned right now, there’s still time to grab Boxberger before he’s gone as well. It’s not too common to have a reliever who can provide back-end starter strikeouts with elite reliever ratios, and that’s not inning/start limit league specific. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Wade Davis

DEEP MIXED

Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
We’re getting to that time of the year where players like Gose are either extremely valuable or completely worthless depending on your team’s circumstances. Gose is worthless in every category except for stolen bases. But he is extremely valuable there, as he is swiping bags at a 35-40-steal full-season clip. He isn’t quite in the Billy Hamilton/Dee Gordon/Jose Altuve stratosphere, but he is the next level down. If you’re packed in a tight steals race and are carrying a weak fifth OF or DH, Gose is a must add to your roster. Keep in mind that he won’t do anything but run and could be a moderate drag on your batting average. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Rajai Davis without the (limited) power

Edinson Volquez, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
The 2014 edition of Volquez makes me long for the version of years past with the higher strikeout rates. This year’s Volquez is striking out less than six batters per nine, which barely makes him an asset in mixed leagues. However, he has posted an ERA under four every month this year with the exception of May. This is more a product of pitching half of his games in PNC than because of any kind of skill, but it is a factor that cannot completely be ignored. Home or away, Volquez is a Dirty Harty streamer, as in “do you feel lucky, punk?” He has allowed 0-3 runs in 15 of his 20 starts. There’s a good chance you can stream Volquez and do okay, but if he’s completely off of his you’re going to have a bad time. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Wandy Rodriguez near the end

AL-ONLY

Marc Krauss, 1B, Houston Astros
The danger with writing about pickups based on rumors is that in the 12 hours or so between when I’m typing this and when it goes up on the site, it could be rendered completely meaningless. Krauss isn’t exactly that, but he’s close. When the Astros are healthy, George Springer plays over Krauss, which leaves him behind both Jonathan Singleton and Chris Carter on the depth chart. However, with rumors of Carter’s availability being bandied around, it may not be a bad day to grab Krauss just in case. He’s hit .286 with a homer in the seven games he’s seen since being recalled from Triple-A on July 23, and while that batting average will certainly fall, he does have the power to provide a little added thump to your AL-only squad. Unlike many other low-average power hitters, Krauss is not likely to get an uptick in OBP leagues, as despite a half-decent walk rate in the past, he hasn’t seen that “BB” next to his name in his last 52 plate appearances. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Chris Carter with less power and OBP

Chris Capuano, LHP, New York Yankees
The worst thing about publishing a piece like this on July 31 is that this advice might be worthless by the time you read it. Capuano was acquired by the Yankees as an in-the-pinch fill in, presumably until they get reinforcements at the trade deadline. The thing is Capuano actually isn’t half bad for only formats. He is always going to be prone to the long ball (mistakes on high-80s fastballs get hit a long, long way), but he has always used his arsenal to rack up a fair amount of strikeouts for a soft tosser. Yes, Yankee Stadium will hurt him, but not as much as it would a right-hander in the same park. I like Capuano mostly as a streamer, but wouldn’t be averse to throwing him in there if I needed the wins and strikeouts and could afford to take a moderate ERA/WHIP hit. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: The pre-2014 Aaron Harang

NL-ONLY

Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants
Many of you who know me are probably thinking this is either me being unapologetically vocal about how much I’d like to see Brown make the majors, despite his shortcomings, or me attempting to be funny. Well, it’s either both or neither, depending on how you look at it. The Giants are clearly in desperation mode here (I mean, they signed Dan Uggla and then released him after a week) and they’re getting no production out of their left field spot. Of course, even if they used Brown, they could very well continue to get no production out of the spot, but larger deck chairs have been rearranged on the Titanic. On top of that, if the Giants are not going to call him up, he is a realistic prospect to move at the deadline for a middling major leaguer—which is certainly a far cry from when the Giants refused to trade him for Carlos Beltran (leaving the Mets to settle for Zack Wheeler instead). He hasn’t been embarrassing himself in Triple-A lately, hitting .276/.330/.414 with two homers and six steals in his last 22 games—and the defense has never been an issue (especially in a corner, where he could be excellent). I guess what I’m really trying to say is…

Whoa, what happened there? I think I blacked out for a minute. You won’t believe the dream I just had. I actually recommended Gary Brown for fantasy leagues in 2014! Could you imagine?Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Gregor Blanco

Brad Hand, LHP, Miami Marlins
After spending a good chunk of the year in the Fish’s bullpen, Hand was sent down the minors in late May with the intention of stretching him out to start. Sure enough, the Marlins pressed him into major league duty about three weeks ago. Thus far, the results have been fairly solid. The rub is that in his five starts since returning from the minors he has faced a mostly soft slate. Hand’s repertoire is solid, but some wonder if he has enough stuff to survive long-term as a starter. He is certainly playable in an only format, but a 4.00 ERA is probably a reasonable expectation, and something between a 4.00 and a 4.50 shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s a back of the staff guy in other words, and someone you don’t want to add if you don’t have two or three high quality arms anchoring your rotation. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Roenis Elias

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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