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August 7, 2015

Free Agent Watch

Week 18

by J.J. Jansons and Keith Cromer

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12-Team Mixed

Ben Paulsen, 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies


The combination of Wilin Rosario’s demotion to Triple-A Albuquerque on July 28th and Corey Dickerson’s rib injury (which sent him to the disabled list on Saturday) has paved the way for regular at-bats over the rest of the season for the 27-year-old Paulsen, and he’s been making the most of his recent opportunity. In 18 games played since the All-Star break, Paulsen owns a .333/.368/.571 line with three home runs in 68 plate appearances. Paulsen won’t put up the monster power numbers usually associated with a corner spot at Coors, but he did hit 20 home runs in 117 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs last season and his .212 isolated power mark is good for fourth on the team this season (min. 100 PA).

The Rockies have no need to rush Dickerson back, and it’s unlikely that Justin Morneau rejoins the team this season, giving Paulsen a great chance to make an impact over the rest of the season. Paulsen is still only owned in less than 20 percent of ESPN leagues, and that number is on the rise.

Welington Castillo, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

Last week, Jeff Quinton recommended Castillo in 15-team mixed formats, but I think he’s performed so well in the desert that he deserves to be rostered in 12-team formats as well. Castillo’s OPS is at .998 since getting out of Seattle in 151 plate appearances and his .614 slugging percentage mark as a Diamondback has upped his seasonal number to .500, which puts him just behind Yasmani Grandal (.512) and Buster Posey (.508), and ahead of the likes of Brian McCann (.476) and Russell Martin (.464) for catchers with at least 200 plate appearances this season.

It sounds crazy at first blush, but if you’re holding on to Yadier Molina, Jonathan Lucroy, or Yan Gomes at this point in the season and waiting for them to turn it around, taking a long look at Castillo may be a cheap, worthwhile risk to take in order to boost production at catcher over the rest of the season. Castillo is due for some regression over the last two months, as he’s obviously not a true 1.000 OPS-level performer, but there still could be enough overall production to make him a top-10 option at catcher over the rest of the year.

Especially now that he’s tasted Beef Wellington for the first time, all bets are off on how productive Castillo can be over the rest of the season.

15-Team Mixed

Chris Bassitt, SP, Oakland A’s


After Oakland returned Scott Kazmir to his native Houston, Bassitt has likely secured a rotation spot for the rest of the season, as he auditions for the 2016 season. Bassitt came to Oakland from the White Sox this offseason as a part of their return for Jeff Samardzija, and since being inserted into the rotation on June 30th, he’s held opponents to a .243/.282/.356 line in six starts—good for a 2.43 ERA. Bassitt has only one win to show for his work over his last six efforts, but four of the six starts fall into the quality start category and he was touching 96 mph while working into the seventh inning of his most recent start against the Orioles on Tuesday, a gem that included seven strikeouts against only two walks. Bassitt owns a sparkling 2.03 ERA at O.co Coliseum this season, making him an extremely enticing streaming option down the stretch at the very least.

Yangervis Solarte, INF, San Diego Padres

The Padres ended the Will Middlebrooks experience on July 22nd and have chosen to give Solarte regular at-bats as a result. Since the beginning of July, Solarte has five home runs among his fourteen extra base hits in 28 games, and owns a .577 slugging percentage. Solarte’s eligibility at first base, second base, and the hot corner comes in handy this time of the year, particularly if you’ve found yourself ravaged with injuries to infielders, and his numbers away from Petco (.817 OPS, .208 ISO) make him a good head-to-head option if you’re able to carry him and deploy him when the Padres are on the road. —J.J. Jansons

AL-ONLY

Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays

The former first-round pick by the Rays back in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Clemson was beginning to look like a bust to some, after posting mediocre stat lines between A- and Double-A ball over his first three seasons in the pros. However, Shaffer began 2015 by posting an .832 OPS with seven home runs over his first 39 games and was promoted to Triple-A, where he continued his power stroke, slugging .595 at Durham and leading the International League with 16 home runs in only 55 games when he was called up to the majors Monday. He launched his first big-league HR on Tuesday against Daniel Webb, and the Rays could give him an extended look at 1B/DH to see if this former top pick could be part of their plans in 2016. He now has 24 home runs over three levels this season in only 96 games, so deep AL-only owners should consider Shaffer as a solid option if you need to make a power play and your league’s trading deadline has passed. He’s also not bad stash as a spec play in keeper leagues.

Matt Boyd, SP, Detroit Tigers

One of the trio of talented lefties the Tigers acquired from the Blue Jays for David Price at the trade deadline last week, Boyd was called up from Triple-A on Wednesday to make his Tigers debut, getting the start against the Royals. The 24-year-old southpaw out of Oregon State University was impressive, showing strong command of his pitches and limiting the Royals to just one run and seven hits (five singles) and no walks over seven innings to earn the win. He is not a flame thrower, but he did a great job locating his pitches and induced eight swinging strikes in the game. Boyd posted a 1.65 ERA, 0.855 WHIP, 4.0 K:BB ratio over 114 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A before his call-up, so he is a pitcher who needs to be on AL-only radars. He is scheduled to face the Royals again in his next start in Kansas City, and he was roughed up in his previous two starts this season with the Blue Jays, so just keep that in mind when adjusting your FAAB bids. That said, he is worthy of a FAAB look in deep AL-only leagues based on his last start and minor-league numbers.

Other AL-Only FAAB options: Jose Ramirez, 2B/SS, Cleveland Indians; Tyler Collins, OF, Detroit Tigers; Sam Fuld, OF, Oakland A’s; J.R. Murphy, C, New York Yankees; Chris Gimenez, C, Texas Rangers; Cheslor Cuthbert, IF, Kansas City Royals; Mikie Mahtook, OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Mark Lowe, RP, Toronto Blue Jays; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros; LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

NL-ONLY

Kelby Tomlinson, IF, San Francisco Giants

I profiled Tomlinson in Wednesday’s Deep League Report after he was called up from Triple-A on Monday to replace the injured Joe Panik. Tomlinson’s fantasy appeal is his speed, as the infielder recorded 49 steals at Double-A last season and 21 more steals in 97 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season. The lanky middle infielder has produced thus far for the Giants, singling and scoring in the 12th inning in his only AB against the Braves on Monday night, and recording two hits and three ribbies against Atlanta on Wednesday. Tomlinson was posting strong contact rates and OBP to go along with a .321 AVG at the time of his call-up, so if he can find his way into the lineup on a regular basis while Panik is on the shelf, he will be a serviceable NL-only option to fill a dead spot in your middle infield.

David Holmberg, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Writing about Holmberg in this weekly article and offering him up as a viable pitching option in NL-only leagues does make me a little uneasy, but despite the high-80s fastball, high walk rates, poor K rates, and high HR rates, I am going down this road. Holmberg has not realized the potential of being a second-round pick back in the 2009 MLB Draft, but he’s coming off back-to-back solid outings against the Pirates and Cardinals and gets the Padres in Petco Park in his next start. In the short term, the 24-year-old righty hurler could be a decent streaming option… but understand, the leash needs to be short. However, please note that Holmberg proved to be waiver-wire gold last September, picking up a couple of wins while sporting a nifty 1.82 ERA and 0.973 WHIP over 24 2/3 innings. He’s a roll of the dice, but he might be worth a cheap FAAB play for one week to see if he can continue his success in San Diego against the Padres.

Other NL-Only FAAB options: Logan Schafer, OF, Milwaukee Brewers; Elian Herrera, IF/OF, Milwaukee Brewers; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Corey Knebel, RP, Milwaukee Brewers Keith Cromer

J.J. Jansons is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see J.J.'s other articles. You can contact J.J. by clicking here
Keith Cromer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Keith's other articles. You can contact Keith by clicking here

Related Content:  Free Agents,  Fantasy,  Waiver Wire,  FAAB

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