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June 27, 2013

Free Agent Watch

Week 13

by Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

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12-TEAM MIXED

Raul Ibanez, OF, Seattle Mariners

At the beginning of the 2013 campaign, there was some debate on Baseball Prospectus’ Fantasy Hour podcast as to whether or not Ibanez was worth owning in an AL-only league. Ibanez has put those concerns to rest, and due to his latest HR barrage is getting picked up in mixed formats as well. While I can understand why owners are getting excited, it is always a mistake to chase stats at the tail end of a streak for a player who doesn’t have a track record of this level of performance. Ibanez will continue to hit the odd home run, but a 25 percent HR/FB rate indicates that a correction is probably in order. In standard mixed formats, there should still be better options than Ibanez, hot streak or not. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Josh Willingham

Jordan Lyles SP, Houston Astros

He looks like nothing more than a deeper mixed or AL only option, but Lyles has outpitched that expectation of late. In his last eight starts, Lyles has a 2.36 ERA, and that includes Sunday’s clunker against the Cubs. Lyles still profiles as more of a match-up play in mixed leagues, but his ability to keep the ball on the ground makes outings like Sunday’s more of the exception as opposed to the rule. Two bad outings have torpedoed Lyles’ ERA. The rub is that there is always the risk he might do that again. In mixed leagues, Lyles is a play to make if you need to gamble to offset a slow start by your fantasy team. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Tim Hudson

DEEP MIXED

Chris Heisey, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Ever since Ryan Ludwick went down with his shoulder injury on the first day of the 2013 season, the Reds have been searching for an answer to their left field problem. And Heisey himself hasn’t helped, contributing a 481 OPS in his 72 at-bats so far this year. But the Reds appear willing to give him another shot to establish himself at the position for the next few months, and for good reason. After all, it’s only been two years since he hit 18 homers in just 279 at-bats while also stealing six bases. He certainly won’t win you the batting average category, but anyone who has shown power in the past and is looking at playing time in a homer-friendly ballpark is worth taking a flier on in a deep mixed format. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Colby Rasmus

Martin Perez, SP, Texas Rangers

If they put the term “prospect fatigue” in the dictionary, there would be a big picture of Perez and Julio Teheran hugging. Perez has been on top prospect lists since he was a 17-year-old impressing in the Northwest League against mostly college kids. And while his results have certainly not been there at either the major- or minor-league level during the past few seasons, the talent and the stuff are still there. There is a real chance that Perez finally breaks through and claims his rightful permanent spot in the Rangers’ rotation—especially with all of the injuries they’ve sustained. For this season, I wouldn’t expect a ton of strikeouts, but he’s talented enough to put up similar numbers as the other Texas lefty whose void they’ve been trying to fill. But long-term, Perez still can claim the ceiling of a number-two or -three starter on a contending team. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Matt Harrison

AL-ONLY

Travis Ishikawa, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

Ishikawa is a weak first base option even in AL-only leagues. However, he is playing every day against right handed pitching due to multiple injuries for the Orioles on the 1B/OF/DH front. Ishikawa offers a modest amount of power and he probably won’t kill your batting average. Ishikawa was crushing Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .525 slugging percentage before getting called up by the Orioles. Nolan Reimold and/or Steven Pearce might return next week, but until they do, Ishikawa is worth a modest FAAB bid to see what he can do if an injury or demotion leave your offense with a black hole. Keep in mind that Ishikawa had an opt-out clause with the Orioles; they might try to find a way to keep him around even after the team is whole. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Casey McGehee (remember him?). Guy who could stick as a weak regular but then again might not.

Chien-Ming Wang, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

He’s baaaack. After nearly five seasons removed from reasonable fantasy relevance, Wang has resurfaced in Toronto, looking rather impressive in his first three starts—accumulating a 2.18 ERA, including no earned runs in his two most recent against the Rangers and Orioles. The velocity may not quite be where it was back in his Yankee days, but he certainly hasn’t lost the ability to keep the ball on the ground. His current 64.7 percent ground-ball rate would not only be the highest of his career, but would be the highest in the major leagues by more than seven percentage points. He’ll have two more tough matchups next, pitching at Boston on Thursday and against the Detroit next week, but that sinker can be a great equalizer. Despite the fact that he won’t strike anyone out, Wang is well worth owning in AL-only leagues while he’s pitching in front of an above-average offense in Toronto. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Chien-Ming Wang, circa 2007.

NL-ONLY

Andrew Brown, OF, New York Mets

In -only leagues, everyday players don’t grow on trees. To win, you need good production from part-time players, but you also need to look for opportunities to acquire part-timers who might play their way into a regular job. Brown could fit the bill. With Lucas Duda on the shelf, Brown’s primary competition in the outfield comes from the struggling Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the punchless Juan Lagares. Brown is a 28-year-old minor -eague lifter, but is in a good place to get an opportunity and run with it. In an –only league, grab Brown if you need a speculative play. He has always shown power in the minors and could be a source of cheap, deep-league pop. Or maybe not. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Russ Canzler

Josh Collmenter, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks

After his impressive rookie campaign in 2011, no one thought Collmenter could continue to be effective as a major-league starter, and it turns out they were probably right. However, since then he’s found a nice niche as a long man in the Arizona bullpen, which is a relatively unlikely place from which to accumulate fantasy value. However, a reliever who is on pace to throw nearly 90 innings with a 2.43 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and more than a strikeout per inning is worth paying attention to. On top of that, he’s accumulated three wins already, as he’s the go-to extra innings pitcher in the desert. Just because a reliever won’t even come close to sniffing saves for their club doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable addition to your pitching staff. —Bret Sayre

Comparable Player: Drew Smyly

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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