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Welcome to Week Three of The Free Agent Watch, Baseball Prospectus’ weekly free agent advice column. This column is designed to offer a brief glimpse into the top free agents in 12-team mixed, 15-team mixed, and AL and NL-only formats, with the idea being that while we can’t address every unique free agent situation in your league, we can guide you through the waters and help with the broader strokes of the decision making process.

Mike will be tackling all the mixed-league formats, while Keith will be handling the only-league duties.

12-Team Mixed Hitters

SEASON STATS

Player

H/AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

%OWN

+/-

Ender Inciarte, Ari OF

17/47

11

0

6

2

.362

54.4

+53.9

Kevin Kiermaier, TB OF

11/36

8

2

4

0

.306

65.0

+53.8

Nori Aoki, SF OF

18/55

6

0

1

3

.327

59.3

+38.8

Angel Pagan, SF OF

17/50

4

0

3

1

.340

80.0

+19

Mark Canha, Oak 1B

12/41

7

1

7

0

.293

22.4

+15.2

Sam Fuld, Oak OF

13/44

9

0

3

0

.295

17.0

+14.8

Alex Guerrero, LAD 2B

5/13

2

2

8

0

.385

9.1

+9

Caleb Joseph, Bal C

11/30

5

1

4

0

.367

5.8

+5.7

Jake Lamb, Ari 3B

12/29

4

1

9

1

.414

19.5

+5.3

Dustin Ackley, Sea OF

7/27

5

3

3

0

.259

10.5

+5.2

Source: ESPN, Razzball Expert League. Stats through Saturday, April 18

Repeaters From Week 2: Canha and Lamb.

More believers are climbing on board, but there is still some reluctance to believe that either Canha or Lamb is going to be a big time producer in standard mixed. Canha does have enough power to swat 15-20 home runs on the high end if he sticks, but the defense is stretched, even in left field. It’s more likely that he’ll shift back into a platoon role once the Athletics are fully healthy. Lamb is part of a Diamondbacks roster situation where the players remind me of children caught in the middle of an awful screaming match their parents are having on a 1,500 mile car ride (I’ll turn this roster around right now, young men! I don’t CARE if we can see Coors Field from here!). He is kind of trapped in a platoon as long as Arizona keeps Aaron Hill. That has its uses, but not as an every week starter.

This week’s list of most commonly added players is dominated by outfielders. Inciarte, Aoki, Fuld, and Pagan all provide the kind of low-level speed that gets overlooked in mixed drafts, but tends to get added later when injuries create roster openings. Inciarte likely provides the biggest hope that he will break out of the mold of a 15-20 steal guy and put up a 25-30 SB season because of his prowess in the minors. He seems to have broken through and nabbed regular playing time in a crowded Diamondbacks outfield. Aoki is off to a great start, and the hope is that he can reverse a declining SB trend and put up 25 or so this year.

Joseph will continue to get starts as long as Matt Wieters is out. The batting average obviously won’t stick, but Joseph has sneaky power for a backstop. I prefer him in 15-team mixed, but I could see using him in 12-team depending on matchups.

Ackley is off to a nice start, but it is clear that he is in a strict platoon. As with Joseph, I prefer him in a 15-team format.

I could go off on a 1,500-word rant on people’s misbegotten hopes on Guerrero’s playing time, but heaven knows nobody wants to read that, and I certainly don’t want to write it. The Dodgers don’t appear inclined to sit Uribe, and Guerrero appears to be more of a super sub (at best) as opposed to a soon-to-be-starter. He’s fine in NL-only, and a valid stash in deep mixed with 5-7 man reserve lists. He is a waste of time here.

Mike Recommends: Kevin Kiermaier. There isn’t enough of a career sample size to know whether or not Kiermaier will be able to hit lefties successfully, but it appears that the Rays are going to give him an opportunity to do so, at least in the short term. The power should play up to double-digit home runs and while I don’t see the 10-15 steals per year from the minors translating, he could still steal 5-7 bases. Kiermaier is still a bottom of the barrel guy in standard mixed, but he should be on someone’s roster right now.

12-Team Mixed Pitchers

SEASON STATS

Player

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

%OWN

+/-

Bartolo Colon, NYM

20.0

18

3

0

2.25

0.80

83.8

+46

Edinson Volquez, KC

15.2

12

1

0

2.30

0.70

36.3

+28.3

Ubaldo Jimenez, Bal

10.2

10

1

0

0.00

0.47

25.0

+23.8

Miguel Gonzalez, Bal

12.2

15

1

0

1.42

1.03

21.7

+20.6

Nick Martinez, Tex

14.0

6

2

0

0.00

1.00

18.2

+17

Kevin Gausman, Bal

6.0

5

1

0

9.00

2.17

17.9

+15.8

Chris Heston, SF

20.2

16

2

0

0.87

0.97

16.9

+15.7

Anthony DeSclafani, Cin

13.0

11

1

0

1.38

0.77

16.5

+15.5

Aaron Harang, Phi

18.1

15

2

0

1.96

0.98

25.2

+15.2

Yovani Gallardo, Tex

15.2

15

2

0

3.45

1.53

27.2

+13.8

Source: ESPN, Razzball Expert League. Stats through Saturday, April 18

Repeaters from Week 2: Colon, Harang, Volquez.

Every year, a borderline mixed play gets off to a hot start and winds up with near universal ownership. Colon is that guy this year. He is probably fine as a matchup play and Citi Field— even with its new dimensions—will help him, but do I need to tell you he cannot sustain this level of performance? Volquez is likely the best bet of the three here to be decent, but in quality start leagues he won’t be quite as useful. Harang is eventually going to have one of those bad stretches that just makes you wonder what life is all about. There’s a good chance that if you pick him up, you’ll find yourself bloodied and bruised in a ditch somewhere covered in a blanket (no, not your blanket, someone else’s) without no memories of the last three weeks. Don’t let this be you.

A lot of Orioles have popped up on the list this week. Gonzalez isn’t a bad matchup play, but with the Red Sox on the slate, this isn’t the week to grab him. Jimenez’s raw numbers look great, but he has a 100% strand rate and a swinging strike percentage that matches last year’s results. Gausman still isn’t in the rotation, and while I appreciate the speculative nature of this pickup, he only works in mixed with super deep reserves.

Gallardo has seen an uptick in his swinging strike numbers, but a lot of that came against the strikeout-happy Astros. There isn’t a corresponding uptick in velocity or a significant pitch usage difference from 2014 (although he is throwing his change a little bit more). Martinez’s raw numbers look great, but I’m not even going to dive in; the low K/9 says to stay away.

Mike Recommends: Anthony DeSclafani. Bret Sayre has been in on DeSclafani since we snagged him in the reserve rounds of LABR back in February. Maybe Bret was in on him even longer; I’m too lazy to go back into the Baseball Prospectus archives and figure it out. I was skeptical, but after watching a couple of starts I am a believer. What he lacks in killer stuff he makes up for in a terrific approach in terms of attacking hitters and the improvement on his changeup. He isn’t going to be an ace, but a solid #3 is well within the realm of possibility and makes DeSclafani worth it as a back-end guy in mixed.

15-Team Mixed Hitters

Player

Own%

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Kurt Suzuki, C

15.64%

28

3

2

4

0

.214

Jose Iglesias SS

13.27%

35

5

0

2

4

.457

Alex Guerrero, OF

5.35%

13

2

2

8

0

.385

Roberto Perez, C

4.75%

20

4

2

4

0

.300

Casey McGehee, 3B

3.17%

27

3

1

2

0

.222

Yonder Alonso, 1B

1.58%

38

6

1

4

1

.342

Brock Holt, 3B/OF

1.58%

19

2

0

5

1

.579

Didi Gregorius, SS

1.39%

33

2

0

2

1

.152

Eduardo Escobar, SS/3B

0.79%

21

2

0

0

0

.143

Tim Beckham, 2B

0.59%

28

5

2

6

1

.250

SOURCE: RT Sports, LABR Mixed, Stats Through Saturday, April 18

Repeaters from Week 2: Suzuki, Guerrero, McGehee, Holt, Gregorius, Escobar.

The market has spoken and it has said “ew, gross.” Most of these guys were just left out in the free agent pool last week. I still have a hard time believing Suzuki isn’t better than one of the 30 active catchers in LABR mixed, but can also see why no one is racing to pick him up. McGehee might be more appealing as a claim if he hadn’t been battling a minor injury. Gregorius could hit enough to be deep mixed viable, but this hasn’t translated to his line yet.

Jose Iglesias and Tim Beckham are both kind of interesting as MI types in 15-team mixed. I doubt Iglesias is going to continue running at a 54 steal pace, but if he is running more this year, his mixed league viability shoots up considerably, particularly as a shortstop. Beckham has pushed his way into more playing time in Tampa over Logan Forsythe as Nick Franklin’s fill in, and could be a sneaky late bloomer who parlays post hype sleeper status into success.

I dig Roberto Perez as a temp. He suffered through Bell’s Palsy in 2013, which led to a significant drop off in his stats and disintegrated his prospect status. He won’t light the word on fire, but he has enough power potential to make him viable in all two-catcher formats, and is a fine Yan Gomes fill-in.

Mike Recommends: Yonder Alonso. We still haven’t seen the power yet from Alonso, but he is off to a strong start and yet another year removed from the wrist injuries that have plagued him. The expectations of Alonso’s prospect days are likely off the screen, but a 15 home run campaign with strong run/RBIs in that lineup shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. He’s a better option than someone like McGehee.

15-Team Mixed Pitchers

Player

Own%

W

ERA

SV

IP

SO

WHIP

Alfredo Simon

9.31

2

2.02

0

13.1

5

0.82

Scott Feldman

7.92

0

6.17

0

11.2

5

1.37

Tim Lincecum

7.13

0

2.25

0

12.0

9

1.17

Mark Buehrle

6.53

2

3.75

0

12.0

5

1.50

Jonathan Broxton

3.17

0

9.64

0

4.2

6

1.50

Colby Lewis

2.77

1

3.79

0

19.0

11

1.26

Nathan Karns

2.57

1

4.58

0

17.2

17

1.08

Tommy Milone

2.38

2

2.08

0

13.0

10

1.08

Joe Smith

2.18

0

0.00

0

4.0

7

1.25

Chris Hatcher

1.78

0

12.27

1

3.2

7

1.91

SOURCE: RT Sports, LABR Mixed, Stats Through Saturday, April 18

Repeaters from Week 2: Simon, Buehrle, Broxton, Smith, Lincecum

No one touched Broxton or Smith in LABR, which is consistent with deep mixed leagues and their philosophy on grabbing closers-in-waiting who are backing up a shaky closer. Simon’s low ERA didn’t fool anyone, and Buehrle has the same problem. Despite the strong outing in San Diego in Week One, Lincecum also remained on the free agent pool for Week Two. He gets a two-start week this week, but one of the starts is in Colorado, so Timmy is a no-go in weekly formats.

More starting pitchers are populating the chart this week. Hatcher is the only other reliever besides the repeaters, and will probably fall off now that it is clear that Joel Peralta is the fill-in. Most of the starting pitchers here are also of the pitch-to-contact, low strikeout variety where the best case scenario is to play the matchups. My feeling is that these guys should be avoided unless you are really desperate for wins, which you shouldn’t be in Week Two.

Mike Recommends: Nathan Karns. This ties in with my philosophy above. If you are going to go for a streamer, go with the guy who is getting the strikeouts. The ERA isn’t pretty, but Karns’s peripherals point to the fact that he should have better results. He won’t keep striking out a batter an inning, but the stuff should play up to better than a 4.58 ERA going forward and a whiff rate of 7.5 K/9 or so.

AL-ONLY

Shane Robinson, OF, Minnesota Twins

Jordan Schafer’s early-season struggles at the plate have led to Robinson seeing extended playing time, with the veteran outfielder appearing in five games this past week for the Twins. Robinson does not offer a lot in terms of power, but does have some speed and has swiped a couple of bases in his limited time this season. With three more hits on Sunday, Robinson now has six hits in his last nine ABs, so Paul Molitor may choose to go with the hot hand in the OF. That might make Robinson a useful source of speed off the waiver wire this week.

Keone Kela, RP, Texas Rangers

I profiled Kela back in week one of The Deep League Report. What is somewhat surprising to me is that Kela is still available in some of the industry expert leagues, forcing me to bring up the young flamethrower again. Yes, Neftali Feliz has a firm hold on the closer role in Texas, but Kela could be an important component in the back end of the Rangers bullpen this season. Kela has already been thrust into high-leverage situations in 2015, picking up his first two career holds. Kela is must-watch TV when he enters a game, and even if he does not see many save opportunities, he should produce enough Ks to offer value in AL-only 5×5 formats.

Other AL-Only FAAB options: Jimmy Paredes, 3B, Orioles; Ryan Raburn, OF, Indians, Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox; Brad Brach, RP, Orioles; Tony Sipp, RP, Astros; Liam Hendricks, RP, Blue Jays

NL-ONLY

Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets

Ranked as our no. 5 prospect in the Mets organization, the only thing that was holding Plawecki back from making the Mets Opening Day roster was Travis d’Arnaud. Now with d’Arnaud heading to the DL with a fractured hand, Plawecki appears to be on his way to the big club. Since being drafted in the first round in 2012, the talented catching prospect has done nothing but impress, hitting at every level the past three seasons. His .293/.368/.436 slash line over 295 minor-league games is impressive enough, but his plate discipline for a young hitter is eye-opening; he boasts a 128-to-98 K:BB ratio covering 1,228 PAs.

Eddie Butler, SP, Colorado Rockies

Watching Butler’s first two starts this season was not for the faint of heart, as he walked ten of the 50 batters he faced, including allowing six free passes in his 5 1/3 innings against the Giants this past Monday. In his brief career he has struggled in AB’s where he has been behind in the count, however in his start on Sunday against the Dodgers, Butler looked like a different pitcher. He appeared to trust his stuff and turned those 3-0 and 2-0 counts into routine outs. In the fifth inning with two-outs and the bases loaded, Butler dialed it up a notch mixing 97 MPH fastballs with well-located breaking pitchers to get Adrian Gonzalez to meekly pop up to Michael McKenry in foul territory to end the threat. He was pulled after the fifth because he was due to lead off the sixth inning, but the performance was solid. His fantasy stock dropped after his shoulder injury, and Butler is still a risky play, but you can see why he was Baseball Prospectus’s no. 26-rated prospect heading into 2014. Butler was still available on the waiver wire this week in NL-only Tout Wars, but I think that will change soon. The young hurler gets the Giants again this week in a home start at Coors.

Other NL-Only FAAB options: Jonathan Herrera, 2B/SS/3B, Cubs; Danny Muno, 2B, Mets; Jason Rogers, 1B/OF, Brewers: A.J. Ramos, RP, Marlins; Dale Thayer, RP, Padres; Jumbo Diaz, RP, Reds