As a friendly reminder, the Free Agent Watch article, which appears every Friday, will cover any midweek transactions that might impact your interest in available players in -only leagues. With all that said, here’s what we have to pique our collective interests from a free agent perspective this week.
I profiled Kubitza last week in this spot, and the former Braves prospect lands here again based on the limited hitting options early this week in AL-only leagues. David Freese has been getting regular at-bats for the Angels after missing some time with a hamstring injury, but has struggled at the plate, posting a .189/.268/.297 slash line over his past 11 games. Kubitza could be the long-term option for the Angels at the hot corner with Freese’s pending free agency after this season, and he does have some speed, with 21 steals in Double-A last year. Kubitza could be a nice stash play for later in the season and in keeper leagues.
After a rough start to the season, Putnam has begun to relive some of his success in 2014 when he posted a 1.98 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 49 games with the White Sox, on his way to a $10 fantasy season in standard 5×5 AL-only formats. Since May 6th, Putnam has been impressive, appearing in 15 games and posting a 1.15 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 25-to-8 K:BB ratio over 15 2/3 innings. His 13.7 K/9 on the season is enough reason to roster Putnam in AL-Only formats.
Since being recalled from the 15-day disabled list on May 29th after recovering from a right shoulder strain, Fien has been excellent in relief for the Twins, registering nine scoreless appearances and an 11-to-1 K:BB ratio setting up Glen Perkins. Perkins has been dominant in the closer role, so Fien is a closer-in-waiting play who will have a little more value in leagues that count holds.
I have written about Shreve in the past in this space, highlighting his K/9 rates over the past couple of seasons, but with Andrew Miller still on the DL, Shreve deserves another mention. Shreve has posted 11 consecutive scoreless appearances and is seeing time in late-inning high leverage situations with Miller out. Shreve has only allowed two of 20 inherited runners to score in his 39 career big league games with continued strong K rates and ratios. He is still floating around in expert leagues, and has earned a tidy $6 in standard AL-only formats year to date. He should be owned in deep AL-Only formats.
Other AL-Only FAAB pitching options: Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Seattle Mariners; Charlie Furbush, RP, Seattle Mariners; Alex Wilson, RP, Detroit Tigers; Chaz Roe, RP, Baltimore Orioles; Josh Fields, RP, Houston Astros
There isn’t much to get excited about early this week in the NL hitting free agent pool, so the 25-year-old reserve infielder will get top billing this week, based on his increased playing time over Chase Utley. Utley’s $15 million option for 2016 automatically vests if he reaches 500 plate appearances in 2015, and his current .179/.257/.275 line is not a ringing endorsement for Ryne Sandberg to keep the former All-Star in the everyday lineup. Hernandez’s fantasy upside is limited, but he has started three of the last four games for the Phillies at 2B, and regular at-bats at the MI spot always have value in deep NL-only leagues.
I am a sucker for relievers with superb ratios, even if they are LOOGYs. Lopez has been spectacular in relief for the Giants and has a sparkling .054/.125/.054 slash line against lefties in 40 PA this season. However, the 13-year veteran has also been very effective against righties this year, and his 0.96 ERA and 0.65 WHIP over his 20 innings have earned $4 in standard NL-only leagues even without the benefit of a win or a save. His current 72 percent ground-ball rate is pristine, possibly meaning the law of averages will lead to a few decisions.