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 that said, here’s what we have to pique our collective interests from a free-agent perspective to this point in week 14.
Curt Casali, C, Tampa Bay Rays
With Rene Rivera slashing an abysmal .167/.204/.278 on the season, Casali has begun seeing more playing time of late, and he drew four starts behind the dish last week for the Rays. While it is a small sample size, Casali has been productive when given the opportunity to play, with a .280/.345/.520 line over his last 10 games (28 PA). The Vanderbilt product is not the defensive catcher that Rivera is (Rivera has a 40% CS rate) so Casali will remain the backup, but if he can continue to produce offensively, he could see a few starts a week and make for a decent flier as your second catcher in deep AL-only leagues.
After being released by the Cubs this spring, Doubront signed a minor-league contract with the Blue Jays in April and got assigned to Triple-A. The former Reds Sox hurler, who won 22 games over 56 starts back in 2012-2013 for Boston, posted a 2.44 ERA and 43-to-18 K:BB ratio this season over nine starts (48 innings) at Triple-A and then got called up by Toronto last week. Doubront has struggled with his command over his career, and we saw a decline in his strikeout rates last season, but the jump in Ks this season in the minors provides cause for some optimism. I am not the biggest believer in Doubront, but the Blue Jays are in need of a fifth starter, so the southpaw got the nod on Tuesday against the White Sox and pitched well, picking up the win and turning in 6 2/3 innings of one-earned-run ball while striking out six. Doubront’s situation is worth monitoring this week if you are desperate for a potential wins play and don’t mind a short-term hit to your ratios.
The Pirates received some discouraging news on Monday when they learned Josh Harrison would need to be placed on the DL with a thumb injury, and could possibly miss up to six weeks depending on the severity. After claiming Ishikawa on Sunday from the Giants, the Pirates added their 2014 Opening Day first baseman back to their active roster on Monday, and he pinch-hit against the Padres later that night. Jung Ho Kang should see the majority of starts at 3B for the Pirates, but with the offensive struggles of both Pedro Alvarez and Gregory Polanco, Ishikawa could see an occasional start at either 1B or RF. He is nothing more than a short-term fill-in if you have a dead spot to fill from a weak NL-only free agent pool to help with counting stats.
I have been reluctant to profile Adam Morgan in this spot the past couple of weeks because I was not a big believer in him after watching his first outing against the Cardinals, even though he picked up the win. However, the former third-round pick of the Phillies in the 2011 MLB draft got a second start this past weekend against the Braves and was very effective again, going seven strong innings with the only damage being two solo bombs from Jonny Gomes and Juan Uribe. Morgan put up some pretty pedestrian numbers in Triple-A this season (0-6, with a 4.74 ERA and poor ratios over 13 starts), but his overall professional career numbers are solid, and the southpaw got a third start on Wednesday against the Dodgers. The Phillies are in rebuilding mode, which means Morgan could stick in the rotation with another efficient performance against Los Angeles.