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 thus far in week 16.
The 24-year-old catcher from Venezuela was called up by the Rangers last Friday when backup catcher Carlos Corporan was placed on the 15-day DL with a sprained left thumb. Telis has not displayed much power in his seven-plus years in the minors, but has had impressive contact rates at every level. Telis slashed .318/.352/.431 over 106 games last season between Double-A and Triple-A, and made the Triple-A All-Star team this season by hitting .291 with five home runs over 300 PA. There are questions about his pitch-framing and his ability to throw out potential base-stealers, both of which could prevent him from being an everyday backstop at the big-league level. However, in the short term, he could be a decent second-catcher option in deep AL-only leagues because of his solid AVG potential. Corporan is currently putting up a .178/.244/.299 line on the season and his CS% is below league average, so Telis might get a chance to stick, or least get another shot later in the season if he has a decent showing for the Rangers this week.
While the Mariners have dealt with injuries and inconsistency in their bullpen for much of the season, nobody has been more reliable in relief for Seattle than the 10-year veteran (and I am the self-appointed president of the Carson Smith fan club). Heading into this week, Lowe had a microscopic 0.62 ERA and 11.8 K/9 with 11 holds, and had only allowed an earned run in two of his 29 appearances while permitting just one inherited runner to score all season. Lowe had a hiccup on Monday night in Detroit, when he allowed his first home run of the season, a two-run shot by Ian Kinsler in the eighth inning that led to a Tigers comeback victory. However, the veteran reliever has been a ratio stud this season, and has additional fantasy value in leagues that count holds. Without one win or one save in 2015, he’s earned a modest $4 in standard AL-only formats in his 30 innings, making Lowe a safe, cheap FAAB option if you are looking to add a pitcher to help your ERA and WHIP.
Other AL-only FAAB pitching options: Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Kyle Crockett, RP, Cleveland Indians; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles; Steve Geltz, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
With A.J. Ellis now on the DL and Yasmani Grandal dealing with a jaw injury, Barnes was called up from Triple-A on Monday and is expected to split time with Grandal behind the dish for the Dodgers. Barnes was acquired this past offseason from the Marlins in the deal that sent Dee Gordon to south Florida. He has a pretty solid minor-league résumé, including a .298/.389/.437 line and an impressive 239-to-245 K:BB ratio over parts of five minor-league seasons. The 25-year-old Arizona State product has continued his offensive success this year at Triple-A, posting a .304/.385/.484 line with eight home runs and 10 steals over 62 games behind the dish. If Barnes can impress in the time that Ellis is out, he has a chance to replace Ellis as the Dodgers’ backup backstop. I like Barnes more as a future play in dynasty leagues, but when you have a backstop who can rake like Barnes has proven he can, you have to consider him this year in deep two-catcher NL-only formats.
Stites is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever who thrived in the closer role while in the minors, racking up 50 saves over parts of five minor-league seasons while posting an impressive 1.86 ERA and 0.866 WHIP in 179 innings. He struggled with his command last year, but prior to 2014, his career K:BB ratio was 150-to-19 over 135 1/3 innings. He was called up Sunday by the Diamondbacks to pitch in middle relief and has been tossed into a couple of low-leverage situations since his call-up. With a fastball that clocks in the high-90s, Stites has future-closer potential, and like Barnes, I like him more as a keeper play. That said, Stites’ K rates make him an interesting spec bet in deeper NL-only 5×5 formats.
Other NL-Only FAAB pitching options: Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Deolis Guerra, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates; Chad Billingsley, SP, Philadelphia Phillies; Brandon Beachy, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
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