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 21.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
I wrote about Cowart last week, but it’s a thin waiver-wire hitting pool early this week in deep AL-only leagues, so he gets an encore in this spot. Since his call-up from Triple-A last Tuesday, Cowart has been getting regular starts at the hot corner for the Angels. The 18th-overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft began his big-league career by going 0-for-13 in his first four starts, but has a couple of hits, including a HR, and a couple of RBI in his last two games. With David Freese still out with a broken finger, the switch-hitting corner infielder could continue to see time at third base while Freese remains on the shelf. Cowart has stolen 36 bases over the past year-and-a-half in the minors, so fantasy owners who need a speed source down the stretch might want to take a closer look in AL-only leagues.
Other AL-Only FAAB hitting options: Jerry Sands, OF, Cleveland Indians; Sam Fuld, OF, Oakland A’s; J.R. Murphy, C, New York Yankees; Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals; Chris Gimenez, C, Texas Rangers; Daniel Nava, OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Tim Beckham, IF, Tampa Bay Rays
Randy Wolf, SP, Detroit Tigers
The veteran southpaw was acquired by the Tigers last week from the Blue Jays for cash considerations and was called up to start this past weekend against the Rangers. Now in his 16th year in the big leagues, Wolf held his own against a potent Rangers lineup and allowed three earned runs over his seven innings while striking out five and walking none. Rolling the dice on Wolf is certainly a gamble, but he gets another start this week against the Angels before you need to make decision on bidding for his services. Wolf did put up solid numbers in Triple-A this season, posting a 2.53 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 106-to-40 K:BB ratio in his 139 2/3 innings, so another solid outing against Los Angeles might make the lefty worthy of a roster spot in AL-only formats.
Heath Hembree, RP, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox closing situation is in flux right now, as neither Junichi Tazawa or Jean Machi has proven to be a reliable ninth-inning option since Koji Uehara was lost for the season earlier this month. Tazawa has blown six saves this year in limited save opportunities; he’s allowed 42% of inherited runners to score and his K rates are down. Machi was give the save opportunity on Monday against the White Sox, and he converted, but he gave up two runs and struggled before finally escaping trouble. With these consistent woes at the back end of the Red Sox bullpen, Torey Luvullo could give Hembree a shot to see what he can do in the closer role. Hembree’s star has faded since he saved 38 games between A- and Double-A ball in 2011, and 31 more in 2013 in Triple-A, but the righty reliever has a track record of success in the minors while toeing the rubber in high-leverage situations, evident by his 115 career minor-league saves. He’s certainly worth a flier the rest of the season if you need saves.
Trevor Gott, RP, Los Angeles Angels
I have also mentioned Gott in this space before, but the 22-year-old reliever acquired by the Angels along with Huston Street from the Padres last July is still floating around in multiple expert leagues, so he gets another mention. Gott has been a reliable option out of the Angels ‘pen for Mike Scioscia since his call-up in June and the University of Kentucky product has allowed only one earned run in his last 17 appearances. Gott rose up quickly through the minors, posting solid ratios, a 9.5 K/9 rate, and 30 saves while allowing just four home runs in his 124 innings. Gott currently sports a 1.67 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, so he continues to be worth monitoring. The reliever has more value in keeper leagues, and makes for a decent grab-and-stash play in those formats.
Other AL-Only FAAB pitching options: Nate Jones, RP, Chicago White Sox; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees;; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Mychal Givens, RP, Baltimore Orioles
Greg Garcia, INF, St. Louis Cardinals
This profile on Garcia is strictly driven by the Cardinals uncanny ability to do everything right from an organizational perspective. Kolten Wong has been struggling mightily the past two months, and has been benched the past three games. Garcia was called up from Triple-A on Sunday and has started the last two games for the Cardinals at second base. The Cardinals have a knack for making roster moves that result in instant dividends, and Garcia could be the next in line for production in the St. Louis lineup. Obvioulsy, Wong is the long-term answer at 2B and will be their keystone option in the postseason, but Garcia could be a short-term answer for deep NL-only fantasy teams in need of a MI down the stretch. Garcia has put up solid numbers in his professional career, so It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Cardinals will ride the hot hand if Garcia can produce while he is given the chance.
Other NL-Only FAAB hitting options: Elian Herrera, IF, Milwaukee Brewers; Dustin Garneau, C, Colorado Rockies; Jason Rogers, IF, Milwaukee Brewers; Tommy Pham, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Jairo Diaz, RP, Colorado Rockies
Diaz was called up on Sunday by the Rockies, and despite his limited pedigree, he has value in deep NL-only leagues and especially in keeper formats. Diaz has closer potential so he is absolutely a player to target in these deep formats. His Triple-A numbers have not been impressive, but at 24 years old and with the Rockies closer situation, he is his a nice FAAB play short term and long term.
Logan Verrett, SP, New York Mets
Verrett was called upon for a spot start against the Rockies on Sunday, and he was excellent in outing as he allowed only one run on four hits over his eight innings pitched. It’s been a busy season for the right-hander, after he was selected by the Orioles from the Mets in the Rule 5 draft back in December, signed by the Rangers in April, and then released and returned to Mets in May. Verrett is still on the active roster for the Mets, so there is a chance he will get additional starts down the stretch for the Mets to give their ace arms a breather. We need to see if he remains with the big club this week, but if he sticks with the Mets, Verrett could have value during the last month of the fantasy season.
Other NL-Only FAAB pitching options: Andrew Chafin, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants
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I had written about Wilhelmsen in a couple previous Deep League Reports, but after Carson Smith's recent struggles, Fernando Rodney being releases and Wilehelmsen getting the save on Sunday, he was grabbed in pretty much all AL-only expert leagues Sunday night. That's why I did not profile him again this week.
But yes, he is a must own now in all formats.