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 interest from a free-agent standpoint to this point in week 23.
Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals
One of Kansas City’s September call-ups, the 22-year-old from Nicaragua has been getting regular playing time at the hot corner for the Royals since the promotion. He’s made the most of the opportunity thus far, going 4-for-12 with a home run and four RBI over the past week. Cuthbert was a top-100 prospect in 2012 but was unable to take the next step forward and struggled the following two seasons between A- and Double-A ball, posting a .243 AVG and an OPS south of .700 in over 1,000 PA. However, Cuthbert has put up solid seasons in the high minors the past two years, despite being young at each level, and the power appears to be developing, as he posted double figures in home runs in 2014 and again this year. If he continues to get penciled into the lineup by Ned Yost on a semi-regular basis, Cuthbert could be a decent option in deep AL-only leagues the rest of the way.
Shawn O'Malley, OF, Seattle Mariners
A fifth-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays back in the 2006 MLB draft, O’Malley toiled in the minors over parts of nine seasons before finally getting a cup of coffee with the Angels last season. After being released by the Angels this past offseason, O’Malley signed with the Mariners in January and he spent all of this season in Triple-A until his call-up on September 1st. While primarily a second baseman in the minors, O’Malley will be Brad Miller’s backup in center field for the last month of the season. The 27-year-old with 10 years of professional ball under his belt has gotten four starts since his call-up to Seattle and has posted 12 total bases and an .800 OBP in those four starts, including a HR and SB. O’Malley’s appeal is tied to his speed potential, as he has amassed 206 career steals in the minors, including 21 this season. He is worth a FAAB flier to fill a dead spot in your outfield for the next two weeks, in hopes that he can get you a swipe or two as fill-in.
Other AL-Only FAAB hitting options: Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals; Jonny Gomes, OF, Kansas City Royals; Jerry Sands, OF, Cleveland Indians; Terrance Gore, OF, Kansas City Royals; J.R. Murphy, C, New York Yankees;
Sean Nolin, SP, Oakland A’s
One of the four players the A’s acquired from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade this offseason, Nolin made his A’s debut on Sunday and produced a quality start, despite taking the loss against the Mariners. The 6-foot-4 southpaw has put up impressive numbers over parts of six seasons in the minors, including a 3.02 ERA and 9.1 K/9 over 485 1/3 innings. Nolin will get a second start this weekend against the Rangers in Arlington and should get a chance to stick in the A’s rotation for the remainder of the season, making him a decent waiver-wire play in deep AL-only leagues if you are in need of a SP.
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; Heath Hembree, RP, Boston Red Sox
Cristhian Adames, IF, Colorado Rockies
The September call-up last week for Adames could be an audition to see if the 24-year-old infielder can play a prominent role for the Rockies in 2016. With Troy Tulowitzki now in Toronto and Jose Reyes’ long-term future in Colorado in doubt, Adames might be in the mix for the Opening Day shortstop spot next season. The middle infielder had struggled offensively in his first few years in professional baseball, but took another step forward offensively this season (albeit in the PCL) and slashed .311/.362/.438 in Triple-A, with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Adames is known more for his defensive prowess than his hitting skills, but Coors Field can certainly help any hitter’s offensive production. It is still unknown how much playing time the young middle infielder will receive the last few weeks of this season, but there is upside here even if Adames only sees 10-12 at-bats a week. In NL-only keeper-league formats, Adames has additional value as a future play for 2016.
Other NL-Only FAAB hitting options: Quintin Berry, OF, Chicago Cubs; Greg Garcia, INF, St. Louis Cardinals; Justin Ruggiano, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Jason Rogers, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
Mike Bolsinger, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
After the Dodgers acquired starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alex Wood at the trading deadline, Bolsinger was shipped to Triple-A despite posting a 2.83 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 89 innings for Los Angeles. The 27-year-old hurler was recalled on September 1st and was given a spot start on Friday, and Bolsinger defeated the Padres after allowing three runs (on only two hits) over his five innings. Considering Latos’ struggles in Los Angeles since the trade, Bolsinger has an outside chance to reclaim his spot in the Dodgers rotation. This situation needs to be monitored this week, but if Bolsinger does unseat Latos and claims a spot at the back-end of Los Angeles’ staff, he needs to be on NL-only rosters based on the results the right-hander has produced in his limited opportunities. He has earned $7 in standard NL-only 5×5 formats this season in less than 100 innings and could be a sneaky play late in the year.
Zach Davies, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
I wrote about Davies in Friday’s Free Agent Watch, and seeing how he remains unowned in several expert leagues after the weekend, he gets another shout out in the Deep League Report this week. Davies was acquired from the Orioles in the Gerardo Parra deadline deal and made his major-league debut for the Brewers last Wednesday night against the Pirates. He was leading 3-0 heading into the fourth inning but allowed a three-run bomb to Aramis Ramirez that frame and could not make it out of the fifth, ending up with a no-decision. Davies responded in his next start on Monday, limiting the Marlins to one run over seven innings to garner his first big-league win.
The knock on Davies has been his size: He is listed at 150 pounds, and after watching both of his starts the past week, I do not think he has put on any weight since the beginning of the season. That said, he has posted solid numbers in the minors, and while his fastball tops out in the low-90s, he has a plus changeup and changed speeds effectively in his first two big-league games. He struggled with his command against the Pirates, but looked more polished against the Marlins this week. The 22-year-old right-hander has posted solid ratios and BB/9 rates in his minor-league career, which makes him appealing to fantasy owners for the last month. Davies will toe the rubber against the Pirates again this weekend, and another strong showing will make him an intriguing streaming option next week in NL-only formats.
Other NL-Only FAAB pitching options: Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Edwin Jackson, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves; Matt Stites, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks; Jairo Diaz, RP, Colorado Rockies
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Agreed on that...good point.