Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Tim McCullough covers the FAAB bidding in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league, while I cover LABR Mixed and all four NL-only and AL-only leagues. LABR uses a $100 FAAB budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.
Tout Wars’ free agent deadline is at 8 pm ET on Sunday, while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
All statistics in this article are through Sunday’s games.
Aristides Aquino $9 (Other Bids: $5, $3, $3, $1)
Elieser Hernández $1 (LAD)
Aaron Civale $1 (@NYY)
Alex Avila $1
Adrian Houser $1 (@WSH)
Isan Díaz $1
Dillon Peters $1 (PIT, CWS)
Derek Law $1
Pedro Strop $1
Isan Díaz $20 (Other Bids: $3, $3, $2, $2, $1)
Arguably the best non-Sixto Sanchez prospect in the Marlins’ system, Díaz tore the cover off the ball at Triple-A after struggling to hit for power at the level in 2018. It is difficult to discern how much of Díaz’s statistical boost was due to the lively ball and the a very favorable home venue in the PCL, and how much was due to his growth and emergence as a player. The early major-league returns on Díaz have been underwhelming thus far, but an upcoming series at Coors late this week makes Díaz a solid short-term bet, even if he doesn’t join the parade of minor-league hitters like Aquino who haven’t missed a beat in the majors.
Jonathan Lucroy $6 (Other Bids: $1)
Asdrúbal Cabrera $3 (Other Bids: $2, $1)
When Major League Baseball abolished waiver trading, this led to the assumption that there would be no talent coming over from the “other” league in August. This isn’t exactly how 2019 has played out. Players like Lucroy and Cabrera have been designated for assignment and are providing some consolation for fantasy managers struggling to fill holes on their NL-only squads. The Nationals grabbed Cabrera off the scrap heap, and while it initially appeared he’d be nothing more than a complimentary piece, Cabrera is picking up most of the playing time at second base over Brian Dozier. Cabrera remains a wait-and-see in mixed formats but has enough pop that he could be valuable down the stretch.
Scott Oberg $2 (Other Bids: $1, $1)
The Rockies finally bit the bullet and tabbed Oberg as their closer over Wade Davis. It’s somewhat surprising there wasn’t a flurry of bids for Oberg’s services, but several teams have already either ditched saves or have no mobility in either direction in the category. Oberg isn’t a strikeout pitcher and needs to keep the ball on the ground to survive, particularly at home. His increased walk rate also is a reason for mild concern. Oberg should be fine, but some analysts rave about him like he’s the next coming of Trevor Hoffman. He’ll be OK, but his peripherals suggest a good pitcher tied to some risk due to Coors.
Seth Lugo $2 (Other Bids: $2, $1, $1)
After trying to trade him last week and finding no takers, I dropped Lugo. I need wins and strikeouts much more than I need saves and am rolling with nine starting pitchers the rest of the way. Lugo has been lights out in the Mets bullpen, and with Edwin Díaz continuing to struggle, the drumbeat gets louder and louder among the Mets beats and their fanbase in favor of using Lugo in the ninth. Lugo has quietly been one of the best relievers in fantasy baseball since 2018 and should thrive regardless of his role.
Aaron Civale $13 (Other Bids: $9, $2) (@NYY)
Throughout his professional journey, Civale hasn’t been a strikeout pitcher, but he’s a savvy player who knows how to maximize his stuff. He’s in the right organization to thrive with this sort of repertoire. Cleveland has improved pitchers with average fastballs (or worse) by focusing on location and pounding the bottom of the zone to generate ground balls. I always feel uneasy about these types of arms, but then I’m the idiot who didn’t believe in Shane Bieber coming into the season. Civale is worth a healthy bid. The rewards far outweigh the risks, and if Civale stinks, Cleveland won’t stick with him for very long, particularly now that Corey Kluber has started a rehab assignment.
Tim Lopes $7 (Other Bids: $6)
A slap-hitter who was never considered a prospect, Lopes is getting an opportunity in Seattle because everyone’s hurt and the Mariners have been extremely bad. Lopes probably isn’t going to amount to much as a major leaguer, but he steals lots of bases and the juiced ball did boost his home-run totals a little bit this year at Triple-A. Lopes also isn’t a 29-year-old organizational soldier who neatly fits into the “golly, what a nice story” bin. He has a very small chance of being a productive major leaguer, which is more than you can say for nearly everyone who has ever played this game. For us, he is a lottery ticket who could win a few of us a fantasy title if steals are the deciding factor.
Derek Law $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Kolby Allard $2 (Other Bids: $2, $1, $1) (@TOR)
The Rangers acquired Allard in a deadline deal with Atlanta for Chris Martin and wasted almost no time putting the 21-year-old hurler in their rotation. Allard looked like a prospect flameout entering 2019, but he added a little velocity this season and has moderately improved his secondary offerings. Even with the improvements, he still projects as a fourth or fifth starter, at best, but Allard is young and there is plenty of time for additional improvement. The matchup this week against Toronto is OK to stream in deep mixed.
TOUT WARS MIXED
Aristides Aquino $164 (Other Bids: $158, $157, $90, $88, $86, $60, $51, $27, $8)
Aquino’s hot start is reaching historic proportions. He’s hit seven homers in his first ten games with a .452/.500/1.161 slash line. The power is not a surprise, since he’s hit 20 or more homers in three of his last four professional seasons. Plus he has 35 homers in just 357 PA across Triple-A and the majors to date this year. Aquino is a .248/.308/.455 hitter over nine minor-league seasons, so he’s clearly hitting well above his ability right now and is unlikely to keep up his current torrid pace. Still, 10 of the 15 teams in the Tout Wars Draft league saw fit to bid on Aquino, so it’s fair to say he has plenty of believers among the expert crowd.
Trent Grisham $123 (Other Bids: $28, $23, $15, $16, $12, $2)
Grisham has 26 homers, and he’s stolen a dozen bases over 411 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. The Brewers are giving Grisham a shot at batting leadoff, hoping his combination of power and speed will set the table for the heart of their lineup. Grisham won’t come cheap, but he’s worth a roster spot if you need runs scored, home runs, and the occasional stolen base.
Mike Foltynewicz $70 (Other Bids: $16, $3) (LAD)
Foltynewicz hasn’t been awful since returning from the injury list on August 6, but he hasn’t been all that good either. He gave up seven earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his first two starts with a 14-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a pair of homers allowed. The Dodgers are the top offensive team versus right-handed pitching in the NL, so this is not a good fantasy matchup for Folty.
José Osuna $49
Most of Osuna’s time has been spent coming off the Pirates’ bench as a pinch-hitter, but he’s been getting regular playing time over the last month or so and is making the most of hit. He’s started seven of his last 10 game appearances with a .423/.467/.731 slash line, five RBI, four runs scored, and a homer. Overall, he has eight homers in just 125 PA. Osuna was less than impressive during his full season with Pittsburgh in 2018, so while the power is real, there is little else to suggest his current run is anything more than a hot streak that will eventually cool. Don’t overpay for him, as you will likely end up disappointed. However, if you can grab him on the cheap, it may be worth it to ride him while he’s hot if you need some power in your outfield.
Jordan Lyles $47 (Other Bids: $15) (@WSH)
The move to Milwaukee appears to agree with Lyles so far. After three starts for the Brewers, he has a 1.59 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP, and opposing batters are hitting just .143 off him. Lyles has allowed a pair of homers (and 18 in 99 1/3 IP), and his 14-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio is not ideal, but he has picked up a pair of wins and looks like a solid streaming option going forward.
Anthony Bass $35
Since Roenis Elías was traded to the Nationals at the deadline, the Mariners’ bullpen has been in disarray. That’s not to say it was especially good prior to that, though. Bass has been one of the more consistent performers out of the ‘pen for Seattle, and it appears he will at least share the closing duties with Cory Gearrin and/or Sam Tuivailala going forward. Given how poorly the team is playing, saves are going to be few and far between with plenty of risk attached. It’s best to just avoid the whole Seattle bullpen, even if you’re desperate for saves.
Travis Demeritte $34 (Other Bids: $2)
Mike Montgomery $33 (Other Bids: $3) (NYM)
Three of the five starts Montgomery has made for the Royals since coming over from the Cubs have been quite good, especially his most recent tilt, in which he struck out 12 Tigers hitters over seven innings with just four hits allowed. He won’t pile up a ton of innings since he’s primarily been a reliever for the last two seasons, but he will be a decent streaming option against teams that struggle with southpaws.
Starlin Castro $32
Mark Melancon $27 (Other Bids: $17)
He might be the Braves’ closer, or they could go back to Shane Greene, or they might even give Chris Martin a shot. Either way it’s pretty unusual to see a team trade for what amounts to a whole new bullpen only to see them all fail spectacularly in their first few outings. Melancon has the job for now, but it would be a real surprise to see him hold onto the job, given his track record in recent years.
Derek Law $23
Ken Giles is still sidelined, though not currently on the injured list, with elbow inflammation, so Law has gotten the rare occasional save chances that come along. The news on Giles has been up and down with him headed to the injury list one day and feeling better or close to recovery the next. There aren’t a ton of save opportunities for the Blue Jays these days, so it may not be worth it to empty your FAAB coffers for Law.
Josh VanMeter $20 (Other Bids: $15, $12, $4)
Joe Ross $16 (Other Bids: $13) (CIN)
Three of Ross’ four appearances since returning from the injury list have been starts, and he pitched to a 1.62 ERA over 16 2/3 innings in those starts. However, it’s been a rough season for Ross overall, and there is no guarantee he stays in the rotation, as the Nationals now have several options from which to choose. If you can stash him at a low FAAB cost, he may be a decent streaming option if he sticks in the rotation. It’s a gamble no matter what you do.
Dillon Peters $16 (Other Bids: $13) (PIT, CWS)
Peters allowed 11 home runs in 57 Triple-A innings, and he’s allowed seven dingers in 31 1/3 major-league innings so far this season. He hasn’t had an ERA below his current 4.31 since Double-A ball in 2017, so he’s not someone you can depend on in fantasy until he’s shown better command of the strike zone.
Mitch Keller $16 (@LAA, CHC)
Devin Smeltzer $15 (@TEX)
Willy Adames $12 (Other Bids: $6, $3)
Erick Fedde $11 (CIN)
Yusei Kikuchi $9 (Other Bids: $5) (@DET, @TOR)
Adrian Houser $5 (@WSH)
Adam Frazier $4
Sam Travis $3
Jake Rogers $2
Charlie Culberson $0
Nestor Cortes Jr. $0
TOUT WARS AL
Byron Buxton $56 (Other Bids: $37)
Tout Wars’ liberal FAAB reclaim rules on IL players makes cutting someone like Buxton a no-brainer, particularly if it can vault you to the front of the FAAB line. Buxton won’t resume baseball activities until mid-August, which means he might not even start a rehab assignment until late August or early September. My guess is Buxton comes back with 25-30 games left in the season. He’s certainly worth the stash in AL-only, although in Tout Wars this comes with a week of zeroes in your active lineup. Buxton has been a solid player, but every time I look at his line, I’m surprised by the low stolen-base total.
Anthony Bass $39 (Other Bids: $30, $2)
I wrote about Bass two weeks ago, but Jason Collette of FanGraphs cut him last week. Mike Podhorzer of FanGraphs picked up the Mariners reliever last night. Bass picked up a save on Wednesday, and while I want to use this space to disparage the Mariners and advise you to avoid picking up crappy closers, Roenis Elías saved 14 games for Seattle despite numbers that were nothing to write home about (that’s a weird saying. Why would someone write home about their statistics? “To My Loving Family. How are you? I have a 2.68 ERA and 189 strikeouts. Just thought I’d let you know in case your Baseball Reference page isn’t working. Love, Jacob deGrom). If you need saves, add Bass.
Dawel Lugo $38
Dillon Peters $35 (Other Bids: $30) (PIT, CWS)
A dirty little secret about fantasy analysts is while many of us act like we have vast knowledge of every tiny little corner of the player pool, the reality is sometimes I discard what I deem to be useless information out of the ol’ brain pan if I don’t think a player has fantasy relevance. This what happened to me last week when Peters’ name popped up in the free-agent pool in the 1,216 leagues I’m in. I would have guessed Peters was a 31-year-old minor-league journeyman who last appeared on a prospect list in 2009, but he was included in a prospect article as recently as 2018. Peters was traded by the Marlins to the Angels last November, which was presumably enough reason for me to mentally write him off forever. He isn’t young at 26, but the age curve for minor-league pitchers isn’t nearly as linear as it is for hitters. Peters has been knocked for his size (he’s 5-foot-9), but he is a smart pitcher who has benefited from additional use of a sinking fastball this time around. The fun times won’t last, but he has improved since his brief and awful Marlins tenure. Peters gets a great two-start week against two weaker opponents in a favorable home venue and is a worthy streamer in 12-team mixed leagues and anything deeper. Pouring cold water on my guarded optimism, Jon Hegglund pointed out in last week’s Fantasy Pitching Planner that Peters has a 6.62 DRA, so perhaps I should slow my roll.
Derek Law $30 (Other Bids: $22, $2)
I considered doing a “I fought the Law and the Law won” parody (based on the 1960 song by The Crickets), but Grant Brisbee of The Athletic beat me to it years ago when Law was still with the Giants and Grant was still with SB Nation. I probably could do it anyway, since Grant doesn’t read my stuff and stopped talking to me on Twitter years ago and no one remembers anything on the Internet that happened more than 10 minutes ago but I Have Integrity. The Blue Jays recently gave Ken Giles their 10,000th vote of confidence on his health, but for some reason I’m not convinced. Law has been used in the ninth while Giles continues to sit even though Giles is “healthy,” so pick Law up if you need to gamble on saves in only and deep mixed.
TOUT WARS NL
Jonathan Lucroy $20 (Other Bids: $8, $5)
Designated for assignment by the Angels earlier this month, the Cubs scooped up the Lucroy after Willson Contreras’ latest injury. Lucroy is a shell of the catcher he was with the Brewers, both with the bat and behind the plate, but in any two-catcher format starting catchers are a must-add. Perhaps Lucroy even gets a dead-cat bounce now that he’s part of a playoff race.
Mark Melancon $12 (Other Bids: $5, $2)
Lane Thomas $9
Hernán Pérez $6
David Phelps $5 (Other Bids: $1)
Juan Lagares $3 (Other Bids: $0)
Asdrúbal Cabrera $2
Tyler Chatwood $1 (Other Bids: $0)
Michael Feliz $1
Dillon Maples $1
Mitch Keller $1
Elieser Hernández $1 (Other Bids: $1) (LAD)
Rowan Wick $0
Yonder Alonso $0
Conner Menez $0 (@ARI)
Bryan Holaday $0
Pablo Reyes $0
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