The Closer Carousel

Last offseason, relievers Matt Capps, Octavio Dotel, Mike Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Fernando Rodney, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde, and Billy Wagner were guaranteed a total of $61MM.  There are quality relievers in that bunch, but their salaries were inflated by their past experience as closers.  Let's take a look at the players and teams likely to be involved in the offseason closer carousel this time around.

Free agents who have picked up at least five saves this year: Soriano, Gregg (club option), Mariano Rivera, Brian Fuentes, Dotel, Jon Rauch, Chad Qualls, Kerry Wood, Trevor Hoffman, and Aaron HeilmanFrank Francisco, Scott DownsJason Frasor, Jose Contreras, J.J. Putz, and Takashi Saito have recent experience in the ninth inning.  Bobby Jenks, George Sherrill, and J.P. Howell could reach free agency as non-tenders.  Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, and David Aardsma are among the potential trade candidates.  That's 22 relievers who'd probably like to close, and you could name a few more with a shot.  Which clubs will be in the market for a closer?

  • Orioles: They'll probably see what Gonzalez, Alfredo Simon, and David Hernandez can do next year rather than overpay for saves again.  So far Buck Showalter hasn't committed to a lone closer. 
  • Red Sox: If they move Papelbon, I could see them bringing in a veteran reliever at a lesser price to compete for the closing job.
  • Yankees: The expectation is that they'll re-sign Rivera.
  • Rays: The best members of their bullpen are free agents, so they'll probably be adding relievers of some sort.
  • Blue Jays: Picking up Gregg's $4.5MM club option will be a consideration.
  • White Sox: A bullpen in flux.  Jenks could join Putz in the free agent ranks.  Matt Thornton should be back, but he's dealing with forearm soreness right now.
  • Angels: Rodney has the experience, though Kevin Jepsen might be a better choice if the Halos stay internal.
  • Rangers: Neftali Feliz isn't going anywhere, though GM Jon Daniels hasn't ruled out a move back to the rotation.
  • Braves: Billy Wagner is retiring, so they could go with Jonny Venters if a veteran isn't acquired to provide competition.
  • Diamondbacks: They've expressly stated they'll be in the market for a closer this winter.
  • The Indians, Tigers, Royals, Twins, Athletics, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Brewers, Pirates, Cardinals, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants appear to have their closer choices in-house for next year, though things will change between now and April.

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34 Responses to The Closer Carousel Leave a Reply

  1. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    Here’s what I’m thinking…Jays/Gregg Yankees/Rivera/ Orioles/Simon Red Sox/Bard Rays/Rauch Twins/Capps White Sox/Santos Indians/Perez Tigers/Valverde Royals/Soria Mariners/Qualls A’s/Bailey Angels/Walden Rangers/Feliz Mets/Parnell Phillies/Lidge Nationals/Storen Braves/Kimbrel Marlins/Nunez Brewers/Axford Cubs/Marmol Pirates/Meek Reds/Cordero Cardinals/Franklin Astros/Putz Giants/Wilson Rockies/Street Dodgers/Broxton Padres/Bell Diamondbacks/Aardsma

    Thank you and your welcome

    • And Rafael Soriano will be setting up? Aye, right.

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        Good point my bad. I say he signs with the Angels for 2/14MM, J.J. Putz
        signs with the Red Sox as a SU and the Astros acquire Jenks.

    • Where does Papelbon end up in this scenario?

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        Good question. My bad. Maybe the Twins might be a fit and Capps can set up. Guerrier crain and Big jon are all freeagents

        • alphabet_soup5 5 years ago

          Joe Nathan hasn’t vanished into thin air

    • Right, and Papelbon is out of a closing job somewhere in the league. You nailed it.

    • bjsguess 5 years ago

      It won’t be the Angels and Walden.

      He’s been less than impressive of late (despite the 101MPH fastball he flashed several times last night). He’s still very hittable, walks too many batters, and his K rates are just OK.

      Jepsen is the natural choice but he took a big step back this year. Bulger would have also been in the mix but his performance, coupled with injury, have caused plenty of red flags to go up.

  2. Yankees: The expectation is that they’ll re-sign Rivera.


  3. Potrzeba 5 years ago

    I think the sox should sign soriano this offseaon and trade papelbon. My a team like the braves would want him or the phillies or the cards.

    • The Phillies already have an overpriced closer who gives up too many baserunners.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      You don’t think Daniel Bard is ready to take over the roll? I think they should sign a set up man or trade for one like Sean Marshall or sign J.J. Putz and move Bard to the closer role.

      • Potrzeba 5 years ago

        I think hes ready, i just wanna have another guy who can help bard if he falters. but we need to trade papelbon. I like sean marshall alot.

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          Well if they acquire Sean Marshall, they could have him only in the set up
          role but they can have someone like maybe Trevor Hoffman or J.J. Putz as a
          set up man as well against righties and put him in the 9th when Bard needs a
          day off.

  4. inkstainedscribe 5 years ago

    The Braves may pick up a veteran if they can find one for cheap, but my money’s on a competition between Venters and Kimbrel for the closer’s spot, with the runner-up getting the 8th inning job.

    • I think you are spot on with the Braves. We don’t like to pay people to play for us…..Why do it when you have two young studs who will be capable of closing next year?

  5. ateam043 5 years ago

    I think the Dodgers should consider trading Broxton for a young stud pitcher or bat.
    I like Broxton, but think Kuo and Jansen can do a good job.

  6. Shamboozle 5 years ago

    I’m all for Venters in the 9th for the Braves. Between Venters, Kimbrel, and Eric O, we should have a very decent back-end of the pen.

  7. Cubs should put Marmol back in the set up role and sign Rafael Soriano.

    • I don’t know about Soriano, but Marmol should not be closing. The Cubs won’t be contending next year anyway, but if Marmol continues to pitch like he has as a closer, then someone else needs to take over that role if the Cubs are going to be a serious contender in the next few years.

  8. hawkny1 5 years ago

    I don’t believe that Boston will let Papelbon go unless he is included in a swap for another closer and, perhaps a position player or two. Perhaps, the Cubs and/or LA Dodgers might work something out with Theo. Dumping Papelbon, and moving Bard to the closer spot creates one hole to plug another. I look for the Red Sox to look for middle inning relief help via free agency or from within the confines of their farm system. Examples from in house might be Doubront, Bowden and/or Tazawa. Also, Boston has $20M+ in salaries coming off the books this fall, so money is not an issue, really.

    • johnsilver 5 years ago

      Doubt Epstein will just dump Papelbon, but make a quick look around by say the winter meetings a and gauge the interest, see if he can get back enough prospects in turn to swing a deal for a power bat and then make a decision while there is a glut of older/veteran arms out there with some closing experience that could help Bard out.

      As for LT Sox BP needs, don’t think that is a lot of worry, with the rotation fairly settled over the next few years might expect to see Fife, Wilson and maybe even Weiand converted to relievers like Doubrant and Bowden if they are not moved in trades after they reach AAA. Weiand relieved for Notre Dame anyway before Boston drafted him, so shouldn’t be that difficult a conversion back for him. Dame with Fife 1 year at Utah.

      • hawkny1 5 years ago

        and lets not forget Anthony Ranaudo, the big righty from LSU.  He will probably start 2011 in Portland, ME playing AA ball and move on to Pawtucket later in the summer.  If successful there, he could be pushing for a rotation spot in 2012.  Some say that is to early but I think 3 years at LSU is the equivolent of three years @ AA/AAA ball.  LSU takes baseball seriously, offering excellent coaching and year round playing weather.  He is pretty advanced for a guy with no pro experience.

  9. At the trade deadline the Yankees were inquiring as to Joakim Soria’s availibilty with the Royals. I doubt Mariano retires but Soria has been a godsend for by terrible Royals. They hardly have a starting pitcher that can a lead to him. Is it possible Soria gets acquired by the Yanks this offseason and serves a year or two as Rivera’s setupman, or is that just crazy talk?

  10. jeffmaz 5 years ago

    Padres have closers up the ying yang.
    Any team that can’t get a solid closer should fire their GM.

    • myname_989 5 years ago

      What a ridiculous statement, seeing as the guy that built that bullpen got fired as the team’s GM.

  11. I like how Timmy took the “Closer Carousel” from the 06010 podcast….

  12. myname_989 5 years ago

    I was thinking the same thing. Sure, he walks a lot of guys, but that number (BB/9) is down from last year, and his strikeout rate is way up. Seems like he’s been good otherwise. It’s the Cubs who havent’t been very good. Lol

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