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Free Agent Market For Right-handed Relievers

The Tigers, Blue Jays, Cubs and Twins are some of the many teams that will likely consider free agent right-handers for their respective bullpens. Here are the names on the market this winter (non-closers only):

The Type As

If they turn down arbitration, Grant Balfour, Jason Frasor, Matt Guerrier and Dan Wheeler will each cost a draft pick to sign. Keep in mind that the budget conscious Rays won’t necessarily offer arbitration to Balfour and Wheeler. The Blue Jays will likely offer Frasor arbitration.

Strikeout Machines

Denny Bautista (11.8 K/9), Takashi Saito (11.5 K/9), Koji Uehara (11.3 K/9), Joaquin Benoit (11.2 K/9), Justin Miller (11.1 K/9), J.J. Putz (10.8 K/9), Octavio Dotel (10.6 K/9), Jose Contreras (9.1 K/9), Kyle Farnsworth (8.5 K/9) and Jesse Crain (8.2 K/9) can all strike opponents out. Most of these relievers have their faults, though. Bautista and Dotel walk too many hitters, Saito will be 41 next season and Uehara, Benoit and Putz have missed time with injuries in recent years.

Useful Middle Relievers

Jon Rauch, Chad Durbin, Miguel Batista, Aaron Heilman, Elmer Dessens, Jamey Wright and Guillermo Mota were somewhat useful last year and could help teams in 2011. Dessens won’t be posting a 2.30 ERA again, but he could be a solid reliever. It’s hard to imagine anyone here but Rauch signing a two-year deal.

Former Starters For Bullpen Depth

Jeff Suppan, Micah Owings, Boof Bonser, Chad Gaudin, Jeff Weaver and Chan Ho Park can chew up innings, but they don’t have much upside and you probably don’t want them pitching in high-leverage situations. Park, to his credit, pitched well in Pittsburgh, but most of these pitchers appear to be in line for minor league deals.

Injury Issues

Tyler Walker hasn’t pitched since June, David Riske came back from Tommy John surgery last year and Mike Lincoln suffered an oblique injury and didn’t pitch after May. If teams want to get really adventurous, they can call up Kelvim Escobar.

Summary

The market for right-handed relievers features a ton of strikeout machines and a number of relievers with closing experience. There are also some lesser arms out there, but overall it's a good crop of relievers, especially if you think Benoit, Putz and Uehara can stay healthy.








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