Closer Options For 2013

Last offseason's Hot Stove was notable for the hefty contracts signed by the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the abundance of closers in free agency was an interesting secondary arc. A few stoppers signed for big bucks, and if there were any takeaway, it was that many teams have not necessarily adopted a frugal philosophy with respect to bullpen spending.

The upcoming offseason's class of free-agent closers is pretty interesting, too, and several of its potential members have options for 2013. Here's a list of those pitchers and a very preliminary look at whether their options figure to be picked up:

  • Matt Capps (2013 age: 29), $6MM club option with a $250K buyout: Capps' signing this offseason was maligned after he pitched poorly in 2011, but the Twins' bullpen was pretty barren, so it may have been a devil-you-know situation. He's pitching roughly the same so far this year, but the guess here is that if they were willing to bring him back after last year, they'll be willing to do so again. He could be a trade candidate, but I'm not sure there will be takers.
  • Ryan Madson (32), $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout: The Reds will be on the hook for at least $2.5MM, so will they want to gamble an extra $8.5MM on a guy coming off Tommy John surgery? With Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall in the back of the Reds' bullpen, I think they'll pass.
  • J.J. Putz (36), $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout: Putz is getting on in years, and his health is always a concern (including a DL stint during his brilliant 2011), but the right-hander is really good when he's on the mound. If he can get through this year relatively unscathed in terms of injury, which is no sure thing, I think the Diamondbacks will roll the dice, seeing as the penalty for snake eyes is relatively low.
  • Joakim Soria (29), $8MM club option with a $750K buyout: Similar to the Reds and Madson, the Royals will have a tough decision to make with Soria coming off (a second) Tommy John surgery. They've been very reluctant to part with him via trade previously, so I'm thinking they'll pick up the option just to save face and see what he can yield — either in terms of on-field contributions or perhaps a trade later in the season if he comes back healthy.
  • Huston Street (29), $9MM mutual option with a $500K buyout if club declines: The Padres will likely look to trade Street before this year's deadline, so his recent injury development must make them a little nervous. He has plenty of time to get healthy before the deadline, though, and I'd expect the Friars to move hard to flip him. If they can't, they could always pick up the option and then look to trade him again next summer.
  • Grant Balfour (35), $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout: The A's will be shopping Balfour hard before the deadline, as he'll draw plenty of interest, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently noted. Wherever he is, his option will look pretty attractive, with his durability and effectiveness probably trumping any concerns over his age.
  • Rafael Soriano (33), $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout: Soriano is very likely to exercise this option, meaning the Yankees will almost certainly be paying this hefty tab in 2013. The temptation may be there for Soriano to decline and rake in another two- or three-year deal elsewhere on the market, but he can get one of those after 2013, assuming for health.

21 Responses to Closer Options For 2013 Leave a Reply

  1. johnsilver 3 years ago

    You forgot to mention Bobby Jenks Dan :-) whenever he gets over his health issues, legal issues etc…

  2. Haha. No option for Billy Goat, though.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

       Ah yes.. How unfortunate.. For Jenks that is..

      Am curious if he even pitches at the major (or minor) league level again. heart problems, arm problems and now drunken driver problems. he has a superb portfolio going forward.

  3. Soriano’s deal is bad because player options usually tend to be worth more than the player is. I mean the player can’t lose. 

  4. TLB2001 3 years ago

    Soria has expressed a willingness to come back at greatly discounted rate.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually reach an agreement before the season is over, rendering the option moot.  He’ll be a Royal next year, but not for $8 million.

    • Otis26 3 years ago

      Totally agree. Not sure they’ll get a deal done before the off-season though. I expect the Royals will exercise the buy-out then come to terms after the season ends. No need to rush.

  5. Looks like a lot of health risks at closer on this list.

  6. Royals should move on and prove they are one of the smart money management teams. Soria has been going downhill for a couple of years and they have a lot of good young arms. Forget this loyalty crap. Same with the Yankees and Rivera. Just run out the clock do some good PR but say goodbye quietly.

    • Otis26 3 years ago

      Have you considered that the reason Soria hasn’t been doing as well is that he was having elbow problems?

      And as far as ‘loyalty crap’, I wouldn’t dismiss it. The Royals will be able to sign Soria on the cheap because he wants to pitch there. They won’t pay him $8 million as even he has said he wants to come back.

  7. If the Yankees pick up this option on Soriano for 2013 it will be the worst decision in several years. Get serious. 

  8. Mike1L 3 years ago

    Unless Soriano emerges as a closer for the balance of this year, I can’t imagine them wanting to spend that kind of money on a set-up man. This is situation is actually an interesting face off on an opt out contract.  Soriano devalued himself last year and needs to re-establish himself.  If he has a great year, Boras will want him to opt out to cash in.  If he doesn’t, Boras will hope the last year of his contract will be a well-paid “pillow” year where Soriano does get it back together.

  9. bearman44 3 years ago

    You forgot to mention Brandon League. He’s a free agent after the 2012 season.

    • MTwain 3 years ago

      Yeah, it was kind of a surprising omission. 

      • deeco3307 3 years ago

        Closer “Options” for 2013 was the title.  Not Free Agent Closers for 2013

        • MTwain 3 years ago

          How funny. I didn’t notice it was that kind of “option”. 

  10. Brett Myers for Soriano is the best move for the Yankees. Both get paid starter money, but Myers has both starter and closer experience and would pay dividends in the Yankees bullpen in long relief and Soariano would immediately become Houston’s closer. This would make Robertson the obvious choice to close in NY (as if it wasn’t already the best decision for NY to make.) Rivera is done! Loyalty or not the Yankees cannot allow him to come back as their closer. They cannot remove Robertson from the closer roll in favour of the unknown. If they do, you can chalk it up on the list of “failed developmental opprotunities” involving Yankees’ pitchers. 

    • tmengd 3 years ago

       Why in the world would the Astros want Soriano? They are trying to get younger not older. They would prefer to keep Myers anyways over him anyways because of his good chemestry with the young guys.

      That being said there are teams out there that are going to be willing to give up top prospects at the trade deadline for a Myers type, since a ton of closers are getting hurt this year and he has a proven trade record in pressure playoffs situations. So he will be traded to an Orioles,Red Sox,Giants type team that might be in the playoff hunt in need of an arm.

    • Too Many Idiots 3 years ago

      Glad to see you’re such an expert on medical injuries. I’ll call Rivera and tell him not to bother with rehabbing his knee.

  11. sdhitman19 3 years ago

    There is no way San Diego will even think about picking up Street’s  9 million option, especially with Cashner sitting there. The Street injury and the Padres poor start provides management with the luxury to gauge the  effectiveness of Cashner. If they like what they see, then the oft injured Street will be sent packing  sooner rather than later.

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