Recently I got to thinking about Eric Gagne. 30 years old. An unstoppable relief ace from 2002-04 (a 1.79 ERA and 13.3 K/9 over 247 innings. Imagine if he did that in one season as a starter! Roto Immortality.) Tommy John surgery in 1997 plus another cleanup type surgery last summer. A $10MM salary for 2006 with a $12MM option for 2007.
With Scott Boras as his agent, Gagne may elect to void that ’07 option. Or the Dodgers may simply choose not to exercise it. The Dodgers are one probably the only team in baseball with two established "closers" on the roster. No, Jose Mesa and Braden Looper don’t count. Danys Baez is an excellent backup that will allow the Dodgers to limit Gagne’s innings this season. But should a decent setup man emerge from Yhency Brazoban, Franquelis Osoria, and Jonathan Broxton, the Dodgers may just send Gagne packing this summer.
So which contending teams have questionable closers?
Red Sox. I have to assume Epstein doesn’t see Papelbon as a long-term reliever/closer candidate. He’ll probably be in the rotation by July, and Keith Foulke may give out by then. The pen has some depth, but lacks a relief ace. Many folks see Craig Hansen closing out games by year’s end, and I don’t disagree. Still, if he stumbles a bit in his first Major League season, the Sox could take a crack at Gagne.
White Sox. Bobby Jenks and Dustin Hermanson are wild cards right now. With only Neal Cotts and Cliff Politte as dependable options, Kenny Williams could go after the cream of the crop in Gagne. His trading chips will probably have to come from his Major League roster this time.
Braves. This really wouldn’t be their style, though Gagne would really solidify the relief corps.
This is all just speculation, but watch the rumors fly this summer if Baez and Gagne are both pitching well and an injury to a starter or position player creates a need for the Dodgers.
Thanks to The Closer Watch for the current bullpen depth charts.