Closer is the ultimate role for a reliever, and many free agents choose based on whether they'll get ninth inning opportunities. For example, SI's Jon Heyman tweeted today that Trevor Hoffman "has interest in pitching another year if someone will let him close." Another example would be Jesse Crain, who last month told MLB.com's Kelly Thesier he'd love an opportunity to close. Looking at our free agent list, J.J. Putz, Frank Francisco, Brian Fuentes, Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg, Chad Qualls, Kerry Wood, Jon Rauch, Joaquin Benoit, and Koji Uehara could also be among those battling for closer jobs.
The lack of openings makes the supply of would-be closers greater than the demand. The Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox, Angels, Braves, and Diamondbacks aren't locked in with closers, but half those clubs could go internal. Only the D'Backs and Angels appear poised to add an established closer. The trade and non-tender markets will only increase the supply with names like Heath Bell, Leo Nunez, David Aardsma, and Bobby Jenks. The Padres, Marlins, Mariners, and White Sox all have viable replacements on hand.
I can see the Padres dealing Bell while his value is way up and signing a guy like Gregg or Benoit.
That’d be a smart move. The drop-off in performance from a Bell to Gregg is probably only the difference of 2-3 wins, but you can more than make up that WAR with the package Bell could return.
Agreed. Hoyer is no slouch. He knows what he can get in return and most likely will get a nice package in return. I’m just curious as to which teams will be in on Bell.
you think the Friars would give the green light for a Uggla for Bell trade??? if we can’t sign Danny to an extension that is
Doesn’t make sense for either team really. Marlins would get Bell on a one-year, $8MM deal or so, and the Padres would get Uggla for about $10MM for one year. Both being cost-conscious teams, will be looking to trade their stars for young talent they can control for 5-6 years.
I don’t think they need to even sign a replacement. That bullpen is stacked with strong arms. I think you can hand the closer role over to Adams or Gregerson and be just fine.
The Padres have bigger needs than the bullpen, and spending $4MM or so on a reliever could be better allocated elsewhere. Put that money toward a guy like Orlando Hudson or an outfield bat/starting arm.
gregerson can be absolutely filthy for weeks in a row. and adams is even more consistently good. a solid bullpen even without bell, i agree their best move is to unload bell’s salary and grab a bat with the savings. which as a giants fan i hope they don’t do so they can roll over and hand the west back to the giants without a fight in 2011.
Well obviously not everyone on this list will get a closer job so some are going to have to settle. Rafael Soriano will obviously get one of these jobs so of those left I think only Kevin Gregg, Brian Fuentes and Kerry Wood will really get a closer job. Hoffman might sign with someone late.
It’s too bad that there’s no lefties from the people left over. The Yankees need another left handed option and someone to replace Wood and I’d love to see a lefty that’s used more than just to get out lefties (I think this role is a waste of a roster spot really)
That’s why there should be a lot of bidding on Scott Downs.
I think he’ll be too expensive and the Yankees tend to not mess around when it comes to the risk of compensation picks
Are you being sarcastic? Type-A status has never stopped the Yankees in free agency, nor has the pricetag…
I should clarify, I meant fringe Type A status, especially for a relief pitcher (the Yankees have fielded a cheap bullpen for years) Mark Teixiera is one thing, Scott Downs is another
Signing three Type A players in the same offseason, one being AJ Burnett, isn’t “messing around?” Downs’ status probably won’t hold him back.
I could see the D’Backs getting creative in terms of their closer. They need to completely revamp the bullpen, so they might not want to break the bank on one reliever. They could go after a couple of power arms on cheap multi-year deals. Putz, Crain, Benoit, etc. Uehara is pretty underrated too.
yeah i could see Beniott or Putz as great fits in AZ, how much do you think guys like that will cost annually though?
With all the talk about the Braves needing an outfielder (which they should add) they should also look to press their advantage that is their pitching staff by getting one of those strikeout righties to take the ‘closer role’ on a one year deal. The Braves will be playing alot of ‘closable’ games with our pitching staff and 10+ K/9 guys like Benoit or Putz might find it attractive to come to Atlanta and rack up a bunch of saves and then hit the market with much more value.
Adding a veteran strikeout guy like Beniot would really line up the rest of the Braves pen and give it a real shot to be dominant. You would have Benoit closing (0.680 WHIP 11.2 K/9 in the AL East), two filthy young arms from both the left and right in Venters and Kimbrel to set up based on matchup, two veterans from both the left and right in O’Flaherty and Moylan who had ERAs under 3.00 last year, then another lefty who can throw 95 with a nasty slider in Dunn who is only some more control away from being just as good as the previous five guys. With the last spot they can go with the veteran Proctor, long man Martinez or some of our promising minor league guys like Gearrin, Abreu or Cordier.
I didn’t really mean to wax poetic about my team’s bulpen, but I just wanted to show that Atlanta should and will likely be players for a right handed strikeout guy like Benoit, Putz, Crain, Wood, Gregg, etc to keep our guys in their ‘roles’.
Is Venters “officially” the closer for next year, or just widely assumed to be the heir?
What percentage would you put him at for getting the job right out of spring training?
Kimbrel is the official heir, and that’s possibly starting next year.
I would put it 80-90% we bring in a veteran to close. It’s Wrens MO and I agree with it.
Braves are going internal. Some people are choosing Kimbrel as the next closer, but my #1 choice is Moylan, and he has earned it.
We could but why? Are we really going to be players for big money guys like Crawford or Werth? We are going to be creative in filling out the outfield and we should spend what we have on filling out a truely elite pitching staff.
Heyward, Prado, McCann, Chipper and a group of role players will cary our offense this year. We will win with pitching in 2011 if we are going to win at all.
Wren already said the closer will be internal. He also said a veteran will be brought in to pitch the 7th or 8th. It was also said by Bowman and DOB that there’s a chance, but not much that they go after Crawford or Werth.
Is Trevor Hoffman this years Jermaine Dye?
yes – he can’t brake glass
If and thats a big ‘If’ Jason Frasor declines arbitration I would love for the Jays to take a go at Crain as closer ‘if’ he is actually just a type B free agent. I would love to see what he could do in Toronto, plus he’d be at least one vet guy in the bullpen – if it turns out he’s an A though lets go internal.
55saves, I thought the concensus was that Dye’s bat could still play as a DH this year while Hoffman was no longer a reliable major league option in the pen. Has Dye officially retired ?
I guess people don’t believe Papelbon is a viable trade option anymore?
Glad that’s over with.
Tim, are the Angels not looking at Walden to take the realms at the closer?
i think the angels will land rafel soriano and the blue jays will aquire health bell or bobby jenks and padres sign gregg and fuentes will go to the yankees or rays
The Jays won’t give up prospects for a closer when they’re letting three potential closers of varying value walk for draft picks.
For the amount both guys will take in prospects I hope to goodness the Jays don’t trade for either of those guys when Crain in on the Market for similar cash and would not cost any guys on the farm. Unless of course you are underestimating the trade value both guys still have. Especially since the Jays are not contending there’s just no need for a premium closer.
Dave Mona reported on Sunday Morning Sports Talk that Jesse Crain has sold his house here so I’d guess that he’s leaving the Twins for certain. Last spring it was reported that he was unahppy when he wasn’t named the closer after Joe Nathan’s season ending injury. After watching Crain all these years, I don’t think he has the stuff – neither the pitches or the personality – to be a closer and I can’t imagine a team wanting him in that role.
Gregg is terrible. His stuff isn’t reliable and he shouldn’t go in back to back games because he can’t over power you. For a playoff team he isn’t the choice.
Teams should not and won’t trade elite prospects for an expensive relief pitcher. Those days in MLB are over. Teams may trade for one but they won’t get any sort of “Haul” for their guys.