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.