This is the latest installment in our Market Snapshot series. We have now completed our run-down of position players, so we’ll turn to the pitching staff — beginning with left-handed relievers.
Teams In Need
There figures to be plenty of demand for lefty relief help. The Astros, Cubs, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, Rockies, and Yankees each could clearly stand to improve in that area. The Braves, Cardinals, and Nationals have some options but could be intrigued by the possibility of adding a high-quality set-up southpaw. You could perhaps argue the same for the Dodgers, though they have quite a volume of possibilities in house. Numerous clubs other could stand to add additional lefties, including the Angels, Pirates, and Twins, but don’t seem quite as likely to spend big money to do so.
High-leverage arms: Zach Britton and Andrew Miller are the big names here, though both have had plenty of injury questions and neither was in top form in 2018. The former is more youthful (30) and still racks up ridiculous numbers of groundballs, though his combination of 7.5 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 hardly inspired and his sinker velo is down. Miller, 33, still gets the K’s (11.9 per nine) but has seen his swinging-strike rate move southward (13.2%) along with his own average fastball speed (93.6).
Middle relievers: Justin Wilson still can’t find his command, allowing 5.43 walks per nine for the second-straight campaign, but he’s also still hard to square up. Tony Sipp got as many good bounces in 2018 as he did bad bounces in the season prior. All told, he showed quite well but is already 35 years of age. Oliver Perez, who is two years Sipp’s senior, had an even more stunning bounceback campaign that featured a career-high 14.2% swinging-strike rate. Zach Duke, Jake Diekman, and Aaron Loup all underperformed their peripherals and seem likely to draw interest. It was the opposite situation for Jorge De La Rosa, though he still figures to land somewhere after a useful campaign. Speaking of potential converted starters, Jaime Garcia struggled badly in the rotation but produced a 3.54 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .181/.280/.278 batting line in 20 1/3 innings as a reliever. Jerry Blevins had a poor platform season, but he’s a bounceback candidate.
High-leverage arms: If the Giants decide to cash in some assets, Will Smith and Tony Watson look to be highly appealing pieces after both turned in excellent 2018 efforts. The Twins could perhaps consider selling high on Taylor Rogers if there’s an opportunity to get value on this market, though they have good reason to stand pat as well. He has plenty of value to the Rays, but Jose Alvarado could draw big offers after an eye-opening sophomore campaign.
Middle relievers: Richard Bleier could be a fascinating chip for the O’s, but he’ll first need to recover from a serious lat injury. Andrew Chafin and T.J. McFarland will draw interest if the Diamondbacks decide to throw in the towel on 2019. Rangers groundball/command artist Alex Claudio could hold some appeal despite a down 2018 showing in the results department. Marlins southpaw Adam Conley showed some spark at times in a relief role.
A variety of potentially useful pitchers could come available from contenders, either via trade or free agency, if those clubs decide they don’t really want to commit a roster spot and pay them what they’ll likely command in arbitration. Vidal Nuno (Rays), Sam Freeman & Jonny Venters (Braves), Xavier Cedeno & Dan Jennings (Brewers), Sammy Solis (Nationals), Luis Avilan & Adam Morgan (Phillies), and Chris Rusin (Rockies) are all possibilities. It’ll be interesting to see what the Dodgers decide to do with Tony Cingrani, who missed a lot of time and carried a 4.76 ERA but also sported an impressive combination of 14.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. (The smart money is probably on him being tendered and kept in Los Angeles.)