Attempting to project fantasy value for relief pitchers at any point in time is a lot like trying to hit a moving target. Before spring training, it is even harder than normal since there are many bullpens in flux. A couple recent transactions, however, give us a little more clarity than we had a couple days ago. This article will discuss a few recent transactions and how they will affect your fantasy roster in 2014.
Joe Nathan to Detroit
This signing has little impact on Nathan’s fantasy value. He was expected to sign with a contending team and regardless of where he pitches he is capable of posting elite ratios. Draft Nathan as an elite RP after the top few names are off the board.
There was some speculation as to who might take the 9th in Detroit if they failed to sign a big name closer, but that can all be put to rest now. Smyly, Rondon and Alburquerque each have the talent to be fantasy assets in some formats depending on how their roles shake out, but Alburquerque and Rondon will both have to improve their BB rates to help your ratios. Rondon still looks like a dynasty league hold since he could be ready for big things by the time Nathan’s two year deal expires.
Since Nathan was never expected to re-sign in Texas, this has little impact on the Ranger’s pen. There will be a full on battle in spring training. Tanner Scheppers, Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz could each factor into the equation.
Jim Johnson to Oakland
A couple days ago, the A’s closer position appeared to be a wide open battle between Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle. That is now a distant memory. In two separate deals, the A’s have solidified their pen by landing Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson. Even though Johnson is a pretty mediocre reliever, he is locked in as the A’s 9th inning guy and he figures to have a good sized leash. Gregerson looks like the preferred set-up option while Cook and Doolittle appear to be irrelevant in most formats, at least for now.
While Oakland’s bullpen picture becomes clearer, Baltimore’s is now quite murky. Assuming that they do not sign a big name, Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day are the two most likely in-house options, although recent reports suggest that the O’s will look to free agency to fill this void. This 9th inning job could change hands a couple times this year depending on which route the O’s decide to take. Since Johnson has had more save opportunities than any other closer in baseball over the last two seasons, the O’s closer makes for an attractive fantasy option.
Heath Bell to Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Analysis:
The Devil Rays’ bullpen is wide open at the moment. Bell’s addition throws one more hat into the ring that is already cluttered with unspectacular options. This job could come down to a spring training competition between Bell, Joel Peralta and Jake McGee. Of the three, Bell is the least exciting from a fantasy standpoint but he does have the all important “prior experience” in the role. Peralta would be a safe option with limited upside while McGee carries the most risk but has by far the highest ceiling of the trio.