The Closer: Trade Deadline Addition

The Closer Logo 1The major league trade deadline is approaching and like all of you I have been seen all the articles describing the deals that may go down. Do you sometimes feel like all this writing about rumors and potential trades is just a crutch that certain writers lean on to take up column inches and gain cheap hits on their web page? I figured I ought to get in on that, so off we go!

We saw our first bit of deadline action as the Athletics, who are typically active, shipped Scott Kazmir off to Houston while the Pirates acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers. Though no closers or relievers have been moved yet, it appears several teams are certainly in a position to make these kind of deals. While Aramis Ramirez’s switching teams will have little impact on the fantasy baseball world, trades involving relievers usually have roto-ramifications. I’ll go over which teams are most likely to trade their closers, possible destinations, and potential buying opportunities for you.

Milwaukee – This is where we are most likely to see some action as the Ramirez deal indicates that the Brewers are in clear sell mode. K-Rod has been an underrated commodity for the past few seasons, but he will have appeal to several teams. The Blue Jays are one such team and a trade to Toronto would do little to change his fantasy value. A move to the AL doesn’t bother me; though K-Rod is a different pitcher than he was in his prime, his skills will play in all parks. However, what if it’s a team like Twins or Dodgers were to make a play for K-Rod? He has handled the eighth inning before and would have appeal for some teams in that role as well. And you, dear K-Rod owner would be screwed. What’s worse is that it’s unclear who would get Milwaukee’s saves if K Rod were moved? Will Smith has shown strikeout stuff all year long but is a lefty. Jeremy Jeffress has been charged with eighth inning duties but does not scream future closer to me. Last week Jim pointed out that Steven Blazek has been excellent (on a level with Carter Capps or Dellin Betances) and could be the man getting saves, but the situation is so unclear that it might be best to make your speculative play for saves elsewhere. However, these are generally good pitchers (should you grab one) who can help your ratios for a couple of weeks if they don’t pan out.

Oakland – In the past, Oakland has been aggressive during this time of the year and it looks like this year will be no exception to that rule. I’ve been a Tyler Clippard naysayer all year, but he has held onto the job through a few hiccups. However, Oakland is notorious for moving relievers and Clippard could be a target for contenders looking for eighth inning help. A return to Washington is not crazy. He also could end up in Toronto, which would bring a sigh of relief to owners. Edward Mujica is a likely replacement and while he has run off a few decent stretches in his career, he is not an appealing option.

Philadelphia – You’ve been waiting all year Ken Giles owners, and we are coming up on now-or-never time. I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news: The latest scuttlebutt seems to be leaning toward never. What’s worse, Giles has not been at the level he was last year. While his ERA is still shiny, he is not striking out as many, he’s walking more and he’s been hittable. You will need the saves from him to be sure he’s helping your team. On the other hand, Jonathan Papelbon owners are almost certainly locked into saves no matter where he lands. Even if the Jays, Cubs, and Dodgers have dropped out, the Tigers might take a shot on him to close games. The Giants are also a fit, though I feel like they’ve gotten by patching together the ninth for some years now with no ill effect. Granted, Papelbon’s vesting option lessens his appeal to MLB teams but the team acquiring him would need to bite the bullet lest they get an even bigger headache on their hands.

Atlanta – For a while the Braves were hanging around in contention but their recent struggles have made it more likely that they will move some players, including current closer Jim Johnson. However, a contender acquiring Johnson would almost certainly have him pitching before the ninth inning. This might be the place for you save chasers to find some value in the form of recent arrival Arodys Vizcaino. He’s a bit of a wild card but he seems like the clear heir for this season and has been impressive so far. So if you have worries about Clippard and K-Rod maintaining their hold on the ninth (I do), are unsure about who is taking their place (I am/don’t), or are possibly holding on to a closer who might get bumped like Roberto Osuna or Santiago Casilla, consider grabbing Vizcaino a week early. You may be reaping some rewards soon.

Cincinnati – I keep reading that there is a possibility for a big move here but I don’t buy it. While the Reds have been moving in the wrong direction for a long time, I don’t see management/ownership believing or acknowledging that they are that far away from contending once again. And they might not be wrong. It seems like teams turn things around faster nowadays. On top of that, Aroldis Chapman just made it to 500 strikeouts faster than any other pitcher. He is a sensation and this would be the kind of move that alienates the fan base. So frankly, trading Aroldis Chapman doesn’t make sense to me either!

So we all need to be on high alert in the week ahead. I’m not sure how this will play out, but be aggressive as these moves have a big impact on fantasy fortunes. Bon chance!

The Closer LogoThe Closer Grid

In a fitting bit of news for the Trade Deadline edition, we are shipping Jim back to his numerous other duties and columns and I am back to handle the closer report. Jim did a fantastic job on the column and the grid in my absence.  I suppose this makes you readers a bunch of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s – though that is through no fault of your own.

After you read the grid, be sure to check out the notes as well. For first-timers, closers are ranked from best to worst and we’ve included ratings for job security:
1 = solid, 2 = secure for now, 3 = shaky, and 4 = worrisome.

  Team Security Closer Set Up Lurker
1 Reds 1 Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Ryan Mattheus
2 Dodgers 1 Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez J.P. Howell
3 White Sox 1 David Robertson Zack Putnam Zach Duke
4 Padres 1 Craig Kimbrel Joaquin Benoit Brandon Maurer
5 Yankees 1 Andrew Miller Dellin Betances Justin Wilson
6 Nationals 1 Drew Storen Casey Janssen Aaron Barrett
7 Orioles 1 Zach Britton Darren O’Day Chaz Roe
8 Twins 1 Glen Perkins Blaine Boyer Casey Fein
9 Royals 1 Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
10 Mets 1 Jeurys Familia Bobby Parnell Jenrry Meija
11 Angels 1 Huston Street Joe Smith Fernando Salas
12 Cardinals 1 Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Seth Maness
13 Indians 1 Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
14 Tigers 1 Joakim Soria Bruce Rondon Neftali Feliz
15 Phillies 1 Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Luis Garcia
16 Red Sox 1 Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Alexi Ogando
17 Pirates 1 Mark Melancon Tony Watson Jared Hughes
18 Marlins 2 A. J. Ramos Carter Capps Mike Dunn
19 Rangers 2 Shawn Tolleson Keone Kela Tanner Scheppers
20 Brewers 2 Francisco Rodriguez Jeremy Jeffress Will Smith
21 Astros 2 Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek Will Harris
22 Dbacks 3 Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson David Hernandez
23 Giants 3 Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Hunter Strickland
24 Athletics 3 Tyler Clippard Edward Mujica Sean Doolittle-(DL)
25 Braves 3 Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino David Aardsma
26 Rockies 4 John Axford LaTroy Hawkins Boone Logan
27 Rays 4 Brad Boxberger Jake McGee Kevin Jepsen
28 Blue Jays 4 Roberto Osuna Steve Delabar Bo Schultz
29 Mariners 4 Carson Smith Fernando Rodney Mark Lowe
30 Cubs 4 Jason Motte Hector Rendon Rafael Soriano

I write a lot of mocking words about managers in this column, but what happens when we move beyond satire. This is the kind of stuff that drives me nuts. And I love Brad Ausmus, who once gave my friends and I a really insightful bit of fantasy baseball advice. I am keeping Neftali Feliz on the grid as even yesterday they were determined to give him the ball in key spots. He failed of course, but expect Ausmus to keep searching for lightning in a bottle.

Speaking of getting driven nuts, my friends Cody Allen and Greg Holland came out of the break poorly. Let’s sit tight for now as their jobs are not in danger. The possibility of me remaining ulcer-free isn’t though.

Another thing that’s driving me nuts is the Cubs bullpen. Jason Motte has been dominant which means he could be losing his job any minute now. OK that doesn’t seem likely, but note that Rafael Soriano has been strong since returning to the bigs. Need I remind you that he has had success closing for Joe Maddon before? Stranger things have happened is all I’m saying. I’d probably grab Soriano over a guy like Mujica.

He lost his closer job early this year and he has been bumped from the grid entirely, but word is the Cardinals are interested in Steve Cishek. He has been just about hopeless all year and is a sunk cost for fantasy purposes. Annoyingly, I’m sure he would do great for the Cards. At the risk of being sent to writing boot camp I’m going to use the phrase in four consecutive paragraphs: The Cardinals drive me nuts!

Fantasy Rundown BannerNeed more closer news, waiver wire picks, 2-start pitchers, prospects and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.

Michael Zakhar

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Michael lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife Virginia and his adorable son Johnny. We enjoy going to see the Lakewood BlueClaws, who play 20 minutes from home. In addition to baseball, Mike loves reading, music and professional wrestling.

4 thoughts on “The Closer: Trade Deadline Addition”

  1. I’m wondering about the recent comments about Carson Smith’s struggles pertaining to he “having nothing left in the tank”? My league is doing an experimental change at RP, where we own team bullpens (start any two relievers of the two teams you own). Unfortunately I own Oakland and Seattle. So I added Mujica, but am wondering if I should start Rodney this week over Smith. Is the tipping pitches thing real? Or, being how Seattle is in Colorado this week, do I go with two A’s, at home all week? Pomeranz?

    Thanks keep up the great work guys!

    1. Hi Chad,

      Thanks for reading. Your league sounds interesting to me and I bet it leads to facing some interesting decisions such as this one.

      I would not start Rodney this week.Tipping pitches might be an excuse a manager makes to let a guy off the hook a little bit, but Rodney’s recent track record as a whole is ugly. I would start Smith over him; Smith’s struggles are said to be fatigue related, maybe it is, maybe it’s just a couple of bad games; I still think Smith gets the next save opp and is just the better pitcher.

      If Smith really makes you nervous, would you consider Vidal Nuno? He recently gave up a run but on the whole he has been great. It’s too bad Mark Lowe was just shipped off to Toronto, he’d be a decent option.

      As far as Oakland, it’s weird how all of them suddenly had lousy outings, but I’ve always been a Pomeranz fan. So if you really are down on Smith, choose between Pomeranz and Nuno, but I lean toward Smith myself.

  2. Thanks Michael. Three games @ Colorado scares me… I guess there’s no harm in sticking with Smith for now. If Pomeranz wasn’t coming off a plastering I might make the move.

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