by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know the old fantasy baseball adage, “Don’t pay for saves!” Not everyone subscribes to that theory, though, and even if you do it doesn’t mean that one of the better options may not come at a value on draft/auction day. While we can debate the strategy another day, let’s take a look at how our early rankings shake out:
1. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
2. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
4. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
5. Sean Doolittle – Oakland A’s
6. Mark Melancon – Pittsburgh Pirates
7. Delin Betances – New York Yankees
8. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
9. David Robertson – Chicago White Sox
10. Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals
11. Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
12. Joaquin Benoit – San Diego Padres
13. Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles
14. Huston Street – Los Angeles Angels
15. Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins
- The top three options are completely interchangeable, depending on your opinions on them, but given their track record and upside they do remain a tier over the rest of the field. That said, the next four players are right on the cusp of joining them so overpaying (as is often the strategy with closers) for one of the “elite” simply may not be prudent.
- As of right now the assumption is that Betances is going to be the closer for the Yankees, but that’s hardly a given. While he would have value in a setup role, we have to keep in mind that there’s a very real possibility that he shares ninth inning duties with Andrew Miller. We’ll have to see how things progress as we near Spring Training/Opening Day, but just keep that in mind and consider his spot on the rankings shaky.
- With the Padres seemingly going for it this season, the assumption should be that Joaquin Benoit is not going to be traded (though that’s hardly a given). Of course, Kevin Quackenbush is breathing down his neck so even if he stays any struggles could lead to him being replaced. Benoit brings strikeouts, control and calls a favorable ballpark home and has also proven that he can thrive in the role (35 saves over the past two seasons).
- Zach Britton may not be your prototypical closer, using elite control to thrive in the role. However with a 13.1% SwStr% there’s actually significantly more strikeout upside (7.31 K/9). If that happens, he’s going to be one of the elite.
- The name that just missed the rankings was Cody Allen, and he was definitely a tough “cut”.
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