by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessot)
We all know that contenders are consistently looking to upgrade their bullpen at the trade deadline, whether they have an established closer or not. Often times current closers are dealt to operate as a setup man for a World Series contender (we’ve already seen this with Kelvin Herrera being sent to Washington), though they occasionally get “lucky” and assume closing duties elsewhere. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the current closers around the league who could potentially be moved ahead of the July 31 deadline:
The Obvious Trade Candidates:
These are the closers that, if you own, you are going to want to look towards an alternate solution now before it’s too late:
Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles
Potential Replacements – Brad Brach, Mychal Givens
Brach is another trade candidate and it wouldn’t be surprising if he and Britton are both moved (meaning Givens could be an intriguing under-the-radar stash). While Britton has been struggling since his return from the DL, he’s left-handed, has an elite track record and the Orioles clearly have to look towards the future. Someone is going to be willing to pay a steep price, even as an impending free agent, and that becomes even more likely if he can put together a strong stretch leading up to July 31.
Chances of Trade – 95%
Most Likely Replacement – Givens (assuming Brach is also dealt)
Fernando Rodney – Minnesota Twins
Potential Replacements – Trevor Hildenberger, Addison Reed
Who would’ve predicted that Rodney would seem secure in the role at this point of the season? Up until recently there was little question, though he’s hit a speed bump over the past two weeks. The Twins have also watched the Indians blow past them, and while they are in second place in the division they stand little chance of winning a Wild Card and aren’t going to catch Cleveland. It makes sense for them to send Rodney packing, even if it’s for pennies on the dollar. Maybe the team doesn’t want to insert Hildenberger into the role, but at the same time if they think they can rebound quickly and compete in 2019 it makes sense to find out if he can handle the role.
Chances of Trade – 90%
Most Likely Replacement – Hildenberger
Raisel Iglesias – Cincinnati Reds
Potential Replacements – Jared Hughes, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen
With Herrera being moved early, Iglesias stands as the best potential closer who is easily imagined to be moved. The Reds are in a perpetual rebuild, though they need to strengthen their starting pitching and Iglesias offers a great opportunity to infuse more young talent. Signed for two more years he’d be attractive to a contender (think the Astros), as he could solve their issues for years to come.
Chances of Trade – 75%
Most Likely Replacement – Hughes
Joakim Soria – Chicago White Sox
Potential Replacements – Jace Fry, Bruce Rondon
Soria seems like a no-brainer trade candidate, with someone like Fry potentially operating as the closer of the future. His contract has a team option for 2019, so a contender that isn’t looking for a long-term piece can also get out of the deal (though that could limit the return). At the same time, the White Sox could look at the financial implications of moving Soria. Handing the job to Fry now, for instance, would give him more ammunition when he does reach arbitration. A proven closer could get a significant raise, so why save a few dollars today in order cost you significant dollars down the line (almost like the Super 2 deadline)? Soria could also continue to provide ninth inning stability, helping to get the young starters wins (and there’s value there too). It seems like a no-brainer, but Soria isn’t as likely to be moved as you’d think.
Chances of Trade – 40%
Most Likely Replacement – Fry
Jeurys Familia – New York Mets
Potential Replacements – Anthony Swarzak, Robert Gsellman
Of course you could argue that Swarzak could be moved as well, as he’s been a free agent bust and the Mets may want to rid themselves of his contract for next season. The front office is also in flux and as an impending free agent the Mets may find that the return for Familia doesn’t justify moving him and potentially costing themselves wins down the stretch (both Swarzak and Gsellman have struggled recently). Obviously for a rebuilding team getting any return for an impending free agent makes sense, but if they think they can compete as soon as 2019 they could ultimately try to resign Familia and keep that piece in place.
Chances of Trade – 40%
Most Likely Replacement – Gsellman (even with his recent struggles)
Kyle Barraclough – Miami Marlins
Potential Replacements – Brad Ziegler, Drew Steckenrider
The entire Marlins’ bullpen could be considered trade candidates (throw Adam Conley in there as well), and with control past 2018 many of them are going to be highly appealing to a contender. Barraclough is at the top of that list, as he’s proven to be a top reliever for a few years and has seemingly solved his control issues. He won’t be a free agent until 2022, so the Marlins clearly don’t have to move him since he doesn’t carry a big price tag. At the same time they are rebuilding and if someone comes knocking with a big prospect return you know they are going to listen closely.
Chances of Trade – 30%
Most Likely Replacement – Steckenrider
Keone Kela – Texas Rangers
Potential Replacements – Jose Leclerc, Jake Diekman, Chris Martin
He’s under team control for a few more years, so it’s impossible to say that he’s a lock to be traded. In fact if the Rangers see him as a fixture in the role (and he’s yet to blow a save) and think they can turn it around quickly, why trade him and create a hole that they could have to address as soon as 2019? Closers are often viewed as easily replaceable, but when you see some of the messes around the league you know that’s not always true. If they get a return that makes sense they’ll move him, but it seems more likely that he stays where he is.
Chances of Trade – 30%
Most Likely Replacement – Leclerc
The Potential Trade Candidates (But Long-Shots):
It’s possible these closers are traded, but it seems highly unlikely unless their team is overwhelmed (less than 10% likely to be moved):
- Blake Treinen – Oakland A’s – It’s the A’s so you never know, but it seems hard to imagine them moving Treinen today
- Brad Hand – San Diego Padres – The contract that he signed in the offseason makes it harder to imagine him being moved (though it also makes him more attractive). Already with a plethora of prospects, unless they are overwhelmed the Padres have no reason to make a move