The Braves’ signing of Billy Wagner appears to signal a change at the backend of the Atlanta bullpen. While it is still possible that Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez is brought back to the mix (though even more unlikely with the addition of Takashi Saito), does anyone believe they would have guaranteed Wagner $7 million if he were not going to be the closer?
Wagner, who returned from Tommy John surgery in 2009, was impressive as a setup man for the Mets and Red Sox (1.72 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 26 K in 15.2 IP) and instantly becomes a solid option in all formats.
He has always been a great source of strikeouts out of the bullpen with a career K/9 of 10.89, so he is likely to continue to be an asset there. There are obvious concerns, but his ability to excel after returning last season should go a long way of alleviating them. While he isn’t likely to be quite as good as last season, I’d pencil him in for at least a strikeout per inning.
When you couple that potential with the idea of him almost guaranteed to be closing games (again, who pays a setup man $7 million), how could you go wrong? Initially he was left off the Top 15 closers rankings (click here to view) due to the questions on if he would be closing somewhere or not.
With that question answered he potentially slips in there, but he certainly is a Top 20 option. If you look at the Tier 4 options, it is littered with names like Trevor Hoffman, Jose Valverde and Ryan Franklin. Would anyone be shocked to see Wagner outperform any of them?
That makes him a great selection late in your draft if you are one who gambles on closers. Don’t reach for him, but if he’s available the strikeouts and saves make him a good selection in all formats.
What are your thoughts? How good could Wagner be? Will he return to the type of closer he once was?
Previous Fantasy Impacts of Recent Transactions: