Break It Down: Relief Pitcher Free Agent Pool
Moving on in the 3U3D breakdown of the 2012 free agent crop to the relievers. You can check out the starters here. Let’s get right into it.
The Big Catch
Rafael Soriano turned down his option with the Yankees in order to test the free agent market. How could you blame him after taking over the closer’s role for the Yankees and running with it in Mariano Rivera’s absence. He wants a place he can be the closer and can get a long-term contract. Would not be surprised if he lands on the team that knocked him from the 2012 playoffs in Detroit. I will not include Rivera on this list sure he’s a “free agent”, but you’re kidding yourself if he’s going anywhere that doesn’t start with “B” and end in “ronx” in 2013.
The “Big” Catch
I know, I know I made a fat pun, but Broxton is the only other healthy player that has been a solid closer in the past. Unless you want to deal with the mess that is Jose Valverde. He may not close though if he stays in Cincinnati, which he is open to doing.
The Tommy John Tier
Two pitchers that have been solid closers in the past. Two pitchers that missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. I think I would be more comfortable taking a chance on Madson who is a little more advanced in his recovery. I doubt Madson will get the same amount of money that he got in the one-year deal from the Reds. If healthy though, these closers could be a steal for a team looking for one.
The Mystery Tier
We’ve seen a lot of success in Japanese closers coming over and being effective MLB relievers; Kaz Sasaki, Koji Uehara, Hideki Okajima (at least for a little while), and Takashi Saito all come to mind. Kyuji Fujikawa might be next in the lineage. He’s never had an ERA over 2.01 in his eight years in Japan. If he lands on the right team in a closer role, he’ll be a trendy fantasy baseball sleeper.
Top Set-up Tier: Right-Handed Edition
The Rangers have a lot of the bullpen to rebuild if both Mike Adams and Koji Uehara take their services elsewhere. That might be why the rumors are flying that they’re in on Fujikawa. Adams has been one of the top set-up men for years now and should get a good contract if teams aren’t worried about his surgery for thoratic outlet syndrome. Uehara is coming off his best season and will expect more than the $4 million he made in 2012. The same goes for Jason Grilli who found his niche finally in a set-up role in Pittsburgh with a 2.76 ERA and 1.16 WHIP the past two seasons. He’ll get a raise over the $1.1 million he made last season.
Top Set-up Tier: Left-Handed Edition
Jeremy Affeldt is going to get paid after his perfect postseason performance for the Giants. In my opinion, he’s been one of the most underrated relievers in the game. Sean Burnett and J.P. Howell both picked good times to bounce back after worse 2011’s, especially in Howell’s case. I would prefer Burnett to Howell because of the lesser injury risk, but both are good signings in the $3-5 million a year range.
What relievers would you want your team to go after this offseason? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)