When we entered this MLB offseason, the relief market was hands down the one filled with the most talent. The free agent market had three big time closers, in addition to another major name on the trading block. Those four players have since found a home for the 2017 MLB season. First came Mark Melancon, inking a deal with the San Francisco Giants during the Winter Meetings. The Chicago Cubs turned to the trade market, sending outfielder Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for Wade Davis. Then Aroldis Chapman made New York Yankees fans very happy, by agreeing to return to the club where he began the 2016 season with. Now finally, Kenley Jansen has agreed to a deal that will see him return to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With these men off the board, there are still some teams standing, without a chair to sit in. The Miami Marlins reportedly made offers worth more money than the deals accepted, for both Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. The Washington Nationals were also in on several of these players and having lost Melancon to free agency, the club is certainly one of the biggest teams remaining without a lock-down arm at the end of their pen.
So now let’s take a quick look at each club and their current closer situations.
Baltimore Orioles: They have one of the best closers in the league in Zach Britton. Unless they trade him, they will not be looking for a new closer. Even if they did, they have alternate options, such as Brad Brach and Darren O’Day.
Boston Red Sox: With Craig Kimbrel and Tyler Thornburg holding down the back of the pen, Boston should not be on the hunt for any major end of the game relief help the rest of the offseason.
New York Yankees: Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman. Need I say more.
Tampa Bay Rays: Alex Colome is currently holding down the ninth, but he is certainly one of the better names on the trade market. The team could be in the free agent mix if they deal him, but with names like Brad Boxberger and Danny Farquhar also here, it is not a given.
Toronto Blue Jays: Robert Osuna is set to close out games for the Jays. The team seems happy moving forward with him, but the possibility of adding an arm with closer experience is not out of the question.
Cleveland Indians: You remember how good Cody Allen and Andrew Miller were in the playoffs, right? Yeah, there is no need to upgrade here.
Kansas City Royals: With Davis gone, the club seems comfortable with Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria entering 2017.
Detroit Tigers: Francisco Rodriguez is someone who could blow up at any moment, and enters his contract year. Their other relievers are on the trade market, and the Tigers could certainly find themselves dabbling in the market for guys who have closing experience to help set up K-Rod.
Chicago White Sox: David Robertson is one of the names on the trade market, meaning there could be an opening for someone on the market to walk into a job if he gets dealt.
Minnesota Twins: Brandon Kintzler held the role to close out 2016, and right now seems like the favorite to have the role opening 2017. But that would not give me a ton of confidence if I was a Twins fan. They won’t spend big, but they could certainly use some added depth.
Texas Rangers: Sam Dyson did a nice job with the role last season. Even if he starts off shaky, the team has a few names in their pen they could turn to if they wanted. I won’t rule them out from adding one more piece for extra depth, but it is not a must.
Houston Astros: The team played musical closers for a time last season. This should be Ken Giles role moving forward, as the team gave up a boatload of talent last winter for him. The club showed they have a few options they could turn to if he falters, meaning they are not in desperate need to sign anyone.
Los Angeles Angels: When you have Huston Street as a potential closing option, you should be in the market for some extra help. He is set to compete with Cam Bedrosian and Andrew Bailey for the role, so the club may decide they are willing to go with one of those three.
Seattle Mariners: Edwin Diaz represents an interesting young option to close out ballgames. But with someone as young as Diaz, it is usually a good idea to have a few options at the ready, just in case he falters.
Oakland Athletics: Ryan Madson and Ryan Doolittle both have closing experience, and the A’s are typically not that active. So I would expect them to roll into 2017 with these two as their primary options.
Washington Nationals: The team is currently without a closer, and having missed out on Melancon, Chapman, Davis, and Kenley, they will need to come up with an alternate plan.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have already made a few additions this winter. They have brought in Joaquin Benoit to go along with Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris. That will likely be who they go with for the back end of the pen.
New York Mets: The team has Jeurys Famila to close out games, and Addison Reed to set him up. But they have been connected to a few pen names, and with some possible trade pieces, making a move to bring in one more arm would not be a surprise.
Miami Marlins: The team was surprisingly linked to all of the big closers this winter, and reportedly made big offers to both Chapman and Kenley. A.J. Ramos is a solid closer, and they have Kyle Barraclough, so they are not hurting at the end of the game. But Ramos could be trade bait, and they will likely add at least one pen arm even if they do not move Ramos.
Atlanta Braves: Jim Johnson is set to be the club’s closer, and given the state of the franchise, that could very well stay as is. But one more addition on the cheap side of things could also happen.
Chicago Cubs: They got Wade Davis, plus have made a few minor additions. Any additions would be of the smaller variety.
St. Louis Cardinals: Seung Hwan Oh did more than enough to earn the role moving forward. The team is not likely to be actively pursuing any major additions.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Tony Watson is the expected closer, but could also get dealt. Overall the team’s pen is in a state of flux, and additions are certainly possible.
Milwaukee Brewers: After moving Tyler Thornburg, Corey Knebel is expected to hold down the ninth. He has the skills, and the club is in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but adding a veteran with experience is not out of the question.
Cincinnati Reds: The team has a number of former starters turned relievers who they could turn to. With Rasiel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Tony Cingrani and Jumbo Diaz, I would not expect any signings.
San Francisco Giants: Mark Melancon is now in the fold, and now there is no need for a closer.
Arizona Diamondbacks: They signed Fernando Rodney to close ballgames. Not exactly an exciting thought for DBack fans, but that’s what they did.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The re-signing of Kenley Jansen solved their issues, and now Kenley will be closing down games for years to come.
Colorado Rockies: The club has a few possible options they could turn to, with Adam Ottovino, Jason Motte, and Jake McGee all on the roster. But I still would not rule out one more addition if they could persuade someone to come to Coors Field.
San Diego Padres: Brandon Maurer is set to be their guy right now, and that is not the most appealing thought for Padres fans. They will certainly be in the mix for an addition or two.
The available options
First off let’s touch on some possible trade targets, some of which we touched on above. David Robertson is certainly one of the bigger names out there. The Nationals discussed him while talking about the Adam Eaton deal, and a trade to the Nation’s Capital is still a possibility. Given his contract, it is likely going to the Nats, or staying put for Robertson.
Then come two guys down in Florida, A.J. Ramos and Alex Colome. Neither man is making as much as Robertson and may draw appeal from a few extra clubs. Maybe the Rockies decide to take a stab, or the Pittsburgh Pirates if the Nationals do not blow them out of the water with an offer. The star closer who is not likely to go anywhere is Zach Britton, with the Nationals the only team likely to make that situation interesting.
Next let’s look at some of the guys who not big names that may have a wider appeal, given they will come a little cheaper. Brad Brach won’t necessarily come cheap, but he will not cost as much as the guys mentioned above. Tony Watson and Justin Wilson both find themselves in similar situations. These guys could draw interest from Seattle, Colorado, and maybe even Washington if they do not want to go big for their closer.
The free agent market has one more name left that is really interesting. His name is Greg Holland, and you may remember him as one of the most dominate closers a few years back before having to undergo Tommy John Surgery. He missed all of the last season, but he could certainly land a closing job upon his return. Keep an eye on the Nats, the Mariners, Pirates, Angels and Brewers in regards to Holland.
Now the following list of names could find their way onto any team I mentioned earlier who could be looking to add depth or more competition. Dan Hudson has talent, even if he did not have the greatest 2016 season. Santiago Casilla and Drew Storen have their fair share of closing experience. So does Neftali Feliz, although he also has a long list of injuries as well. David Hernandez has never truly lived up to his potential, with injuries partially to blame as well. Sergio Romo and Brad Ziegler are two veterans who could be added for some leadership and also step in to close if a team really needed it during the season. Finally, there is the enigma that is Jonathan Papelbon, who I feel confident in saying won’t be returning to Washington despite their need for a closer.