MLB Offseason Closer Analysis: Oakland Athletics Bullpen

Todd FarinoCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

Fuentes may start as the closer, but won't finish the season.
Fuentes may start as the closer, but won't finish the season.Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Oakland A's and GM Billy Beane did their normal offseason sell-off to get ready for a championship run in 2012.  Part of that sell-off was trading away former ROY closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox.  That now leaves the A's with filling the closer role with someone on their roster or by signing a player.

The possible current roster pitchers that could close are: Joey Devine, Brian Fuentes, Jordan Norberto, Neil Wagner.

Going into spring training I see Brain Fuentes getting the best chance to close and likely open the season as the closer.  That is assuming the A's don't trade him before April.  Two young prospects that the A's brought up last year were Neil Wagner and Jordan Norberto.  Both have lights-out stuff and could be future closers. 

Jordan Norberto has two seasons in Triple-A under his belt with six saves in 86.1 innings and struck out a whopping 102 batters.  Neil Wagner was very effective in Triple-A where he recorded two saves in 29 innings, striking out 34.  He has 44 minor league saves and 425 K's in 363 innings.  Both these guys have high-velocity fastballs and great breaking pitches. 

My focus on Oakland's future closer once Brian Fuentes is traded (midseason) or he fails would be on Jordan Norberto. 

Many feel that Joey Devine is the likely candidate for the closing job in Oakland and that analysis is correct.  Devine is a seven-year veteran with a career 2.75 ERA.  His major problem is his health.  Granted his career has been limited over seven years, his health has been a problem.  He only has made 96 major league appearances.  I don't think the A's will trust Devine and like him better in a seventh-inning or setup role.


2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis

Draft Brian Fuentes, but wait until Round 17 at the earliest.  Draft Jordan Norberto in the latest rounds, after 25th.  He could prove to be a deep sleeper.