Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
1. Joe Nathan (39): By finishing at least 55 games on the season, Nathan (pictured) has earned the right to void his $9 million club option for 2014. Chances are he will do just that after another dominant season (1.41 ERA, 63.2 IP, 36 H, 22 BB, 73 K, 43 saves), which could either put him in line for a one-year deal for somewhere between $12-15 million or a multi-year deal in the $10-12 million per season range.
2. Joaquin Benoit (36): Benoit's price as a top set-up man has only gone up now that he can add "proven closer" to his resume. In his first extended shot at closing out games, Benoit has 24 saves in 26 chances while posting a 2.01 ERA with a 6.1 H/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 10 K/9. Not only will he likely get a chance to continue closing, he's pitched well enough to get paid like one.
3. Brian Wilson (32): While he's not quite back to his pre-Tommy John surgery velocity on his fastball (94.2 MPH average in 2011; 92.6 MPH average in 2013, according to FanGraphs), Wilson has been terrific in a setup role since joining the Dodgers last month (13.1 IP, ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 12 K, 3 holds) and should be back to closing out games in 2014. Wilson saved 163 regular-season games in 186 chances for the Giants between 2008-2011.
4. Grant Balfour (36): A bit of a late bloomer, Balfour has a 2.75 ERA, 6.2 H/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 9.7 K/9 since his age 30 season in 2008. He also has 62 saves in 67 chances over the past two seasons, his first with a regular closer's gig, which is why his next payday will exceed his current three-year, $12.25 million deal that expires after the World Series.
5. Fernando Rodney (37): After a dominant season in 2012 (0.60 ERA, 74.2 IP, 43 H, 15 BB, 76 K, 48 saves in 50 chances), his best ever by far, Rodney came out of the gates in 2013 looking like the mediocre pitcher he had been for most of his career. But since blowing his fifth game of the season on May 25 and seeing his ERA rise above 6.00, the Rays closer has a 2.35 ERA with 29 saves in 30 chances.
Honorable Mentions: Kevin Gregg (35), Ryan Madson (33), Edward Mujica (29)