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Plenty of teams are looking for late-inning help, and there are a number of options available.
The best of the bunch is 38-year-old Joe Nathan (pictured), who exercised a clause in his contract that allowed him to void a $9 million club option with the Rangers for 2014. He’ll pursue a multi-year deal instead, which could pay him somewhere between $25-32 million over the next two seasons.
Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit and Fernando Rodney are veterans who didn’t get a chance to close until late in their careers. The trio took full advantage, stabilizing the role for their respective clubs, the A’s, Tigers and Rays, and are now in line for multi-year deals to continue closing in 2014 and beyond.
Former Giants closer Brian Wilson signed with the Dodgers late in the season after a lengthy recovery from Tommy John surgery, although he did enough in a setup role to ensure he’ll resume his career as a closer in 2014.
Despite being banished to a mop-up role for the Cardinals in the playoffs, Edward Mujica was a key to the team’s success in 2013. After taking over the closer’s role in mid-April, the 29-year-old posted a 1.72 ERA with 35 saves in 37 chances before hitting a wall in September. He may not land another closing job, but he’ll get a multi-year deal to fill an integral role in some team’s bullpen.
A pair of veteran setup men, Jesse Crain and Joe Smith, are deserving of closing jobs after tremendous seasons. In any other offseason, that would’ve likely come to fruition. But in this deep class, it’s probably not happening. They’ll settle for multi-year deals that will make them two of the highest-paid non-closers in the game.
Ryan Madson, Chris Perez and Francisco Rodriguez are proven closers who could be had at a discounted rate. Madson hasn't pitched in two seasons due to multiple setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Perez and Rodriguez aren't as dominant as they once were, but they're still young enough to where their closing days might not be behind them.
Lefty relievers Mike Gonzalez, Boone Logan, Javier Lopez, Manny Parra and Oliver Perez form a solid group of pitchers coming off solid seasons.