Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The market for late-inning relievers has been slow to develop, despite Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson already signing deals last week. Several pieces could fall into place soon, however.
Grant Balfour (pictured) has emerged as a top candidate to become the Orioles' next closer and the team was trying to get a deal done earlier today, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
After trading Jim Johnson to the A's, which is, ironically, the team that Balfour closed for in 2012-2013, the O's are looking to fill the void. John Axford is also an option, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
Fernando Rodney is drawing interest from the Mariners, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. The 36-year-old us unlikely to come at a great value as he did when the Rays signed him prior to the 2012 season and paid him a total of only $4.25 million to post a 1.91 ERA with 85 saves in his two seasons with the club.
It's also unlikely that Rodney is looking to be a setup man after his success in Tampa Bay, so the Mariners might not feel comfortable with Danny Farquhar despite his impressive stint after taking over the closer's job in early August (2.38 ERA, 16 saves in 18 chances).
In an effort to rebuild their bullpen after the retirement of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are discussing the possibility of signing Joaquin Benoit, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The 36-year-old veteran did an outstanding job as Detroit's closer in 2013, although it's not known what the Yankees' plans would be for him.
They appear to have a need for two late-inning relievers so Benoit could fill a setup role.
In other news involving relief pitchers, the Nationals are searching the trade market for left-handed relief help and are interested in Justin Wilson of the Pirates and Jerry Blevins of the A's, according to Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com. Ian Krol, who had been penciled in as the team's primary lefty out of the 'pen, was traded to the Tigers in the deal for Doug Fister.
In the meantime, Nationals setup men Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, each of who has closing experience, are drawing interest on the trade market, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. While Clippard is generating more interest, Storen is more likely to be traded, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
The Cubs are one of the teams with interest in the Nationals relief duo, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. This would likely be a preferred destination for either pitcher because they would likely become the team's closer.
After inking Chad Qualls to a two-year deal over the weekend, the Astros don't appear to be finished in their efforts to improve their bullpen. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com wrote of the team's interest in free agents Jesse Crain and Chad Gaudin, as well as Jose Veras' interest in returning to Houston.
Qualls could get a shot to close, although it would make sense for Crain to be handed the job if he were to sign with the team. It mightbe the Astros' main selling point for the top non-closer on the market.
Former Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain has a one-year, $3 million offer on the table from the Diamondbacks, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, although that report was shot down by a high-ranking official in the D'backs organization, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.
That price seems lofty for a pitcher who has a 4.25 ERA over the past four seasons as a reliever. At age 28 and with a run of dominance early in his career out of the bullpen, however, he could be considered a high upside pickup.