MLB Trade Speculation: 10 Relievers Who Will Become Available
You're a Yankees fan. You're confused as to why Rafael Soriano has stunk it up so far this year. Or maybe you're a Chi-Sox fan wondering why none of your solid closing options have worked out.
Perhaps you are a Rangers fan, whose bullpen is looking shaky and thin, or a Red Sox fan, whose bullpen—which was supposed to be a strength this year—is currently sitting on a 5.48 reliever ERA, good for second worst in baseball.
The point is, there are many teams that need or might need bullpen help. But they're in luck: a high amount of solid relief options should appear on the trade market at some point this season.
Dan is a Boston Red Sox featured columnist. Follow him on twitter @dantheman_06.
David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners
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David Aardsma has saved 69 games for the Mariners over the last two seasons, and he is a very intriguing option for any team looking to add some late-inning power to the back of their bullpen.
Aarsdma, 29, is making $4.5 million this year, and he's due for a decent raise through arbitration before he becomes a free agent during the 2012 season.
It doesn't seem likely that the M's will pay Aardsma long term, and they have flamethrower Brandon League—who is 5-5 in save chances this year while Aardsma has rehabilitated from injury—waiting in the wings to assume the closing job.
Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays
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Kyle Farnsworth has been a nice little surprise for the Tampa Bay Rays this year, saving five games in five chances while posting a 1.23 ERA and 0.82 WHIP.
Rest assured, the Rays will have to be certifiably out of the race come July 31 for them to entertain the notion of moving Farnsworth, but if they are, expect him to go.
The Rays currently sport the second-lowest payroll in the majors, and they've built a competitor by making low-cost maneuvers and drafting well. Moving Farnsworth—who is making $2.7 million this year and has a $3.3 million team option for next season—would be the prototypical move of a low budget, cost-efficient team like the Rays.
Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
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The word on the street is that the Padres would like to keep Bell (who is a free agent next season), but I'm not buying it.
The Padres are currently operating on the the third-lowest salary in baseball, and giving a long-term extension (and even a team friendly one at that) to a 33-year-old reliever just wouldn't make much sense.
Bell, who has saved 89 games over the last two seasons, might be the most appealing arm on the trade market this year. In trading Bell, the Padres could have a real possibility of continuing along the rebuilding process that they started when they traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox this past offseason.
Matt Capps, Minnesota Twins
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For Capps to become available, the Twins would have to be out of the race by the trading deadline. But on the off chance they are, he could be on the move.
The Twins have Joe Nathan—a four time All-Star with 250 career saves—serving as set-up man until he gets all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Assuming Nathan gets healthy, it's just a tad bit superfluous to have two established closers on the roster.
Nathan also has a $12 million team option/$2 million buyout for the 2012 season, whereas Capps is a free agent. The Twins can control the fate of Nathan, but they can't with Capps.
Nathan has been a staple of the Minnesota franchise since 2004, and it seems more likely that he'd be the one to stick around past 2011.
But unless the Twins fall out of the playoff race earlier than anticipated, the two will serve as the eighth and ninth inning men for the rest of the season.
Frank Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays
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The Blue Jays have posted a 3.05 ERA so far this year, good for third best in the American League. They've done this without the services of Frank Francisco, who has been on the disabled list almost all season.
Even without Francisco, the Jays would have a pretty deep pen, which sports the likes of Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor and Shawn Camp.
Francisco, who came to Toronto from Texas via trade this offseason, is a free agent after this season. When healthy, he's a solid reliever, and he has the chance to close somewhere else next year if he turns in a solid 2011.
We saw the Jays become sellers at the deadline last year, and they will be again this year unless they're in the playoff mix. Francisco is the best option to cut ties, as he likely won't be back next year and he can fetch something of worth on the market right now.
Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers
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The Dodgers are just a mess right now. The takeover by Major League Baseball has been well-discussed in the news.
While they've performed well so far (they're currently 13-13, good for second in the NL West), closer Jonathan Broxton has continued on the downward path he's been on since blowing a save against the Yankees last June.
His once-dominant stuff and velocity haven't been the same, and he's temporarily lost his ninth-inning duties to Vicente freaking Padilla.
Broxton is a free agent after this season, and the Dodgers might not be willing to bring him back, especially since Broxton is looking for a big payday. They could choose to cut ties with the once-dominant reliever.
If Broxton regains form before the trading deadline, he'll likely be the most coveted arm on the market. Even if he doesn't, there still might be a team willing to take a chance on him, in hopes that they get the Broxton of 2009 and the first half of 2010.
Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals
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The injury to Adam Wainwright pretty much shot down any chances of serious competition for the Cardinals this year. While they've started off hot, they could come crashing back down to Earth sometime in the near future.
Closer Ryan Franklin has lost his job and it doesn't look like the Cardinals are giving it back to him anytime soon. Franklin is a free agent after the season is over, and he could be an interesting option for a competitor looking to add bullpen depth for the stretch run.
Franklin doesn't figure into the Cardinals long-term plans, and they can afford to let him go regardless.
Jason Frasor, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays dangled Jason Frasor on the trade market last season; his reputation as a solid reliever and his type-A free agent status made him an appealing option for more than one team.
Ultimately, the Jays weren't able to find a suitable offer, and they kept him around. He was a free agent this offseason but chose to stay with the Jays. His type-A free-agent status worked against him; teams didn't want to give up a first-round draft pick to sign him.
Frasor is a great option for any competitor looking to add some depth for the stretch run. Toronto gave in and became sellers at the deadline last year, and the Jays will be again this year. With a great deal of bullpen help already, expect the Jays to try and move Frasor.
George Sherrill, Atlanta Braves
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Veteran left-hander George Sherrill is a free agent after the season. The Braves already have a dynamic, young relief combo in Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters—who have given up just two combined earned runs in 23 innings of work so far this season—rounding out the back end of their bullpen.
They also have 26-year-old left-hander Eric O'Flaherty set to assume full-time left-handed duties.
There will be huge demand for hard throwing, established left-handed relievers by the trade deadline. Sherrill is likely to generate a huge deal of interest, and the Braves should certainly be able to get a decent sized return for him.
Mike Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles
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Mike Gonzalez was supposed to figure into the save opportunities for the O's last year, but he got injured and appeared in just 29 games.
If the O's do what they're supposed to and fall out of the playoff race, Gonzalez could attract a number of teams for the same reasons as Sherrill—albeit, if and only if he's healthy.
Kevin Gregg is closing full time and Koji Uehara is handling the set-up duties, so the O's wouldn't be messing with the back end of their pen. Gonzalez is also a free agent next year, likely to depart if he puts together a strong 2011 campaign.