MLB Trade Speculation: Jonathan Broxton and 5 Closers That Could Be on the Move

Jim MancariCorrespondent IMay 3, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: Jonathan Broxton and 5 Closers That Could Be on the Move

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21:  Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Having a strong closer like Jonathan Broxton is crucial to a deep postseason run.

    Many contenders are content with their current closers, but there’s no such thing as too many good arms in the bullpen.

    Today, the norm is that a setup man is usually a former closer who provides the bridge to the shut-down ninth inning guy.

    At this year’s trade deadline, many teams looking for that one last piece to secure a playoff berth will turn to available closers.

    Here are five closers that could be on the move before July 31.

5. Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 15:  Pitcher Kyle Farnsworth #43 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates the last out with catcher Kelly Shoppach #10 during a game against the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field on April 15, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Though he’s been a setup man the past few seasons, Kyle Farnsworth was brought in to fill the closer’s void for the Tampa Bay Rays once 2010 AL saves leader, Rafael Soriano, signed with the New York Yankees.

    Farnsworth is off to a great start with five saves and a 0.90 ERA through his first 12 appearances.

    He still throws his fastball in the mid-90s, but it sometimes flattens out. No matter how fast a ball in thrown, Major League hitters can hit a pitch hard if it’s straight.

    Farnsworth may be an option for a team looking to shore up its bullpen for a postseason run. He likely would be asked to revert to a setup role if a trade occurred.

    He has yet to play in the World Series in his 13-year career.

4. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 23: Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning of their game on April 23, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Joe Nathan was once a top closer in the game before injury troubles set in. He missed all of last year after undergoing right elbow surgery, and his return to action has not been so pretty.

    He’s recorded a 10.00 ERA in 10 appearances as he’s been plagued by the base on balls—seven walks in nine innings.

    The Minnesota Twins (9-18) have struggled out of the gate and the bullpen has been a reason.

    Matt Capps has pitched well (3.55 ERA, five saves) after reassuming closing duties.

    Both Capps and Nathan will be free agents after the season. However, the 36-year-old Nathan has a $12.5 million club option on the table. The smarter bet would be to re-sign the 27-year-old Capps.

    Nathan must prove he is at least serviceable out of the bullpen if a team were to acquire him.

3. Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers

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    DETROIT - APRIL 13: Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the ninth inning of the game at Comerica Park on April 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Rangers 3-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Jose Valverde has a $9 million club option for next season.

    The Detroit Tigers seem to be grooming young lefty Daniel Schlereth to take over the closer’s role at some point.

    Valverde is still an effective closer. He’s posted a minuscule 0.84 ERA and five saves so far this year.

    A contending team in need of bullpen help may come knocking on the Tigers door. Detroit would likely be able to land some high-level prospects in exchange for its hard-throwing closer.

    If the team that trades for him could negotiate an extension, it could be a deal worth making.

2. Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 15:  Pitcher Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres throws in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 15, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Heath Bell has quietly turned in back-to-back dominant seasons and is poised for a third straight this year.

    He saved 89 total games the past two seasons and already has six this year in addition to his 0.83 ERA.

    Though it’s still early, the San Diego Padres will have an uphill battle trying to compete with the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants for bragging rights in the NL West.

    Like the Tigers with Jose Valverde, the Padres should be able to get some serious value for Bell.

    He also has experience as a setup man and will be a free agent after the season—both of which may factor into a potential trade.

1. Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29:  Closer Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 3-2.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    With all the financial uncertainty surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers, relieving themselves of some payroll may be a wise decision.

    Jonathan Broxton is set to hit free agency for the first time after this season and there’s a strong chance he won’t be back in Dodger Blue.

    He’s struggled to a 4.76 ERA so far this season.

    The Dodgers have young prospect Kenley Jansen waiting in the wings as the team’s future closer. Though he hasn’t experienced the success this year like he did last year, Jansen has the stuff to be a closer.

    Broxton would be a hot commodity around the deadline, with many teams vying for his services.

    If the MLB-controlled Dodgers are looking to shed payroll, Broxton may be the first to go.