MLB Free Agency: Top 12 Relievers on the Market and Where They'll Go

Chuck Platt@chuck_plattCorrespondent IINovember 24, 2011

MLB Free Agency: Top 12 Relievers on the Market and Where They'll Go

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    The free-agent market is awash with relievers, including many closers or former closers. 

    With Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan already signed, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson are arguably the two biggest names still up for grabs, but there are many other quality bullpen arms available.

    Here are the top 12 free-agent relievers still available, with predictions of where they will end up going.

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Brad Lidge

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    Red Sox

    Brad Lidge's time in Philly is likely done. According to ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes, Lidge, 34, is open to a setup role and a short deal.

    While it might be smarter for Lidge to stay in the NL, he'd be a nice fit for the Red Sox, especially if they elect to move Daniel Bard to the starting rotation. 

Mike Gonzalez

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    The Rangers acquired Mike Gonzalez from the Orioles on Aug. 31. He ended up making more appearances for Texas in the postseason (8) than in the regular season (7).

    Gonzalez got beat up in the AL East over his two seasons in Baltimore, never finding the same groove he showed in both Atlanta and Pittsburgh. 

    MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Rangers would like to have Gonzalez back—but only at the right price.

Takashi Saito

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    Takashi Saito began his MLB career in Los Angeles, and that's where he figures to return in 2012.

    The Dodgers are borderline contenders but are not in position to spend big money this winter with their pending ownership transition. Saito is a nice, affordable fit.

    At the age of 42 next February, Saito is no spring chicken but has shown no signs of letting up, although durability is a concern.  

Darren Oliver

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    Since 2007, Darren Oliver has a 2.85 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over 303 appearances. Say what?

    Oliver's career renaissance as long-man began in Anaheim and has continued in Arlington. He would like to stay in Texas and make another run for a World Series ring.

    Oliver might be 41 but he will not be suffering from a lack of motivation in 2012. He blew his chance to close out the Series—and likely his career—in the 10th inning of Game 6.

Matt Capps

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    Matt Capps' stock is down after a mediocre 2011 in which his strikeout rate dropped significantly. 

    Capps' loss is the Twins' gain, however, as Minnesota is not much of a spender. Capps is just the kind of value signing that the Twins make, and GM Terry Ryan has interest in bringing back Capps on a two-year deal, as reported on

Kerry Wood

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    Cubs' GM Theo Epstein wants Kerry Wood back and Wood only wants to pitch for the Cubs. Sounds like a done deal if there ever was one.

    The Cubs declined to offer Wood arbitration so it would be surprising to see him sign for anything more than the $1.5 million he made in 2011, which makes Wood a steal compared to some of his more expensive set-up peers. 

Octavio Dotel

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    Octavio Dotel, a true journeyman reliever, may have found a home in St. Louis. He's eager to return to the Cardinals, who declined his $3.5 million option.

    Dotel would surely relish the chance to defend the Cardinals' World Series title, not to mention the chance to keep rocking the Cards' snazzy striped hosiery. 

Jonathan Broxton

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    Amid a market saturated with closers who will command long-term deals, Jonathan Broxton stands out as the odd man. He hasn't pitched well since the first half of 2010 and is coming off of an injury-plagued 2011. 

    Broxton will seek a one-year deal to reestablish his value as he reinvents himself. So, relatively, he'll come on the cheap.

    This makes Broxton a solid option for the Mets, who are simply looking for any way to bring more fans out to Citi Field.

Francisco Cordero

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    Francisco Cordero is a big winner under the new CBA; formerly a Type A free-agent, Cordero is now considered a Type B free-agent. 

    As good as Cordero is at 36, he's still 36—teams will love that they no longer have to sacrifice a draft pick to get this veteran closer's services.

    The high interest in Cordero is also a testament to his durability and consistency—he's made at least 65 appearances per season since 2003.

    It's no secret that Miami is looking to be players in this winter's free-agent market. With all of their varied free-agent interests, Cordero could be a relative steal for the Marlins. 

Francisco Rodriguez

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    Blue Jays

    Under the new CBA, Francisco Rodriguez will not cost their signing team a draft pick. The Brewers will still receive two compensatory picks, however, if they choose not to re-sign him.  

    The Miami Marlins might seem to be a logical destination for K-Rod, but his price tag is likely to be a deterrent, as the Marlins are eyeing multiple free agents this offseason. 

    The Blue Jays aren't big spenders, either, but the bullpen is their priority and Rodriguez is one of the better-valued name players on the relief market.

Ryan Madson

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    Like Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson is a Type A free agent that whose signing will not require forfeiting a draft pick.

    The Nationals may very well look to trade incumbent closer Drew Soren, perhaps for a strong outfielder.

    This would open the door for signing Madson, whose already been linked to the Nationals, among other teams, as tweeted by's Jon Heyman

Heath Bell

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    Red Sox

    The Red Sox have the money and the desire to snag Heath Bell after the departure of Jonathan Papelbon. They've also already been linked to him

    Boston will likely offer Bell something in the neighborhood of three years at $10 million per year. This is a good deal for the Red Sox, considering they paid Papelbon $12 million in 2011, his final year of arbitration.

    Even better, Bell is yet another Type A free-agent whose signing will not require forfeiting a draft pick.