CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: How Be... (06/12)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: A Test... (06/06)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: What H... (06/20)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week... (06/13)

June 13, 2013

Bullpen Report

Buyers and Sellers

by Mike Gianella

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third-tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week, this factors into the ranking as well.

In addition to my weekly rankings, this week I will be taking a look at teams that might be sellers and the relievers who might be trade targets at the major-league trade deadline. For every other position on the diamond, player trades matter almost solely in -only leagues, where you run the risk of losing someone to the “other” league. If a first baseman gets moved from a National League to an American League squad, the mixed-league impact is typically negligible. Closers are the rare commodities where fantasy owners in every format are at risk if there is a trade. More often than not, a closer who gets shipped out of town at or near the deadline moves from the front of a bullpen into a set-up role.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins have said that they won’t trade either Steve Cishek or Mike Dunn. While more than a few pundits have laughed at this statement, it makes sense: Both pitchers are under team control and very affordable. If Cishek does move, he’d be a set-up man in any other uniform.

New York Mets

Bobby Parnell is unlikely to be going anywhere given his team-friendly, cheap contract. Frank Francisco is a trade candidate assuming full health, but that is far from guaranteed. If Francisco does move, he would likely pitch in middle relief. Even in deep formats, he’s not an option at the moment.

Philadelphia Phillies

Speculation among Philadelphia scribes and bloggers about breaking up the Phillies is rampant and bordering on science fiction. The hard truth is that with one or two exceptions, the larger contracts on this team are going to be difficult if not impossible to move. Jonathan Papelbon fits this description. He will be due something in the neighborhood of $31 million on the rest of his contract (through 2015) at the trade deadline. The Phillies would likely have to eat a significant chunk of that money to move Paps. If he is moved, that large contract means there is a good chance he is still closing somewhere else.

Chicago Cubs

Kevin Gregg is cheap, but Theo Epstein is a smart GM and would take advantage of Gregg’s closer status in trade for the right price. Carlos Marmol isn’t cheap, but still could move in a deal if the price was right and the Cubs ate some money. Both Gregg and Marmol wouldn’t close on a new team.

Milwaukee Brewers

In terms of trade possibilities, the Brewers might be the most interesting team on the board. Francisco Rodriguez is currently closing while Jim Henderson gets a few outings in during lower pressure situations. Or maybe K-Rod hangs onto the job and Henderson stays in an eighth inning role. Either way, K-Rod has that shiny Proven CloserTM sheen a contender might find attractive in a set-up role. John Axford is another trade possibility. Despite his awful overall numbers, most of that badness came in his first four outings of the season. Since then, Axford has a 2.19 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings pitched. The Brewers signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal in the offseason to avoid arbitration, which makes Axford a likely non-tender candidate this winter. He’s one of the more likely relievers to get moved at the deadline, most likely into a set-up role.

San Diego Padres

The Padres are on the buyer/seller bubble, but if they fall out of contention, both Huston Street and Luke Gregerson would be trade candidates. We have heard this uttered about Street ever since he donned a Padres uniform, so all of this might be nothing more than media speculation. Both pitchers have to be viewed as trade risks, though, and both would likely slot into someone else’s bullpen as set-up men.

Minnesota Twins

Glen Perkins is signed to a very team-friendly extension through 2015 and almost definitely isn’t going anywhere. Jared Burton is signed to a team-friendly extension through 2014 and almost definitely isn’t going anywhere either. The Twins probably won’t be contending, but they will almost definitely keep their relief core unless someone bowls them over.

Chicago White Sox

Addison Reed is excellent, extremely cost-friendly and isn’t going anywhere. The arms that can or will be moved are elsewhere in the bullpen. Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton are both free agents this coming winter (Thornton has a $6 million club option that will be bought out) and will likely be on the short list for teams looking for bullpen help for the stretch run and the playoffs. I doubt either would close in another uniform, though Crain certainly has pitched well enough to deserve the opportunity.

Houston Astros

With a team payroll of about $26 million, if you guessed there were no expensive relievers on this team, you guessed correctly. Jose Veras is probably viewed as a fungible asset by the club, and could get flipped in the right deadline deal. Everyone else in the pen is young, cheap, and not moving.

Seattle Mariners

Another potential seller, another bullpen with a great deal of cost control and young options. Tom Wilhelmsen, Carter Capps, and Yoervis Medina would all be terrific additions for a contender, but they are not going anywhere.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays

All three of these teams had hefty payrolls and lofty expectations entering 2013. While this doesn’t mean that it is impossible that these teams could change course and become sellers, the lengths of contracts and dollars allotted on each team’s respective payrolls make a wholesale selloff highly unlikely. I’m sure the Dodgers would love to unload Brandon League’s three year, $22.5 million albatross of a contract, but finding a taker would be a tall order. Ryan Madson would be the most likely Angels reliever to get moved, but he has been hurt all year and there is a distinct possibility he might not be back at all in 2013. Casey Janssen could get moved. His contract is relatively affordable, but the Jays could sell a contender on the idea that Janssen isn’t as cost-prohibitive as, say, Jonathan Paplebon in trade and get a fairly decent return. There is a $4 million option that might keep the Jays from moving Janssen at all.

And now, on to the rankings.

Tier 1 – Money in the Bank

Soriano isn’t quite providing the lights-out performance that he did in 2012, but he is once again quietly getting the job done in DC.

Tier 2 – Solid and Reliable

Reed moves down mostly due to a five-run implosion in Seattle last week. Papelbon moves down because he has been mediocre of late; he doesn’t move down further because he has no real risk of losing the job unless he immolates. Johnson moves up yet another tier this week; his struggles of 2-3 weeks ago are in the rearview mirror. Jansen joins the ranks of closers in the second tier. This may seem aggressive, but Brandon League has been terrible and Jansen handled ninth-inning duties more than capably in 2012.

Tier 3 – Yeah…You’re…Good

Balfour’s save on Tuesday night is a prime example of why I don’t move him higher, even though he hasn’t blown a save since 2012. Balfour looked pedestrian and was rescued by an up-against-the-wall catch by Seth Smith. Heath Bell has looked more ordinary of late, so he moves down a notch. Jose Veras has been solid when called upon; the Hector Ambriz “threat” is a memory for now.

Tier 4 Uninspiring Choices

Cishek picked up a couple of saves last week and is probably the frontrunner once again in Miami. Brothers and Gregerson move out of the injury replacement group they were in last week. Gregerson was removed from a save situation early yesterday and might find himself part of a committee. Brothers has been terrific and would be higher if he wasn’t just a temp. Rodney moves back out of the closers in trouble due to a couple of solid outings (despite another weak one lumped in there as well). Valverde’s implosion yesterday would put him on the bubble on most clubs. However, the Tigers don’t have a lot of options, so Valverde stays in the uninspiring choices camp.

Tier 5 – On the Bubble

  • Indians bullpen (Vinnie Pestano)
  • Francisco Rodriguez/Jim Henderson (???)

The Indians still haven’t seen a save opportunity since Chris Perez went on the DL. The assumption remains that Pestano would get the call.

Speaking of assumptions, it seemed obvious that Henderson would come back to the closer role upon his return from the DL. However, Rodriguez has been capable and the Brewers decided that he “deserved” a shot at 300 saves. K-Rod sits at 298 saves. This likely means that K-Rod is the closer for now and Henderson is the set up. Watch this situation carefully. It is possible that Rodriguez might still usurp the job and Henderson might wind up setting up the veteran.

Injured/Recovering

None

On the $ Values

Dollar values in the charts below represent my 2012 dollar valuations for 5x5 “-only” Rotisserie-style formats using 2013 player statistics. These values use a Standings Gain Points (or SGP) model that is similar to the SGP model used in Baseball Prospectus’ Player Forecast Manager.

Closer Earnings to Date (through games of Tuesday, June 11, 2013)

Overall Rank

Pitcher

$

1

Jason Grilli

$13

2

Joe Nathan

$10

3

Edward Mujica

$10

4

Aroldis Chapman

$10

5

Sergio Romo

$9

6

Mariano Rivera

$9

7

Craig Kimbrel

$9

8

Addison Reed

$9

10

Jim Johnson

$8

10

Glen Perkins

$8

11

Tom Wilhelmsen

$8

12

Grant Balfour

$8

14

Luke Gregerson

$8

17

Greg Holland

$7

18

Casey Janssen

$7

19

Jim Henderson

$7

20

Jonathan Papelbon

$7

21

Rafael Soriano

$7

22

Bobby Parnell

$7

27

Kenley Jansen

$6

34

Kevin Gregg

$6

35

Rex Brothers

$5

36

Ernesto Frieri

$5

40

Andrew Bailey

$5

42

Jose Veras

$5

45

Heath Bell

$5

52

Fernando Rodney

$4

65

Jose Valverde

$4

73

Steve Cishek

$3

165

Vinnie Pestano

$1

Top Reliever Earnings, Non-Closers (through games of Tuesday, June 11, 2013)

Overall Rank

Pitcher

$

13

Justin Wilson

$8

15

Tanner Scheppers

$7

16

Brett Cecil

$7

23

Tommy Hunter

$6

24

Jerry Blevins

$6

25

Mark Melancon

$6

26

Drew Smyly

$6

28

Darren O’Day

$6

29

Jesse Crain

$6

30

Aaron Loup

$6

31

David Robertson

$6

32

Trevor Rosenthal

$6

33

Tyler Clippard

$6

37

Steve Delabar

$5

38

Joaquin Benoit

$5

39

Matt Belisle

$5

41

Junichi Tazawa

$5

43

Bryan Morris

$5

44

Joel Peralta

$5

46

Anthony Varvaro

$5

47

Rafael Betancourt

$5

48

Cody Allen

$5

49

Brad Ziegler

$5

50

Joe Smith

$4

51

Ryan Pressly

$4

53

Alex Torres

$4

54

Robbie Ross

$4

55

Adam Ottavino

$4

56

Koji Uehara

$4

57

James Russell

$4

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

21 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

I submitted this story to editing as the West Coast games were getting started. If I had been a night owl, Tom Wilhelmsen would have been busted down at least one notch if not all the way down to the bottom. He has zero command of his off speed offering and hitters are sitting on the fastball. Nothing has been announced yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if the club makes a move. I'd try Carter Capps and Yoervis Medina as speculative plays, in that order.

Jun 13, 2013 04:16 AM
 
Sharky

Mike, what about Brandon Lyon? Wouldn't he be a logical trade candidate? He has some "former closer" halo too, no?

Jun 13, 2013 04:47 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

I could see a team acquiring Lyon for the stretch run. However, I don't think he'll be at the top of any team's wish list.

Jun 13, 2013 05:57 AM
 
Sharky

You don't think Sandy Alderson can land another Zack Wheeler type for Lyon and cash? :)

Jun 13, 2013 06:45 AM
rating: 1
 
Masshole

In a dynasty league with K/BB (no holds), would you rather have Alex Torres or AJ Ramos?

Jun 13, 2013 06:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

If I'm playing for this year, Torres. If I'm looking at 2014 and beyond Ramos. Ramos has been a mess lately and I don't trust him even in only leagues at the moment.

Jun 13, 2013 07:12 AM
 
Masshole

Better chance of saves ROS, Thayer or Capps?

Jun 13, 2013 06:58 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

Probably Capps unless/until the Padres make a trade or two.

Jun 13, 2013 07:13 AM
 
grandslam28

Papelbon to detroit?

Jun 13, 2013 07:18 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

Doubtful for the $$$ reasons I outlined above.

Jun 13, 2013 07:23 AM
 
John Carter

Jason Grilli - suddenly an elite reliever at 36? Isn't there a story in there?

As a 20 year old first round draft pick by the Giants in '97, Jason Grilli’s future must have looked very shiny. He was the principle prospect they traded to the Marlins for Livan Hernandez in the summer of '99. Over the next 2 1/2 seasons the Marlins gave him 6 starts in the Majors. Then after one AAA start in 2002, he required Tommy John surgery. The White Sox took a chance on him as Rule V guy in 2003 with the Marlins allowing the White Sox to stash him in the minors. When he was finally promoted towards the end of the season, he looked black and blue with a 7.40 ERA. That winter after turning 27, Grilli was given his outright release.

Desperate for pitching, Detroit took him on, converted him to relief, where he fared decently for three seasons. However, Grilli's performance was getting a little worse each season, so after a month in his fourth as a Tiger, he was traded to Colorado in what looks like a salary dump. The prospect they received in return Zach Simmons did not have impressive stats and never reached the majors.

Grilli had his best season yet in Colorado, but struggled his second year. With a 6.05 ERA on June 9th at the age of 31, Texas merely purchased him from Colorado. They bought a 4.78 ERA for the remainder of his season there. Cleveland bought him as a free agent for 2010, but missed the entire season due to knee surgery. The Phillies signed Grilli for 2011. He pitched quite well for their AAA team in Lehigh Valley, but he was released anyway in mid season.
That’s when the Pirates scooped him up. Grilli pitched well enough the remainder of the year that he became their primary set-up man for 2012. He pitched so well as the set-up man (58.2 Ing., 90 K, 22 BB, 2.91 ERA, although 7 HR, which is indicative of his low GB%: 30.7), he was promoted to closer for this year. Last year’s closer Joel Hanrahan was sent to Boston in a 6 player trade.

Grilli is throwing as hard as ever (93.6 m.p.h. average fastball speed). He has dropped the curveball he used to throw in Detroit and almost exclusively sticks to his slider as his off speed pitch since joining the Pirates. He currently leads the league in saves and sports a 0.94 ERA. That comes with an amazing 47 strikeouts in his 28.2 innings and only 3 walks and NO homers so far. Yes, that’s very shiny, indeed.

Jun 13, 2013 08:05 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

I think it's a terrific story, though something that would fit far better in a different part of BP than the fantasy section.

Jun 13, 2013 08:30 AM
 
BarryR

I don't know, it seems pretty fantastic to me. :)

Jun 13, 2013 12:32 PM
rating: -1
 
John Carter

Yes, I agree. BP should hire me to write blurbs like this (so I can justify to my wife the time I spend on baseball) and they can stick it wherever they want. That would also give me the clout hopefully to call Ruben Amaro and ask him why he let Grilli go.

Jun 13, 2013 12:58 PM
rating: 0
 
mrschaef

this is nit-picky, Mike - but Theo is not the GM for the Cubs...

Jun 14, 2013 08:22 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

You are correct.

Jun 14, 2013 09:47 AM
 
bobbydm

How has Papelbon been "mediocre of late"? Last 2 weeks: 1SV, 3IP, 1 hit, 1ER, 5K. Is the knock down simply his lack of save oppty's? How is that mediocre?

Jun 14, 2013 10:39 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

Some of it is lack of use. I also look at FIP as opposed to ERA when putting these lists together. A better way of phrasing this would be to say he has been a mediocre option in a standard mixed format.

Jun 14, 2013 10:53 AM
 
bobbydm

FIP is down from last year; K rate is the only number that's dipped (again, the opportunities). Walk rate is down, HR/9 is down. Strand rate is great. I guess you could look at his GB and FB numbers and say something's up there (this certainly informs the difference b/w his FIP and slightly elevated xFIP). But Soriano's pretty inferior w/r/t all of those metrics.

I don't know, I'm a believer in Paps and from what I can tell he's top-tier, but probably just a quibble.

Jun 14, 2013 11:25 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

I can see it. More than anything else, I'm trying to keep the top tier tight. I think you can make an argument for Paps and a couple others (Romo, for example) to be in the top tier but if the top tier gets too top heavy it loses some meaning. At least to me.

Jun 14, 2013 11:36 AM
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

Maybe next week I'll go into more detail about why I move guys up/down and what my rationale is.

Jun 14, 2013 11:37 AM
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: How Be... (06/12)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: A Test... (06/06)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: What H... (06/20)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week... (06/13)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Closer Report: 10th Edition 2015
BP Boston
West Coast By Us: All of the Allens
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of June 1, 2015
Premium Article Some Projection Left: Draft Needs: American ...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: June 2, 2015
Premium Article The Call-Up: Joey Gallo

MORE FROM JUNE 13, 2013
Premium Article On the Beat: Not a Giant Worry
Premium Article Perfect Game Presents: NL Draft Wrap
Premium Article Painting the Black: An A's Minus
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Mets Magic Bests Mill...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Thursday, June 13
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week 11
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around the League: June 13, 2...

MORE BY MIKE GIANELLA
2013-06-20 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: What Have You Done for Me La...
2013-06-17 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Auction Data: Where the B...
2013-06-13 - Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week 11
2013-06-13 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Buyers and Sellers
2013-06-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Fast Starts and Slow Star...
2013-06-06 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: A Test of Wil'
2013-06-03 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Is Dumping Early a Good P...
More...

MORE BULLPEN REPORT
2013-07-11 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Going Downhill
2013-06-27 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Stuck in the Middle
2013-06-20 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: What Have You Done for Me La...
2013-06-13 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Buyers and Sellers
2013-06-06 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: A Test of Wil'
2013-05-30 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Movin' on Up
2013-05-23 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Introducing Tiers
More...