For the earlier editions in this series, follow the links below:
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.
Let’s be honest right up front: if there’s anything that can be as fickle as a prospect list, it’s a long-term reliever list. Relievers break out, they break down, they lose roles and that can all happen in a single year. When you look at the position across many years, the task grows fickle as unlike any other position, reliever values are predicated on saves and saves are determined, not by skill but, by manager preferences. And predicting manager preferences three years down the road is, well, kind of pointless. Additionally, this list does not presuppose that your league counts holds—it’s the save’s world and we just occupy it. You’ll also notice that there are a small handful of players on this list who project as potential starting pitchers down the road, but if they would only have been eligible in a RP slot (if your league designates like that) and are not guaranteed a rotation spot in 2014, they will be ranked here and not on the starting pitcher list. The two biggest examples of that are Carlos Martinez and Drew Smyly, so value them accordingly.
And now, your Top 75 relief pitchers in dynasty formats:
- 1) Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
- 2) Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
- 3) Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
- 4) Trevor Rosenthal, St Louis Cardinals
- 5) Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
No matter how you slice it, this is your top five. These closers are all reasonably young, throw gas and capable of striking out over 100 batters per season. In dynasty leagues, it’s not wise to invest heavily in closers because of the huge turnover, but if you’re going to invest, these five are the safest bets. On top of that, there’s very little risk of any of them moving into the rotation—it’s always going to be a slight, slight concern with Chapman and Rosenthal, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen for either.
- 6) Carlos Martinez, St Louis Cardinals
This was a big point of contention between me and noted Carlos Martinez fanboy and fellow BP writer Craig Goldstein, but let me clarify a few things. One, I do believe that Martinez can start long term from a talent perspective. Two, I don’t believe he’ll crack the rotation in 2014, despite him being a better option than Joe Kelly. Three, I don’t know what the Cardinals have in store for him long term. The talent is there. Buy accordingly.
- 7) Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins
- 8) David Robertson, New York Yankees
- 9) Addison Reed, Arizona Diamondbacks
- 10) Joe Nathan, Detroit Tigers
Here’s the next group, and it rounds out our top 10 nicely. Robertson should be able to run with the job in New York and be fine, but then again, we all thought that when Mariano Rivera went down in 2012 too. Reed hasn’t been as good at the major league level as we thought when he dominated the minors, but he can be better than this—even in that park.
- 11) Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers
- 12) Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox
- 13) Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
- 14) Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants
We’ll just call this group the velocity question marks. Feliz is having trouble getting his trademark heat squared away this spring and could start the season on the disabled list if things don’t improve. Papelbon lost his fastball in 2013, but early reports would lead you to believe that it has a chance to bounce back this year. Romo’s velocity continues to decline, especially in the second half of 2013. There aren’t too many closers out there who throw 87 mph. Then there’s Uehara, who doesn’t fit in that category, but scares me regardless because of the 2013 workload including the playoffs.
Solid guys here. And likely to hold on to their jobs, too.
- 17) Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers
It would be a big upset if Smyly didn’t make the Tigers’ rotation, but his stats aren’t likely to look as rosy in the rotation as they did in the pen. He’s a solid back-end guy but unlikely to be more.
- 18) Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals
- 19) Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers
- 20) Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays
- 21) Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners
- 22) Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates
- 23) Brian Wilson, Los Angeles Dodgers
- 24) Jim Johnson, Oakland Athletics
- 25) Huston Street, San Diego Padres
- 26) Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays
- 27) Bobby Parnell, New York Mets
More closers. They’re probably going to hold on to jobs if they stay healthy. If they hold on to their jobs, they’ll get saves, which is the end goal of all human life.
In terms of skills, Allen may be a borderline top-10 reliever on this list. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair and John Axford has a manly mustache.
- 29) Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies
- 30) Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox
- 31) John Axford, Cleveland Indians
- 32) Jason Motte, St Louis Cardinals
- 33) Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates
- 34) Jose Veras, Chicago Cubs
- 35) Joakim Soria, Texas Rangers
- 36) Joaquin Benoit, San Diego Padres
- 37) Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays
- 38) Ryan Cook, Oakland Athletics
Some of these guys have jobs, but some do not. The ones who do not are close to having one and could potentially see real saves in 2014 if things (read: the guys in front of them) break right (read: down).
- 39) Arodys Vizcaino, Chicago Cubs
- 40) Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
- 41) Bruce Rondon, Detroit Tigers
These three throw very, very hard. Managers love closers who throw very, very hard.
- 42) Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals
- 43) Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles
- 44) Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles
- 45) Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox
- 46) Heath Bell, Tampa Bay Rays
- 47) Rubby de la Rosa, Boston Red Sox
- 48) Heath Hembree, San Francisco Giants
- 49) David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks
- 50) Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners
- 51) Vic Black, New York Mets
- 52) Joe Smith, Los Angeles Angels
- 53) Carter Capps, Tampa Bay Rays
- 54) Mark Montgomery, New York Yankees
- 55) Jesse Crain, Houston Astros
- 56) Chad Qualls, Houston Astros
- 57) Josh Fields, Houston Astros
- 58) Drew Storen, Washington Nationals
- 59) Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres
- 60) Edward Mujica, Boston Red Sox
- 61) Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays
- 62) Jake Barrett, Arizona Diamondbacks
- 63) Corey Knebel, Detroit Tigers
- 64) Nick Wittgren, Miami Marlins
- 65) Tanner Scheppers, Texas Rangers
- 66) J.J. Hoover, Cincinnati Reds
- 67) Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs
- 68) Latroy Hawkins, Colorado Rockies
- 69) Chris Perez, Los Angeles Dodgers
- 70) Tom Wilhemlsen, Seattle Mariners
- 71) Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
- 72) Andrew Bailey, New York Yankees
- 73) Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics
- 74) Jordan Walden, Atlanta Braves
Let’s be honest, you’re not expecting much out of any of these guys. If you got five saves from any of these players you’d be thrilled and it will have been worth the trouble. But I’ll spare you the pain, in dynasty leagues, they’re not worth the trouble.
- 75) Mariano Rivera, Free Agent
Because, hey, you never know.