Welcome back to another edition of the Closer Report. Specifically, welcome to the last edition of the Closer Report before the trade deadline next week. We had our second big closer-related deal of the summer this past week, and just yesterday our third took place. It’s expected that more will come soon. Coming up, we’ll talk about the implications of the deals that were already made and a couple of handcuffs you can pick up now for trades we expect to be made. But first, just a reminder that you can keep up with all of the changes on the Closer Grid. Now, on to the news!
Rumors have been swirling around the Padres bullpen for weeks now, which makes sense considering they are one of the worst teams in baseball. However, most of that trade speculation has been focused on Brad Hand. Instead, the Padres first dealt Brandon Maurer, who had served as their closer all year, to the Royals. On Kansas City’s part, nothing changes for fantasy purposes. Kelvin Herrera is still the closer and Joakim Soria is still (probably) the number two. If you’re a Maurer owner, I’d feel safe dropping him. In San Diego, Hand becomes the obvious closer for the time being. Of course, a trade still seems likely for the talented lefty, so this is probably only a short-term gig. You’d have to be really desperate for saves to look for a long-term handcuff in San Diego, but if that describes you, I’d look to Phil Maton. Carter Capps and Kirby Yates are options as well. But, again, whoever gets this job is only going to get a handful of saves in the final couple months of the season.
The White Sox Traded Everyone and Then Made Tyler Clippard a Closer
Well, they traded all two of the interesting fantasy-relevant names in their bullpen. Last week, Chicago shipped David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees in their continuing rebuilding effort. Although it makes sense for the team, the hope for fantasy purposes was that Robertson would get dealt and they’d hold on to Kahnle for closing duties. In that deal, they received Tyler Clippard, who was nothing short of awful for the Yankees leading up to that trade. Despite that, he has been made their closer. I suppose if you’re desperate you can go out and add him, but I wouldn’t count on him staying in the role long. My assumption is that they were hoping for a few good outings from him leading up to the deadline in hopes of flipping him for a lottery ticket in the next week or so. It doesn’t appear that this will happen, so I’m expecting the White Sox to take him out of that role sooner than later. In fact, this may have already happened as Anthony Swarzak came on for the save Monday. There’s no guarantee he is the answer for the rest of the year, though, as he is another trade possibility. This is probably a situation that you want to monitor rather than trying to jump on their late-season closer early.
A Little More Clarity Has Been Added In Texas
The Rangers confusing and frustrating committee is finally starting to calm down, and fantasy owners are beginning to see a clear pattern in the usage of their relievers. For now, it would appear that Alex Claudio is going to be getting the bulk of the save chances, although the lefty may still be called upon earlier in games when the situation calls for it. Still, he is very clearly the most desirable Ranger for fantasy purposes at the moment. Behind him, things are a little murkier with Keone Kela’s return from the disabled list. Before he got hurt, he was the favorite to head this committee, and now I have him at No. 2. However, they still aren’t pitching him on back-to-back days, which led to Jose Leclerc snagging a save when Claudio got the day off Sunday. I certainly hope that Claudio is owned everywhere at this point, and Kela could be an interesting player to own in deeper leagues as well. Even Leclerc could have some appeal in certain formats.
Looking For Speculative Adds
While there wasn’t a ton of news on the closer front this past week, we can expect the trade winds to start blowing soon enough. David Robertson was the first established closer to get move, but there are still a few others who could be on the move.
Addison Reed seems certain to be one of them, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year and the Mets are out of it. I wouldn’t expect him to remain a closer where ever he lands, which means he’ll lose almost all of his fantasy value at some point in the next week. Jerry Blevins is someone you’ll want to pick up now, as he is far and away the most likely pitcher to replace Reed in the ninth.
There have also been plenty of rumors about the Marlins dealing A.J. Ramos at some point before the deadline. Although I’ve always felt many undersold Ramos’ skillset, I’d also expect him to lose most of his fantasy value by losing his save chances after being dealt. In terms of handcuffing for a potential deal, Kyle Barraclough is the obvious choice. David Phelps would have challenged him for that role had he not been sent to Seattle in a separate deal. The only other contender would be Junichi Tazawa, but I’d expect the former Red Sox to settle into the eighth inning for Miami.
The final closer that has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors is Justin Wilson. The lefty, of course, has only been the Tigers’ closer for a relatively short time and he’s almost certain to be demoted to a setup role by whoever trades for him. Detroit has a couple of options to replace Wilson in the ninth, including Alex Wilson and Shane Greene. My money is on Bruce Rondon getting the gig, although Greene is another strong possibility.
• The Yankees got two new, elite relievers this week and neither of them are even one injury away from getting saves. That bullpen is scary.
• In Washington, it seems as if Sean Doolittle has jumped to the head of their bullpen. It had seemed inevitable that this role would go to Ryan Madson, but Dusty Baker changed course. I love this job.