Welcome to the last Closing Time of the offseason, as next Tuesday we will have real MLB regular season news to talk about. While Spring Training is wrapping up, there was one major move in the closer market over the past week, that being the Dodgers’ acquisition of Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel’s L.A. debut was not particularly inspiring, but nonetheless, I think he’s safe to target as a top-six closer right now given the sheer volume of saves he’ll see while providing an elite strikeout rate. Even with Blake Treinen’s value fading already, this move makes him droppable in standard 12-teamers. On the flip side of this trade, Kendall Graveman and Aaron Bummer are now next in line should anything happen to Liam Hendriks in Chicago.
- In San Diego, I think we are finally close to being able to commit to a closer, and that closer is likely Robert Suarez. Suarez has been great this spring, has two great offerings in his fastball and slider, and comes in with plenty of closer experience overseas. He also has the advantage of being new to the league, with hitters not having a book on him yet, and we’ve seen over the years how pitchers coming over from Japan and Korea have had immediate success in year one before hitters get a chance to figure them out. The question now is, who will be next in line when everyone is healthy?
- In a surprising turn of events, Gabe Kapler named Jake McGee as his closer to start the season, which certainly isn’t what those who drafted Camilo Doval early in drafts were hoping to hear. I still have a gut feeling that Doval winds up leading this team in saves, as I’m just not crazy about McGee at this point, but the situation waters down both of their respective values. If Doval (or even McGee) are falling to the very end of your standard 12-team drafts, I think he’s worth a pick as the upside is just too tantalizing.
- The Rangers’ closer roller coaster is already in full swing, with Joe Barlow going from not being the closer a week ago to now likely being the closer again. That said, this does hurt Barlow’s value as we can’t seem to trust Chris Woodward to stick with him throughout the season. But for now, Barlow is the only candidate on the roster that makes sense, as Matt Bush has thrown a total of 27 innings over the past five years and Garrett Richards is likely destined for more of a multi-inning role.
- The Cubs’ four-headed closer monster remains intact, so who will lead the team in saves this season? I get the feeling David Robertson will open the year in the role, but that’s far from guaranteed, and at this point I don’t think this situation is really worth chasing anyway. Mychal Givens would be the ideal option, and if we do see him get a save opportunity early on he would be worth a speculative add, but outside of him, I’d probably just let someone else in my league deal with the headache.
- The Orioles decided to get rid of their top two relievers in Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott this past weekend as they fully committed to tanking for the upcoming season, and it leaves us with plenty of questions as to who they will turn to for saves from here. It looks like it will come down to Jorge López vs. Dillon Tate, and if you really feel the need to take a shot on someone here, I’d say make it López, because at least there is some strikeout upside.
- On the other side of that trade in Miami, things also got a bit murkier as we now have 5-6 relievers battling for the closer role. It sounds like Dylan Floro won’t miss a lot of time to start the year, but even a short IL stint could mean he loses the role depending on how the team starts. This is another situation I’m probably steering clear of, with the exception being a late-round flier on Anthony Bender or Sulser.
- Similarly in Cincinnati, the Reds will be without their perceived closer to start the season as well, and it sounds like some combo of Luis Cessa or Hunter Strickland will fill in for the time being. That being said, the closer here ideally would be Art Warren, as he is the most talented in the group, and would be the best choice from a fantasy perspective. But just because he’s the best reliever on the team doesn’t mean he will close out games. Like Bender, I’d still target Warren late in drafts just in case he does win the job, but I’m not expecting the Reds to do what’s best for the team.
- Last but, well least, the Rockies have yet to commit to Alex Colomé as their closer, with manager Bud Black telling reporters he wants a closer with strikeout ability. That certainly sounds more like Daniel Bard than Colomé, but once again, this is probably a situation to steer clear of outside of deeper leagues, or unless Robert Stephenson could sneak into the role.
|1.||Camilo Doval||SFG||Should be the teams closer, how long will Kapler play games with McGee/Doval?|
|2.||Art Warren||CIN||Warren should be the closer here, but will the Reds make the right decision?|
|3.||Mychal Givens||CHC||I think if anyone on the current roster were to win the closer job here, I prefer Givens.|
|4.||Jordan Hicks||STL||Stuff is clearly still there for Hicks, and Marmol won’t name Gallegos the closer.|
|5.||Diego Castillo||SEA||Steckenrider may see more save chances early, but Castillo’s upside >>>>>|
|6.||Dinelson Lamet||SDP||Padres tried to trade Pagán and Pomeranz and García are hurt …|
|7.||Michael Fulmer||DET||Has had a rough spring but I still don’t fully believe in Soto here.|
|8.||Seranthony Domínguez||PHI||Knebel’s job is safe for now, but Dominguez has looked great this spring.|
|9.||Anthony Bender||MIA||Too many cooks in the kitchen, but Bender still has the most upside in the group.|
|10.||Tanner Rainey||WAS||Has not looked good this spring, but still the most talented arm in this bullpen.|
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)