Since before the season started, it’s been well known that the Nationals were in the market for a closer. They were especially hot on the trail of David Robertson, but the White Sox’s asking price was too high for the Nats’ tastes. Then Robertson came out on fire looking like a top 3 closer in baseball, and I’m sure that didn’t lower the Sox’s asking price for him. All the while the Nats have been trying different guys in the closer role – Treinen, Kelley, Glover, Albers, Romero – and not feeling comfortable with any of them. It’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before they trade for their closer. Now we know who they’re targeting:
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Nationals have “spoken internally” about closers Kelvin Herrera, David Robertson, Alex Colome, Mark Melancon, A.J. Ramos, and Roberto Osuna. They also like Padres setup man Brad Hand.
So let’s take a look at the implications of any of these guys getting traded, as well as the implications of any other closers or potential closers getting dealt at the trade deadline. Let’s start by looking at which teams may be looking for closers and which teams may be trading closers.
Teams Potentially Looking for Closers:
1. Washington Nationals – See above
2. Arizona Diamondbacks – The DBacks are playing very well and are right in the playoff hunt. With Fernando Rodney as their closer, they’d likely be looking for an upgrade if they’re still in the hunt around the trade deadline.
3. Texas Rangers – Dyson blew up HARD as he clearly wasn’t healthy to start the season… and still doesn’t look right. Jeffress and the rest of the bullpen hasn’t been very good either. Matt Bush has taken over, and he has the stuff to close, but this is a guy who didn’t pitch for 5 years while being a drug addict and going to prison before making a comeback last year. Now, maybe they stick with him, but I have a feeling they might want a more proven guy at the back end while using Bush as the set-up man. Either way they need another pen arm.
4. Detroit Tigers – Now they might just fall off and become sellers rendering this moot, but no one has taken control of the AL Central yet. The Indians are struggling, leaving the Twins atop the Central right now. If the Tigers have a shot, they’ll make a splash…and their biggest need BY FAR is the bullpen, which might be the worst in baseball outside of Justin Wilson. Wilson, though, is a lefty who has never closed before so they might want to bring in a more proven guy and use Wilson as a set-up man. I still think it’s more likely that the Indians start running away with the Central and the Tigers fall off, but as of now they’re still in this.
5. Baltimore Orioles – With Britton out indefinitely, the Orioles have turned to Brach. Unfortunately, he doesn’t resemble the dominant Brach we saw last season. In fact, O’Day and Givens also don’t look like their dominant 2016 selves. This could leave the Orioles as buyers for a proven closer because it would be pretty risky to depend on Britton to return as his dominant self.
Trade Implications by Team and Closer Candidate:
Arizona Diamondbacks Closer Depth Chart
RHP Fernando Rodney
RHP Archie Bradley
LHP Andrew Chafin
RHP JJ Hoover
Fernando Rodney– the DBacks could go either way here – if they fall out of the race, they could trade off Rodney to a contender, and if they stay in the race, they’d likely be looking for an upgrade. If he’s traded, he could easily go to a team as a set-up man and lose his role as closer.
Archie Bradley – If Rodney is traded, Bradley becomes the best and obvious choice for replacement. He’s someone who should probably be owned as a speculative guy right now…but just know that they’re just as likely to trade for someone to close as they are to sell. Chafin and Hoover aren’t worth speculating on at this point.
Atlanta Braves Closer Depth Chart
RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Arodys Vizcaino
RHP Jose Ramirez
Jim Johnson – Johnson is looking good as a legit closer, continuing from his late-season dominance in 2016. The Braves have him signed through 2018 so there’s no rush to trade him, but if someone made the Braves a good offer I’m sure they’d take it.
Arodys Vizcaino – If Johnson were traded, Vizcaino would likely become the closer. I just don’t see it as very likely that the Braves trade Johnson though, so I wouldn’t hold onto Vizcaino unless you hear something.
Chicago White Sox Closer Depth Chart
RHP David Robertson
RHP Tommy Kahnle
RHP Nate Jones (elbow – out indefinitely)
RHP Zack Burdi (minors)
David Robertson – If the White Sox trade Robertson, it’s extremely likely he’d close for whatever team trades for him because he’s very good and the asking price for him is so high that it wouldn’t make sense for a team to trade for him as a set-up man. Obviously he’d close for the Nationals, but he’d probably close for just about any team right now. Also, the White Sox have Robertson signed through 2018, so they could easily still continue to compete this season in a weak AL Central and trade him next season if they don’t get the package they’re looking for.
Tommy Kahnle – If Robertson were to be traded, Kahnle would likely be next in line to close for the Sox. I’d definitely grab Kahnle if Robertson were traded due to his dominant upside, but it’s a murky situation.
Nate Jones – He’s another option, and the guy we all thought would eventually take over when Robertson was inevitably traded, but re-injuring his elbow has complicated things – even when he comes back he may not be 100%.
Zack Burdi – The White Sox’s future closer who dominating in the minors could get a call-up upon a Robertson trade…but with Kahnle dominating I’m not sure they need to rush him to the majors.
Kansas City Royals Closer Depth Chart
RHP Kelvin Herrera
RHP Joakim Soria
LHP Matt Strahm
Kelvin Herrera – Just like Robertson, he’s signed through 2018 and he’d very likely keep his closer role on whatever team he gets traded to – though he hasn’t been his dominant self so far this year.
Joakim Soria – The former closer would be next in line if Herrera gets traded, though Soria will be a trade candidate himself. I don’t see him as a speculative guy to hold because for him to become closer, he’d have to either be traded somewhere to close (unlikely) or rely on a Herrera trade (unlikely) and then not get traded himself.
Matt Strahm – If both Herrera AND Soria are traded, Strahm would likely take over. Again, this is very unlikely, but in that event he does have great stuff and could be a very good closer.
Miami Marlins Closer Depth Chart
RHP AJ Ramos
RHP Kyle Barraclough
RHP Brad Ziegler
LHP Jarlin Garcia
AJ Ramos – I’m not a big Ramos fan, but despite his control issues, he’d likely take over as closer if traded to the Nats. As someone who is signed through 2018, I’m not sure any other team would be willing to pay what the Marlins would want for him because he’s not exactly a shut-down closer. I don’t think he’s as likely to get dealt as others.
Kyle Barraclough – He was a top 3 reliever in 2016, but he’s lost his mojo this season. He’s likely still next in line in case of a Ramos trade, but I wouldn’t bother speculating on him. Same goes for Ziegler, who’s been even worse this year, and Garcia who is probably best suited to be a LOOGY.
New York Mets Closer Depth Chart
RHP Addison Reed
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Hansel Robles
Addison Reed – The Mets were supposed to compete this year, but injuries and poor performance has changed those plans. Reed has been very good taking over for the injured Familia, but he’s an obvious trade candidate as he’s a free agent after this season. Reed keeping the closer role depends on where he lands but I’d put him at 60/40 to keep it.
Paul Sewald – Here’s a name you should know that no one is talking about. He was a dominant reliever in the minors (where he closed too) showing the ability to both limit walks and strike guys out. He’s the only other reliever in the Mets pen pitching well, and as I just said Reed is an obvious trade candidate due to the Mets being likely sellers and him being in his walk year. If the Mets are still struggling a month from now, pick Sewald up.
Oakland Athletics Closer Depth Chart
RHP Santiago Casilla
RHP Ryan Madson
RHP Frankie Montas
LHP Sean Doolittle (shoulder – out indefinitely)
RHP Liam Hendricks
Santiago Casilla – Casilla is not very good. He’s also a free agent after the season. Then on top of that, he plays on the A’s who seemingly trade off their spare parts every single year. If he can find a taker, Billy Beane will trade Casilla. I’d bet against Casilla keeping his closer role if he’s traded elsewhere (doesn’t sound like Nats are interested).
Ryan Madson – He’s actually pitching VERY well this season. He’s signed through 2018 so he’s less likely to be traded THIS season (though he’ll be a prime candidate next season). Beane might be trying to increase Casilla’s trade value this year by making him the closer before trading him and making the switch to Madson. Madson is a pretty good speculative pick-up right now. Montas has great stuff but is getting hit pretty hard, and Doolittle cannot stay healthy enough to hold down the closer role.
Pittsburgh Pirates Closer Depth Chart
LHP Tony Watson
LHP Felipe Rivero
RHP Daniel Hudson
RHP Juan Nicasio
Tony Watson – The Pirates will definitely be sellers, and with Watson in his walk year he’s an excellent trade candidate. He’s also a lefty, so teams in need of a lefty in their pen might come calling. I don’t see him keeping his closing role for another team, but it would depend on where he lands.
Felipe Rivero – Rivero is everything you want in a closer – great stuff, great control, and lots of strikeouts. With Hudson sucking and Watson being a prime trade candidate, speculative guys don’t come any better than Rivero. Grab him ASAP.
San Diego Padres Closer Depth Chart
RHP Brandon Maurer
LHP Brad Hand
LHP Ryan Buchter
LHP Jose Torres
RHP Carter Capps (elbow – out indefinitely)
Brad Hand – With Maurer struggling, Hand is likely next in line to get a shot. It might also make sense to give him the closer role in order to raise his trade value. The Nats are interested as I’m sure other teams are as well, but he’ll be costly to acquire as he’s signed through 2019 (think about what the Yankees got for Andrew Miller, though a little less probably). He’s a pretty solid speculative pick-up given he could take over for Maurer and/or get traded into a closer role. With Maurer cheap and struggling, he doesn’t make much sense as a trade candidate. Buchter and Torres are other possibilities if Maurer loses the job but the line should start behind Hand.
San Francisco Giants Closer Depth Chart
RHP Mark Melancon
RHP Derek Law
RHP Hunter Strickland
Mark Melancon – With the Giants struggling, they look like definite sellers at this point. The Nats have Melancon as one of the guys they’re looking at as well. However, with a huge contract that pays him through 2020, a trade would seem complicated and unlikely. If he does get traded though, Melancon would surely close wherever he goes.
Derek Law – If Melancon does get traded, Law would take over as closer. He’s had good results so far this season, though his peripherals say he’s gotten pretty lucky and is pretty average. I actually think the Giants rushed Melancon back so I like Law more as a backup plan in case Melancon re-injures himself because I don’t think it’s very likely he gets traded.
Tampa Bay Rays Closer Depth Chart
RHP Alex Colome
RHP Tommy Hunter (calf – out until late May)
RHP Brad Boxberger (lat/flexor – out indefinitely)
RHP Danny Farquhar
Alex Colome – Colome is pretty unlikely to be traded because he’s in arbitration years through 2020 so teams would have to give up a big haul for him. On top of that, he hasn’t been that great so far this season so I don’t think it’s likely some team will want to give up that much for him. However, his name does keep coming up both in trade rumors with the Nats as well as with other teams (supposedly). If he gets traded somewhere it would probably be to a team that desperately needs a closer and would use him as such.
Hunter/Boxberger/Farquhar – 2 of the 3 of these guys are injured and honestly none of them are even close to being good closer options. I’d simply stay away from this situation in fantasy.
Toronto Blue Jays Closer Depth Chart
RHP Roberto Osuna
RHP Joe Smith
RHP Danny Barnes
RHP Ryan Tepera
Roberto Osuna – Who knows if he’s even remotely available, but the Nats are “discussing him internally.” The Jays are looking like sellers for sure, but Osuna is like Colome – cheap and in arbitration years through 2020… so it’ll take a monster package to acquire him. If he gets traded, he’ll surely be the closer wherever he goes.
Joe Smith – In the unlikely event Osuna gets traded, Smith would likely take over. He’s having a phenomenal season so far – and the best strikeout rate of his career to boot. He’d be someone to jump on if Osuna gets traded, but I’m not holding my breath.
Closers in danger of losing the Closer role through trade:
1. Santiago Casilla
2. Tony Watson
3. Fernando Rodney
4. Addison Reed
5. Matt Bush
6. Jim Johnson
7. AJ Ramos
8. Brad Brach
Speculative Relievers who could become Closers through trade:
1. Felipe Rivero
2. Ryan Madson
3. Archie Bradley
4. Paul Sewald
5. Tommy Kahnle
6. Joakim Soria
7. Kyle Barraclough
8. Arodys Vizcaino