Closers still available on the MLB free agent market

MLB Free Agent Closers Gauging Their Markets

1/7/14 in MLB   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Yesterday, I looked at the starting pitchers still on the free agent market. Now let’s look at the closers. Sep 14, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) looks for the signal against the Texas Rangers during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Athletics won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
 
Grant Balfour
 
Balfour was understandably upset when the Orioles backed out of their two-year, $15 million agreement with him due to alleged medical concerns. Considering the undercurrent of disbelief that the medical issues were such that it warranted backing out of the deal and the implication that Orioles owner Peter Angelos simply decided he didn't want to pay that amount of money, the injury worries shouldn't factor into his future. That's unless another team tries to sign him and registers similar concerns.
 
The issues that cropped up on his medical examination wouldn’t even have been known to the public had the contract agreement not been leaked “pending a physical.” A deal isn’t done until it’s done and the Orioles had every right to back out of it if they saw something they didn’t like. The ridiculous aspect of the canceled deal is that there were doctors who were asked their opinions—and giving it—when they hadn’t seen Balfour’s most recent medical reports. The out-of-this-world ludicrous aspect was people in the media criticizing the Orioles for their decision while functioning from hearsay and a fundamental lack of medical expertise. The it’s-not-even-worth-discussing idiocy came from fans and “experts” on social media ripping the Orioles. So what happens if Balfour signs and his shoulder blows out in spring training? Will the Orioles medical staff get an en masse apology? 
 
Medicals aside, after a late-blooming and long career as a set-up man, Balfour proved he could close for the Athletics. His numbers were excellent in the past two seasons and on a two-year contract, he’s a low-risk signing. He’s 36, can be prone to the long ball and his control sometimes eludes him, but if he’s willing to set-up again or compete with another pitcher (David Robertson of the Yankees?) to be the closer and not complain if he loses, then he’s a solid pickup. The Mariners could use him as a closer and numerous teams would be happy to have him as a set-up man.
 
Fernando Rodney
 
Rodney will be 37 in March and his brilliant 2012 season was followed up by a shaky 2013. His struggles were in large part due to a return to earth in his control and worse luck on balls in play. He keeps the ball in the park, still throws in the upper-90s and has a tremendous changeup. The Orioles and Rodney are a clear match.
 
Jul 9, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Andrew Bailey (40) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the 6th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Bailey
 
Bailey is the epitome of the low-risk/high-reward short reliever who will sign an incentive-laden one-year contract. He could save 35 games, then depart for a team that still equates a number of saves with success. Bailey has stressful mechanics, is injury prone and didn’t handle the pressure and demands of Boston very well. He’d be best-served to go to a team that doesn’t have significant expectations like the Astros, Marlins or Mets, replenish his value and then go back on the market. Or if he finds a home and pitches well, perhaps a team-friendly long-term contract would be better for his career. 
 
Joel Hanrahan
 
Hanrahan is returning from Tommy John surgery and he, like Bailey, didn’t handle the pressure of Boston very well. Hanrahan was once a flamethrower with a dangerous fastball and hard slider. He’s prone to the long ball and, coming back from injury, he can either go the Bailey route and look for a team to close and rejuvenate his value or he can go to a contender and be content as a set-up man. Trying to hook on with a contending team like the Nationals, Rangers, Cardinals or Giants is the best strategy for Hanrahan.  
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1/8/14   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

autmorsautlibertas wrote:
Seems like Slim Pickins

Many teams are taking the cheaper route clubs like the Rays take and don't want to pay for relievers. Or they're developing their own. 

1/7/14   |   autmorsautlibertas   |   1 respect

Seems like Slim Pickins