As if there hasn’t been enough closer turnover already this season, the July 31st trade deadline usually provides some chaos of its own as a few bullpen arms are likely to change teams. Although we can’t know for sure who will stay and who will go, it’s still important to be aware of who can stay and go. With that said, let’s take a look at this year’s closer trade candidates. Starting with the most likely:
Brett Myers — No team has more of an incentive to move its closer than the Astros, since Myer’s contract includes a hefty $10 million dollar option for next year if he finishes 45 games. The rebuilding ‘Stros certainly don’t want that sum on their books, so a trade makes sense.
Brandon Lyon and Wilton Lopez are the candidates to replace Myers as closer. Given his closing experience and Lopez’s recent injury, I’d give the nod to Lyon as the more likely replacement, though Lyon is also someone who could be traded, so he’s no lock to close even if Myers is dealt. Or, rather, when Myers is dealt.
Matt Capps — Even though he strikes almost no one out, give Capps credit, he’s limited walks and enough hits to pitch pretty well this year. Granted, I surely wouldn’t want Capps to be my closer. But he’s still a valuable reliever, and could a be worth a secondary prospect to a contender. Either Glen Perkins or the surprising Jared Burton would step up if Capps is sent packing.
Huston Street —The building and then breaking of the Padres bullpen is likely to continue this year when Street is flipped for prospects. Personally, I think the Padres should keep all of their bullpen arms and assemble baseball’s version of The Avengers. Imagine if they had done this and their bullpen was Street, Mike Adams, Ernesto Frieri, Cory Luebke, Heath Bell (the good version), and Luke Gregorson. Now that would be unstoppable.
Unfortunately, the Padres won’t be receptive to this plan and probably will just look to deal Street. I’d expect Gregorson or Dale Thayer to get saves if Street’s traded, by the way.
Jonathan Broxton — The Royals placed a $4 million dollar bet this offseason that Broxton could turn around his career, and that bet has paid off so far in the form of a 1.63 ERA over 27 innings. Now the Royals are probably hoping it pays off in another way, in the form of a prospect or two. The clear replacement is Greg Holland, who I covered in last week’s Waiver Wire.
Rafael Betancourt — Betancourt has been one of baseball’s best closers this year and also has a long history of success out of the bullpen. Any contending team should love to have his services, while the 25-40 Rockies haven’t much use for them.
If a trade occurs, setup man Matt Belisle would likely slide into a closing role for the Rockies, though he is also a trade candidate himself. If both are shipped, former first-rounder Adam Ottavino has broken out this year and could be handed the closer’s keys in Colorado.
J.J. Putz — Putz has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios of any closer, but some bad luck with balls in play and home runs has his ERA at 5.14 for the year. Despite the ERA, Putz still should be viewed as an elite reliever. Currently at .500, the D’backs might not be sellers at the deadline, but if they fall a few more games back of the Giants over the next month, they might have to accept if a good offer comes their way. David Hernandez would fill in if that’s the case.
The trade deadline usually plays out fairly unexpectedly, so it will be interesting to see where some of these names end up. As a last note, I expect the Cubs would love to move Carlos Marmol, but that would require eating lots of
salad celery salary and, to be honest, who would really want Marmol at this point?