Closing Time

Thursday, November 27, 2008  |  by 

If the 2008 free agent market for closers were a street corner, it would be full of hookers. Easy Street would be absolutely flooded with streetwalkers looking to find a John for the upcoming season. Lady's of the night would peer into car windows that would stop by, while Johns on the other hand, would be looking for the most bang for their buck (literally).

Compared to 2007, there really is a surplus of relief pitchers this year. There also happens to be a lot of teams currently without a closer, so there are many options out there. Here is a Coles Notes version of closers out on the market and what they made this past season, thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Free Agents

Francisco Rodriguez: $10 million
Brian Fuentes: $5.5 million
Kerry Wood: $4.2 million
Trevor Hoffman: $13.5 million
Brandon Lyon: $3.125 million
Chad Cordero: $6.2 million

Each of these closers were given the boot by their respective teams, and now look to find a new home for 2009. Topping the list is K-Rod, who looks to make an ungodly amount of money with whatever team signs him.

Brian Fuentes on the other hand seems like discount compared to K-Rod; the equivalent of choosing President's Choice cola over Coke.

Kerry Wood and Trevor Hoffman both got the shaft from their teams, and it appears that Brandon Lyon lost his job to Chad Qualls.

Cordero is coming off of an injury plagued season, and is a huge gamble to any team that decides to take the risk of signing him.

Trade Bait

B.J. Ryan: $10 million
Jose Valverde: $4 million
J.J. Putz: $3.4 million
Huston Street: $3.3 million
Bobby Jenks: $0.55 million

Although all of these closers are still under contract, there have been rumblings that they all could be dealt to make room for cheaper replacements.

Since the Blue Jays already have a stacked bullpen, they could easily move Ryan to another team for an offensive upgrade, but finding a team to eat up his $10 million salary could be difficult.

Although Jose Valverde led the National League in saves the last two seasons, the Astros might trade him as a cost-cutting measure.

Putz finished 2007 as one of the top closers in the game, but now he finds himself among trade talks after injuries sidelined him for close to a third of the season.

The Rockies might be asking what the return policy is on Huston Street, because it looks like the want to ship him off after acquiring him on November 12th.

Because the White Sox are fans of trading just for the sake of trading, teams are kicking the tires on Bobby Jenks, even though is salary is a minuscule $550,000 dollars.

Teams who need a Closer

Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers
New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels

Many teams will be looking in-house to replace closers such as the Padres, Marlins, Athletics, and Diamondbacks. But there are the teams above that are in desperate need of a 9th inning man. The Tigers' and Brewers' closers Todd Jones and Solomon Torres retired, Billy Wagner from the Mets is on the shelf till 2010, and the Angels need to fill the void left by K-Rod.

In Conclusion ...

It's all about supply and demand in the free agent market. This year's crop happens to be very plentiful, so closers will probably not fetch as much money as they typically would. K-Rod must expect to receive a 5 year/75 million dollar contract, but he will likely be brought down to earth with his expectations. It seems like many teams are trying to find cheaper solutions within their own bullpens, rather than sign a pricey free agent closer like Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes.

On the street corner of free agency, teams might be looking to take Easy Street with a new closer, but that could cost them in the long run with a bad STD.

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