Special Update (Part 2 of 2 — see yesterday’s post for American League analysis)
BUY+: This player has a strong chance (at least 50%) of becoming a closer by the trade deadline.
BUY: This player has a small chance (at least 20%) of becoming a closer by the trade deadline.
SELL: This player has a small chance (at least 20%) of losing his closer job by the trade deadline.
SELL+: This player has a large chance (at least 50%) of losing his closer job by the trade deadline.
TL;DR – NL relievers
BUY+: Nick Anderson, Scott Oberg.
BUY: David Robertson, Brandon Morrow, Michael Lorenzen, Kyle Crick, John Gant, Mark Melancon.
SELL: Hector Neris, Sean Doolittle, Raisel Iglesias, Greg Holland, Will Smith.
SELL+: Luke Jackson, Sergio Romo, Wade Davis.
Atlanta Braves – With a 6-game lead in the NL East but a bullpen that contains quite a few question marks, the Braves are likely to look to add an arm or two before the deadline. While Luke Jackson has had a fine season as the 9th inning man thus far, it’s likely that any big acquisition (Will Smith, Ken Giles, Alex Colome, Brad Hand) would supplant him. Atlanta could aim lower and look to add a Sam Dyson or Greg Holland — which would leave Jackson with the job — but fantasy owners should be wary about overvaluing Jackson in the coming weeks.
BUY: None. SELL+: Luke Jackson.
Miami Marlins – Sergio Romo, who is 36 years old and only signed until the end of the year, is almost certain to be dealt to a contender down the stretch, and it’s extremely unlikely that he would close for his new team. That’s good news for Nick Anderson, who would step in if and when Romo is traded.
BUY+: Nick Anderson; SELL+: Sergio Romo.
New York Mets – The Mets are selling, but they’re unlikely to move closer Edwin Diaz, whose value has tanked since they dealt two top prospects for him in the offseason. Seth Lugo isn’t going anywhere, and there won’t be a market for Jeurys Familia and his bloated contract. The Mets might look to move a more minor piece, such as Justin Wilson, but that’s unlikely to affect either team’s hierarchy.
Philadelphia Phillies – Philadelphia has been linked to a handful of the usual suspects in recent weeks (Will Smith, Ken Giles, Alex Colome), but given the way they’ve deployed their bullpen in the past, it’s unlikely that they’ll go with a traditional closer even if they do make an acquisition or two. However, what will likely happen is that Hector Neris, who HAS been used near-exclusively in the closer role as of late, will probably be shuffled back into a committee. David Robertson’s return looms, as well.
BUY: David Robertson; SELL: Hector Neris.
Washington Nationals – The next three weeks will determine whether the Nats are buyers or sellers, and if they do well, then one place they’ll definitely be buying is the bullpen. But it’s been the 7th and 8th innings that have been the issue for Washington this year, as closer Sean Doolittle has been his usual rock solid self. Meanwhile, if the team tanks and the Nats start looking to sell off assets, Doolittle, whose contract is up at the end of the season, becomes a prime trade candidate. It’s hard to guess whether Doolittle will continue to close if he’s dealt, as it’ll depend on where he goes, so we’ll put a light sell on him.
BUY: None; SELL: Sean Doolittle.
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs have had bullpen struggles all season, but they already made their buy in acquiring Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has struggled in his first few appearances, but the Cubs will give him every opportunity to return to form. Any reinforcements may come from within, as Brandon Morrow is still progressing and would likely slide into the setup role ahead of Kimbrel. Even if the Cubs fall out of contention, it is hard to imagine them selling Kimbrel, (or more accurately, another team willing to pay form him this season) and none of their other relievers would make for closers on other teams. As a cheap longshot, Morrow could be an intriguing option. If Kimbrel cannot right the ship, he may inherit the role. If the Cubs become sellers, his contract is movable, but that is all contingent on him coming back healthy with enough time to generate interest from other teams.
BUY: Brandon Morrow; SELL: None.
Cincinnati Reds – The Reds find themselves only 4.5 games out of first place in the Central, and have at least considering becoming buyers at the deadline. Raisel Iglesias is not as untouchable as in years past. His contract years are running shorter, and the Reds have been using a closer committee with some success recently. Iglesias would still command a hefty price, but if the Reds look to shore up other areas of their roster, he could be expendable. Michael Lorenzen would be the immediate beneficiary, but could also find himself on the block if they start to fade. Whatever the Reds do, they are unlikely to bring in outside help, so the next few weeks are key to seeing who will be the 9th inning option.
BUY: Michael Lorenzen; SELL: Raisel Iglesias.
Milwaukee Brewers – Like the rest of the NL Central, the Breweres are locked in a tight race for the playoffs, but the back end of their bullpen isn’t likely to see any shakeups. Josh Hader has been excellent as their closer, and isn’t going anywhere with another year of team control left before his arbitration years. If the Brewers do add to the bullpen, there is no way they would overtake Hader.
BUY: None; SELL: None.
Pittsburgh Pirates – While the Pirates are still in the playoff hunt for now, their run differential is the worst in the NL central, and they went into the year looking to rebuild. They could make a lot of strides in that department by shipping Felipe Vazquez. Vazquez has been excellent, and with a favorable contract, he could command a huge price. Vazquez has already been linked to the Dodgers, although the reported asking price is quite high. If the Pirates fade, Vazquez could be a major trade target, but outside of the Dodgers (and a couple other teams) he would likely be the closer if he is dealt. If Vazquez is traded, Kyle Crick (who has a year before arbitration) would take over, and given Crick’s contract status, he is unlikely to be traded.
BUY: Kyle Crick; SELL: None.
St. Louis Cardinals – With Jordan Hicks lost for the season the Cardinals appear to be comfortable with Carlos Martinez in the role. The next couple weeks will determine whether St. Louis will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, but if they start to slip in the standings, Martinez and Andrew Miller could certainly find themselves on the move. St. Louis doesn’t seem ready to give up on the year just yet, but if they do end up selling, watch for John Gant to be the last man standing.
BUY: John Gant; SELL: None.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona is one game above .500 at the all-star break, well behind the Dodgers in the division but in the hunt for a wild card spot. The team’s performance over the next two weeks might determine if they’ll be buyers or sellers – in either case, it could result in Greg Holland (3.30 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 14 saves) being out of the mix for saves, whether a closer is acquired or Holland is sent packing. Holland was great for much of the first half – on June 5 his ERA was 1.31 – but since then, he has allowed runs in six of 11 appearances. His job looked to be in some jeopardy last week when he blew saves on consecutive nights against Dodgers – including one outing in which he yielded four walks. So, it would appear Holland is on shaky ground. If the Diamondbacks sell, setup man Yoshihisa Hirano could be dealt as he, like Holland, will be a free agent in the offseason.
BUY: None, SELL: Greg Holland.
Colorado Rockies – The Rockies, one game under .500, are also in the hunt, but will they be buying at the deadline? Some think they have to in order to save face for some of the team’s recent offseason decisions. The team needs help in both the bullpen and starting rotation, but they could help their serious issue at closer with an internal option. Scott Oberg has been exceptional this season (1.24 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 9.9 K/9) and was terrific filling in while current closer Wade Davis (5.54 ERA, 1.69 WHIP) was on the injured list. Davis is definitely on thin ice and might be one more disastrous outing from losing the gig for good. If you haven’t already, stash Oberg.
BUY+: Oberg; SELL+: Davis.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Expect the Dodgers to be active in the reliever trade market, but it’s highly unlikely they would acquire someone who would unseat Kenley Jansen (3.19 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 23 saves), so his job is likely safe, even though he hasn’t been the Jansen of old this season. The 31-year-old has already allowed 6 home runs, which before last season (when he yielded 13) represented a career-worst mark for a single full season. But most of the relievers behind Jansen have been much worse this year, with Joe Kelly (5.28 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) and Yimi Garcia (4.11 ERA, 9 HRs allowed) among the chief offenders – so help is needed for the league’s best team. One report has the Dodgers acquiring 1 or 2 relievers, with Felipe Vazquez, Brad Hand, Ken Giles and Will Smith among the most intriguing names being tossed around. Perhaps Hand (2.17 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 23 saves) could be the only one to push Jansen to a setup role, but a relief ace role for Hand might make more sense given Jansen’s track record and history. And Cleveland is in the hunt so they might not be sellers anyway.
San Diego Padres – The Padres sit at 45-45 at the break and Kirby Yates (1.15 ERA, 0.75 ERA, 30 saves, 60:9 K:BB ratio) has arguably been the league’s best closer to date, but could San Diego sell? That’s possible, and Yates – like Brad Hand last year – could be traded if the franchise receives a Godfather offer. We’d bet the Padres stick with Yates, who has one more year of team control. Craig Stammen would likely take over as closer if Yates is dealt, however.
San Francisco Giants – You knew it. We knew it. Bruce Bochy knew it. The Giants were going to be big sellers at the trade deadline – but is that the case anymore? The team ended the first half with a 7-2 streak and are now just 5.5 games out of a playoff spot. If they make up another few games by July 31, will they still sell off their pieces? Or, will they fade and make the decision to sell easy? While a pre-deadline hot streak could keep Will Smith (1.98 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 23 saves) around, it’s more likely than not that he’s gone at the deadline, and he will likely become one of the best setup men in baseball after that transaction. If Smith were to get jiggy with it away from the bay, Sam Dyson might be sent away as well as the team enters a full rebuild. Mark Melancon and his bloated contract (he’s on the books for $19 million next season) will be harder to deal, so he could collect save chances relatively soon.
BUY: Melancon; SELL: Smith.
Special Update (Part 2 of 2 — see yesterday’s post for American League analysis)