Closers Diego Castillo and Brad Hand traded; hours left before trade deadline

July 30, 2021

Seattle Mariners — Days after trading closer Kendall Graveman to the Astros, the Mariners acquired Diego Castillo and will presumably plug him into the ninth-inning role right away. GM Jerry Dipoto said as much, though he acknowledged others could also factor in based on matchups. Paul Sewald, who has been amazing this year, is the likeliest to scoop up save opportunities that don’t go to Castillo.

Updated hierarchy: *Castillo | Sewald | Steckenrider.
* = closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays are a World Series contender, but that didn’t stop them from trading away their saves leader (Diego Castillo) with multiple years of team control left. That’s just how they do things in Tampa. Nick Anderson is on a rehab assignment and could return soon, but he’s not ready yet, and relievers Pete Fairbanks and JP Feyereisen are on the injured list. Look for Jeffrey Springs, Andrew Kittriedge, Matt Wisler, and Drew Rasmussen to split opportunities. The Rays also acquired reliever JT Chargois in the deal (as well as Shawn Armstrong from the Orioles), so perhaps they’ll factor in, too. 

Updated hierarchy: *Springs | Kittredge | Wisler.
* = closer-by-committee

Washington Nationals — The Nationals set fire to their 2019 championship core on Thursday, dealing away megastars Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. They also gutted the bullpen, trading Brad Hand to the Blue Jays and Daniel Hudson (who is on the COVID-19 IL) to the Padres. Kyle Finnegan picked up a save in game one of a doubleheader on Thursday, while in game two, Wander Suero and Tanner Rainey did not pitch well, combining for 3 ER over two innings. Now that the dust has settled, we’ll keep the hierarchy the way things worked Thursday, with Finnegan leading the way. 

Updated hierarchy: *Finnegan | Rainey | Suero.
* = closer-by-committee

Toronto Blue Jays — The Blue Jays have been seeking bullpen upgrades all season, and Thursday they landed Brad Hand. Jordan Romano has been very good in the closer role this season, but he might fill more of the relief ace role moving forward, with Hand taking over the ninth inning, for now. 

Updated hierarchy: Hand | Romano | Mayza.

San Diego Padres — After coming this close to acquiring Max Scherzer from the Nationals, the Padres were outdone by their division rival Dodgers. Since they were already talking with Washington, the Padres went ahead and struck a deal for Daniel Hudson, who is currently on the COVID-19 injured list. San Diego has a deep bullpen, but Hudson could compete for holds when he’s healthy. 

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Pagan | Pomeranz.

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs traded a relief pitcher! But it wasn’t Craig Kimbrel, yet. The Cubs shipped Ryan Tepera across town to the White Sox. Behind Kimbrel (again, for now) is a group that includes Rex Brothers and Dan Winkler. Rowan Wick is currently rehabbing at Triple-A and could factor in soon.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Brothers | Winkler.

Chicago White Sox — Ryan Tepera joins an inconsistent White Sox bullpen. Liam Hendriks is the no-doubt closer, but what’s behind him is a bit murky. Let’s slot Tepera at second in line behind Hendriks and Michael Kopech, who has been excellent (1.52 ERA, 12.8 K/9, 8 holds) in 2021.

Updated hierarchy: Hendriks | Kopech | Tepera.

Cincinnati Reds — Cincinnati has quietly been plugging bullpen holes lately, acquiring Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson from the Yankees and Mychal Givens from the Rockies. It remains to be seen who will find his way to save chances in this crowded bullpen (even with Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims injured), so we’ll leave the hierarchy as is, for now.

Hierarchy remains: Hembree | Brach | Garrett.

1. Tanner Rainey (WAS) — Kyle Finnegan has pitched in four of five. 
2. Rex Brothers (CHC) — Craig Kimbrel could be dealt at any moment. 

1. Dominic Leone (SF) — If Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers both pitch Friday, that would be three of four and four of six for both of them. Leone has gone in two straight, so we imagine he’d be off Friday and available Saturday.
2. Emilio Pagan (SD) — A Friday outing would be three of four for Mark Melancon. 
3. Chad Green (NYY) — Ditto for Aroldis Chapman.
4. Jose Cisnero (DET) — Gregory Soto has had some taxing outings lately. If he goes Friday, that would be three of five for him. 
5. Steve Cishek (LAA) — Same as above for Raisel Iglesias.