March 1, 2017
Arizona Diamondbacks — With swole shoulders and an ever-crooked hat, the Fernando Rodney Experience moves on to its fifth team since 2015. The 40-year-old Rodney was signed to a one-year deal, suggesting that the Diamondbacks hope to deal Rodney like the Padres did last June, turning the closer’s uber-fluky .210 BABIP and 1306(!!!) ERA+ into a pitching prospect. But if Arizona gets the version of Rodney that stunk up Miami with a 1.80 WHIP last summer, they’ll turn to Randall Delgado, Enrique Burgos, or Jake Barrett. Barrett’s recent shoulder stiffness puts him at the back of the pack now, but we think he actually has the best stuff of the three.
Updated hierarchy: Rodney | Delgado | Burgos.
Holds candidates: Delgado, Burgos, Barrett.
Colorado Rockies — None of this newfangled bullpen fluidity for Bud Black: the Colorado manager is a traditionalist who likes his beer cold, his TV loud, and his closers strictly identified, “dog.” Although that article suggests that Black wants Greg Holland to return to his past ninth-inning greatness, the former Royal has yet to appear in a spring training game, continuing rehab from his 2015 Tommy John surgery. Based on that uncertainty, we’ll give the tentative edge to Adam Ottavino, whose new two-seam fastball looked good in a small sample size last season. Jake McGee and Mike Dunn are likely to fill late-inning roles, with old friends Jason Motte, Chad Qualls, and Carlos Estevez also hanging around (at least for now).
Starting 2017 hierarchy: Ottavino | Holland | McGee.
Holds candidates: Holland, McGee, Mike Dunn.
Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen turned down a massive offer from the Washington Nationals to re-sign with the Dodgers this offseason. LA also picked up longtime Giant (but longer-time Dodger fan) Sergio Romo to handle the eighth inning. The seventh inning is up in the air: Pedro Baez has a bone bruise on his pitching hand, leaving a battle among lefties Adam Liberatore, Grant Dayton, and Luis Avilan. Chris Hatcher and Josh Fields are the best remaining righties.
Starting 2017 hierarchy: Jansen | Romo | Liberatore.
Holds candidates: Romo, Liberatore, Dayton, Avilan.
San Diego Padres — This is Brandon Maurer’s job to lose, but if Carter Capps is healthy, lose it he should. Capps has a new (probably still illegal) two-hop delivery following Tommy John surgery, and his upside is far higher than the rather pedestrian Maurer. Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand were extremely solid lefties last year and may be called on in the eighth if Capps isn’t quite ready by Opening Day.
Starting 2017 hierarchy: Maurer | Capps | Buchter.
Holds candidates: Buchter, Hand, Kevin Quackenbush.
San Francisco Giants — Mark Melancon’s enormous offseason deal might pay dividends this season, but is likely to wind up as an expensive albatross as he ages. Hunter Strickland will back him up, with Derek Law and Will Smith (currently suffering from elbow inflammation) also late-inning options.
Starting 2017 hierarchy: Melancon | Strickland | Law.
Holds candidates: Strickland, Law, Smith, Josh Osich, Cory Gearrin.