Predicting the Upcoming Bullpen Bonanza

Written by: Adam Ehrenreich (@mel_reich)

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Each season, the trade deadline is when the most movement happens in big league bullpens. Every year, teams seek relief help to shorten games in a pennant race. Below is simply my opinion of what may transpire in the coming weeks. Take this information as you will. At the very least, monitor these names and be ready to either pounce or move on, depending on what shakes out.

Gaining Value:

Drew Steckenrider (Miami) – The Marlins have been looking to add prospects since the offseason. Kyle Barraclough, while he throws 100 MPH with a wicked slider, is 28 years old, arbitration eligible after this season, and was recently given the title of closer. The role change will only make him more expensive going into the offseason, and it would not be shocking to see him moved at the deadline for a small return. Steckenrider has been fantastic this season minus two rough outings. Subtract those, and he’s been nearly untouchable with an elite arsenal. Look for him to be closing in Miami by August 1st.

Kirby Yates (San Diego) – Brad Hand was on the trading block last season following the Brandon Maurer move, but he ended up sticking as the Padres closer and has been really solid since. The trade rumors are back for Hand, and if the Padres pull the trigger this time, which I think they will, Kirby Yates becomes the closer. Yates is 31 years old with 4 career saves, but like Bud Norris, he has transformed into a very serviceable reliever. I can see him sticking in the role into next season, which means he’ll maintain reliable value.

Zach Britton (Baltimore) – I fully expect Zach Britton to be traded. It’s the only logical reason why he has been closing games for the Orioles the last few weeks, and I think playing for a contender like the Phillies would be a massive boost in his value. The former elite-closing talent could do major damage in the second half. If he’s available in your league, go get him.

Nate Jones (Chi. White Sox) – Joakim Soria is likely to be traded by the rebuilding White Sox. Jones has been on the DL, but it appears he’ll return before the deadline to regain his position in the bullpen. He should see save opportunities before the end of the regular season.

Robert Gsellman (NY Mets) – Even if Jeurys Familia isn’t traded (I don’t think he will be), Gsellman could see his share of saves as the season goes on. Familia has been used in both high-leverage and save situations, a now common practice among teams without elite closers, and Gsellman has fallen into many save opportunities. I can see that continuing.

AJ Minter (Atlanta) – Arodys Vizcaino continues to battle shoulder injuries, as he was placed on the DL again last week. This is his second stint in the last month. I believe that Minter will take the opportunity to run away with the job. Yes, Vizcaino has been fantastic this season and there is no discounting that (more on him later). But if Minter is available it would be wise to invest today.

Jordan Hicks (St. Louis) – If the last series before the All Star break is any indication, now might be the time to stash Hicks. Whether Bud Norris is hurt or eventually traded, Hicks could have some value early in the second half. The secondary offerings continue to improve, and several save opportunities could be next.

Losing Value:

Joe Jimenez (Detroit) – I think this is simple. Joe Jimenez is the closer of the future for the Tigers, there is no doubt surrounding that notion. The Shane Greene injury before the break will concern teams looking for relief help. I could be wrong, but I can totally see Greene staying in Detroit, at least until the waiver-trade window opens. In the fantasy world, Jimenez is a hold until it is solidified what will happen to Greene. If Greene is in fact traded, he would lose value and Jimenez could become a top 15 closer. There is a lot of volatility in this situation.

Kyle Barraclough (Miami) – I touched on this above and will say it again: Barraclough is prime trade material for a contending team. Unfortunately, that means Bear Claw likely won’t be closing games for his new team. He is a perfect 7th or 8th inning piece for a team like Houston that suddenly needs bullpen help.

Victor Arano (Philadelphia) – This goes along with Zach Britton coming to Philly, which I think may happen sooner rather than later. Arano has been cashing in on some save opportunities due to SerAnthony Dominguez pitching high-leverage spots. Dominguez will stay in that spot if Britton joins the bullpen, and Arano will be delegated back to a useful 7th inning weapon.

Arodys Vizcaino (Atlanta) – This shoulder injury scares me, and it should scare you as well. He may be the closer again before you know it, but trading him as part of a package may be the best bet to avoiding what may be a DL-ridden rest of the season.

Joakim Soria (Chi. White Sox) – Soria’s name has been swirling in trade rumors for quite some time, and he likely will not close on his new team.

Bud Norris (St. Louis) – Mike Matheny getting fired may have had some sort of correlation with the Bud Norris hazing news. The problem is, Norris’ stats have been impeccable. If you own Norris, now might be the time to trade him while he sits with “arm fatigue”. I can’t imagine him not keeping the job when he returns as long as he’s not traded, but a move would cause Norris to lose value very fast. Keep an eye on the situation.

Others to monitor: Fernando Rodney (Minnesota), Mychel Givens (Baltimore), Sergio Romo (Tampa Bay), Greg Holland (St. Louis), Hunter Strickland (San Francisco)

Feel free to hit me up with any questions! @mel_reich

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Featured image courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune

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