Saturday, July 31, 2010

2011 Closers-to-be: American League

Last time out, I wrote about the potential new closers in the National League in 2011. Tonight I'll look at the A.L.

Angels: Brian Fuentes has a vesting option that he's not going to get close to this year (55 games finished). Fernando Rodney is signed for 2011 at $5.5MM, so he'd be the logical choice, but Kevin Jepsen has flat out out pitched Rodney. If I had to guess here I'd guess Rodney, but he'll be a lower tier A.L.-only closer if he does win the job, and Jepsen is someone definitely worth owning.

Blue Jays: The Jays stood pat today, and Kevin Gregg's $8.75MM option looks affordable in a reliever market where the Dodgers swapped out two prospects for Octavio Dotel. I think Gregg stays. His performance keeps him in line to keep the job in '11.

Rays: Rafael Soriano is a free agent this winter, and I'd imagine the Rays let him walk due to their tight purse strings and the fact that Soriano is probably going to get something in the neighborhood of $35-40MM over three years. Joaquin Benoit certainly seems like he'd be next in line due to performance, but Joe Maddon has never been afraid to mix and match and use the best reliever in his mind. This is wide open if Soriano walks.

Twins: It's Joe Nathan's job if he's healthy, but that's an impossible call to make sitting here on July 31. Yet another reason the Twins probably got Matt Capps is because he's not a free agent this winter, while Matt Guerrier is and Jon Rauch could be (though his option is relatively affordable). Capps seems like Nathan insurance to me, and I think he'll close if Nathan can't go or if the Twins want to ease Nathan in.

Yankees: Someday, Mariano Rivera will retire or stop being effective and there will be another closer for the Yankees. Right now though, Mo is having yet another stellar season and there's no reason to believe the team and the player won't find a way to bring Mo back. There has already been talk in New York of signing Mo to a one-year deal the way Andy Pettitte has been doing and both Mo and the Yanks seem amenable to that. I'd be shocked if Mariano isn't closing for the Yankees again next year.

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