Fantasy Baseball: Closer trade candidates and their potential replacements

The trade deadline isn't for another seven weeks, but Fantasy players need to start preparing now.

 A big trade could come down any time, and that's especially true for closers. Teams in need may not want to wait until the end of July, especially with so many contenders in such obvious need of help.

Let's take a look at every team to see which ones might be going to the market for a new closer, and who might be trading off their current one with the help of Paul Mammino's ADRIEP model, the results of which can be found here:

American League East

This division is relatively safe from closers getting traded. The dumpster fire the Orioles bullpen doesn't really have anyone of note other teams would want to acquire, and the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox all competing. The Red Sox could be a landing spot for one of the closers mentioned throughout this piece, but overall their pen has been much better than anticipated despite the absence of any big names.

The one guy to watch is Ken Giles who will become a free agent in 2021 and could be the target of bullpen needy teams. If he does get traded, the most likely replacement is Joe Biagini, who has been working the highest leverage situations not given to Giles. However, the model does not love Biagini, and thinks, despite his struggles thus far, Tim Mayza has the skill sets to be an above average reliever. While Biagini is the handcuff to own, watch out for Mayza if Giles is moved. Mayza is left-handed, but the Jays are using him equally against lefties and righties.

American League Central

This is easily one of the more interesting divisions in all of baseball in terms of potential closer openings. The Twins and Indians are unlikely to move their current closers while they compete, however if things continue to go poorly in Cleveland, Brad Hand could be moved. On the remote chance that happens, Nick Wittgren could be first in line for saves and would be my personal target. He is working the second highest leverage innings and the model likes his skill set. The model also sees Tyler Clippard and A.J. Cole as above average arms.

The Royals pen has been terrible, but Ian Kennedy could potentially get traded, and if he does, the model loves Jake Diekman. However, since he is a lefty, my bet would be on Scott Barlow, who has been OK thus far and is a guy who certainly looks the part as an elite reliever. His walk totals are the main thing holding him back and is the only reason the model is not enamored with the righty.

Shane Greene has been rumored as a trade candidate for the past several seasons, but for the first time he is actually backing up the save numbers with a legitimate skill set. The Tigers' bullpen is not pretty and is extremely hard to project if Green is shipped out. Daniel Stumpf and Joe Jimenez are getting higher leverage opportunities, while Nick Ramirez has caught the eye of my model. Jimenez has been the closer in waiting for the past two seasons, so I think he gets the first chance but keep an eye on Ramirez. The lefty is a former hitter who converted to pitching to give it one last shot and has found success in the majors so far.

Lastly Alex Colome will most likely find a new home before the end of the season. The righty has been excellent and the White Sox likely will try to cash him in for prospects. If they do, they have two interesting options, according to the model: Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall. Both have been lights out in smaller samples. The model loves them, and their leverage usage suggests the team trusts them. While teams are getting better with it, I expect Marshall would get the first shot because teams are still hesitant to use a lefty as a closer.

American League West

This is a wholly boring division for the sake of trade candidates. The Mariners could see someone get moved,  but their bullpen has been in shambles and they lack many extremely exciting options. Brandon Brennan is the model's favorite and he does not appear to even have an above-average skill set.

If the Rangers make any moves, the most likely replacement in the ninth inning will be Jose Leclerc, who is regaining his form and is still the team's long-term option at closer.

The Angels could move a guy like Hansel Robles, allowing them to slot Ty Buttrey into the role, or they could keep Buttrey in his fireman role and replace Robles with Cam Bedrosian, a favorite of the model so far. Taylor Cole was excellent in 2018, though slightly less excellent in his small 2019 sample. The team has been unfortunately bouncing him between AAA and the big leagues this season. I am huge fan of his skills and would love to see him get his chance.

The Athletics and Astros are not trading their closers unless something goes horribly wrong, and neither seems likely to lose their job.

National League East

The Phillies and Braves are two teams that will likely find themselves buying bullpen help around the trade deadline, possibly to replace their current closer or to add depth to their pens.

Marlins' closer Sergio Romo could be moved, but this pen lacks exciting options behind him. The model does like the skill set of Nick Anderson, and he could be in line to see some save opportunities if Romo is moved.

The Mets are unlikely to move Edwin Diaz, as they still fancy themselves contenders and will likely have the same opinion for 2020.

The interesting one here is Sean Doolittle. He is not having the same type of season he has in previous years, but he has long been one of the best and most consistent closers in the game. The Nationals' season appears  to be lost, and as a result Doolittle could be moved if the team goes full sell-off. Part of the reason they have been awful has been the bullpen, so the options behind him are not pretty. Wander Suero likely takes over in the event of a trade because he is being trusted more and more in high-leverage spots. The model sees him as the best non-Doolittle option outside of Tony Sipp, a left-hander.

National League Central

The Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers will all likely be bullpen buyers this trading season. Their pens have all had varying levels of success but lack depth and could use an extra arm or two. The Cubs obviously just added Craig Kimbrel, who still profiled as an above-average reliever in 2018 despite numbers not as dominant as his early career.

The Pirates signed Felipe Vazquez to an extension, so it's unlikely they trade too.

That leaves the Reds, who could move Raisel Iglesias for the right offer because he may be among the best bullpen pieces available. If they do make that move, watch for either Amir Garrett or Robert Stephenson to take over. Both were highly touted prospects who failed as starters but have found a calling in the bullpen. Garrett is left-handed but is being used is high leverage situations and his 26.2 innings show they trust him against both lefties and righties. He has the skill set to become an elite closing option.

National League West

Last we have the NL West, which has plenty of interesting situations. Kenley Jansen and Kirby Yates are not going anywhere, and I find it unlikely the Rockies would be able to trade Wade Davis even if they wanted to.

The Diamondbacks could move Greg Holland, though he may not return much. If they do, some combination of Yoshihisa Hirano and Archie Bradley likely takes over the role, as they have been frequently used in high-leverage situations. I'll give Hirano the leg up as the team seems to like Bradley as a fireman or sorts. However, I would love to see Yoan Lopez get a shot, as he was a model favorite last season and is repeating it again this season. The odd thing is the strikeouts have not been there yet, but the swinging strike rate is actually higher than 2018. Hitters are weirdly making more contact out of the zone and less contact within it. If he can lessen that out-of-zone contact, the K-rate should return. There is legitimate upside here with Lopez.

The most interesting in this division is the Giants. Will Smith will be traded at some point, as the left-hander has once again dominated and should be considered among the best closers in baseball. They have a plethora of former closers behind him, with Tony Watson and Sam Dyson showing above average skills, and Mark Melancon throwing better than he has in several seasons. Another name to watch is Reyes Moronta who many view as the closer of the future. The skills seem to have eroded from a strong showing in 2018, but the team is still trusting him is high leverage situations.

The other name I love and will be keeping an eye on in San Francisco is Trevor Gott. The hard throwing right-hander has been excellent, and while he was just activated off the IL, the model is in love with the skill set ranking him as the second best Giant's reliever just behind Smith. I have long loved Gott's skill set and big fastball, but he has almost completely ditched his sinker, trading it for four-seam fastballs, which seems to be the key driving his success so far. 

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