Closer Conundrum: Let the Free Agent Musical Chairs Contest Begin!

With a tip of the hat to alliterative author Kerry Moss I borrow a title from his bailiwick.

For those of you keeping score at home, the possibilities at closer are extensive and somewhat expensive.  But a basic knowledge of the laws of supply and demand have to favor team owners don’t they?  The supply this year seems to be unusually large and with a lot of focus on the First Base sweepstakes there may be a valuable play to be made in the bullpen.  Let’s see what demonstrated closers are available via free agency:

Closer Age/2012 Opening Day G IP ERA K/IP BB/IP WHIP SV 2011 Salary
Heath Bell 34 131 132.2 2.17 9.3 3.3 1.176 90 $7.5 million
Jonathan Broxton 27 78 75.0 4.32 10.0 4.4 1.547 29 $7 million
Matt Capps 28 143 138.2 3.31 6.0 1.0 1.233 57 $7.125 million
Francisco Cordero 36 143 142.1 3.16 6.4 3.7 1.230 77 $12.125 million
Kyle Farnsworth 36 123 122.1 2.80 8.2 2.3 1.071 25 $2.6 million
Frank Francisco 32 110 103.1 3.66 9.8 3.1 1.297 19 $4 million
Ryan Madson 31 117 113.2 2.45 10.0 2.3 1.100 37 $4.833 million
Joe Nathan 37 48 44.2 4.84 8.7 2.8 1.164 14 $11.25 million
Jonathan Papelbon 31 128 131.1 3.43 11.2 2.6 1.104 68 $11 million
Jon Rauch 33 112 109.2 3.94 6.7 2.3 1.322 32 $3.5 million
Francisco Rodriguez 30 126 129.0 2.44 10.2 3.3 1.233 48 $12.167 million
Rafael Soriano 32 106 101.2 2.66 8.2 2.8 0.993 47 $10 million
Jose Valverde 34 135 135.1 2.59 8.8 4.4 1.175 75 $7 million

So far Jose Valverde has already had his option picked up by the Tigers for $9 million dollars and all indications are that Rafael Soriano will return to the Yankees.  The Brewers have naturally declined the absurd $17 million option on Scott Boras client Francisco Rodriguez and I doubt the Reds would ever be interested in him based on his representation alone.  (Boras also represents Soriano who seems heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.)

I do not see Farnsworth or Nathan as an option due to their age which also makes me question if the Reds really are still considering accepting the option on Cordero who is also 36.  If the Reds still consider $12 million an amount to work with then to me Bell, Madson, and Papelbon seem the best choices.  Papelbon was once a teammate of Bronson Arroyo and I have always wondered whether he might be a fit.  Bell would be a wonderful addition.  Jonathon Broxton did not have the season many hoped he would have in 2011 so a flyer on him might be a less expensive bonanza if his performance would improve.

The music has started and I would bet it will be a month or so before it stops and we get a better feel for where the Reds bullpen stands.  I wish Mr. Jockety happy hunting!

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Tags: Closer Francisco Cordero Francisco Rodriguez Frank Francisco Heath Bell Joe Nathan Jon Rauch Jonathan Broxton Jose Valverde Kyle Farnsworth Matt Capps Rafael Soriano Ryan Madson

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