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Relievers Countdown - The Top Four

Posted by: John Bonnes Updated: July 24, 2011 - 8:21 PM

There has been a lot of talk about how the Twins need a right-handed reliever. There has also been a lot of talk about the number of right-handed relievers available for trade. However, I’d seen precious few specifics, so back on Thursday I started examining fourteen names that are supposedly available and ranking them from worst to first. Today we get to the names that might induce TC Bear to do cartwheels – and not just for their impact THIS YEAR.

 
(If you want to see some more realistic names, check out Part 1 and Part 2.)
 

WHAT THE MARKET WILL BEAR

These are the premier guys. They’re the names about whom lots of teams will be calling and asking. To get any of them, a team not only must make a great offer, it likely has to be better than other great offers.
 
#4. Leo Nunez
Nunez is the 27-year-old closer for the Marlins. He’s been good enough to already rack up 27 saves for Florida, but it’s the secondary statistics that really impress: nearly a strikeout per inning (42K in 45.2 IP) with good control (15 BB). The Marlins are ten games out of the wild card, so he could be available for the right package. The team that acquires him gets to hang onto him this year and next year as he’s still arbitration eligible. He’ll likely cost $6-7M next year and be a free agent in 2013.
 
It’s been reported that the Marlins have talked to the Red Sox and Phillies about him and the Marlins supposedly want young pitching in return. They could also certainly use an everyday third baseman.
 
#3. Mike Adams
There may not be a name more mentioned on the trade market than Adams – remarkable considering he isn’t a closer. Adams is the setup man for Heath Bell in San Diego, but his stats are (and have been) more impressive than Bell’s. His WHIP is an obscene .727, with just 23 hits and 9 walks in 44 innings. It’s also remarkable that he’s available considering Bell will be a free agent at the end of the season; one would think that the Padres would want to have Adams around if Bell leaves.
 
Like Nunez, Adams will be around through 2012 and becomes a free agent in 2013. Unlike Nunez, Adams will likely be quite a bit cheaper next year (because he isn’t collecting saves) and is already 32 years old. The Padres say they would need to be overwhelmed to consider trading him.
 
#2. Joakim Soria
For most of Soria’s career, it has been speculated that the Royals closer could be available in a trade, despite the Kansas City’s protests. The 27-year-old has been a top shelf reliever for several years – an eerie match for Joe Nathan. This year he struggled early, lost his closer job in May, but has gone back to living up to his “Mexecutioner” nickname; since June 1st he has 17 K and 2BB in 20 innings and his WHIP is just 0.750.
 
All of that would place him high on this list, but it’s his contract that elevates him to the top two. He’s making 4M this year, $6M in 2012, $8M in 2013 and $8.75M in 2014. But best of all, each of those years are team options. If he’s throwing like a top flight closer, he’s a bargain. If not, the team who has him can cut bait. And when that contract ends, he’ll still only be 30 years old.
 
#1. Tyler Clippard
The top guy on this list isn’t the closer for the Washington Nationals; he’s their setup man. But he’s 26 years old, has a WHIP this year of .828, and has struck out 64 guys while throwing a hefty 64 innings. He’s got closer stuff, but hasn’t been the closer yet, which makes him cheaper.
 
Similar to Soria, a team could bring back Clippard on a year-to-year basis for several years, but that control last four years, through 2015. Exactly how much that would cost depends on how much he would win in arbitration, but a rough guess of his salary the next four years would be something like $1.5M, $4M, $7M, and $9M.
 
What would it take to get him? According to Ken Rosenthal, any trade for Clippard would need to fill a specific long-term need, such as center field. One of the names that Rosenthal mentions is Denard Span. Nick Cafardo reported that the Rangers have made “a lot of inquiries” on Clippard and also mentions that the Braves, Yankees and Red Sox have also looked into acquiring him.  
 
  

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