Fantasy Baseball 2014: The Closer Carousel Continues

Ronald Martinez

Ray takes a look at all the changes we have seen in the closer role this offseason.

It seems like I write about this topic every offseason at some point, but it is worth repeating. It is a well known fact that the closer role is one of the more volatile jobs in baseball, as the turnover continues to repeat itself year in and year out.

I remember reading an article written by ESPN's Buster Olney where he was discussing teams looking for closers at the trade deadline. One of points he made in the article was that there were only three closers who were with the same team for each of the past three seasons. Telling.

This offseason has seen more than it's fair share of changes in the closer role for many teams, and here is a comparison listing the 2013 closer vs the current closer for each major league team.

There are several teams with question marks, and they are identified in the Current Closer column below:

Team

2013 Closer

Current Closer

ATL

Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

CIN

Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

LAD

Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen

KC

Greg Holland

Greg Holland

TEX

Joe Nathan

Neftali Feliz/Joakim Soria

NYY

Mariano Rivera

David Robertson/Fernando Rodney?

STL

Trevor Rosenthal

Trevor Rosenthal

CHW

Addison Reed

Nate Jones?

PIT

Jason Grilli

Jason Grilli

SEA

Danny Farquhar

Danny Farquhar/other?

MIN

Glen Perkins

Glen Perkins

DET

Joaquin Benoit

Joe Nathan

SFG

Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo

BOS

Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

OAK

Grant Balfour

Jim Johnson

CLE

Chris Perez

John Axford

TOR

Casey Janssen

Casey Janssen

COL

Rex Brothers

Latroy Hawkins/Rex Brothers

PHI

Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon/??

BAL

Jim Johnson

Grant Balfour?

LAA

Ernesto Frieri

Ernesto Frieri

SD

Huston Street

Huston Street

WAS

Rafael Soriano

Rafael Soriano

TB

Fernando Rodney

Heath Bell/ Jake McGee?

MIA

Steve Cishek

Steve Cishek

ARI

Brad Ziegler

Addison Reed

MIL

Jim Henderson

Jim Henderson

CHC

Kevin Gregg

Pedro Strop?

HOU

Josh Fields

Chad Qualls

NYM

Latroy Hawkins

Bobby Parnell

As it currently stands, there have been 13 changes in the closer role since the end of the 2013 season. That is not a small number, and it shows that major league front offices are starting to devalue the closer role in a big way. Some of the changes are due to free agency (Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney), one is due to retirement (Mo Rivera), and others are due to trades (Jim Johnson and Addison Reed).

On top of all that, the Phillies are trying very hard this offseason to deal closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon was not himself in 2013, as he saved just 29 games, had 7 blown saves, and saw his strikeouts per nine crater from 11.83 K/9 to just 8.32 K/9.

Add to that the suggestion by Buster Olney that the Braves could look to deal closer Craig Kimbrel before his salary becomes too exorbitant once he reaches arbitration in 2015. That would be something, wouldn't it? Trading the best closer in the game? I doubt we see that, and think the Braves will attempt to buy out some of his arbitration years before 2015.

I won't go into each and every closer change listed above, but you can see there are several closers jobs that are a question mark at this point in the offseason, including the Yankees, Cubs, Rays and possibly the Mariners if they decide to sign or trade for a more experienced closer. The Rockies signed Latroy Hawkins to be their closer this offseason, but does anyone think he will last in the role in Colorado? The same goes for Pedro Strop in Chicago. I have a feeling they could go out and sign former Indians closer Chris Perez on the cheap this offseason.

My main point here is, unless you get one of the top five closers in the game: Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Joe Nathan or Greg Holland, I would wait to invest in a closer till I have filled up all my position players on draft day. Or, heck, I may not ever draft a closer, preferring to grab a few middle relievers who could step into a role come May or June. I may actually use this strategy this season in at least one league. Don't worry, I will write about it when I do.

So, what do you think of all these changes in the closer jobs across major league baseball this offseason? Let us hear it in the comments section.

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