Just because fantasy football is starting doesn't mean that there still isn't meaningful work to be done in your fantasy baseball leagues, especially in dynasty formats. This may be the absolute best time to try and get a few things done under the radar, and speculating on potential closer candidates for 2014 should be near the top of the list. While all of these pitchers are not guaranteed to get the closer job for their respective teams in 2014, they represent some of the best options if you are hoping to find extra saves for next year without having to pay full price for them then.
The Mariano Rivera Magical Retirement Tour is coming to an end here soon, and for the first time in nearly two decades, the team must look to determine who should pitch in the 9th inning of close games. David Robertson is the clear-cut candidate, having pitched in the 8th inning consistently the past few seasons and notching excellent numbers in that role. Robertson fits in the Rivera mold, in that he gets consistent strikeout totals while allowing minimal walks and hits.
If you are looking for a potential candidate in deep leagues, I submit former top prospect Dellin Betances, who was finally converted to the bullpen this season and has been electric at times in the minors. Betances finished up his stint in the minors with 83 strikeouts against 26 walks and a ridiculous 33 hits allowed in 60 relief innings for AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre, and has the potentially devastating repertoire to get a ton of strikeouts as a closer.
While Perez is under team control for another season, he seems likely to be on his way out of town, as rumors of him being shopped this offseason have surfaced recently. Add in that he's expected to get a raise on his current $7.3 million salary, and other difficulties he has recently resolved, and it becomes pretty easy to see why the Indians could want him out of town. Allen has been lights out this year for the Indians, with 77 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched this year, and will be under team control for another four seasons after this one.
It's hard to believe that anyone other than Vinnie Pestano would be mentioned above, but with his struggles this year he fell out of the 8th inning role and was even demoted for a time to the minors. If he can regain the form that made him one of the elite set up men in the league, he could be in the mix as well. However, he will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, and it's possible the Indians could cut bait entirely.
It seems unlikely that the Twins would move Glen Perkins, as he is under a very team-friendly contract through potentially 2016, but that contract could potentially net a substantial prospect haul from a team looking for a cost-controlled closer. While Jared Burton has been primarily the 8th inning setup man this year, he has been very up and down, and I would look more closely at Casey Fien instead. Fien has drastically improved his groundball rate this year, and while his ERA doesn't reflect well, his overall performance has been excellent (63 K, 10 BB, 46 H in 55 IP).
Tonkin was the closer for the Twins' AA and AAA affiliates this year, posting 66 strikeouts and 16 walks in 57 innings pitched, and was recently added to the 40-man roster. If the Twins decided to move Perkins, he could be another candidate that could move into that role during 2014.