Most of the quality free agents have signed contracts that cause tongues to wag. It is now time to begin focusing on values for the 2008 fantasy baseball season. Amongst the favorite places to find values are in the closer roles of all the teams.
Typically, one can get closers all season long as injuries, trades and ineffectiveness open-up the role to those relievers pitching effectively in lesser bullpen roles. This happens every season. here are three situations to keep an eye on.
Eric Gagne signed a one-year/$10MM contract to close games for the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2008 play-off contending season. The dollar figure says he's going to close. The contract length says the BRewers aren't convinced he'll do it for this entire season and those in the future.
It is that kind of thinking that opens-up speculation about who will close if Gagne can't stay healthy for the whole season. The December favorite is the team's close in 2006, Derrick Turnbow. However, I can't help thinking the team had no confidence in Turnbow otherwise they wouldn't have offered $42MM to Francisco Cordero or the $10MM to Gagne.
Tampa Bay Rays
In Tampa Bay, the Rays signed 2007 NL reclamation project Troy Percival to a two-year/$8MM deal and immediately installed him as the closer despite last year's AL reclamation project, Al Reyes, doing a good job in the role. What was more surprising about the Rays moves was the fact that Percival's success came following a year-and-half worth of rest for his arm.
Is there anyone outside of Tampa Bay who believes Percival would be able to shoulder the load of closing for the full season? Nevermind he went from baseball's worst divsion to one of it's strongest. Al Reyes should remain near the top of any closer-in-waiting list.
The Baltimore Orioles are still in need of a closer. Normally, I'd suggest the best available free agent, but after last seasons $19MM debacle for Danys Baez, I don't believe the Orioles will rush to sign Octavio Dotel. However, the team may resolve the back-end of their bullpen in the trade market via marquee names like Erik Bedard, Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts.