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MLB Trade Rumors: John Smoltz to Close??

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A few days ago, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi over at wrote that there are 7 teams interested in signing John Smoltz this offseason, with some interested in him closing. Here is what they wrote:

The Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets and Mariners are among the teams that have expressed preliminary interest in free-agent right-hander John Smoltz, according to a major-league source.

Smoltz, 42, is open to starting or relieving, and some teams have inquired about him as a closer, the source said. The Astros, Rangers and Orioles also have shown interest in the 22-year veteran.

Looking at that list, I could see the Cardinals, Astros, Rangers and Orioles looking at him to close. The Cardinals may feel that newly re-signed closer Ryan Franklin's late season blowup is a real cause for concern and try to sign Smoltz to close.

The Astros may look to him to close as their two closers from 2009 Jose Valverde and Latroy Hawkins are both free agents and may cost too much for them to re-sign.

Smoltz may want to stay in the National League after his woeful performance in Boston last year where he was 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP in 8 starts. With St. Louis, Smoltz was 1-3 in 7 starts with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.184 WHIP. It's pretty obvious he's a better pitcher in the National League, and at his age, one has to question whether he can start every five days.

Smoltz's peripheral stats in 2009 were solid. He had a 4.06 K/BB ratio, striking out 8.4/9 and walking 2.1/9. His HR/P were up but most of the damage occurred while he was in Boston where his HR/9 was 1.8/9, while in St. Louis it dropped to 0.7/9. In Boston, batters went .341/.384/.584/.968 against him, while in St. Louis batters went .248/.287/.379/.666 against him.

Smoltz is smart enough to know he is a more effective pitcher in the National League. And he can still close, and will come cheaper than a Jose Valverde or Billy Wagner.