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Preliminary Closer Rankings for 2012

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With less than 3 weeks remaining in the season, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at my preliminary rankings for closers for 2012. 

News and Notes from Around the Bullpen

  • The Orioles are probably going to be in the market for a free agent closer for 2012. Jim Johnson has been used in save situations this week, but I imagine that if the team had confidence in him, they would use him much more than Kevin Gregg for the rest of the year. Gregg is under contract for 2012, but has been extremely ineffective this year (7 blown saves).
  • The White Sox are going to have an interesting problem, as Sergio Santos has shown himself to be a very solid closer this season. However, they also have Chris Sale and Matt Thornton in the bullpen, as well as prospect Addison Reed who could all get a shot at closing next year as well. Moving Sale to the rotation could clear up some of that, but their rotation is also fairly full for next year already.
  • We'll have to see what happens the rest of the season in St. Louis and Colorado, as both have unsettled closer roles with multiple candidates available.
  • Some notable free agent to be non-closers (currently) who could get a shot to close for a new team in 2012: Matt Capps, Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Isringhausen, Fernando Rodney
  • Free agency will also have the possibility to open up jobs in Boston, San Diego, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Toronto. Realistically, Boston would most likely go with Daniel Bard if they do not end up resigning Papelbon for some reason.
  • Trade candidates in the offseason include Leo Nunez, Brandon League, and possibly Andrew Bailey. 
All of the rankings below are based on the specific pitcher in the situation. As situations start to clarify themselves, we will update the rankings accordingly. These will be the last closer rankings for the rest of the regular season.


Closer Rankings for 2012 (Free Agents in Italics)

  1. Craig Kimbrel (Braves
  2. Mariano Rivera (Yankees
  3. Joel Hanrahan (Pirates
  4. Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox
  5. Heath Bell (Padres
  6. Brian Wilson (Giants
  7. Jose Valverde (Tigers
  8. Neftali Feliz (Rangers
  9. John Axford (Brewers
  10. Leo Nunez (Marlins)  
  11. Joakim Soria (Royals
  12. Drew Storen (Nationals
  13. Andrew Bailey (Athletics
  14. Francisco Cordero (Reds
  15. Brandon League (Mariners)
  16. J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks
  17. Joe Nathan (Twins
  18. Ryan Madson (Phillies)
  19. Carlos Marmol (Cubs)
  20. Chris Perez (Indians
  21. Sergio Santos (White Sox)
  22. Kyle Farnsworth (Rays) (club option)
  23. Javy Guerra (Dodgers
  24. Jordan Walden (Angels
  25. Fernando Salas/Jason Motte (Cardinals
  26. Bobby Parnell (Mets)
  27. Frank Francisco (Blue Jays
  28. Rafael Betancourt (Rockies
  29. Mark Melancon (Astros
  30. Kevin Gregg (Orioles)