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David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, AJ Ramos, Brandon Maurer, and other bullpen trade rumors

For week 16 of Coffee’s for Closers, I am focusing entirely on the upcoming trade deadline and potential moves of relievers around the league.

Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

There have been a total of three days of baseball since my last Coffee’s for Closers, so, with the MLB trade deadline only two weeks away, I am devoting this entire post to bullpen trade rumors. I will be back with updated closer rankings and leverage vs z score data next week, when there have been more post-ASB games to draw from.

Let’s start looking at the trade landscape by listing the teams that are definitely sellers.



White Sox










Teams that probably should sell given their contract situations, place in standings, and rest-of-season outlook, but might be stubborn enough to hold:



Ok, so that gives us 13 potential sellers. Looking at those 13 bullpens and closers and their contracts, I’ve got this list of closers that could be on the block.

Closers on the Trade Block:

Justin Wilson

David Robertson

Santiago Casilla

Jim Johnson

AJ Ramos

Addison Reed

(Skipping Hector Neris, Felipe Rivero, and Raisel Iglesias because they are young and cheap and under control for a while)

Brandon Maurer

Mark Melancon (if healthy), Sam Dyson

Kelvin Herrera

Zach Britton

Since I am saying that any of those guys could be moved in the next two weeks, some much more likely than others, let’s look at their setup guys and see if they are worth owning. I’m going to grade each potential new closer using standard letter grades.

Who’s Waiting Behind Those Closers?

Behind Justin Wilson is Bruce Rondon, but his walk rate scares me, so he gets a C- grade

David Robertson’s 8th inning man is Tommy Kahnle, A+

Santiago Casilla probably won’t be moved because he hasn’t been very good and his backup, Sean Doolittle might be moved as well. If Doolittle does get the A’s job or another closer job, he is definitely an A+

Behind Jim Johnson is Arodys Vizcaino (when he gets healthy), B

AJ Ramos’ backup is David Phelps, but he’s also rumored to be on the block, leaving Kyle Barraclough, who gets a C- for his walks

Addison Reed’s setup man is Jerry Blevins, I think, but it is hard to tell. Blevins gets a B for his bad walk rate with elite strikeout rate

Brandon Maurer’s backup, Brad Hand, will almost certainly be moved also, leaving Phil Maton. Maton’s been fantastic, A+

In San Fran, Melancon could only be moved if he gets healthy before the deadline. If he’s moved, though, Dyson would probably stay to close and he seems like a B- right now. I don’t think teams trust Dyson enough to trade for him, but if they did, that would leave C- Hunter Strickland.

Backing up Kelvin Herrera is the even better Joakim Soria. He gets a well-deserved A.

It seems crazy that the O’s would trade their star closer, but if they do, Brad Brach has already proven he can handle the role and gets a B+

Closers On The Block To Become Non-Closers

Next, let’s look at which closers rumored to be on the trading block (the big list of names above) probably wouldn’t close on their new teams

As a lefty, Justin Wilson will probably be used as a setup/lefty specialist guy for a new team.

Zach Britton, dominant as he is as a closer, has been rumored to be used as a setup guy if he moves to the Dodgers. He would be a closer almost anywhere else, though.

Jim Johnson might not be dominant enough for teams to use as a closer

The same could be said for Santiago Casilla

And, I think that’s it.


Finally, let’s examine the buying teams so you know which current closers could be deposed with the acquisition of another reliever.

Buyers that need a closer:

Nationals (They are probably good now after trading for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson)


Twins? Rays? (these might be long shots)

Ok, so it turns out that although many contenders, like the Red Sox, Brewers, Rockies, and Diamondbacks might like to upgrade their bullpens, they aren’t likely to use their new player as a closer. That means, that short list of closers likely to lose the role upon being traded should probably be much longer. There just aren’t enough contenders with bad closers to go around. For that reason, here’s a longer list based solely on my educated guesses, of current closers likely to pitch outside the 9th inning with their new teams:

Justin Wilson, Santiago Casilla, Jim Johnson, AJ Ramos, Addison Reed, Brandon Maurer, Zach Britton (only on LAD, otherwise he’s still a closer)

In other words, I think these are the only guys that, if traded, would certainly stay closers: Kelvin Herrera, Mark Melancon, David Robertson

Wrap Up

So, I guess the tl;dr for this post is: David Robertson will probably be traded to the Nationals and all the other moves will be closers (or non-closers) moving to teams as setup men. I think the Robertson trade is the most likely, followed by Herrera, Britton, Ramos and David Phelps, Maurer and Hand, then Wilson.

I hope you find this helpful as you prep your fantasy rosters for the trade deadline craziness. I’ll have the usual Coffee’s for Closers next time. Tschus!