It’s tough to get excited about saves men, honestly. Even the ones you pay up for leave a bad taste in your mouth due to draft day cost. For my part, I’m typically trying to nab the guy who is the cheapest one (per ADP) with the closer’s role AND enough skills to hold said role. Last year, that was Raisel Iglesias. This year—well, you’ll have to read on, won’t you?
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (Heath Capps)
NFBC ADP: 65.21
Draft rank: 7th (among relievers)
Chapman isn’t quite as cheap as I’d like, but I don’t like being completely frozen out of a saves anchor, and his combination of track record and job security mean I’ve landed him on multiple teams so far this draft season. Check last season’s first and second half splits:
1H: .210/.349/.400, .326 wOBA, 15.78 K/9, 6.67 BB/9, 1.52 HR/9
2H: .151/.286/.312, .272 wOBA, 15.19 K/9, 5.40 BB/9, 1.35 HR/9
The walk rate is a blemish, as are Chapman’s XWOBACON marks over the last two seasons. The .436 mark (2020) and .438 (2021) are major departures from hovering around the low .300’s (top 5% of MLB) in seasons prior. But there’s still plenty to like here, namely the ability to log strikeouts. Last year’s 39.9% K-rate was inside the top 1% of the league, for instance. And if he can merely reduce the amount of walks, the occasional dinger won’t be as harmful. Maybe this isn’t a super-strong argument...but I’m confused about Edwin Diaz’s volatility being drafted some 20 picks earlier than Chapman’s. I’m banking on Chapman’s track record here. I’d think he can improve in at least one of these facets—free passes or homers—and improving in just one would severely help given his ability to still miss bats. If you want to back him up with Jonathan Loaisiga in draft and holds, you can do so for a price that typically exceeds pick 350, which is pretty cheap compared to a handcuff like Devin Williams (pick 300ish). Look, he’s got the role and he still has some skills, okay? I can’t help who I like. Roast me, amigos.
Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals (Andrés Chávez)
NFBC ADP: 95.05
Draft rank: 10th (if you exclude Will Smith)
Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes have been two names that have gotten in the way of Gio Gallegos closing in St. Louis. This season, however, the Cards want to try Hicks in a multi-inning reliever role, and they want Reyes to start (he is injured at the moment, though). Manager Oliver Marmol recently said he won’t have a set closer to begin the season, but the job is clearly Gallegos’ to lose. Everything points towards the right-hander enjoying most of the opportunities in the ninth inning, and he’s certainly talented enough to contribute to your team (3.02 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 95 strikeouts in 2021) even if he doesn’t score 35 saves, which he should be able to eclipse.
Blake Treinen, Los Angeles Dodgers (Garrett Atkins)
NFBC ADP: 140.95
Draft rank: 14th (again, excluding Will Smith)
Fresh off the news the Braves signed Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen shoots up the reliever ranks. I have him inside my top 10 at the position. His ADP is sure to climb as well. But even before the news, Treinen was a target for me. Last season he posted a 1.99 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 over 72.1 innings. The Statcast numbers were ELITE! Among pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched, Treinen was 2nd in hard hit percentage allowed, 2nd in barrel rate allowed, and 1st in average exit velocity allowed. This led to a 93rd percentile xBA, a 99th percentile xSLG, and a 97th percentile xwOBA. Any way you frame it, Treinen is an elite pitcher. Now he takes over as the favorite for saves on perhaps the best team in baseball. Sign me up!