Fantasy Baseball managers hoping to remain competitive in the saves and holds categories as they make their push for a fantasy title are eagerly and at times tepidly waiting for any trade news relating to closers and other high-level relief pitchers. With so many teams still in the mix for a potential playoff spot some organizations are waiting until just before the MLB trade deadline expires to decide as to whether they’ll buy, sell, or stand pat.
Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates
The Detroit Tigers are a team that can potentially make the playoffs and must decide if they want to sell off some of their assets. Despite being nine games under .500 they are still just 6.5 games back in the AL Central. Should they decide to be sellers, current closer Alex Lange could be on the move and unfortunately, he will not likely close out games for his new team.
The Kansas City Royals entered Wednesday’s action with the second-worst record in baseball. It would make sense for them to be sellers at the trade deadline, but they’ve already traded a highly regarded relief pitcher in Aroldis Chapman. Scott Barlow could be moved but he’s been slumping lately and like the previously mentioned Lange, is under team control for next season.
The Atlanta Braves are making moves and on Monday they added depth to their already strong bullpen by acquiring former Colorado Rockies closer Pierce Johnson. With Daniel Bard placed on the IL to start the season Johnson took over as the team’s closer but he lost the gig in early June due to ineffectiveness. Johnson misses a lot of bats (13.38 K/9 this season), but he also issues too many free passes (5.77 BB/9 this season). Despite having closer experience he’s unlikely to be in the mix for save opportunities with the Braves. Instead, he’ll likely be a good resource for holds moving forward and should benefit from not having to pitch his home games in hitter friendly Coors Field.
Justin Lawrence seems firmly entrenched as the Rockies closer with Daniel Bard functioning as the next man up. Brad Hand, who has 131 career saves and a 2.08 ERA in his last five appearances, will be a free agent at the end of the season and could be the next Rockies reliever to be traded. He has a .149 BAA left-handed batters this season and whether he finishes the season with the Rockies or not, he should be considered a moderate resource for holds.
The Chicago White Sox traded Reynaldo Lopez to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday and are reportedly open to moving either Kendall Graveman or Joe Kelly in a trade as well. Graveman is currently operating as the White Sox’s closer with Liam Hendriks on the IL. With Graveman under team control for the 2025 season and Kelly a free agent at the end of this season, Kelly would be the next White Sox reliever to be moved in a trade.
Lopez has had his ups and downs this season, but he gives the Angels another bullpen option to call upon in late inning high leverage situations. He had four saves and 10 holds for the White Sox but also had five blown saves on the season. Carlos Estevez has 23 saves and a 1.98 ERA and is in no immediate danger of losing his role as the Angels’ closer.
The Twins acquired Dylan Floro, who’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and has 32 career saves, seven of which have been recorded thus far this season. Floro could back into an occasional save situation with the Twins but it’s more likely that he’ll be used against tough right-handed batters (career .232 BAA) and be a better resource for holds. He might not have nearly as many saves as some of the other top fantasy baseball closers, but Jhoan Duran has a firm grip on the Twins’ closer’s role. Griffin Jax is currently the favorite to be the next man up should Duran be unavailable.
The other side of the trade saw the Marlins adding former Twins reliever and Orioles closer Jorge Lopez to their bullpen. Lopez had already compiled a 1.68 ERA and saved 19 games for the Orioles when the Twins acquired him from the O’s last season, but had a 4.81 ERA, 1.414 WHIP and just seven saves across parts of two seasons with the Twinkies. Marlins closer A.J. Puk has struggled of late (9.28 ERA, 4 blown saves in his last 12 appearances) and while Tanner Scott appears to be the next man up, with his previous success as a closer Lopez can be called upon to contribute in high leverage late inning situations. Lopez has slumped at times this season, but he’s been very effective against left-handed batters (.178 BAA).
Other bullpen and trade related news to take note of
The Philadelphia Phillies activated Seranthony Dominguez from the IL (left oblique strain) on Tuesday. On Wednesday night Dominguez made his first appearance since being activated. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning and picked up a win. With Jose Alvarado still on the IL (elbow) look for Dominguez to be used in late inning high leverage situations. Craig Kimbrel remains the closer, but Dominguez could pick up a few save opportunities before the season is over.
New York Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga, who has been on the IL since April (right elbow surgery) is set to begin pitching in rehab games this weekend. Many consider Loaisiga to be the best reliever in the Yankees bullpen when healthy, and once he’s activated, he could be in the mix for save opportunities for the Bronx Bombers.
The St. Louis Cardinals are said to be interested in signing current closer Jordan Hicks to a contract extension. Some speculated that Hicks might be moved in a trade but that no longer appears to be the case. The Cards are reported to be getting inquiries about the availability of Giovanny Gallegos and the injured Ryan Helsley however both are under team control for the 2024 season and are unlikely to be traded.
The San Diego Padres may be sellers depending on how their team performs as MLB’s trade deadline approaches. There are rumors that they might be open to trading Josh Hader who is once again pitching like one of the premiere closers in baseball. Hader will be a free agent at the end of the season.
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