The trade deadline looms, and deals with fantasy impact have already started to roll in. Those in NL-Only leagues are salivating at the idea of blowing their FAAB budget on J.D. Martinez, and Jose Quintana owners are hoping that he can win more than four games on the other side of Chicago.

But since this is a series about managerial tendencies, the most relevant trades to discuss here are those involving closers. You know to bid on Martinez in NL-Only leagues, and Quintana owners obviously shouldn’t be looking to sell with the advantageous move across town. But it might not be as obvious what the fantasy impact is when closers get dealt.

Let’s take a look at the deals involving closers that have taken place thus far and examine how the managers of the teams involved have handled their closers in the past.


White Sox Trade David Robertson to the Yankees

In the last three seasons, Robertson has recorded 84 of 93 saves recorded by White Sox. His return to New York obviously leaves a giant hole in the back of Chicago’s bullpen. The candidates to fill the closer’s role are Tyler Clippard and Anthony Swarzak, though it would be no surprise to see Chicago deal them as well before the deadline. Were those two to go, guys like Chris Beck, Juan Minaya or Gregory Infante might be next in line.

We’ve got fairly little to go off in terms of manager Rick Renteria’s past behavior. Robertson has obviously had the job on lock down to this point, and Renteria only has one other season of managerial experience under his belt, which came in 2014 with the Cubs.

In ’14, Jose Veras theoretically started the season as Chicago’s closer, but he failed to record a single save that season. He allowed at least one earned run in five of his first six appearances and two or more earned runs in four of those appearances. Rondon was quickly named Veras’ replacement, and he ended up recording 29 of Chicago’s 36 saves that season.

Rondon did have a bit of a struggle in late May and early June of that season, and Neil Ramirez recorded three saves in a three-week window or so. But by and large, Renteria stuck with Rondon even when he struggled, so there’s reason to believe that whoever he goes with will have some rope.

Clippard is reportedly going to get the first shot at the job with Swarzak setting up. While there’s risk Clippard is dealt, his numbers this season aren’t great (4.95 ERA, 4.82 xFIP), and Swarzak might be the more appealing option for teams looking to acquire a reliever. The best chance at fantasy value here is Clippard staying with the White Sox past the deadline, so if you’re desperate for saves, spend a bit more than you think you should to acquire Clippard off the wire. And if Clippard and Swarzak both end up getting dealt, spend more than might be necessary to acquire whoever is named the next closer. The small sample we have to work with says Renteria will give him a real shot to stick.


Athletics Trade Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the A’s

It was inevitable that Washington was going to make a move for bullpen help. It’s unfortunate for fantasy owners that they acquired two similarly talented pitchers like Doolittle and Madson. Had they just acquired one reliever, the situation would obviously be much cleaner.

Both Madson and Doolittle pitched for Washington last night with Madson pitching the eighth and Doolittle getting the save. To add to the uncertainty of the situation, Madson pitched a clean inning while Doolittle allowed two baserunners and a run. That Doolittle got the first save opportunity is more noteworthy than their individual game lines, but it’s just another indication of the possibility for a messy situation.

Baker obviously has a much more extensive managerial history to look back on than Renteria with over two decades of experience on the bench. Last year Baker stuck with Jonathan Papelbon, despite Pap having an ERA higher than four, before the Nats acquired Mark Melancon, who took over the job.

Back when Baker was with the Reds, he had Aroldis Chapman in his last two seasons, so those years are of no help. From 2008-2011 he had Francisco Cordero holding down the job. Cordero was solid for the most part, but he did struggle a fair bit in 2010 with an ERA near 4.00 and a K:BB ratio of less than 2:1. But Dusty stuck with him and Cordero earned 40 saves. It’s worth noting that Chapman got called up that September and struck out almost 13 batters per nine innings, but Dusty didn’t use him for saves until 2012.

We could go back farther, but we all have a good idea that Baker is an old school type manager who is going to stick with his guy. With that knowledge, the Washington closing situation is probably less muddy than it might appear. Doolittle got the first save opportunity, which means he’s a pretty damn good bet to get the majority of them the rest of the way.

Given what we’ve discussed here with Baker, it becomes more obvious that we can’t be as certain about how Renteria will handle the situation. If you need saves in the worst way, Clippard is till the better option, but if you’re sitting mid-pack in saves and looking to add some but not desperate for them, Swarzak is the better add. Clippard being named the closer might take some of the FAAB heat off Swarzak, and Swarzak has excellent ratio numbers that can add value even if he doesn’t end up closing.

To put a coda on this, it’s also worth noting that Blake Treinen went from Washington to Oakland in the Madson/Doolittle deal. Santiago Casilla has blown five saves this season and two in the last two weeks. Oakland doesn’t have a lot going on in their pen, so if Casilla loses the job, Treinen is probably the guy first in line to take over.