Fantasy Baseball Closer Report July 20: David Robertson Amongst Those to Watch Around MLB Trade Deadline
Published: Jul 20, 2022
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Real life MLB teams with playoff aspirations are always on the lookout for relief pitchers with closer experience with a proven ability to convert saves and holds. With baseball’s August 2nd trade deadline quickly approaching, many mediocre teams who are unlikely to make the playoffs will be shopping their relievers, including their closers, in earnest. Effective relievers who’ll either be free agents at the end of the season or who are making big bucks are usually the first to be dealt. An argument can also be made that trading relievers who are under team control for multiple seasons may make them more attractive to the team seeking the player and allow the team trading the player to get a better haul. Unfortunately, if a team trades their closer there’s no guarantee that they’ll continue to function in that role on their new team. Last week we speculated that the surging Orioles might entertain trade offers for their closer Jorge López. This week we’ll identify a few more relievers who might have a chance of being moved by baseball’s trade deadline. We’ve also updated our Closer Grid which is a great resource for identifying bullpen closers, handcuffs, and sleepers.
(The statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of the morning of 7.18.2022)
Potential Trade Deadline Candidates
Josh Hader, Brewers
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Brewers would entertain trade offers for the best closer in baseball leading up to the 2022 MLB trade deadline. This isn’t the first time that the Brew Crew has tested the trade market to gauge Josh Hader’s value, and it does help that they have the best closer in waiting in Devin Williams on their roster. There are all kinds of rumors out there. Some have the Dodgers trading for Hader. The Yankees and Red Sox have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Hader as well. One thing is certain. If he’s traded, unlike the rest of the relievers mentioned in this article, Hader will continue to function as a closer. Don’t be too surprised if he’s still a Brewer on August 3rd.
Daniel Bard, Rockies
With 20 saves, a 2.02 ERA and a 1.009 WHIP, Bard has had a tremendous first half of the season. However, he’ll be a free agent at the end of this season and trading Bard in order to add depth to a Rockies farm system that was ranked 24th in baseball at the start of the season makes sense. If Alex Colomé, (also a free agent at the end of the season), isn’t traded as well, he would likely take over as the teams’ closer if Bard is dealt. That would likely leave Carlos Estévez as the Rockies’ closer, a role that he has had in the past. It’s a situation worth monitoring.
David Bednar, Pirates
It seems as if the Pirates have been rebuilding their roster forever and yet they’ll begin the post All Star break 15 games under .500. Bednar has been one of the best closers in baseball and would be a perfect fit for either the Dodgers or a team like the Red Sox who are just two games behind in the AL Wild Card race. With Bednar under team control through the 2026 season the Pirates can probably command a steep asking price for their current closer. Bednar has a 2.50 ERA and 1.016 WHIP over the past two seasons. Wil Crowe and Yerry De Los Santos would likely be in the mix for save opportunities should the Pirates decide to trade Bednar.
Lou Trivino, A’s
The A’s are in complete rebuild mode and willing to move any player that will help them stock their minor league system with quality prospects. Trivino got off to rough start this season but has bounced back of late. He has a 2.53 ERA and six saves for the A’s in his last 11 games. Overall, he’s been hittable this season (.331 BAA) and his 4.3 BB/9 is concerning, but his career .210 BAA right-handed batters might make him an appealing addition for some teams looking to bolster their bullpen for a bare bargain price. He’s been the A’s closer with Dany Jiménez on the IL but highly unlikely to continue in that role if he does get traded. Zach Jackson and A.J. Puk would be in the mix for save opportunities if Trivino were to be traded before Jimenez is ready to be reinstated from the IL.
David Robertson, Cubs
With a 1.93 ERA, 0.991 WHIP and 13 saves, Robertson deserves consideration as the NL comeback player of the year. He has been equally dominant against right-handed batters (.150 BAA) and left-handed batters (.145 BAA). With the Cubs having no shot at making the playoffs and Robertson being a free agent at the end of the season there’s a good chance that he’ll be moved by the trade deadline. Mychal Givens would likely take over closer duties for the Cubs should Robertson be moved but keep an eye out for Rowan Wick who has four saves for the Cubs this season.
Kyle Finnegan, Nationals
Finnegan is currently closing out games for the Nationals with Tanner Rainey on the IL. He also saved 11 games for the Nats last season and won’t be a free agent until the 2026 season. Finnegan is especially effective against left-handed batters who are batting just .190 against him and could be sought after by teams who use a bullpen by committee approach.
Hunter Strickland, Reds
Like the A’s, the Reds are in full blown rebuild mode and likely willing to trade any player for prospects who can help them in the future. Reds manager David Bell is notorious for using a committee approach in managing his closers. For a little while Bell used Strickland as his closer but now it seems that Alexis Díaz has, at least temporarily, taken over that role. That makes Strickland, who’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, expendable. A change of scenery might be just what Strickland needs. He’s been much more effective on the road (.207 BAA, 3.94 ERA) compared to when he pitches at home (.297 BAA, 6.75 ERA).
Michael Fulmer, Tigers
With Gregory Soto under team control through the 2025 season the Tigers can probably get a bigger haul if they decide to trade him instead of Fulmer. However, the Tigers have a multitude of talented young players, and are probably closer to being a future playoff contender than their current record would lead us to believe. Holding onto Soto and dealing Fulmer might be the smarter move. Fulmer will be a free agent at the end of the season.
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