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8 Relievers Who Could Close Next Year

Recently I was asked to name a few relievers who are not currently closing but could become full-time stoppers in 2011.  My candidates:

  • Matt Thornton, White Sox.  The Sox might non-tender Bobby Jenks to save money, and Thornton has the skills to take over the ninth.  He's picked up five saves this year, so it's not a foreign idea.
  • J.J. Putz, free agent.  After a fantastic comeback season Putz could sign on somewhere at $5-6MM and return to closing.
  • Daniel Bard, Red Sox.  I consider it unlikely but it's not implausible that the Red Sox trade Jonathan Papelbon during the offseason.
  • Joe Nathan, Twins.  Hey don't forget about Nathan!  If he comes back strong from Tommy John surgery Matt Capps could be traded or pushed to a setup role next year.
  • Fernando Rodney, Angels.  Brian Fuentes is a free agent, so Rodney is the logical choice to step in (as he did when Fuentes hit the DL this year).  Kevin Jepsen is another candidate.
  • Brandon League, Mariners.  It wouldn't surprise me to see the Mariners move David Aardsma in the offseason.
  • Jonny Venters, Braves.  He's a little green but he's a candidate to take over for the retiring Billy Wagner.
  • Drew Storen, Nationals.  He's currently splitting the closing duties with Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett.  I expect one of the three to be anointed early in the 2011 season.
  • Several teams have to figure out unsettled situations: the Rays, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Angels, and Braves.  We might see free agents like Putz, Frank FranciscoJoaquin Benoit, Takashi Saito, or Grant Balfour given chances to close next year.  As always, keep an eye on @closernews on Twitter for all the developments.

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