With less than seven days left before the non-waiver trade deadline, several closers are on the block. Chief among them is Padres closer Heath Bell, but names such as Brandon League, Kyle Farnsworth and Huston Street have also been bandied around. How will these shake-ups affect your quest for saves? Let's take a look.
According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, the Cardinals, Rangers, Phillies and Angels are all chasing after Bell (2.45 ERA, 28 saves, 6.69 K/9). One of the best in the business, Bell would likely slide into a set up role in every city except St. Louis. If you're a Bell owner, pray for the Red Birds to make a move.
When Bell is moved, Mike Adams will seamlessly slide from the eighth to the ninth inning in San Diego. There was talk that Adams (1.20 ERA, 9.00 K/9, 1.80 BB/9) could also be moved, but the Padres' demands have made that unlikely. Arguably the best set up man in baseball, Adams is owned in a shockingly-low 27.3 percent of leagues. If you own Bell, add Adams immediately.
The other closers on the block (Farnsworth, League, Street, Leo Nunez) are less likely to be dealt, but anything is possible this time of year. Contract-wise, Nunez (3.47 ERA, 28 saves, 8.49 K/9) is most likely to go, as he is arbitration eligible in 2012. League and Farnsworth, on the other hand, have team-friendly options for next year.
If Nunez is dealt, Marlins manager Jack McKeon said Edward Mujica (3.14 ERA, 6.66 K/9, 1.11 BB/9) would inherit the role. "He comes in and pretty much goes right after you," said McKeon. "That's part of being a good closer. He doesn't get intimidated." The Florida reliever is worth a speculative add in NL-only leagues.
Aside from Bell, the big loser in all this chatter appears to be Fernando Salas. The Cards' closer (2.63 ERA, 18 saves, 8.81 K/9) has been solid since he supplanted Ryan Franklin earlier this year, but with Albert Pujols headed for free agency, St. Louis needs a deep playoff run. Expect them to add at last one-end game arm. Sell high on Salas if you can.
How did the rest of the major league bullpens fare this week? Let's take a look around the league:
Heath BellMariano RiveraCraig KimbrelJoel HanrahanBrian Wilson
Hanrahan's stellar year has carried over to the second half. Since the All-Star break, Hanrahan has notched two saves and struck out three in 4.1 innings. With the Pirates contending, he isn't going anywhere.
Jonathan PapelbonDrew StorenAndrew BaileyJoakim SoriaJose ValverdeJohn AxfordBrandon LeagueCarlos MarmolHuston StreetRyan Madson
Antonio Bastardo picked up his eighth save last week, but only because Madson had pitched back-to-back games. Despite Bastardo's dominance and Brad Lidge's return, Madson should have the ninth inning to himself the rest of the year. ... Cubs manager Mike Quade reinstated Marmol as the Cubs' closer over the weekend. Even with his recent wildness, Marmol (3.50 ERA, 19 saves, 11.27 K/9) is an elite stopper. Get him back in your lineup.
Jordan WaldenLeo NunezNeftali FelizFrancisco CorderoChris PerezKyle FarnsworthSergio SantosJavy Guerra
Feliz has been used sparingly in July, but the signs are encouraging: he's walked only two batters in 6.2 July innings. If the Rangers deal for relief help, it's to set up Feliz, not replace him. ... Both Cordero (2.74 ERA, 19 saves) and Perez (3.03 ERA, 22 saves) have FIPs north of 4.00. If you can sell high, do it.
Fernando SalasDavid HernandezKevin GreggJoe NathanJon RauchMark MelanconJason Isringhausen
J.J. Putz will be activated from the DL on Tuesday, and consequently, Hernandez will return to the eighth inning. He's been great in Putz's absence (8.1 innings, 0 earned runs, seven saves) but his value is limited to NL-only leagues when the Diamondbacks' closer is healthy. ... Isringhausen looks like the favorite for saves in New York right now. With 296 career saves to his name, expect the Mets to ride him and cash in on his quest for 300 saves.
Jonathan BroxtonJ.J. Putz
Backups who will ensure you're banking saves even if your closer goes down: