Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
While one of these teams is obviously the NY Mets who stand to lose closer Jeurys Familia for perhaps as long as 50 games based upon the decision by MLB for his domestic violence incident this off-season, many are also pointing to the Washington Nationals who now have a gaping hole in the back end of their bullpen left when Melancon found his heart in San Francisco.
Greg Holland’s people let it be known today that he’s fully intending to sign with a club that’s promising him the opportunity to close games. Projected salary for the long injured All-Star is $15 to $20 million for 2 years. That’s a bargain for his quality if he’s indeed healthy, so I would expect that Washington will start doing their due diligence on him as a nice consolation prize. Unlike the Mets, they can indeed offer him primary closing duty whereas the Mets would have him perhaps serve that role only until Familia was eligible to play once again. More importantly, it’s not in Sandy Alderson’s DNA to spend that kind of money on a closer nor is it his MO to have depth at positions of need.
Another option for the Nationals is their former closer who shared duties with Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen. In his last season with the Nationals in 2015 he finished with a 3.44 ERA and 29 saves. Last year after a mid-season deal he ended the campaign in Seattle with coincidentally a 3.44 ERA once again after stinking it up in Toronto. His ending salary of $8.375 million makes him competitive with what Holland would earn but he’s again too rich for Sandy Alderson’s blood, particularly when he’s faced with the arbitration projection for Addison Reed of about $10 million.
Other closers on the market include persona non grata Jonathan Papelbon and over-the-hill Joe Nathan. Former San Francisco closer Sergio Romo earned $9 million after losing his fireman gig, but turned in a 2.64 ERA. They are possibilities but for a club with World Series aspirations and a real budget, you’d think the former two would come first if they were not exploring the trade market. All would be more than the Mets would want to spend, too.
After that are the next tier of setup guys who theoretically could be converted to closing in Washington’s case, but could continue in their familiar role should the Mets have any interest in dabbling in the shallower end of the free agent pool.
At the top of the list are likely former Met Jerry Blevins and former Met Joe Smith. Since both are likely to land $6 million or more per season I wouldn’t expect the Mets to get involved in these negotiations.
Slightly down from there is reinvented starter Joe Blanton who at age 36 has turned in two consecutive stellar stints with Pittsburgh and LA as a reliever. He appeared in 75 games last year and finished with a 2.48 ERA which was actually significantly worse than his Pirates record of 21 games and 1.57 ERA. He earned $4 million with the Dodgers last year and shouldn’t be on tap for much more given his age. That sounds more like Sandy Alderson’s style.
Other quality pitchers include Brad Ziegler, Mike Dunn, Boone Logan, Matt Belisle, Junichi Tazawa, Chris Withrow, Fernando Salas and Travis Wood. Vance Worley is probably a notch below and seemingly perpetually injured Pete Moylan might be a 2017 version of Jim Henderson.
Many good second tier pitchers are already off the table, including Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney and Koji Uehara. Where were the Mets when these deals were negotiated?
Once again it’s painful to watch real clubs operate as if they want to win pennants and obtain the best possible players whereas the Mets continually put artificial restrictions on their roster such as unloading salary before making moves, or putting a limit on what can be spent despite finishing in the post-season each of the past two years and promising to spend when they contended.