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Howry Out, Ryan In?

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Bob Howry is apparently close to signing a three-year deal with the Cubs, who are looking to corner the market on middle relievers. What's interesting about this bit of news is that Howry won't be closing for the Cubs (at least to start the season). But $12M is still $12M.

The Indians have been doing their own courting of relievers, most specifically BJ Ryan. Ryan is, depending on how you look at it, the second-best closer in a deep market for relievers. Here's the 2003-2005 WARP for free agent relief pitchers:

If money was no object, the only closer that I'd rather have on this list would be Billy Wagner. Ryan' peripherals were fantastic in 2005; he struck out 12.8 batters per 9 innings, and his home run rates were among the lowest among relievers. He allowed just 54 hits in 70.1 IP. Of course, money does matter, and Ryan won't come cheap. But the interest in Ryan and Tom Gordon leads me to believe that the Indians would rather not bring Bob Wickman back if they could help it, for either one would close if they signed with the Indians.