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The Closer Market: Free Agents

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One of the Indians' two major goals this offseason is to upgrade their bullpen. Actually, "upgrade" seems too weak a word when describing the present relief corps: the bullpen ranked either last or second to last in every major team bullpen statistic. Bob Wickman, who was effective (but not spectacular), was dealt to Atlanta in July. Wickman recently re-signed with the Braves, making an already thin closer market even thinner. Another potential option, Francisco Cordero, had his 2007 option picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers, so there's another option off the table. Here's the list of potential free agents who have at least ten career saves - in other words, "proven closers":

Danys Baez (111)
Mike DeJean (52)
Octavio Dotel (71)
Jeff Fassero (25)
Keith Foulke (190)
Eric Gagne (161)
Eddie Guardado (183)
LaTroy Hawkins (75)
Dustin Hermanson (56)
Roberto Hernandez (326)
Steve Kline (37)
Dan Kolb (146)
Jose Mesa (320)
Kent Mercker (25)
Jeff Nelson (33)
Troy Percival (324)
Cliff Politte (15)
Arthur Rhodes (30)
David Riske (16)
Felix Rodriguez (11)
Rudy Seanez (11)
Mike Stanton (84)
Mike Timlin (139)
Rick White (16)
Scott Williamson (55)
Esteban Yan (51)

Now let's see if any of these guys were actually good pitchers in 2006. Those who were better than replacement level (as measured by WRXL):

LaTroy Hawkins (1.824)
Keith Foulke (1.523)
Mike Stanton (1.278)
Arthur Rhodes (0.944)
Jose Mesa (0.934)
Kent Mercker (0.854)
Guillermo Mota (0.822)
Rick White (0.622)
Rheal Cormier (0.452)
Roberto Hernandez (0.400)
Mike Stanton (0.305)
Mike DeJean (0.221)
Eric Gagne (0.101) - 2 games
Dustin Hermanson (0.068)
Danys Baez (0.066) - with Atlanta

For reference, Rafael Betancourt lead the Indians with 1.615 WXRL, which ranked 60th in baseball. None of these guys look particularly tempting, and there's only one or two tolerable candidates for closer. Danys Baez had the most saves on this list (9), but the bridges reconnecting him with Cleveland were burned several years ago. Keith Foulke's stuff has fallen off dramatically since 2004. Eric Gagne is coming off major surgery. Yeah, the closer market isn't good.

Next up: Where do closers come from?