Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Rays Refuse to Pick Up a Closer

Rays fans, get ready for a closer by committee in 2010!
"Rays vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said he expects the Rays to break camp next spring with the old closer by committee.

His reasoning? The Rays simply can’t afford someone like Billy Wagner, the former Astros, Phillies and Mets closer now serving as the Red Sox set-up man.

“I think there’s kind of a misnomer out there that we don’t believe in having someone that can lock down a game,” Friedman said Tuesday at Tropicana Field. “It’s just that when we get into our roster construction and allocating of resources, it’s very difficult for us to allocate a huge amount of money for someone who pitches 70 innings a year.”

Friedman added, “We can’t make any moves in a vacuum.”
I understand Friedman's logic here. The Rays have a limited payroll and ultimately, some area of the team is going to suffer. Closers are a very overpriced commodity (outside of Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, etc.) and the save is the most overrated baseball statistic. It seems logical to think that a effective closer can be found on the cheap in 2010 if the Rays have some luck.

However, if there was ever an offseason where the Rays could find a closer on the cheap, it would be this offseason. The reason? There's so many guys on the market who have closing experience. Take a look:

-Billy Wagner
-Rafael Soriano
-Mike Gonzalez
-Fernando Rodney
-Jose Valverde
-JJ Putz (*option)
-Brandon Lyon
-LaTroy Hawkins
-Kevin Gregg
-Danys Baez

By my count, there are 10 free agents this offseason, who have closing experience. There are not ten teams in baseball that are in need of a closer. The price tag on some of these guys is bound to fall as the market for closers becomes colder. To me, that would be the ample opportunity for Friedman and the Rays to jump in and acquire a closer at a price that fits within their budget.

No one expects the Rays to sign a closer to a big money contract. That'd be foolish. But how about signing JJ Putz (if he becomes a free agent) to a one year pact with a low base salary and some nice incentives? A move like that could catapult the Rays to the top of the AL East if Putz is healthy and productive. That seems like a good risk to me.


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Bill said...

While I'm sure the glut of them will depress the market, the fact is that all those guys are going to get more money than another exactly equally talented reliever would because they've got "closing experience," and the Rays are one of the few teams that realizes that that's not something worth spending any money on. Unless you can get Wagner or maybe Valverde, you're paying several million dollars for a guy whose equivalent minus the accumulated "saves" can probably be had for $1 million. Howell will close until he gets too expensive, and then someone else will close. The Rays are doing this right, and hopefully other teams will eventually catch on and stop giving huge multi-year deals to "proven closers" who aren't Nathan or Rivera.

Jorge Says No! said...


First off congrats on the twins. Amazing!

And how about a guy like putz for the rays? Low cost, high reward...