This offseason, many teams have remodeled their bullpens by adding new closers. Many of baseball’s elite relievers have changed teams this offseason, giving many teams a new look in the back of their pens.
The Phillies made the first reliever splash of the offseason when they signed Jonathan Papelbon from the Red Sox for four years and 50 million. This allowed them to deal with the loss of Ryan Madson. He will be the main arm in a young Phillies bullpen that includes Antonio Bastardo and not much else.
The Red Sox initially were crippled by the loss of Papelbon. However, they managed to acquire a decent setup man in Mark Melancon, and acquired a closer for the future when they traded for Andrew Bailey. With these additions, the Red Sox have added to one of the deepest bullpens in baseball that already included Daniel Bard and several other standouts.
Like the Red Sox, the Padres lost a franchise closer in Heath Bell. The Padres have had a history of a good bullpen, reaching back into the days of Trevor Hoffmann. They once again continued this tradition by prying Huston Street from the Rockies for next to nothing. Street isn’t as dominant as Bell was, but his addition will insure that the Padres once again have one of the NL’s deepest bullpens.
The biggest newss in basebsall recently was the Reds signing of Ryan Madson. He will replace former closer Francisco Cordero, who was very effective in his time in Cincy. While Madson’s one year deal suggests he is not the long term closer for the Reds, it also means that the Reds are going to hold top prospect Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, instead of letting him try to earn the closer’s spot as they had hoped.
The Rangers bullpen was fantastic last year, completly shutting down opponents all the way to the World Series. They added to their pen this offseason by signing Joe Nathan, who was one of the most dominant relievers of the decade before missing significant time the last two years with injury. If he performs as he did with the Twins from 2004-2009, the Rangers should have the best bullpen in baseball. Nathan’s arrival also allows Neftali Feliz, the former closer, to join Alexi Ogando in the starting rotation.
Despite not being relevant this offseason, the Mets did sign two of the bigger names on the relief pitcher market this offseason. Within a 24-hour span, they signed Francisco Cordero and Jon Rauch, both of whom have closing experience. While Cordero is expected to close, Rauch will be a fantastic setup man and provide a smoother transition from the starters. Since both of them are on short deals, however, don’t be surprised if the cash-stripped Mets trade one of them away if they fall behind early in the season.
While the Blue Jays lost Rauch to the Mets, they were able to find a closer for the future from the White Sox at a very affordable price. They traded for Sergio Santos, who is under team control until 2015, and should be a great option for them as they prepare to become a real force in the AL East. They also acquired Jason Frasor from the White Sox in a different deal, giving them several new pieces that should be reliable for the 2012 season.