2009 Free Agent Class - The Closers

In an encore of a short series on the 2009 class of free agents, a look at the closers is in order.

The St. Louis Cardinals' Jason Isringhausen will be a free agent at the end of the 2008 season.  Izzy is coming off a fantastic bounceback year during which he converted 32 of 34 saves and posted an ERA of 2.48.  But the Cardinals' career saves leader will turn 36 during the season and has been hampered with injuries the past few years including hip surgery during the 2006 season.

 

Chris Perez is the heir apparent, but he has been hampered with control issues and may not be ready to assume the role in 2009.  If the Cardinals look outside the organization for Izzy's replacement, they will find that there is quality and some depth in the free agent relief market. 

 

 

Joe Borowski - Cleveland Indians

 

Borowski may get it done ugly, but he does get it done.  The 36-year-old saved a career-best 45 games in 2007 as well as being charged with a career-high eight blown saves.  The much-traveled Borowski has played on seven teams in 11 seasons and has 125 career saves, 81 of them the past two years. 

 

Brian Fuentes - Colorado Rockies

 

The soft-tossing lefty lost his closer's role to Manny Corpas so he may be looking to get back to saving games somewhere other than Colorado.  Fuentes did save 20 games in 2007 but seven blown saves cost him his job.  Over the past three seasons, the 32-year-old has logged 81 saves. 

 

Trevor Hoffman - San Diego Padres

 

It is highly doubtful that the career saves leader will leave San Diego.  But Hoffman is 40 and if he does struggle during 2008, the Padres may decide to go in a different direction.  2007 saw Hoffman get his usual forty-plus saves but he was charged with seven blown saves, his highest total since 1998. 

 

Brad Lidge - Philadelphia Phillies

 

Just recently dealt to the Phillies, how will Lidge's value be affected in the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park?  Once one of the dominant closers in the National League, Lidge has struggled, blowing 14 saves the past two seasons.  In 2005 and before the big blast he allowed Albert Pujols during the National League Championship Series, Lidge logged 42 saves and an ERA just over two.  Lidge's slider is still one of the most wicked pitches in all of baseball and he has used it to strike out 561 batters in 401 career innings. 

 

Joe Nathan - Minnesota Twins

 

With the Twins seemingly in a rebuilding mode, Nathan may be available for trade now and could have a new team and a new contract before becoming a free agent after the upcoming season.  Since coming to the Twins from the San Francisco Giants, he has established himself as one of the most consistent closers in the game.  In his four years with the Twins, Nathan has notched 160 saves while striking out 355 in 282 innings. 

 

Francisco Rodriguez - Los Angeles Angels

 

K-Rod has electric stuff and will most likely command the most expensive contract of any player on this list.  Rodriguez has 146 career saves and he will not turn 26 until January.  In 2007, he logged 40 saves with a 2.81 ERA.  Dominant is the best way to describe his career as he has 510 career strikeouts in just 383 career innings.  The Venezualan burst on the scene during the Angels' 2002 World Series run with 28 strikeouts in 18.2 post-season innings. 


Dan Wheeler -
Tampa Bay Rays

 

In 2007, Wheeler saved a career high 11 games for the Houston Astros before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays to serve as Al Reyes' set up man.  Before 2007, he had been the bridge from the starters to closer Brad Lidge.  As the Astros' primary set up man in 2005 and 2006, Wheeler posted ERAs in the twos while appearing in 71 and 75 games, respectively. 

 

Other names that could be on the market include Luis Ayala, LaTroy Hawkins, Rafael Soriano, and Derrick Turnbow.  Octavio Dotel may also be on this list if he does not sign more than a one-year deal this offseason. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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