Last week, we looked at big-name free agent closers Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, and B.J. Ryan. What other free agent closers should be on your radar?
Mike Timlin has been ridiculous this year, to the tune of a 1.73 ERA. His 2005 performance is definitely out of line with his projections, so expect him to come back down to Earth in 2006 with an ERA around 3.50. His closer trial is officially beginning in Boston, and it will be hard for him to break type and get paid like a closer this winter. Timlin will probably be a well-paid set-up man in 2006.
We also don't think Kyle Farnsworth will get the closer nod in '06. He's been fantastic this year, but still wasn't handed the job over Chris Reitsma in Atlanta. Managers are fickle, however, and Farnsworth will likely enter next season an injury away from closer status. You can wait til mid-season to pick him up, just like this year.
36 year-old Bob Wickman will have the shiny closer tag when he hits the market this winter. He'll also have 35-40 saves and an ERA around 3 to his credit. Wickman will be designated closer of some team, possibly the Phillies. We expect a spectacular failure. His strikeouts are way down, and he's allowing a substantial number of baserunners for a closer. Pass.
Ryan Dempster will probably be back with the Cubs. GM Jim Hendry has invested significant time and money in Dempster and will likely sign him to a reasonable two-year deal. Dempster has a solid 2.72 ERA as a reliever this year, but he's walked a dangerous number of hitters. Prediction: the Cubs will convince Kerry Wood to close next year and Dempster will take over the 8th inning. Avoid Dempster if he returns to the Cubs.
Did Todd Jones sell his soul to the devil this season? He came in with a career ERA around 4 and currently has a 1.15 ERA to go along with a 27 for 29 saves record. His WHIP is sparkling and his strikeouts are decent. Jones shaved his walks per 9 innings quite a bit this year, so maybe he's figured something out. Jones hadn't saved 20 games since 2000, but we think he's worth the risk. You can easily cut him if he doesn't recapture the magic next year.
The catcher market will be thin as usual this offseason. Only two players of note will be available - expect some bidding wars.
Jason LaRue just keeps getting better as he enters his 30s. The Reds don't figure to keep him around with Javier Valentin looking plenty capable. Somehow, LaRue has a .370 OBP! He'll supply his usual 15 bombs to boot. A nice second catcher for your team who won't hurt you.
Ramon Hernandez will a major catch this winter. The Astros, Mets, and Padres will be in the running. Hernandez will ink a fat deal similar to Jason Varitek's. Not many catchers besides Hernandez can give you 20 longballs and not kill your batting average. Make every attempt to add him to your 2006 squad.
Tim Dierkes posts daily updates to his fantasy baseball blog as The Roto Authority. Check out the site at:
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