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Closers and Saves Report - Waiver Wire and Trade Deadline Chatter

We here at RotoBaller's Closers and Saves Report believe that there should be something like the Home Run Derby, but for relief pitchers. Not a skills competition, or a strike throwing contest, or a velocity race. Just an actual Home Run Derby, but with relief pitchers. Our money is on Daniel Camarena.

With the All-Star Game and the regular Home Run Derby (you know, the one with a starting pitcher and seven position players in it this year) all behind us, it's time to look slightly ahead toward the trade deadline. This year's trade deadline is set for July 31, and it should be a pretty active one. Plenty of key players will switch teams before August begins, and several of those key players will be late inning relievers. Since there's a lot less to cover as far as things that actually went down in games this week, we'll take a look at some of the guys most likely to be traded and see how that will affect bullpens going forward.

Be sure to keep an eye on our RotoBaller Closers and Saves Bullpen Depth Charts. They're updated daily, or sometimes even more often in this wild 2021 baseball season. With that being said, here are the closers, saves, and bullpen waiver wire pickups to consider for Week 16 - July 19 through July 25.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Trade Deadline Bullpen Chatter

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have been sellers at the last few deadlines, and that won't change this season. While they don't have a top tier closer to move, they do have some guys who should attract attention from other teams. Paul Fry has been installed in the closer's role lately and could find his way to another team's bullpen. He wouldn't be a closer on a different team, so fantasy managers should try to trade Fry quickly before he gets traded in real life. Cole Sulser would take over if Fry goes, but Sulser is a trade candidate as well, which would then leave save duties to Tanner Scott.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox bullpen has been pretty good at the back end this season, with Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes creating a strong setup-closer pair. Neither Barnes nor Ottavino will be traded, in fact Barnes just signed an extension to stay with the Red Sox longer. But there have been rumors that the Red Sox want to acquire Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs before the deadline. If that happens, Kimbrel would close and he'd have two excellent setup men pitching ahead of him. Barnes is not a must-sell in fantasy formats because there's still a good chance he keeps the job, but if you can get a team to overpay, it wouldn't be the worst idea to move Barnes just to be safe.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are very much in it, and should stay in it with that incredible offense. They've already bolstered their bullpen a bit by adding Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards, but they could try to make a splash at the deadline and acquire an experienced closer. Jordan Romano has been outstanding of late, but Toronto may want to have someone with more closing experience in that role down the stretch. Romano would certainly retain his value in holds leagues, but fantasy managers in saves only formats may want to look into selling high before anyone else joins the Blue Jays bullpen.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals haven't had too many save opportunities, but they do have veteran Greg Holland around, and some teams value the fact that a guy has been around for a while more than they value the fact that a guy can get other guys out. Holland's fantasy value is already quite limited, and it likely won't improve much on a new team. Perhaps a slight bump in value in holds leagues, but that's it. There's not much to be excited about here.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins have been pretty disappointing all season and should be selling off some pieces at the trade deadline. There have already been rumors about some of their higher profile guys like Jose Berrios and Josh Donaldson drawing trade interest. Closer-by-committee members Hansel Robles and Taylor Rogers could both find themselves on new teams by the end of the month. While Rogers has been improving throughout the season and posting some impressive numbers, he'd likely settle into a setup role on his new team, as would Robles. Both have had some standard league value as committee members, but they'd only have holds league value if traded. Alex Colome might fall backwards into the closer's role again if both Rogers and Robles are moved.

Houston Astros

The end of the Astros bullpen has been excellent this season, anchored by Ryan Pressly. The most likely thing to happen here will be that the Astros will acquire help for their setup corps and Pressly will remain locked into the ninth inning. Recent rumors, however, have shown that the Astros have legitimate interest in Craig Kimbrel. If there were to acquire Kimbrel, he'd slot right into the ninth inning, leaving Pressly with the eighth. It's not necessarily a likely trade, but it certainly is possible, so those in standard saves only leagues with Pressly on their team may want to look into selling high now just in case.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels are still sort of in it, and you can't really count out a team with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the roster, right? But their current closer, Raisel Iglesias, is a free agent at the end of the year and could attract quite a but of trade interest. The Angels desperately need starting pitching (as evidenced by them drafting TWENTY pitchers in the draft this season) so if they put together some kind of package that includes Iglesias and gets them a starter, they might have to make that move. Iglesias might or might not close on another team, depending on the acquiring team's bullpen roles, so he could be a sell high right now, and Mike Mayers is a nice buy low target, as he'd take over in Anaheim.

Oakland Athletics

Oakland is another team that has been kicking the Cubs tires about closer Craig Kimbrel. The A's bullpen has been mostly anchored by Lou Trivino in the ninth inning, but he hasn't been putting up the kind of numbers a potential playoff team would want to see. The A's will likely go after Kimbrel, but if they are unable to get him, there are a few other lower profile guys they could look at as well. The A's are one of the contending teams most likely to have a new closer by August, making Trivino a sell in fantasy formats.

Seattle Mariners

Kendall Graveman has been very impressive this season for the Mariners and should continue to be impressive for a different team after the deadline. He's a prime candidate to move to a new team and work as a lights out setup man. He'll likely lose most of his value in saves leagues, but could actually see a slight bump in holds league value depending on where he goes and how he's ultimately used. Graveman is a hold in holds leagues and a sell in saves leagues.

Texas Rangers

If I could place a bet on which current closer is the most likely to be dealt, I would put a whole lot of money on Ian Kennedy. Unless he gets injured before a trade is completed, I can guarantee that Ian Kennedy will be on a different team by the time games start on August 1st. A veteran closer on an expiring contract playing on a non-contending team? Yeah, Kennedy's gone. He could end up closing if he ends up on a team that values experience, for example he could work the ninth in Philadelphia if they decide to buy, but he's more likely to work in a setup/veteran presence role on a team with a more consistent closer ahead. Joely Rodriguez should take over immediately once Kennedy is out, so Kennedy is a sell in standard formats and a hold in hold leagues, Rodriguez is a guy worth picking up in saves leagues and should already be on the radar in holds formats.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins keep on saying that they are competing this season and that they have a "sense of urgency" to win ball games, but they'll start the second half with the third-worst record in the National League, nine games behind the Mets in the NL East. It's very likely that the team will sell at least some of its pieces before the deadline, and that could include closer Yimi Garcia and setup man Dylan Floro. Both Garcia and Floro have been good for some stretches and bad for others, but there are a few contending teams that could use them in their bullpens down the stretch. Neither guy would be a closer on any other team, so any fantasy value they hold now will take quite a hit if they're dealt. The winner in all of this would likely be rookie Anthony Bender, who would be set to take over as closer unless manager Don Mattingly does something wild like use Anthony Bass in the ninth because of his "veteran presence."

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies bullpen. That's it, that's the whole sentence because everyone knows about the Phillies bullpen already. They need help, and they need a lot of it. This is not a bullpen that can be fixed by just trading for a closer, so we can expect the Phillies to go after several bullpen arms before the deadline. They currently sit just 3.5 games behind the Mets, so barring a collapse over the next week, they should be buyers at the deadline. Guys like Ian Kennedy, Kendall Graveman, Taylor Rogers, and Raisel Iglesias all make a lot of sense for Philly.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals find themselves five games under .500, but just six games out in the NL East. How they play coming out of the break will probably determine whether they buy or sell at the deadline. If they do sell, both Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson could be wearing different jerseys once August starts. In that case, Austin Voth would presumably jump into the closer's role. Hand has a chance to close for a new team, but would likely work in a setup role, as would Hudson. Hand turns into a quick sell high candidate if the Nationals struggle to start the second half.

Chicago Cubs

As mentioned several times above, it looks like Craig Kimbrel might be the top trade target for several contending teams this month. He's almost surely in his last days as a Cub, and is the only trade candidate who will certainly continue closing regardless of what team he ends up on. Almost all contending teams will at least reach out to the Cubs to test the waters on Kimbrel, but early rumors have the Red Sox, Astros, and A's as the most interested teams. Kimbrel's fantasy value should improve upon a trade, as the Cubs just haven't been holding enough leads to provide him with too many save chances. Once he's traded, Ryan Tepera could take over the ninth, unless he gets dealt as well. It's a pretty clear TBA on who would close for the Cubs after the deadline at this point.

Cincinnati Reds

Much like the Phillies bullpen, we can just have a sentence that says, "The Reds bullpen" and people will know what that means. The Reds find themselves just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot as the second half starts despite all of the struggles they've experienced in their bullpen. They'll likely be pretty aggressive bullpen buyers before the deadline, and they'd do well to pick up two late inning guys if they can. Kennedy is a good fit here as well, but the Reds might want to make a bigger splash, although they have not yet been linked to Kimbrel from the division-rival Cubs. Heath Hembree, Amir Garrett, all of the guys who have been floundering in the Reds bullpen this season won't be pitching late innings in August as long as Cincinnati has a good deadline.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates will start the second half with the second worst record in the league (but they had TWO starters in the All-Star Game!) They have a few pieces they should sell at the deadline, and that may include two bullpen arms in Richard Rodriguez and Kyle Crick. Both relievers have reportedly already drawn interest from contending teams. Rodriguez should be able to get them a pretty solid return, and Crick might be traded too. There's a slight change Rodriguez would end up closing if he lands in Cincinnati or Philadelphia, but most other teams would likely use him as an eighth inning setup guy. If only Rodriguez gets traded, Crick would likely close for the rest of the year in Pittsburgh, but if both are dealt, that job would go to David Bednar, who has been pitching very well of late.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks bullpen has been a disaster this season, but then again, so have the Diamondbacks in general. They'll open up the second half with a league-worst 26-66 record, 32.5 games back in their division. They don't have too many alluring pieces to trade at the deadline, but guys like Joakim Soria and Noe Ramirez could draw some interest from teams that miss out on their first few choices. None of the Arizona relievers will close for any other teams, and there's a decent chance they'd move into middle relief, not even setup roles. Any fantasy managers till rostering a Diamondbacks reliever might as well just hold on for now and drop them once they're traded.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies and Diamondbacks are the only two NL West teams who wouldn't make the playoffs if the season were to end today. The Rockies find themselves as sellers again, and while their big piece will certainly be shortstop Trevor Story, they have a few bullpen arms that could find their ways onto new teams as well. Closer Daniel Bard has shown flashes of dominance but has overall been mostly disappointing. A team that sees his upside and wants to "fix" him could make a deal and have him pitch some key innings down the stretch. If he's traded, he certainly won't close though, making him a quick sell high candidate in saves only formats. Mychal Givens and Carlos Estevez could also draw some trade interest given their experience and power arms, but they would slot into middle relief or maybe lower leverage setup roles. Who gets dealt and who doesn't will determine who keeps closing games in Denver after the deadline.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants seem mostly content with their Jake McGee/Tyler Rogers combination in the ninth inning, but they could look to bolster their bullpen with another late-inning arm as well. Depending on who they go after, their new reliever could end up joining the committee and get some save chances, or he could slot in either ahead or behind McGee and Rogers. There are a lot of moving parts in the San Francisco bullpen, so fantasy values will be a little volatile until the deadline is behind us.

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