Potential Free Agents: Top Relievers


Aug 31, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) pitches the ninth inning in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The divisional round for the playoffs in MLB is set to start soon, but it’s never too early to look at the players that will become free agents in 2014. The one thing that most teams had problems with this season was that the bullpen proved to be ineffective at times.

There is a good group of relievers that are free agents who could help teams in this area of need.

One player that could definitely help out a team looking to make their bullpen a strength is pitcher Jesse Crain. Crain is still battling shoulder problems, but was outstanding before the injury happened. The right-hander for the Chicago White Sox had a 0.74 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched with 46 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.14.

He held opposing batters to a .225 average and right-handers looked lost at the plate against him by only hitting .174. Crain was also great with runners in scoring position by holding teams to a batting average of .146 in this situation.

If not for the injury he would have been able to sign a lucrative deal. He is probably going to sign a deal that will be based on incentives for him to reach.

Another reliever that’s having a great season is the closer for a team that could make it to the World Series. Grant Balfour is doing a terrific job locking down the ninth inning for the Oakland Athletics.

Balfour has saved 36 games for them and has just blown three saves all season. The man from Australia has a 2.59 ERA in 62.2 innings and has struck out 72 batters.

The right-hander is tough on all batters with right-handed batters hitting .222 and lefties just managing a .192 average. It’s nearly impossible to have success with runner in scoring position, as indicated by teams only hitting .192 against him.

I would be very surprised if the Athletics don’t lock him up considering how important he is to their team.

The next pitcher on the list is someone that has not pitched in a game since 2011. Ryan Madson had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and then in 2013 experienced more issues with the injury.

Madson pitched well for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011 with 36 saves and a 2.37 ERA. He held opposing batters to a .243 average and was still solid with runners in scoring position by holding teams to a .204 average.

A team that signs him will be taking a risk that he can return to the way he pitched in 2011.

The next pitcher that would be a great fit for a team is Cleveland Indians reliever Joe Smith. Smith has done a great job from the bullpen by having a 2.29 ERA in 63 innings pitched. He does not strike many batters out with only 54 on the season, but he knows how to get batters out.

He is holding the opposition to a .235 average and is best when pitching in the 8th inning, where teams just have a .216 average against him.

The last pitcher from this group of relievers is Boone Logan. Logan had a good season pitching out of the bullpen for the New York Yankees. He had a 3.23 ERA in 39 innings pitched and walked only 13 batters. He held the opposition to a .236 average and left-handed batters hit only .221 against him.

The southpaw pitched great for New York and he would make a great addition to any team that signs him.