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Need bullpen help? Here are top FA options

@jonmorosi
December 4, 2020

With the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and American League batting champion both available as free agents, the baseball industry hasn’t been as focused on the robust reliever market. So let’s take a look, shall we? The two pitchers with the most saves in the Majors this year

With the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and American League batting champion both available as free agents, the baseball industry hasn’t been as focused on the robust reliever market.

So let’s take a look, shall we?

The two pitchers with the most saves in the Majors this year -- Brad Hand with 16, Liam Hendriks with 14 -- are free agents.

2020 MLB Hot Stove Tracker

Former All-Star closer Blake Treinen, a key setup man for the World Series-champion Dodgers, is available on the open market. So is right-hander Archie Bradley, who was non-tendered by the Reds after posting the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career.

While the Braves have been active on starting pitchers, with the additions of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly, they must address the fact that two of their top relievers, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene, remain unsigned.

Alex Colomé, who recorded 12 saves with a 0.81 ERA for the White Sox this year, is a free agent, too.

General managers are taking a cautious approach to relievers this winter, which became apparent when no team claimed Hand on outright waivers (at a $10 million salary) before he became a free agent. In an offseason unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic concerns, it’s likely that at least one team would have valued an All-Star-caliber reliever at that price.

The Dodgers made a savvy move just ahead of Wednesday’s tender deadline, acquiring former All-Star closer Corey Knebel from the Brewers for a player to be named later or cash. Knebel, 29, likely will fill the role that Treinen left behind.

The defending World Series champions were among the teams with early interest in Hand. The arrival of Knebel diminishes the Dodgers’ need to sign Hand, but there’s healthy interest in the 30-year-old left-hander across the Majors. Sources say the rival Giants are one team with interest as part of their overall focus on adding left-handers to counteract the Dodgers’ imposing lineup.

The Giants also appear to be a suitor for Hendriks or Bradley. San Francisco is very familiar with both, given Hendriks’ tenure on the other side of the Bay Bridge and Bradley’s 2.83 ERA at Oracle Park as a member of the D-backs. (That mark is Bradley’s best for any stadium in which he has appeared in at least 10 games.)

Sources say the Phillies have inquired on virtually every notable free-agent reliever, including the names listed above. That is to be expected, given the Philadelphia bullpen's Major League-worst 7.06 ERA in 2020.

Sources say the Blue Jays have been aggressive in courting relief pitchers, since their Opening Day closer (Ken Giles) and 2020 saves leader (Anthony Bass) are both free agents. The Padres will look to add at least one reliever, as well, even though they appear more focused on a rotation upgrade.

Meanwhile, the White Sox aren’t necessarily going to replace Colomé with a closer from outside the organization. They believe some combination of left-hander Aaron Bummer and right-handers Matt Foster and Codi Heuer will be able to handle the ninth inning in 2021.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.