It’s been a while since I went through all the major league closers and their setup men and where they should be ranked. So I figured I’d break it down for you because knowing all the closers and all of their setup man could be helpful for all of you. A million dollars and a naked Christina Ricci chained to your furnace could also be helpful, but I don’t have a furnace. Anyway, all the major league closers and their setup men seems like something all fantasy baseball players could use, so here it is. BTW, do you see how giving I am? I’m like Jolie-giving. Seriously, I should be wearing a habit and carrying a Malaysian orphan in a baby sling while talking on my solar-powered cellphone.


This tier is filled with a bunch of no-brainers (Papelbon — a no-brainer! Get it? Oofa!). These closers could get you the most in any trade. I would not hesitate to trade away any of these guys for the right price. In the end, closers are here to get you saves. You could end up with more saves from Rauch than Joe Nathan. When stacked with closers, unstack and trade.

1. Jonathan Papelbon, BOS (Hideki Okajima)
2. Joe Nathan, MIN (Matt Guerrier, Dennys Reyes)
3. Francisco Rodriguez, LAA (Justin Speier, Scot Shields)
4. Mariano Rivera, NYY (Joba Chamberlain)
5. Billy Wagner, NYM (Aaron Heilman)
6. Brad Lidge, PHI (Tom Gordon)
7. Takashi Saito, LAD (Jonathan Broxton)


These closers seem like they have a lot more risk than they actually do. It takes a real brainer to see how potentially valuable some of these brainers are. If you trade a no-brainer for a brainer and another player, you’re likely coming out on top.

8. Joakim Soria, KAN (Ramon Ramirez, Leo Nunez)
9. Francisco Cordero, CIN (David Weathers)
10. Jon Rauch, WAS (Luis Ayala)
11. Bobby Jenks, CHW (Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel)
12. Brandon Lyon, ARI (Tony Pena, Chad Qualls)
13. Trevor Hoffman, SDG (Heath Bell, Cla Meredith)
14. Jose Valverde, HOU (Doug Brocail)
15. Brian Fuentes, COL (Manny Corpas, Taylor Buchholz)
16. J.J. Putz, SEA (Brandon Marrow, Sean Green)
17. Matt Capps, PIT (Damaso Marte)
18. Brian Wilson, SAN (Tyler Walker)
19. Kevin Gregg, FLA (Renyel Pinto)
20. Kerry Wood, CHC (Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol)
21. George Sherrill, BAL (Bunch of Schmohawks)


At some point soon, you’re going to squeeze your temples and grimace like you just ate a pint of Dreyer’s. All of these guys should be traded after they go on a string of few saved games, assuming they go on a string of a few saved games.

22. Huston Street, OAK (Keith Foulke, Joey Devine)
23. Troy Percival, TAM (Dan Wheeler, Al Reyes)
24. B.J. Ryan, TOR (Scott Downs)
25. Manny Acosta, Rafael Soriano, Blaine Boyer, et al, ATL (John Smoltz)
26. Rafael Betancourt/Masa Kobayashi, CLE (Joe Borowski)
27. Todd Jones, DET (Clay Rapada, Aquilino Lopez, Fernando Rodney)
28. Eric Gagne, MIL (Salomon Torres, G. Mota)
29. C.J. Wilson, TEX (Eddie Guardado, Joaquin Benoit)
30. Ryan Franklin/Russ Springer, STL (Jason Isringhausen)

  1. Lou Poulas

    Lou says:

    In my money league I have 3 FA moves per year. I used one to pick up Troy Percival after I decided to punt saves in my live auction draft. I only did this after Betancourt was named closer.


    Yes, i know you are, and I hate myself for it.

  2. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Lou: Look at this way, I’m sure you’ll make other mistakes.

  3. RNMan says:

    Why Beat on Street? He seems like a brainer to me – great stuff, undervalued, secure. Some injury risk i suppose but not profound.

  4. Grey

    Grey says:

    @RNMan: His stuff is fine when he’s closing, but two months with irritated nerve in an elbow last year is not the kind of injury you want to mess around with this year. Even as it is, he rarely goes on back to back days because of his elbow. He almost made the Brainer section, but I forced him down because I don’t trust him at all.

  5. BSA says:

    So what does a brain freeze go for….or maybe I should ask what can one get for a brain freeze with several wins/saves in a row?

  6. BSA says:

    So I just pulled up Ryan on CBS for trade options and someone got Ryan for Nathan through the process. Go figure…otherwise straight up trades for ryan were Lidge, Carmona, Pence, Smith (SP), Sheets, Dempster, Wolf.

  7. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BSA: I could trade Ryan to my cousin, Dumbass, for Arod but it wouldn’t make it right or fair. Ryan for Pence or Lidge or Carmona or Sheets seems fair, but solidly in the person’s favor that is getting the player other than Ryan.

  8. Chase says:

    Why are you hating on Ryan!! 0.00 ERA One year off a 1.37 ERA w/ 38 Saves…Should I really trade him?

  9. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Chase: He ‘recovered’ too quickly from his surgery. I would not want him on any team. Closers are a volatile bunch so he could give you value, but I would not count on it.

  10. BSA says:

    I am willing to fish with Ryan as the bait and maybe even an outfielder like a Damon or Kemp since I my current outfield and utility players are Vlad, Pence, Quentin, Damon, Kemp, Votto, and Figgins. Who would you fish for either one to one or for a package??

  11. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BSA: With closers really depends on what the other team’s needs are, if you find another team that is struggling with saves, offer simply Ryan for someone you need. I wouldn’t package Ryan with Damon or Kemp, wait for the other team to ask for one of those guys. Then sweeten the deal.

  12. BSA says:

    Not only that but my league has the flying Hawaiian still in FA so I’m thinking a 2 for 1 upgrades me and I can still fill-in the outfield hole pretty well.

  13. BSA says:

    Alright I’ll get back to you when the fish is on the line.

  14. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BSA: I like Victorino better than Damon.

  15. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Grey: Reel ’em in!

  16. BSA says:

    OK – the fish I’m trying for are either Billingsley, ESantana, the Weaver with upside, or Owings.
    Is the Hawaiin worth dumping Damon for since at this point?

  17. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BSA: I like Damon better, but Damon could be trade bait. Just throw him into a trade of Ryan.

    Billingsley is the best by far.

  18. JR says:

    Chris Perez just got called up by the Cards. Would Tony slot him in right away?

  19. JR says:

    Kobayashi, Franklin, or Perez?

  20. Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    Save-chasing will drive you nuts, but the awesome thing about saves is that they’re the only category that is paradoxically a) inherently limited (i.e. never more than 30 closers out there at one time) and b) readily and suddenly available for absolutely free. So it’s all about supply and demand. You hoard the supply. You make the demands.

    Every year I pursue the same saves strategy, and it works out pretty well:

    1) Don’t draft any of the no-brainers, e.g. anyone before round 10. You may think you’re saving yourself a headache or hours of scouring the waiver wire, but while you’re drafting Putz, then watching him get DLed for a month, I’m drafting an actually useful hitter of the type you won’t even sniff past round 8. One guy in my league this year didn’t want to worry about saves, so he drafted Putz, then R. Soriano, then added Gagne as a budget option. Trust me, he’s worrying.

    2) Around rounds 12 through 16, draft three junky closers. Try to get young guys who throw hard on bad teams (Joakim Soria), or old guys with brand-name recognition on good teams (Doug Jones). Closers on bad teams are often undervalued (25 saves is 25 saves, whether it comes out of 65 wins or 105.) This year I grabbed: Soria (round 13); Gregg (14); Ryan (15). Threw in JoBro later on, for kicks.

    3) Watch the waiver wire like a hawk in the first three weeks of April. This year I added Rauch and Acosta. Presto magic: 5 closers.

    4) Go to the guy in your league who’s hurting for saves. Identify superstar. Offer him lesser star plus closer. Preferably one of the old guys. Last year, I swapped Carlos Guillen (I also had Reyes, long story) and Bob Wickman (aka FatBob WickPants) for Jake Peavy. Ka. Ching.

    5) Trade your excess closers early, i.e. before end of May, after which people lagging in saves start to get dispirited and decide to punt the category (a moronic strategy, IMO). At this point, even elite closers lose their trade value fast.

    6) Rinse. Repeat.

  21. Grey

    Grey says:

    @JR: You have to take a flier in NL-Only leagues, because LaRussa has done wacky things in the past than call up a rookie and thrust him into the closer spot.

  22. Chase says:


    Whats your favorite kind of scoring in fb

  23. Bob says:

    Given that advice, should I trade my K Rod for C.C. Sabbathia is a 12 team mixed Yahoo league where I have seven closers, if you include Smoltz who is currently on the DL.

  24. Teef says:

    First post, starting to really like the site…lets see what kinda advice i can garner

    I have howard and Lee, I’m worried about lee’s average dipping as he’s not a very good career average guy should i make the trade for Vlad or is he just to much of an injury risk?

  25. Teef says:

    Sorry, I prob dould mention that it’s Dereck Lee

  26. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Chase: I prefer 5×5. How about you?

    @Bob: Yeah, I’d trade K-Rod for Sabathia in a second. Great trade for you.

    @Teef: I’d hold pat. Vlad’s knees really look to be bothering him. He looks like he’s a Rocky at the end of the first movie and barely getting to his feet.

  27. Bob says:

    Grey, while I was away, someone offered me Teixera for K Rod, and considering that I’m currently playing Cantu (yikes) at first, I jumped on it. Now I’ve gone back to the C.C. owner offering him any two of my remaining closers who include Soria, Rauch, Fuentes, B.J. Ryan, Sherill, and Smoltz ( when he comes off the DL). I hope I made the right decision.

  28. john says:

    @Rudy: Wow, I must apologize. Peralta hit 2 home runs this week so far…I will never doubt you again..I am now your complete and utter slave.

  29. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Bob: K-Rod for Tex is a great trade for you. You have an abundance of closers, you could totally move a few more and be fine.

  30. BSA says:

    So Werth made the news with a splash and I obviously look over my outfield and your comments from other posts
    My outfield:
    Damon – trying to pack him with Ryan and a position player for an upgrade
    Vlad – saw your comments

    Two free agent outfielders that have piqued my interest are Werth and Victorino.

    I now have my team beginning to balance out with back ups for first, second, third, and outfield – relying on Greene at SS so I may need to address that if he is not on an upswing.
    My starting pitchers this week have put me behind the 8ball and for some reason my bats are consistently quiet during the week.

    Good conversations and thoughts on closers.
    Baron is adding a great touch to the normal flow of Q&A.

  31. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BSA: re: Greene — upswing is relative, I don’t think he’s going to suddenly bat .300, but he could hit 25 home runs.

    Victorino is better than Werth.

  32. mike says:

    I have 3 of my worst SP pitching tommorow. Edwin [email protected], [email protected] and Jered Weaver at home VS. LAD. Weaver im going to start but im not so sure about Jackson or Duchscherer especially since ATL has been hitting well. Would u start both of em’?

  33. Grey

    Grey says:

    @mike: They’re both solid starts, leaning towards Duchscherer.

  34. Grey

    Grey says:

    @mike: I answered before you finished your comment, but I don’t mind either of the pitchers and, for the most part it’s advantage pitcher in interleague play.

  35. BSA says:

    @Grey re:Greene he may not all of a sudden jump to .300 but he looks like he has a stronger pulse than Renteria (2 hits in the last week with a .1389 in that time)
    If Verlander pushes Leyland to three packs a day than Renteria is definitely worth another pack or two in his diet.

  36. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BSA: Were we talking about Renteria, or do you sneak him in whenever you get a chance just to rag on him? Yeah, Renteria is Aybar with no upside. Or Keppinger before the injury. Renteria is simply a seat filler.

  37. BSA says:

    Wish I was a frequent Razzreader before the draft and for some reason I thought I could predict rebounds. I bring Renteria back into it because I dropped him last week for Greene.

  38. BSA says:

    Here is an interesting one. The Ryan straight up for ESantana trade offer I put out there came back with a counteroffer of me giving Vlad/Ryan for ESantana/Granderson. His outfield is Rowand, Hamilton, Granderson, and AJones.

  39. Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @BSA: Interested to hear what the Razzperts think but personally, I wouldn’t do that trade, unless Granderson specifically addresses two areas of need for you, e.g. runs and steals. Otherwise, it seems like an overall downgrade to me, both in talent and future tradeability. (Vlad will net you much more on the open market, in general, than will Granderson, IMO. Ditto Ryan, since closers are more scarce than starters.)

    Here’s my question: I’m floating along in 3rd, great pitching, terrible offense. I’m tied for second-last in home runs which, of course, means I’m hurting in runs and RBIs as well.

    The heart of my offense, i.e. power-hitters, is Holliday, BJ Upton, Rios, A. Gonzalez, Francoeur and Zimmerman. Outside of Holliday, there’s not a true masher among them. But of this group, only A Gonzo is overperforming; everyone else is underperforming, especially in dingers.

    So: Do I sit tight and wait for the upsurge? Or should I be scrambling to add a big stick — Prince F., A Ram, maybe Dunn…. which would likely mean dealing Hamels or possibly Volquez.

  40. @john: Thanks John. I feel like I called 11 at the Craps table with the 2+ HR call this week for Peralta. Peralta and Greene are on a couple teams as they were some of the few MIs that were available at fair draft value (according to me).

    @BSA: Greene won’t hit .300 anytime soon but his power is for real. Like Peralta, I think he goes 20/80. Just find your speed and AVG elsewhere…

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Sounds like you’ve had success with your closer strategy. I don’t follow it but I can’t fault it. Not sure it would work in tougher leagues, though. But totally agree with the strategies of keeping an eye out for emerging closers (drafted Chad-Cord in one league but picked up Jon Rauch in two leagues, got Fuentes in one) and trade excess closers in May (traded Capps for Victorino who I can’t believe is still a FA in some shallow leagues)

  41. Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Rudy Gamble: Well, I did luck out this season, in that I happened to be watching the very first Nats-Braves game (curious about the new stadium), and as soon as Rauch came in instead of Cordero, I grabbed him. (To hear that any closer is “experiencing shoulder tightness” is music to the ears of the shameless saves whore.)

    But while not all the owners in my league are super-attentive (Jay Bruce lay around like deadwood until I recently grabbed him, figuring Yahoo!’s ceaseless trumpeting had finally reached critical levels), they are very quick to grab anyone at the first sniff of potential saves — for example, the pathetic troika of Mota, Torres and Riske in Milwaukee all got snatched up as soon as Gagne was halfway through blowing his first save. In a deeper league, those kind of guys might not be available to begin with, to be sure. Though each year there’s a few guys who come out of nowhere: I can’t imagine even any deep NL only leaguers started last year with Kevin Gregg on their staff.

  42. @Teef: I agree with Grey. I keep D-Lee over Vlad b/c of Vlad’s health concerns. D-Lee has hit .335 and .317 in his last two full seasons. I wouldn’t trade him b/c of AVG concerns. If you really want an OF, I’d package Lee with a crappy closer for Holliday. Doubt it’ll work but worth a try….

  43. Chet says:

    Just got an offer of Kemp and E. Santana for Verlander. I keep thinking Verlander is going to turn this around! Not a huge Kemp and Santana fan, but if Verlander doesn’t do something quick I might not be able to get a bag of dead toads for him.

    Watcha all think?

  44. Bob says:

    Grey, re your comment #30 to me, I was just able to consummate a trade for Sabbathia for my two worst closers – B.J. Ryan and George Sherill. So I still have Soria, Rauch and Fuentes with Smoltz due to come off the waiver wire. So I have filled two weaknesses, including my earlier Tex for K Rod trade. In the meantime, someone dumped Joba Chamberlain, so I grabbed him with the #11 waiver priority. Anyway, this all worked out very well for me, and I was very inspired by your blog post. And your rankings helped me pick the two closers to offer the other team. So THANKS!!

  45. Bob says:

    Errata – Smoltz is coming off the DL, not the waiver wire. I also forgot to mention in my previous post that all this wheeling and dealing gives me any empty spot and there are several very rosterable players worth claiming.

  46. Bob says:

    Chet, that’s a tough money. Verlander is absolutely destroying me in my money league, but I worry he will turn it around the second I trade him. Neither one of the players is a sure fire stud from my point of view (I’m a SoCal and follow both teams closely), but both have potential to be studs. This is truly a tough one to call. I can’t give you an objective opinion, but you’re right to be concerned that after a couple of more terrible starts, Verlander will have no value at all, and you may have squandered the opportunity to get a couple of useful players.

  47. Bob says:

    Another errata – Chet, I meant to say, “that’s a tough call.” I think Verlander is destroying my brain cells.

  48. Chase says:

    Its tough when someone in your league has Berkman, Soriano, and Hamilton

  49. BSA says:

    @Chase If your league is a h2h how would you like to be playing that team this week?

  50. Chase says:

    The thought of it makes me cringe…but his pitching sucks =p

  51. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Bob: That’s great the trade went though, well played. You got CC at a great rate.

    @Chet: Verlander hasn’t shown one sign of coming out of this funk. Maybe all those innings the last couple of seasons is catching up with him. If you need Kemp and Santana can continue to be usable, could work out for you. I wouldn’t trade Veralnder for those two guys though.

  52. Chet says:

    Thanks all. I’m going to hold on for now. Stop sucking Verlander!

  53. Bob says:

    Chet, I’m with you!!

  54. bob says:

    The league vetoed Teixera for K Rod. Do you think that’s right?

  55. Grey

    Grey says:

    @bob: Not even close to all right. It’s bullshit. You should be able to do what you want within reason. That trade’s within reason.

  56. So I traded Hafner/Lyon for Teixeira… Did I come out on top?

  57. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Dennis: Yeah, that’s a good trade for you. Tex should come around in the 2nd half like he does every year.

  58. wunderbar…

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