Hot Stove League Rankings: Relief Pitcher

With the Hot Stove on a slow burn, we've been using that old grifter's trick of spreading out the blog content -- one position at a time. As a public service at no additional charge, I've been examining the handful of positions in which the Reds have potential openings to fill during the off-season and may bring in fresh blood for the 2011 Opening Day roster, whether by free agency, trade or promotion from within. I'll be returning to this list throughout the offseason to add /drop players and  provide a range of salary and trade bounty estimates as we know more about the Reds' payroll and the league-wide market.

The bullpen may be the least likely position in this series to see the Reds add anyone who wasn't in the organization last season. I see three spots (out of a likely seven) already locked up and going to Francisco Cordero, Nick Masset and Logan Ondrusek. As a lefty specialist under team control, Bill Bray is a pretty safe bet too.  And unless he retires - and there's been no indication yet that he's considering it - I put good odds on the club bringing back the slightly-less-ageless Arthur Rhodes. So that's five, which effectively leaves two open spots where we may see someone new, though most likely not new to the organization.

Note: I've excluded any free agents that are strictly closers, given the assumption that Cordero will not be traded prior to Opening Day and is unlikely to be unseated from his 9th inning role by then.

Ranking explained: This list only ranks players on their projected value in 2011. Players listed here can be downgraded for their potential to become Bad Contract in multiple years or if they require an exorbitant trade "ask," but we're mostly looking at each player's near-term value ('11 and '12), with the assumption that the Reds could somehow, some way, afford them and that any hypothetical deal would turn out "fair" on both sides.

Criteria to qualify: Free agents, members of the Reds organization who aren't presumed to make the Opening Day roster OR anyone with a modicum of buzz  - in a halfway reputable news source -  as a candidate to switch teams this off-season via trade, declined option or possible non-tender.

Current Standings

After the jump.

Rank Name June 2011 Age Contract Details 2010 ERA/WHIP & IP
2010 K-Rate / K-BB 2010 Value ($) Average value, last 3 yrs ($)
1 Grant Balfour 33 FA (Type A)
2.28/1.084 (55.1 IP) 9.1/3.29 $4.7M $6M
2 JJ Putz 34 FA
2.83/1.037 (54 IP) 10.8/4.33 $6M $2.9M
3 Koji Uehara 36 FA
2.86/0.955 (44 IP) 11.3/11.0 $5.6M N/A
4 Joaquin Benoit 33 FA 1.34/0.680 (60 IP) 11.2/6.82 $6.2M $4.5M
5 Takashi Saito 41 FA (Type A)
2.8/1.074 (54 IP) 11.5/4.06 $4.9M $4.7M
6 Arthur Rhodes 41 FA (Type A)
2.29 / 1.018 (55 IP) 8.2/2.78 $3.7M $4.4M
7 Scott Downs 35 FA (Type A)
2.64/0.995 (61.1 IP)
7.0/3.43 $4.9M $5.1M
8
Jon Rauch 32 FA 3.12/1.301 (57.2 IP)
7.2/3.29 $4.7M $3.8M
9
Dan Wheeler 33 FA (Type A)
3.35/1.076 (48.1 IP) 8.6/.2.88 $0.5M $0.6
10
Matt Guerrier 32 FA (Type A)
3.17/1.099 (70 IP)
5.3/1.91 $0.6M N/A
11
Matt Maloney*
27 Pre-arb 3.05/1.21 (20.2 IP)
5.7/2.6 $0.9M N/A
12
Chan Ho Park 38 FA 3.49/1.29 (63.2 IP)
7.3/3.29 $0.3M $2.8M
13
Jordan Smith
25 Pre-arb 3.86/1.33 (42 IP)
5.6/2.36 -$0.9 N/A
14
Sam LeCure **
27 Pre-arb 4.50/1.56 (48 IP)
6.9/1.48 $0.1 N/A
15 Jared Burton 30 Arb-eligible AAA: 2.61/1.184 (38 IP) 8.1/2.13 N/A $1.8M (2 yrs)

 

*2 games started, 7 total appearances

** 6 games started, 15 total appearances

Also receving votes: Daryl Thompson, Pedro Feliciano, Jason Frasor (Type A), Danny Herrera, Carlos Fisher, Jon Adkins

Analysis: I don't think the Reds will go outside the organization here unless nothing else is biting in other areas of need and they don't sign Rhodes. Even then, it's doubtful to be someone in the Top 5 of this list.

On a related topic, there's no excuse for Jon Rauch's entrance music not to be by this song by The Fall. And Grant Balfour may be the most successful baseball player  I can think of whose last name runs completely counter to his job.

See any trade candidates I've missed?

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