Fantasy baseball: Target these potential closers

·3 min read

Jul. 21—The Major League Baseball trade deadline is July 30, and there should be plenty of players swapping uniforms before then.

The focus here will be on closers. Fantasy baseball team owners could own a player who is racking up saves, but that reliever might end up much less valuable if he is dealt to a team who makes him its seventh or eighth inning guy.

Moves like that could alter the saves category in your league and change the standings significantly.

—There is a very good chance that Texas trades closer Ian Kennedy, who has 15 saves and a 2.59 ERA. He had 30 saves for Kansas City in 2019 before posting a 9.00 ERA over 14 innings in 2020.

Kennedy will be a free agent at the end of this season, hastening his departure from the Rangers. The 36-year-old veteran will end up as a setup man somewhere else.

That would probably leave right-hander Josh Sborz as the heir apparent with Texas. He has one save in 2021, and owns a 4.33 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 35 1/3 innings through Tuesday. If you're feeling lucky, grab him before anyone else does.

Also look at Spencer Patton, who is having a good year after not pitching in the majors since 2016. The right-hander could have some value.

Craig Kimbrel has a $16 million club option for 2022, and the Chicago Cubs will probably send the veteran packing as they start selling off players. Kimbrel picked up his 22nd save on Tuesday, and lowered his ERA to a magnificent 0.52.

The next man up for the Cubs could be Andrew Chafin, who has a 1.38 ERA over 39 innings this season. The Kent State product is 31 years old and only has three career saves, but the left-hander could step in if Kimbrel is traded. Chafin is only 9 percent rostered in CBS leagues, so put in a claim for him.

—Miami is in last place in the NL East, and will look to see what they can get for free-agent-in-waiting Yimi Garcia. The 30-year-old right-hander is 13-for-16 in save opportunities, but has been rocked recently, giving up four runs in one inning on July 4.

If Garcia is dealt, take a chance on Anthony Bender for your fantasy team. The rookie right-hander has a 2.27 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings, and picked up a save on July 5. Give him a look.

Dylan Floro and Anthony Bass could also be in line for late-inning use.

—Pittsburgh might look to get prospects for closer Richard Rodriguez, who has 13 saves and is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2023, making him attractive to other teams.

The 31-year-old right-hander has 31 strikeouts over 37 1/3 innings with a 2.65 ERA. If the Pirates get rid of him, David Bednar is an attractive pickup. The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 2.92 ERA, and has struck out 45 over 37 innings. Get him while you can.

—Right-hander Daniel Bard is on a one-year deal with Colorado, and the 36-year-old has 14 saves with 49 strikeouts over 38 2/3 innings, though he has a 3.96 ERA.

Enter Carlos Estevez. If Bard is traded, Estevez could step in and get the save opportunities. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 5.29 ERA, but already has two saves.

Put in a claim for Estevez, but monitor the situation. Veteran Mychal Givens could also steal some saves.

—Seattle is in the playoff hunt, but the Mariners might look to deal right-hander Kendall Graveman, who leads the team with nine saves but is on a one-year contract.

If Graveman gets shipped out, pick up right-hander Paul Sewald, who has three saves and a 2.57 ERA. He has 48 strikeouts over 28 innings so, even if he's not the closer, he'll get you great numbers.