Free Agent Predictions: Relief Pitchers

I covered the starting pitchers who are hitting free agency this off-season and where I think they may land. Next up is the relief pitchers!

1. Wade Davis: Chicago Cubs, 4-years/$64 M

2017 Stats: 4-2, 2.30 ERA, 58.2 IP, 79 SO, 32 SV

Wade Davis was one of the best closers in baseball last season for the Cubs. The Cubs already had a thin bullpen last year and they will not want to lose their best bullpen arm. I think the Cubs will do whatever it takes to retain Davis.

Other Destinations: Astros, Rockies, Braves, Dodgers

2. Greg Holland: Houston Astros, 4-years/$54M

2017 Stats: 3-6, 3.61 ERA, 57.1 IP, 70 SO, 41 SV

There were a lot of questions surrounding Greg Holland coming into this past season as he was recovering from surgery. Well, he proved everyone wrong. He was tied for the NL lead in saves and ranked second in all of baseball in that category. The Rockies love Holland and Holland says he loves playing in Colorado. However, will they be willing to pay for his services? I don’t think so. The Astros won the World Series with an abysmal bullpen. They will be looking for a top-notch arm this off-season and will overpay if they have to.

Other Destinations: Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers, Braves

3. Addison Reed: Atlanta Braves, 3-years/$36M

2017 Stats: 2-3, 2.84 ERA, 76.0 IP, 19 SV

Addison Reed may have been a top-5 set up man in all of baseball last year. He was closing games for the Mets when Familia went down, but returned to his set up role for the Red Sox and had a fantastic season. Reed may land as a closer somewhere this off-season as a lot of teams are in need of bullpen help.

Other Destinations: Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Rockies

4. Mike Minor: Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-years/$27M

2017 Stats: 6-6, 2.55 ERA, 77.2 IP, 88 SO, 6 SV

Mike Minor came up with the Braves as a starter, but struggled for the most part. Last year with the Royals, Minor had a career year out of the bullpen. He established himself as one of the best left-handed bullpen arms in all of baseball. The Dodgers do not need a high-priced arm this off-season as they have Kenley Jansen manning the 9th inning, but I think Minor will be a great fit in their pen.

Other Destinations: Rockies, Royals, Twins, Mets, Yankees

5. Brandon Morrow: Colorado Rockies, 3-years/$24M

2017 Stats: 6-0, 2.06 ERA, 43.2 IP, 50 SO, 2 SV

The Rockies may lose out on Holland and they will need to try to replace him, which is going to be close to impossible to do. Brandon Morrow signed with the Dodgers last off-season on a minor league deal, and he dominated. He proved how valuable he was in the World Series as Dave Roberts turned to him in every game. Morrow earned himself a nice paycheck and I think the Rockies take a chance here.

Other Destinations: Dodgers, Astros, Twins, Braves

6. Juan Nicaso: St. Louis Cardinals, 3-years/$21M

2017 Stats: 5-5, 2.61 ERA, 72.1 IP, 72 SO, 6 SV

Juan Nicasio is another starter turned reliever who found success last season. The Cardinals acquired Nicasio late in the season last year and he served as their closer for about the last month. He converted 4 saves for an extremely thin Cardinals’ pen. They are once again thin going into this season and they are going to need to sign multiple arms. I think they retain Nicasio for a relatively cheap contract.

Other Destinations: Twins, Rockies, Phillies, Mets

7. Bryan Shaw: New York Mets, 3-years/$21M

2017 Stats: 4-6, 3.52 ERA, 76.2 IP, 73 SO, 3 SV

The New York Mets should have a solid 1-2 punch in their bullpen with Familia and Ramos, but they need to add another solid, consistent arm to make their bullpen dominant. In comes Bryan Shaw. Shaw has been one of the most consistent and durable relief pitchers in all of baseball since he joined the Indians in 2013. The connection with new Mets’ Manager Mickey Callaway should help the Mets lure Shaw in.

Other Destinations: Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Dodgers, Rockies

8. Jake McGee: Colorado Rockies, 2-years/$15M

2017 Stats: 0-2, 3.61 ERA, 57.1 IP, 58 SO, 3 SV

As mentioned, I think the Rockies will lose Holland this off-season. I am predicting they will land Morrow and I think they also retain Jake McGee. McGee struggled in his first year in Colorado, but bounced back nicely last season. He was one of the key pieces to the Rockies’ bullpen and I do not think they will want to lose too many pieces in their pen.

Other Destinations: Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels

9. Anthony Swarzak: Milwaukee Brewers, 2-years/$14M

2017 Stats: 6-4, 2.33 ERA, 77.1 IP, 91 SO, 2 SV

Anthony Swarzak was another reliever on a minor-league deal that flat out dominated last year. He had the best year of his career and set a career high in strikeouts. The Brewers traded for Swarzak around the deadline and I think they will be able to retain his services on a relatively cheap deal. Swarzak will be one of the best value signings this off-season.

Other Destinations: Mets, Cardinals, Twins, Braves

10. Steve Cishek: St. Louis Cardinals, 2-years/$14M

2017 Stats: 3-2, 2.01 ERA, 44.2 IP, 41 SO, 1 SV

Steve Cishek has been one of the more consistent and underappreciated relief pitchers in baseball. He has never had an ERA over 3.60 in his career and he was a dominant closer for a few years with the Marlins. The Cardinals got a taste of Cishek in 2015 and he pitched well for them in 23+ innings. As I mentioned, the Cardinals need multiple arms to fill their weak pen. They find very good value in Cishek.

Other Destinations: Rangers, Mets, Cubs, Rays, Astros

11. Brandon Kintzler: Minnesota Twins, 2-years/$14M

2017 Stats: 4-3, 3.03 ERA, 71.1 IP, 39 SO, 29 SV

The Twins dealt Brandon Kintzler to the Nationals at the deadline as it seemed their magic was running out, but we know how that story ended. The Twins need some bullpen help and they will look for towards a cheap reunion with Kintzler, who revived his career with the Twins.
Other Destinations: Nationals, Mets, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers

12. Tommy Hunter: Atlanta Braves, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 3-5, 2.61 ERA, 58.2 IP, 64 SO, 1 SV

Tommy Hunter has been both a starter and reliever throughout his career, but last year he established himself as a solid bullpen arm. The Braves always seem to be signing a veteran arm to add to their bullpen and I think they find a set up man in Hunter for the 2018 season.

Other Destinations: Rays, Blue Jays, Mets, Nationals

13. Pat Neshek: Cleveland Indians, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 5-3, 1.59 ERA, 62.1 IP, 69 SO, 1 SV

The Indians are likely to lose Shaw this off-season and they are going to look to replace him without breaking the bank. Pat Neshek will add a different dimension to their already dominant bullpen. He should come fairly cheap and complement Cody Allen and Andrew Miller nicely with his funky delivery.

Other Destinations: Mariners, Mets, Rockies, Phillies, Nationals, Rays

14. Tony Watson: Minnesota Twins, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 7-4, 3.38 ERA, 66.2 IP, 53 SO, 10 SV

Tony Watson is only behind Shaw for most games pitched since 2012. The Twins continue to bolster their bullpen with the signing of Watson. He has not always been used a left-handed specialist, but he can be that for the Twins. He can also be their set up man to Kintzler.

Other Destinations: Blue Jays, Dodgers, Rockies, White Sox

15. Joe Smith: Blue Jays, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 3-0, 3.33 ERA, 54.0 IP, 71 SO, 1 SV

The Blue Jays signed Joe Smith last off-season and they do once again this year. They hope this year they keep Smith for a whole season as they will be competing this upcoming season, unlike last year. Smith is not a big name reliever and he won’t close out many games for teams, but he is a solid arm that every pen will like to have. He can eat up innings and come up clutch in the 7th or 8th inning.

Other Destinations: Mets, Twins, Indians, White Sox, Cardinals

16. Seung-hwan Oh: Milwaukee Brewers, 2-years/$9M

2017 Stats: 1-6, 4.10 ERA, 59.1 IP, 54 SO, 20 SV

Seung-hwan Oh struggled in his second year in the MLB after a dominant rookie year in which he struck out 103 batters, recorded a 1.92 ERA, and finished 6th in rookie of the year voting. His struggles last year will hurt his value tremendously, but he still was able to record 20 saves. The Brewers will be looking for a set up man for Corey Knebel. Oh will come cheap and has a chance to bounce back.

Other Destinations: Rangers, Cardinals, Angels, Diamondbacks, Twins

17. Fernando Rodney: Philadelphia Phillies, 1-year/$5M

2017 Stats: 5-4, 4.23 ERA, 55.1 IP, 65 SO, 39 SV

Fernando Rodney did not have a great year in terms of ERA, but he was top 3 in the NL in saves. He won’t get more than a 2-year deal and that is even pushing it as he will be 41 years old when the 2018 season rolls around. A team like the Phillies may take a chance on him in hopes that he has a solid season and can be used as trade bait when the deadline rolls around.

Other Destinations: White Sox, Diamondbacks, Angels, Rays

18. Yusmeiro Petit: Los Angeles Angels, 2-years/$9M

2017 Stats: 5-2, 2.76 ERA, 91.1 IP, 101 SO, 4 SV

Yusmeiro Petit quietly had one of the better seasons among relief pitchers last year. However, I do not think he will be highly sought after as there are plenty of valuable, cheap bullpen arms in this free agent class. The Angels need pitching help all around and they should bring back Petit next year.

Other Destinations: Nationals, Padres, White Sox, Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks

19. Matt Albers: New York Mets, 1-year/$5M

2017 Stats: 7-2, 1.62 ERA, 61.0 IP, 63 SO, 2 SV

Matt Albers had one of the best years of his career with the Nationals last season. However, he will be 35 years old on opening day and entering his 13th season. Therefore, he will not be sought after much much like Petit. He still should be valuable to a team as a middle innings arm.

Other Destinations: Nationals, Cardinals, White Sox, Angels, Phillies, Diamondbacks

20. Trevor Rosenthal: Arizona Diamondbacks 2-years/$6M

2017 Stats: 3-4, 3.40 ERA, 47.2 IP, 76 SO, 11 SV

Trevor Rosenthal will be the most interesting bullpen arm in free agency this off-season. He was cut by the Cardinals after deciding to undergo Tommy John surgery. He will miss most, if not all, of the 2018 season. However, he is too good to go unsigned this year. I expect a team will either sign him to a cheap 2-year deal or a 1-year will with a team option for year 2. The Diamondbacks are a team that needs bullpen help and they seem as if they will be a force for a while. They are a team that may take a chance on Rosenthal. It will be really interesting to see how this plays out.

Other Destinations: Cardinals, Rangers, Twins


Published by

Nicholas LoPrinzi

I'm a washed up D3 college baseball player who is pursuing their MBA in Accounting. I love baseball, basketball, and football; while rooting for the New York Mets, New York Knicks, and New York Giants. Most of the time it is full of misery. I have recently found a passion for writing about sports. I have posted a few articles for Last Word on Sports and I have now created my own website ( You can check out my articles there and also follow the twitter account @_thesportstalk.

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