Free agency preview: Best options among relief pitchers
Free agency is underway and this year's class is stacked with plenty of bullpen arms. Teams are no longer afraid to spend money on relievers -- and these guys are going to get paid. Here are the top 10 free-agent relief pitchers available.
Free agency preview: LHP Tony Sipp
Sipp is expected to be one of the top left-handed relievers in demand this offseason, especially after the great season he had with the Astros. The 32-year-old throws an upper-90s fastball and has an arsenal of complementary pitches. In 60 appearances this past season, Sipp posted a 1.99 ERA with 13 holds, 62 strikeouts and 15 walks in 54 1/3 innings pitched. He also had a career-best 4.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, making him a very attractive (and probably expensive) free-agent option.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Free agency preview: RHP Tyler Clippard
A trade deadline addition to the Mets, Clippard helped served as a setup man for closer Jeurys Familia. He was solid in the regular season, but struggled to get outs in the postseason -- allowing five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in the playoffs. Clippard went 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA, 19 saves, 64 strikeouts and 31 walks in 71 innings pitched between the A's and the Mets in 2015. The two-time All-Star has experience as a closer, upping his value as a free agent.
Free agency preview: RHP Trevor Cahill
A former All-Star who spent the first five years of his major-league career as a starter, Cahill resurrected his career as a reliever with the Cubs in 2015. The right-hander helped solidify the Cubs' bullpen as they made their playoff push in the final two months of the season. In 11 appearances with Chicago, Cahill posted a 2.12 ERA with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 17 innings pitched. His versatility out of the 'pen makes him a flexible, yet affordable free-agent option.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsJasen Vinlove
Free agency preview: RHP Joakim Soria
Soria had success as the Tigers' closer last season before being dealt to the Pirates at the trade deadline. In 43 appearances with the Tigers, Soria went 3-1 with a 2.85 ERA, 23 saves, 36 strikeouts and 11 walks in 41 innings. In a setup role with the Pirates, Soria posted a 2.03 ERA, striking out 28 and walking eight in 26 2/3 innings. Soria, 31, still seems to have plenty left in the tank to make him a solid bullpen arm for any team.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportCharles LeClaire
Free agency preview: RHP Ryan Madson
Madson experienced quite a comeback in 2015. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2012 and hadn't pitched in the majors for three years when the Royals signed him to a minor-league deal in January. Madson made the team out of spring training and went on to pitch 63 1/3 innings for the Royals in the regular season, posting a 2.13 ERA with 58 strikeouts to 14 walks. His fastball still averages 93-94 mph and he has a killer changeup, making him a solid weapon out of the 'pen.
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Free agency preview: RHP Matt Albers
Albers finished 2015 on a high note, riding a 22 1/3-inning scoreless streak. He had a solid season with the White Sox, posting a 1.21 ERA with 28 strikeouts and nine walks in 30 appearances (37 1/3 innings pitched). Aside from a fluke finger injury that caused him to miss a few weeks last season, Albers has always been a durable middle reliever. But his successful 2015 campaign could open the door to more late-inning opportunities, depending on which team nabs him in free agency.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY SportsPeter Aiken
Free agency preview: RHP Fernando Rodney
At 38, Rodney's better days are likely behind him. But the two-time All-Star has experienced many highs and lows throughout his career, so a bounce-back season is certainly possible. The 2014 season was Rodney's last great effort, as he finished with a 2.85 ERA and led the league in saves (48 in 51 opportunities). He struggled in 2015, converting only 16 of 23 save opportunities but still racked up 58 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings pitched. After being traded to the Cubs in an August waiver deal, Rodney went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 15 strikeouts and four walks in 12 innings pitched. Finishing the season on a high note will certainly help Rodney's free-agent value.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY SportsJerry Lai
Free agency preview: RHP Edward Mujica
Mujica is coming off a down season, but the former All-Star closer is still a good option for bullpen depth. His 4.75 ERA this past season is alarming, but he can still rack up strikeouts. He had a 4.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2015 and pitched 47 1/3 innings, so he can eat innings if needed.