Predicting which closers we could see dealt this winter is a lot tougher than making a list of the free agents available. Trading a closer essential robs a team of an important role in the bullpen. With the growing emphasis on relief pitchers, it makes it even less likely to pinpoint specific names.
However, I’ve found two guys I believe could be available.
The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired former Texas Rangers closer at this summer’s trade deadline. At the time, they believed they could still contend. In order to boost the bullpen, Keone Kela joined the ball club.
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Kela did pitch well for Pittsburgh, finishing off his second straight season. The difference between 2018 and 2017 is that he actually had an opportunity to close. While it was a short-lived experiment, there’s a lot of potential for the young man who turns 26 next April.
The Pirates could use help in several areas. As long as Felipe Vasquez remains on the roster, Kela is stuck as the setup man. Selling him to the Mets as a closer could benefit them while helping the Mets find a young arm they can count on.
On the other side of 30, the Mets could look at Blake Parker of the Los Angeles Angels to secure some saves in 2019. He’s probably the least sexy name on this list. For the past two seasons though, he has been a really good arm out of the Angels bullpen.
Parker is a journeyman reliever who fell into a closer’s role for part of this year. For a guy who turns 34 next summer, he’s certainly a late-bloomer.
I expect the asking price for Parker won’t be too high. More important than that, we have to ask if he’s actually available. The Angels should hope to contend next year with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the roster.
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From all of the options, who do you think ends up as the Mets closer in 2019?