So Tigers Fan’s want to get a closer via trade… Good luck with that!



Below is a list of closers on non contending teams that might be available through trade. Cover up the name of the teams, and how many of you could tell me where they played? There isn’t any big names on this list, nor should there be.

Big time closers aren’t just found on the free agent or trade market, they are forged through trials by fire. They come up through a minor league system and then are thrown in to the 9th inning of a major league game to succeed or fail. They aren’t eased into the process. The first time they get an opportunity to close out games comes because the guy who had the job before them couldn’t get the job done. No situation is ideal. The guys that survive their introduction become household names, and those who don’t fade into obscurity.

Here are the guys that pitch for teams that are out of contention already. Tell me if there is a name that is appealing of hand. There is no name recognition on this list. These are the guys that the Tigers can realistically acquire without giving up the limited prospects they already have.

Don’t see Jonathan Papelbon from Philadelphia on the list? That’s because his team is tied for second in the NL East and isn’t out of the playoff hunt by any stretch of the imagination. They are likely buyers at the deadline and therefore Papelbon will be staying put. You can’t afford Papelbon’s salary because of what it will cost you down the line, but that is the subject of another article, which I will do hopefully on Wednesday.

Glen Perkins Minnesota Twins 29 28.2 17 7 6 40 19 2 90% 0.80 2.20 12.6 6.7
Ernesto Frieri Los Angles Angels 32 32.2 31 12 19 47 17 2 89% 1.22 3.31 12.9 2.5
Tom Wilhelmsen Seattle Mariners 31 32.0 22 15 17 23 16 5 76% 1.22 4.22 6.5 1.4
Jose Veras Houston Astros 33 33.0 23 14 13 37 15 3 83% 1.09 3.82 10.1 2.8
Bobby Parnell New York Mets 32 32.0 23 9 8 29 12 3 80% 0.97 2.53 8.2 3.6
Steve Cishek Miami Marlins 32 31.1 24 12 12 29 12 2 86% 1.15 3.45 8.3 2.4
Kevin Gregg Chicago Cubs 25 24.1 15 3 7 26 11 0 100% 0.95 1.11 9.6 3.7
Jim Henderson Milwaukee Brewers 27 26.2 19 6 8 30 10 2 83% 1.01 2.03 10.1 3.8

Seeing those stat lines, there are some appealing options. But here’s the kicker. None of these guys make a lot of money and all are locked down, with the exception of Kevin Gregg, for the future at very affordable rates. Jose Veras has been an average reliever at best in his career, but is only closing in Houston because their bullpen is all rookies or veteran retreads. Henderson and Wilhelmsen are both guys that took a very long road to the Major Leagues, but are average relievers on their best days. Frieri is not going anywhere, because he’s young, cheap, and very good. Perkins has the best numbers, but the Twins won’t likely trade him to a division rival, especially because he will be on the Tigers would have him for 2-3 more years at a minimum.

Closer Team Age Contract Team Record Games Out of Division
Glen Perkins Minnesota Twins 30 3 Yrs, 10 Mil – 4.5 Mil Club Option in 2016 34-38 7.0
Ernesto Frieri Los Angles Angels 27 1st Time Arb Eligible in 2014, Free Agent in 2017 33-43 11.0
Tom Wilhelmsen Seattle Mariners 29 1st Time Arb Eligible in 2015, Free Agent in 2018 31-43 15.0
Jose Veras Houston Astros 33 1 Yr, 3.25 Mil – 3.25 Mil Club Option in 2014 29-48 15.5
Bobby Parnell New York Mets 28 1 Yr, 1.7 Mil – Arb Eligible – Free Agent in 2016 30-42 11.5
Steve Cishek Miami Marlins 27 1st Time Arb Eligible in 2014, Free Agent in 2018 25-50 18.0
Kevin Gregg Chicago Cubs 35 Minor League Deal, Details Unavailable 31-43 15.0
Jim Henderson Milwaukee Brewers 30 1st Time Arb Eligible in 2016, Free Agent in 2019 31-43 15.0

Kevin Gregg is an interesting option. He has lots of experience closing for some very bad teams, but has been a gas can for the last several seasons. He was cut by the Orioles in spring training but has been lights out with the Cubs since. I’m worried if he returns to the American League, he will get lit up again. The Mets have publicly said that they have no interest in trading Parnell.

Total everything that I have said up, and you have no available closers on the market that fit the Tigers needs. Stop wishing that the Tigers had a Mo Rivera or a Papelbon, because it isn’t going to happen unless it comes from within. The Tigers are going to have to give a Al Albuquerque or a Bruce Rondon a trial by fire. There isn’t any other options. You can’t keep going to the Marlins to rob them of talent. Eventually you have to find you’re own guy and develop him from within.

Tigers Top Relief Pitching Prospect Bruce Rondon

Tigers Top Relief Pitching Prospect Bruce Rondon


None of these situations are ideal for the Tigers. Hell, look at the Red Sox who have the American League’s best record. They have had 3 or 4 different guys closing for them this season already. The back end of their bullpen is anything but stable, yet they still keep winning.

andrew Bailey

Red Sox Closer Andrew Bailey After Blowing Save vs Tigers

At this point I’m willing to give Drew Smyly a shot. According to ESPN’s advanced statistical analysis, he has the best slider in baseball. When he throws his slider opponents have a weak .234 OPS, the best among everyone who qualified. Don’t use the argument that putting him as a closer now will ruin his future as a starter because it won’t. Look at all the guys that have done it before him.

Tigers Reliever Drew Smyly

Tigers Reliever Drew Smyly who Features the MLB’s Best Slider


Adam Wainwright, Derek Lowe, and Ryan Dempster have all had very good careers changing from closers to starters. Anybody who suggests that Smyly could be more than those three needs to be drug tested. All three of those ball players have had very successful careers and have made a lot of money throwing a baseball. It can be done and should be if Tigers Management thinks he can get the job done.

Adam Wainwright

Cardinals Closer Turned Ace of the Staff Adam Wainwright

Overall, the Tigers will still win a lot of games without an established big name closer. They will also lose some games that will make you wan’t to pull all your hair out. The answer lies in house, just which guy will you give the ball to in the ninth inning just hasn’t been decided yet.


About Dorf

Adam "Dorf" Waltersdorf is the Vice President of TMSNX and contributor across the entire Majors Sports Network. He is the Editor in Chief of the Majors East Lansing and an editor at The Majors Detroit and the The Majors Sports Network. He also is the Host of TMSNX's weekly Football podcast "Inside the Huddle" and on air personality for the weekly Detroit Sports Podcast "Motor City Uncut" and the weekly baseball podcast "The Sandlot Report".

Recommended for you

You must be logged in to post a comment Login