MLB Free Agents 2019-20: Top 10 relief pitchers
Plenty of teams could have used some bullpen help throughout the 2019 season -- the Red Sox being one of those teams.
Unfortunately for them, there aren't a whole bunch of reliable relievers set to hit the open market this winter, especially if a couple of the big-name arms decide to opt into their current deals.
So who might be available for Boston and the other 31 MLB teams to shore up their bullpens this offseason? Here's a look at the top 10 free-agent relief pitchers. . .
1. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
*Player Option for 2020
Chapman produced another elite season for the Yankees in 2019. It was reported over the summer there was a "one million percent chance" the left-hander would opt out of his deal, so he's set to be the premier relief pitcher on the market. The hard-throwing veteran closer is coming off a year in which he posted 37 saves, a 2.29 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.
UPDATE: Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees have agreed to a contract extension.
2. Will Smith, LHP
Smith was an All-Star in 2019 after tallying 34 saves, a 2.76 ERA, and 96 strikeouts in 65.1 innings pitched with the Giants. The southpaw should get plenty of offers this winter following the most productive season of his career.
UPDATE (Nov. 14): Smith signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
3. Kenley Jansen, RHP
*Player Option for 2020
Jansen wasn't his dominant self in 2019. But given his track record, he still should demand attention on the open market if he opts out. That's a big "if," as Jansen will make $18 million with L.A. if he doesn't exercise his player option. That seems like the safe choice for a 32-year-old closer that appears to be in decline.
UPDATE (Oct. 31): Jansen has decided not to opt out of the remaining two years of his contract with the Dodgers.
4. Dellin Betances, RHP
Dealing with an Achilles injury, Dellin Betances only appeared in one game during the 2019 season. When healthy, though, his stuff is as good as anybody's. The four-time All-Star could provide a big boost to a number of bullpens this offseason.
5. Will Harris, RHP
Harris has been lights out as the Astros set-up man since joining Houston in 2015. You can bet they'll do everything they can to bring him back, but the veteran should receive plenty of attention in free agency. He posted a 1.50 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 68 appearances in 2019.
6. Steve Cishek, RHP
Cishek struggled with his command for much of 2019 but still produced a respectable season, finishing with a 2.95 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 70 appearances. He wouldn't be the most exciting free-agent signing, but could be a huge upgrade to a number of bullpens.
7. Daniel Hudson, RHP
Hudson was a tremendous addition to a Nationals bullpen that desperately needed help at the 2019 trade deadline. The veteran righty had a 1.44 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 24 appearances with Washington. There's bound to be some regression in 2020, but he's still one of the best relief options available.
8. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Vizcaino appeared in only four games in 2019 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Provided he's healthy enough to pitch in 2020, the right-hander is an interesting option for the back end of the bullpen who might be able to be signed for fairly cheap.
9. Chris Martin, RHP
Not to be confused with the lead singer of Coldplay, Martin has been solid over the last couple of seasons with the Rangers and Braves. He doesn't have the track record of some of the guys before him on the list, but still is one of the better free-agent options this winter.
UPDATE (Nov. 19): Martin remained with the Braves, signing a two-year, $14 million contract.
10. Drew Pomeranz, LHP
Admittedly, Pomeranz is on this list mostly to annoy the Red Sox fans reading. But before you scoff at the idea of him being considered a valuable free-agent, consider this: after being dealt to Milwaukee where he was used out of the bullpen, Pomeranz posted a 2.39 ERA and 0.91 WHIP while striking out 45 in 26.1 innings pitched. He simply isn't a viable starter, but if he can continue to produce anything close to those numbers in relief, that's enough to make him an intriguing option.
UPDATE (Nov. 27): Pomeranz has agreed to a four-year, $34 million deal with the Padres.