The Braves may split the closer’s job

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With Billy Wagner’s presumed retirement — and I say “presumed,” simply because he hasn’t filed his paperwork yet; he’s retiring — the assumption has been that Craig Kimbrel will take over the closer duties in Atlanta. He did so in the NLDS after Wagner’s injury, and he’s been groomed to close for a while now.

However, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez suggested today that Kimbrel and Jonny Venters might share closing duties this season.

With all apologies to fantasy baseball players in need of some saves from guys no one likely kept from last year’s league, I like the idea.  Kimbrel has the stuff to close against anyone I think, but he is still young and is still likely to have some issues with control that have always been his biggest weakness.  Venters, on the other hand, is not exactly a lefty specialist. He was even harder on righties last year than he was lefties and could easily close games himself.

Why put so much pressure on one young guy?  Keep them both fresh. Have them both ready to setup or close depending on the matchups and how they’re throwing and how they’re feeling at any given time.  Some people may squawk that there isn’t one anointed closer, but who cares?

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.