Ryan Madson

A look at the closer market minus Jonathan Papelbon

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The Phillies just went and bought themselves the best closer available this winter. Now we’ll see who else is ready to ante up.

Here’s how I ranked the available closers in the top 111 free agents:

6. Papelbon
12. Heath Bell
14. Ryan Madson
16. Francisco Rodriguez
24. Francisco Cordero
40. Joe Nathan
45. Jonathan Broxton
47. Matt Capps
53. Frank Francisco

Those first five guys were always pretty much guaranteed to open next season as closers, and Nathan is certain to have a job in that role if he wants one. The remaining three are possibilities as cheap closers but could also sign as setup men.

And the teams looking for closers now that the Phillies are out of the hunt:

Boston
Cincinnati
Toronto
Minnesota
San Diego
Florida
Baltimore
L.A. Dodgers
N.Y. Mets

Other possibilities: Washington, Texas, Chicago White Sox, L.A. Angels, St. Louis

I’m ordering those teams in presumed willingness to spend. I think it’s pretty much a given that Boston, Cincinnati and Toronto will sign new closers, probably from among the “big four” remaining closers. San Diego is a wild card; the Padres would spend a substantial amount to re-sign Bell, but they’ll probably go cheap if they can’t land him.

It seems to me that it’s much more of a buyers market now with the Phillies and Papelbon out of the mix. I think the Red Sox would love Madson, but not at the four years and $44 million he was rumored to be getting from Philadelphia. Now, however, he might come off the board substantially cheaper than that. The Blue Jays want a big-time closer, but it’s hard to see them going past $10 million per year. I expect Cincinnati will simply re-sign Cordero. Teams like the Orioles and Mets could gamble on Broxton or Brad Lidge.

One way it could potentially shake out:

Boston: Madson – four years, $36 million
Toronto: K-Rod – two years, $18 million
Cincinnati: Cordero – two years, $16 million
San Diego: Bell – accepts arbitration
Minnesota: Nathan – two years, $12 million

Now, on the other hand, there’s still the possibility those contracts could go substantially higher. The Marlins could decide to throw big money at a closer if they get spurned by Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes. The Rangers could decide to shift Neftali Feliz to the rotation and then bid for Madson. The Nationals could trade Drew Storen and make a run at Madson. The Cards would have money to spend on the bullpen if Pujols decides to head elsewhere.

As is, though, I think the teams that are patient will be rewarded and that the Phillies’ decision to give $50 million to Papelbon will look like a big overpay at the conclusion of the winter. But only time will tell.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.