Here’s a list of the closers still available in free agency:
And following Toronto’s acquisition of Sergio Santos, here’s a list of all of the teams truly interested in spending significant dollars on a closer:
The Boston Red Sox
Really, that’s it. The Angels have the money to spend on a top reliever, but they already have a very promising ninth-inning guy in Jordan Walden. The Reds, Mets, Orioles and Padres are more interested in bargain hunting then spending big money on a reliever.
We know the Red Sox are interested in Oakland’s Andrew Bailey and that they’ve at least discussed Huston Street with the Rockies, but why go that route when a couple of these relievers are going to hit the bargain bin. The Red Sox might well end up getting Madson for Heath Bell money (three years, $27 million) or Rodriguez for $16 million over two years. Sure, they’d take Bailey over K-Rod all things being equal, but at the price of a couple of top prospects, things are far from equal.
My guess is that the Angels will be involved with Madson, so maybe he’ll still get his four-year deal. But that’s far from a certainty. The Reds could scrape up the money for K-Rod or Cordero, but they’re at least as likely to trade for a closer candidate. Francisco might want to seriously think about accepting that arbitration offer from the Jays, even though he’d be a setup man in Toronto. It’s doubtful he’ll do better elsewhere.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.