Red Sox sitting pretty in search for new closer

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Here’s a list of the closers still available in free agency:

Ryan Madson
Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Cordero
Brad Lidge
Frank Francisco

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.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.