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Fantasy Baseball: Week 13 Relief Pitcher Report

Cam discusses closers who could be on the move in the weeks ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning at Fenway Park on April 15, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. All players are wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

We are entering baseball’s trading season. Teams are starting to decide whether to be buyers or sellers. The expanded playoffs with an extra wildcard team have made this decision more difficult for some teams.

The dilemma isn’t always how many games you are away from a playoff berth but how many teams are between you and that berth. The calculus can change from day to day. A general manager may determine that a three-game deficit with four teams to leapfrog is worse than five games behind but a clear path with no team ahead of you.

Another leading factor is a player’s contract status. Players on bad teams in the last year of their contract will surely get dealt. And if you are in an AL or NL-only league, you could very well lose that player if he’s traded to the opposite league.

Carlos Estevez, Los Angeles Angels

There is one closer in the AL who will surely be traded over the next month: Carlos Estevez of the Los Angeles Angels. The team is abysmal again, and Estevez is in the last year of his contract.

He hasn’t been lights out this year but has been more than serviceable lately. He’s blown three saves but does have 13 in the year, and he’s striking out a batter per inning. He has a 3.52 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. As I said, he’s been much better as of late. In three appearances this week, he’s three for three in save opportunities. And he hasn’t allowed a hit, walk, or earned run.

Kenley Jansen, Boston Red Sox

But the real question is, what will the Red Sox do with Kenley Jansen? They have pulled themselves above .500, winning eight out of their last 10 and two out of three against the Phillies and Yankees. There is hope and optimism in Boston, at least with the fans. It remains to be seen if ownership believes yet.

This feels like deja vu all over again. The Sox have been in similar situations each of the last few years, hovering around the last wildcard, scrapping their way to within a couple of games, yet ownership has done nothing to improve the team.

It seems they are heading in the same direction again. There has been no buzz around the team making any moves to add. They have built a solid core of young players and are still in rebuild mode.

The proof regarding what the team does will fall directly on what they do with and how they handle Jansen. He’s in the last year of his contract and has pitched well. He has struck out 11.57/9ip. He has 13 saves, only blowing one game. He has a solid 2.59 ERA and a really good 1.07 WHIP.

Jansen is a veteran closer with playoff pedigree and the perfect ninth-inning guy on a contending team. If the Sox trade him, it will again send an awful message to the Boston fanbase, especially after the Celtics just won the 18th NBA title. That title may bully owner John Henry into going for it.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Henry owns the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the Winter Classic, the Penguins were playing the Bruins at Fenway Park, and Henry was booed off the field. A few days later, the team signed Rafael Devers to the largest deal in Red Sox history, 10 years/$313M.

If they decide to move on from Jansen, a logical landing spot would be returning to the Dodgers.  The Red Sox and Dodgers have a recent history as trade partners and seem to have a good working relationship. The Dodgers are again World Series contenders and would love to bolster their bullpen. And they aren’t afraid to move their prospects.

They do have Evan Phillips, who has 12 saves in 21 appearances and hasn’t blown a save yet this season. He has a 1.00 WHIP and ERA of 1.80. But after Phillips, their bullpen is thin with five guys on the IL, including Joe Kelly, Brusdar Graterol, and Ryan Brasier.