Identifying five future closers

If teammate Craig Kimbrel wasn't around, Venters might be the Braves' closer. Nick Laham/Getty Images

All general managers would love to have a Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman anchoring their bullpens and closing games, but that’s not always realistic. It would be ideal to buy a free agent such as Jonathan Papelbon, but not every team can afford that. Every team would love to draft a Drew Storen in the first round, but that can get risky and expensive.

Thus, general managers often must identify failed starters or relievers in their organization who could make it as closers, or find middle relievers on other teams and trade for them before those clubs figure out they have another potential closer in their bullpen. A perfect example is Joakim Soria, who the Kansas City Royals found via the Rule 5 draft. Of course, now that Soria might need elbow surgery, the Royals could be looking for a ninth-inning replacement. Good closers are out there, you just need to know where to look.