Closing the market 

November, 19, 2009

If there's an area of depth in this winter's free agent market, it's in relievers, including relievers who have either closer experience or closer stuff. Mike Gonzalez (No. 17), Rafael Soriano (No. 20), Billy Wagner (No. 24), Ryota Igarashi (No. 26), Rafael Betancourt (No. 34), Jose Valverde (No. 37), Fernando Rodney (No. 43), and Brandon Lyon (No. 47) all made my top 50 free agents (appearing on the site at 12:01 a.m. on Friday), while the injured ex-closer J.J. Putz is also available.

That market is made deeper by the availability of several comparable arms in trade, including Cleveland's Kerry Wood (one year plus a vesting option remaining on his contract), Cincinnati's Francisco Cordero (two years and $25 million remaining -- thanks, Wayne!) and perhaps San Diego's Heath Bell (two years of arbitration remaining).

The sudden surfeit of relievers on the market is in part an accident of timing, but it may also reflect changing attitudes toward closers and relievers in general as more teams recognize the volatility of reliever performance. Teams have handed out some of their worst long-term contracts to relievers in recent years:

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer