Ranking The Closers By Job Security

A few weeks ago we ranked relievers based on their projected fantasy value, and built into that is a look at each closer’s job security. Let’s be a bit more straight forward on the job security front, since knowing which closers are at risk of losing their job is half the battle.

Mortal Locks
Mariano Rivera
Joakim Soria
Neftali Feliz
Carlos Marmol
Heath Bell
Brian Wilson

The players aren’t ranked within the tiers, so don’t worry about that. These six guys are as locked into their jobs as any player in the game. The only way they’re not seeing the vast majority of their team’s save opportunities is injury.

Firm Grasps
Joe Nathan
Jose Valverde
Chris Perez
Andrew Bailey
Francisco Rodriguez

Just a notch below the guys in the top tier, these five have considerable security in some form or another. For Valverde and K-Rod, it has to do with their contracts. The other guys, it’s more about their long-term role with the club. And Nathan is Nathan; Matt Capps is no obstacle for him if he’s healthy.

Good Grips
Jonathan Papelbon
Matt Thornton
Brandon League/David Aardsma
Jonny Venters/Craig Kimbrel
Joel Hanrahan
Brandon Lyon
John Axford
J.J. Putz
Huston Street
Francisco Cordero

For the first time in his career, Papelbon is very much at risk of losing his job. Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks provide viable alternatives, and the team has no commitment to Paps beyond this season. Thornton was just given the job a week or so ago, and Chris Sale was given save opps ahead of him late last year. One slip up and he could be working the eighth inning again. Aardsma figures to reclaim his job once he returns from injury, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that League straight up Wally Pipp’s him. I initially had Cordero in the very last tier, but resident Reds’ fan Justin Merry tells me it would take a total disaster for him to lose his job even with Aroldis Chapman waiting in the wings. Dusty Baker is very set in his ways, I guess.

Kevin Gregg/Koji Uehara
Frank Francisco
Brad Lidge/Jose Contreras
Ryan Franklin
Jonathan Broxton
Leo Nunez

It’s somewhat strange to see Broxton here when he would have been in the top tier just twelve months ago. But his second half swoon and impending free agency has him very much on the hot seat with Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen looming. Lidge will be out three-to-six weeks with his shoulder injury, and Contreras isn’t exactly the most reliable alternative, not when Ryan Madson is on his team. Gregg and Uehara will have each other to worry about, ditto last year’s big money signing: Mike Gonzalez. It’s not completely insane to say the southpaw could grab the job at some point.

Run For Cover
Fernando Rodney
Kyle Farnsworth
Drew Storen/Sean Burnett

This is the “oh crap, I only have one closer and the draft is almost over” tier. It’s not so much “if” with Rodney, but “when.” The currently injured Scott Downs is probably first in line behind him, but Jordan Walden is the real threat. Farnsworth seems to be more a placeholder than anything, it sounds like Jake McGee is the guy they want to get the job, even if it occurs gradually over the summer.

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I asked for input from the other RotoGraphers, but the tiers were mostly my doing. Disagree with something? Then let’s talk it out in the comments.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

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Mike, nice list, but one small correction. You need another category above “Mortal Locks.” The new one should be called “Immortal Locks,” which Mariano Rivera being its only inhabitant.


Rivera will save under thirty games this year and spend time on the DL. Soriano will save ten to twelve games.