Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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2015 Reliever Rankings

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

As has become an All-Star break tradition, here’s a peek ahead at some very, very preliminary 2015 player rankings. I’m only concerned with next year here, so these aren’t true keeper rankings; if I were factoring in 2016 and beyond, some younger players would be listed quite a bit higher. As always, I’m going position by position (trying to account for next year’s position eligibility) and including a top 300 overall.


This winter’s free agents are listed without teams. Players facing option years are listed as “opt” in the team column.


Follow us at @Rotoworld_BB and @matthewpouliot on Twitter.


Click to see other preliminary 2015 rankings:

Top 300 | SP | OF | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | C | DH


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.


2015 Relief pitcher Rankings


1 Craig Kimbrel Braves 2
2 Kenley Jansen Dodgers 1
3 Greg Holland Royals 4
4 Aroldis Chapman Reds 13
5 Trevor Rosenthal Cardinals 3
6 Sean Doolittle Athletics 44
7 David Robertson   10
8 Glen Perkins Twins 6
9 Koji Uehara   5
10 Rafael Soriano opt 20
11 Jonathan Papelbon Phillies 15
12 Fernando Rodney Mariners 19
13 Steve Cishek Marlins 17
14 Joakim Soria opt 18
15 Joe Nathan Tigers 7
16 Cody Allen Indians 30
17 Mark Melancon Pirates 36
18 Jason Motte   71
19 Francisco Rodriguez   56
20 Casey Janssen   25
21 Wade Davis Royals 50
22 Addison Reed Diamondbacks 12
23 Huston Street opt 29
24 Joaquin Benoit Padres 27
25 Zach Britton Orioles 112
26 Jenrry Mejia Mets 105 SP
27 Jake McGee Rays 39
28 Dellin Betances Yankees 172
29 Ken Giles Phillies NR
30 Daniel Webb White Sox 40
31 Ernesto Frieri Pirates 8
32 Grant Balfour Rays 16
33 Sergio Romo   11
34 Neil Ramirez Cubs 285 SP
35 Jason Grilli   14
36 Joel Hanrahan   178
37 Joba Chamberlain   134
38 Brad Boxberger Rays 118
39 Jim Johnson   9
40 Tyler Clippard Nationals 42
41 Shae Simmons Braves NR
42 Hector Rondon Cubs 169
43 Santiago Casilla Giants 70
44 Neftali Feliz Rangers 45
45 Bobby Parnell Mets 22
46 Danny Farquhar Mariners 61
47 Nate Jones White Sox 23
48 Rex Brothers Rockies 31
49 Brad Ziegler Diamondbacks 48
50 Matt Stites Diamondbacks 348
51 LaTroy Hawkins opt 33
52 Will Smith Brewers 73
53 A.J. Ramos Marlins 43
54 Aaron Barrett Nationals 111
55 Corey Knebel Tigers 351
56 Ryan Cook Athletics 68
57 Andrew Bailey   297
58 Tanner Scheppers Rangers 114 SP
59 Cam Bedrosian Angels NR
60 Junichi Tazawa Red Sox 41
61 Kelvin Herrera Royals 46
62 Joe Smith Angels 100
63 Darren O'Day opt 47
64 Dominic Leone Mariners NR
65 R.J. Alvarez Angels 330
66 Chad Qualls Astros 37
67 Sergio Santos Blue Jays 34
68 Danny Otero Athletics 74
69 Joel Peralta opt 54
70 John Axford Indians 28
71 Drew Storen Nationals 65
72 Jeurys Familia Mets 202
73 Edward Mujica Red Sox 49
74 Jake Petricka White Sox 180
75 Luke Hochevar   NR
76 Paco Rodriguez Dodgers 55
77 Rasiel Iglesias Reds NR
78 Jesse Crain   32
79 Josh Fields Astros 58
80 Arodys Vizcaino Cubs 214
81 Bryan Shaw Indians 97
82 Jake Barrett Diamondbacks 353
83 Jordan Walden Braves 90
84 Pedro Strop Cubs 38
85 Jean Machi Giants 72
86 Craig Stammen Nationals 53
87 Mike Foltynewicz Astros 293 SP
88 Bruce Rondon Tigers NR
89 Tommy Hunter Orioles 24
90 Alex Torres Padres 52
91 Arquimedes Caminero Marlins 108
92 Keone Kela Rangers NR
93 Chad Bettis Rockies 147
94 Andrew Miller   89
95 Yoervis Medina Mariners 84
96 Tony Watson Pirates 95
97 Justin De Fratus Phillies 113
98 Al Alburquerque Tigers 62
99 Juan Carlos Oviedo   170
100 Gonzalez Germen Mets 119




  • With so many closers set to become free agents, I could do a whole column on relievers here, but it’s a rather scary proposition. I count maybe seven or eight stable closing situations for 2015. Everything else is up in the air, though it should be safe to assume that free agents like Uehara, Robertson, K-Rod and Janssen will be closing somewhere. There are also closers with option years coming due in Soriano, Soria and Street. The latter two there will most likely have their options picked up, though they may be with different teams by the time that happens. Soriano’s option is worth $14 million, and he’ll probably fall a bit short of having it vest automatically. The Nationals will want him back if he keeps performing like this, but $14 million is simply too steep for anything less than an elite closer.


  • Current non-closers cracking the top 30 here include Motte, Davis, Betances, Giles and Webb. Motte has yet to regain his best stuff after Tommy John surgery and has been pretty unimpressive for the Cardinals, but as long as he gets at least a little stronger in the second half, I imagine someone will give him a closer gig in free agency this winter.

Davis is an interesting case, in that he has a $7 million option but still isn’t eligible for free agency. That $7 million isn’t necessary too much to pay a setup man, but the Royals are also looking at Holland taking a jump to the $8 million range in arbitration this winter, with Aaron Crow and Herrera due raises as well. I’m assuming Davis will be traded, hopefully to a team that would use him as a closer.


Webb is my high White Sox reliever in the rankings over Nate Jones and Petricka. The ideal for the White Sox would probably be for Jones to get healthy in the second half and win the job late this year, potentially carrying it forward into 2015, but given that he’s missed so much time, I feel a little better about Webb’s future now.

  • I’m guessing the Yankees will re-sign Robertson this winter, but Betances is worthy of a spot in the top 30 anyway, assuming Joe Girardi doesn’t completely use him up this summer. I am rather worried about the specter of arm problems there.


  • The Red Sox face a dilemma with Uehara, who will turn 40 next April. Trading him this month for a couple of prospects would make a lot of sense, but as long as they’re on the fringes of the race, I imagine they’ll prefer to keep him and try to re-sign him this winter. Then again, even if they trade him, they might try to bring him back as a free agent. Otherwise, they could be looking at closing with Mujica next year. Of their young arms, Rubby De La Rosa seemed like the best bet to perhaps become a closer. However, he’s been impressive enough in his starts lately that he has to be penciled into next year’s rotation for now.


  • For the Cubs relievers, I ordered them Ramirez, Rondon, Vizcaino and Strop. If I were sure the Cubs were going to leave Ramirez in the pen going forward, he’d be in the mid-20s, instead of No. 34. He’s clearly talented enough to be a long-term closer. However, he was a starter until this year and it might be worth taking another look at him in the rotation.


  • Foltynewicz wasn’t going to crack the SP rankings anyway, so I stuck him at No. 87 here, just in case the Astros do decide to convert him into a reliever. He has the arm to close, and his control simply hasn’t improved to the point at which he could be considered for a major league rotation spot. He’s the third Astros pitcher in the rankings behind Qualls and Fields.

Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
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