Available Free Agents
The team would have to let someone go from the 40-man to make a signing, but in the case of a handful of players available, that could be worth the risk:
While many will have Davis as the premier name guy available on the market due to his exposure throwing for the Royals and Cubs in high-leverage situations in the playoffs the last few years, he’s a guy to be concerned about as a significant investment. This season was the third straight season Davis’ average fastball velocity declined, along with the average velocity on all of his other pitches as well. He does have a very solid fastball, cutter, curveball combination of pitches, but with his recent injury hiccups and the heavy load his arm just had in the playoffs, I’d stay away.
Reed has been a bullpen mainstay in the major leagues almost immediately after he was selected by the White Sox in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft. He made his debut in 2010 and was the White Sox closer in 2012. He had some up and down times with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he rediscovered his effectiveness with the Mets when acquired in Queens in 2015. In 2017, combined between the Mets and Red Sox, Reed made 77 appearances, throwing 76 innings, saving 19 games, with a 2.84 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a 15/76 BB/K ratio. Reed doesn’t work with an overpowering fastball, but he locates extremely well and gets late wiggle that allows the pitch to play up well. He pairs that primarily with a mid-80s slider, and the two pitches have played up in the last two years, though his slider struggled in its effectiveness after his trade to Boston midseason of 2017. As one of the youngest back-end bullpen relievers on the market, he could draw a big market, however.
Shaw has been an underrated part of the dominant Cleveland bullpen the last few seasons. Shaw is a workhorse that has led the major leagues in appearances 3 of the last 4 seasons. Over the last 4 seasons, Shaw has averaged 77 appearances, 71 innings, a 3.08 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a 23/65 BB/K ratio. While he wouldn’t be a top choice for a closer, Shaw would be a workhorse middle reliever, throwing his mid-90s cutter and low-80s slider to get out hitters. Shaw would be the type of signing that really helped to lengthen out the bullpen, giving the Twins a reliable arm that could throw multiple days in a row with effectiveness.
Watson spent 2013-2015 as one of the most dominant middle relievers in the entire game, which was all the more impressive as he was doing it from the left side. In 2016, Watson took over as the team’s closer in the second half of the season and was quite good. He struggled out of the gate as the closer with the Pirates this season, but he still has elite stuff from the left side. Interestingly, in a season where fly balls became the talked-about thing, Watson actually had his lowest fly ball rate of his major league career, with less than 30% of all hits as fly balls. While Watson once had an elite change to go with a very good fastball and an above-average slider, his change fell off in 2017. Getting his feel back for his change could allow Watson to move back to that elite reliever role, and he could be a guy that is able to be signed for less than other more “name” closer types, like a Holland or Davis.