Jays Top 5 Off-Season Needs: Closer

I wanted to take a look at potential needs heading into 2011 and discuss the available options the Jays have for filling them.  I've ranked the needs by what I feel is the most important and will lay out who I think the internal options are, the best external options, the most likely scenario to fill the role and a little 'pie in the sky', what I'd do if I had an unlimited budget scenario.

The order I’ve come up with for the Jays needs are:
1. Bullpen
2. 1B/DH
3. 3B/RF
4. 5th Starter
5. Bench

I’ll first look at the bullpen and continue posing the remaining positions soon.

1. Bullpen - Now that Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg all seem headed to free agency I think that bullpen becomes the Jays #1 need heading into 2011.  Many of the remaining 2010 bullpen crew did well in 2010 and should do so again in 2011 however if pushed into later inning roles they may not be as successful.

Internal Candidates: The bullpen will be filled with some of the following: Shawn Camp, Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Casey Janssen, Brad Mills, David Purcey, Josh Roenicke and whoever loses out on the 5th starter spot.

External Candidates: There are always plenty of free agent relievers available, this year headlined by Rafael Soriano as the best free agent closer (not including Mariano Rivera), while JJ Putz, Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel, Brian Fuentes, Chad Qualls, Kerry Wood and Jon Rauch have all had closing experience.  Canadian Jesse Crain has the desire to close in 2011 as does Trevor Hoffman and others like Joaquin Benoit, Frank Francisco, Grant Balfour and Takashi Saito could all handle late inning duties.  On the trade front we’ll probably here Heath Bell’s name in a lot of rumours and other names like Bobby Jenks (unless he his non-tendered), David Aardsma and Leo Nunez could all be on the move.  In the never say never category we could see Jonathan Papelbon or Jonathan Broxton shopped during the off-season though the likelihood of them moving is pretty low. 

Likely Scenario: I’m not confident that any of the internal candidates would succeed in the closer role in 2011, they are better suited for mid-late inning work.  I think the most likely scenario is that 1) Frasor accepts arbitration and remains with the team in 2011, I doubt that if he declined he’d find many suitors with is 2010 struggles and type A status and 2) the Jays will add someone like Jesse Crain, JJ Putz or Chad Qualls in hopes they can battle with Frasor for the closer/set up role.

Pie in the Sky: I think (depending on asking price) the Jays should pursue Jonathan Broxton.  With the Dodgers uncertain ownership situation and Broxton’s late season struggles he might be available for the right package and I am confident he could easily return to his pre-2010 form.

Up next: 1B/DH

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