Entering Saturday, Octavio Dotel and Kerry Wood were known as closers and had earned a combined 166 career saves. By the time the major league trade deadline had passed, each had been traded to contending teams with two of the top closers in the game. Say goodbye to save opportunities and pretty much all fantasy value with it.
Dotel had been the Pittsburgh Pirates closer, accumulating 21 saves with, as he's wont to do, rather high peripheral rates. Dotel doesn't help fantasy teams in ERA and WHIP (4.28 ERA, 1.30 WHIP this season) and hasn't in years. Now he becomes the main right-handed setup man for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jonathan Broxton. Those in leagues with holds should take a look, as he'll work in concert with lefty Hong-Chih Kuo to hold leads for Broxton, but forget about saves. Dotel is owned in 95.9 percent of leagues, but those people should move on -- I'd say to former Pirates teammate Joel Hanrahan.
In terms of actual closers available in more than 15 percent of ESPN leagues, it's basically Wood's former teammate Chris Perez and the Baltimore Orioles' Alfredo Simon. The Oakland Athletics' Michael Wuertz should get saves for two weeks with Andrew Bailey out, and it's likely Drew Storen is the new closer for the Washington Nationals after the Matt Capps deal to the Minnesota Twins, but that's about it.
Now that Wood is a member of the New York Yankees, there's really no reason to avoid picking up Perez. He was a college closer at Miami, saved seven games with the St. Louis Cardinals as a rookie and picked up his 11th save of this season right around the time the Wood trade was announced. Perez should be a closer for years to come, and the fact he's owned in only 48.2 percent of ESPN standard (10-team) mixed leagues should make him ESPN's most added player in the next week.
Wood's situation is a bit less certain. Mariano Rivera is pretty much the best closer in history, so saves aren't coming his way, but the eighth-inning role is hardly a guarantee either. Joba Chamberlain is sputtering along with a 5.60 ERA and 1.51 WHIP, but this move could also act as a wakeup call for him. It's not like Wood, who came off the disabled list Saturday after dealing with a blister problem, is having a great season, with a 6.30 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Regardless, forget about saves for Wood and Chamberlain. If you have to choose one for ERA/WHIP and strikeout help, I'd still choose Chamberlain.
While Perez is the winner in the Wood trade, I think Hanrahan is an obvious choice to replace Dotel in the Steel City, since he's been the team's main setup man and has closer experience. Hanrahan saved 14 games for the Nationals before being traded in the Nyjer Morgan deal 13 months ago. Hanrahan is a major strikeout guy, fanning 12.4 hitters per nine innings this season, and he easily leads the team with 17 holds. Yes, Evan Meek made the All-Star team and remains a fantasy helper in ERA (1.23) and WHIP (0.87), but I think he'll become Hanrahan's setup man based on their usage patterns this season. Meek has pitched 28 1/3 of his 58 1/3 innings in the seventh inning. Hanrahan has pitched 28 of his 45 2/3 innings in the eighth. That's generally a good indicator of what a manager will do.