Buyer's guide: Relief pitchers

Best, worst values and trade targets among relievers

Updated: November 8, 2012, 10:22 AM ET
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider
Chris PerezAP Photo/Amy SancettaChris Perez may have worn out his welcome in Cleveland, but he still has value.

In this edition of my buyer's guides, I'm dispensing with the section on bad deals because any deal of three or more years given to any reliever is a bad one by definition. When you see what the Rays have done with guys such as Kyle Farnsworth and Fernando Rodney, you wonder why teams still give out three-year deals worth $21 million guaranteed to the Brandon Leagues of the world. (Not that any current GM would ever do such a foolish thing.)

So if some team wants to give Rafael Soriano four years, it doesn't matter how much we all like Soriano in the short term -- that's all but certain to be a disaster for the signing team. Reliever performance is far too volatile from year to year, because of injuries, small sample-size variations and the added wear and tear of today's reliever usage patterns. Caveat GMptor.

Best values

These are players who might be undervalued, or at least not wildly overvalued, by the market this offseason. They're not the top-ranked players at their positions, which is based strictly on their future potential but not on what they might be paid and how many years they might receive.


For Keith's full breakdown of the best and worst values, plus a list of some intriguing trade targets, become an ESPN Insider.