There aren’t many guarantees in life.
Death and taxes are the two that come to mind first, but is there another that is hardly discussed? One that is so crucial, so life-altering that it warrants far more attention.
Never, ever pay for saves.
Closers come and go in fantasy baseball land, and the start of the 2014 has been no different. Already, just one day into the regular season and four relief pitchers that didn’t enter the season as the closer will now be closing games. This makes fantasy owners attack their league’s waiver wire chasing saves, which is the right time to chase saves. Not during the draft, but after. Let’s take a look at some closers and other players worth adding for your fantasy team.
Note: Ownership percentages are based off Yahoo! leagues.
Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago Cubs (25%): After bouncing from two different teams last season, Bonifacio got off to a great start in Chicago, as he was the bright spot in a defensive slugfest against the Pirates, going 4-for-5 with a stolen base. He has serious versatility, as he played both the infield and outfield in this contest and is eligible at 2B, 3B and OF in Yahoo! leagues. Dual eligibility is always something to chase when surfing the waiver wire, and Bonifacio provides just that. It appears that Cubs general manager Rick Renteria is showing an aggressive approach towards the basepaths, and assuming that continues, Bonifacio should hold significant value this year.
Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins (6%): Ozuna often teased fantasy owners last season with some serious upside and potential, and he did it again on Monday night… and then some. The talented outfielder finished 3-for-4 with a home run, double and crossed home plate three times in the win against the Rockies. The guy has some serious pop, so if you are in need of some power, he is definitely worth a look. A decent spring and a terrific start may have cemented his role after Miami flirted with the idea of platooning him in the outfield, but be aware that there is some risk here, especially playing toward the bottom of the Marlins order.
Grady Sizemore, Boston Red Sox (48%): Sizemore was one of the more appealing players in fantasy to monitor during the spring, as he is looking to be rejuvenated with the Red Sox. He appears to have solidified his role in this outfield, as Jackie Bradley isn’t quite ready for a full-time role and Shane Victorino headed to the disabled list. Sizemore had a very nice spring and followed it with a strong season debut, homering and hitting a single in his first official game since 2011. There is certainly some injury risk here, as the guy played just 112 big league games from 2010-11, but the opportunity in a strong lineup is ample. He has the pedigree, too, as Tristan Cockroft points out, Sizemore is one of only nine players to manage at least 100 dingers, 100 stolen bases and at least a 10 percent walk rate over the last 10 seasons combined. He needs to be owned in at least more than half of mixed leagues.
Francisco Rodriquez, Milwaukee Brewers (40%): K-Rod? K-Rod. The Brewers shocked fantasy owners, trotting out Rodriquez for the save opportunity on Monday afternoon. He responded by pitching a scoreless ninth inning, picking up his first save of the season. After the game, manager Ron Roenicke stated that Rodriquez will serve as the team’s closer for the time being, making him virtually a must-own for anyone in need of saves. Act fast, however, as he has already been scooped up over 17,000 times.
Matt Lindstrom, Chicago White Sox (42%): In other shocking news, the White Sox went with the proven veteran Lindstrom on Monday, rather than Nate Jones, who many assumed would man the closer role with Addison Reed now in Arizona. Still, it was Lindstrom who notched his first save of the season, despite giving up a one-out double. Jones could very well still emerge as the guy for the White Sox. In fact, many are actually planning on it. However, for the time being, Lindstorm becomes a must-own in all fantasy formats.
Jose Valverde, New York Mets (25%): He lives, after all. After closer Bobby Parnell blew a save opportunity, the veteran Valverde came in and struck out three batters over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Parnell hasn’t looked his best recently, struggling with his fastball. However, it doesn’t matter now, as it was just announced that Parnell partially tore a ligament in his elbow that could require surgery. That’s not good news, and he will at least be out indefinitely. Enter Valverde, who should get the first crack at the closing job. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t last too long, as it’s legitimate to question how much the 36-year old has left in the tank. If he falters, the Mets will give Vic Black or Gonzalez Germen a long look.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.