Top 15 Relievers Remaining on the Free Agent Market

While some of the top relievers are already off the board, plenty of talented bullpen options remain on the free agent market.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 30: David Robertson #19 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning of the game at loanDepot park on July 30, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

From veteran closer Craig Kimbrel to NPB All-Star Yuki Matsui to converted starter (???) Jordan Hicks, plenty of this winter’s top relief pitching targets have already been scooped up. Thankfully, for those teams in need of an extra bullpen arm or two or five, plenty of free agent relievers are still searching for a new home.

Here are the top 15 relief pitchers left on the open market.

1. Josh Hader

2023 Stats: 56.1 IP, 1.28 ERA, 33 SV, 13.58 K/9, 4.79 BB/9, 1.7 fWAR

Was there ever any question about who would take the top spot on this list? Josh Hader is reportedly seeking the largest free agent contract ever for a closer, and while I don’t think he’ll manage to top the five-year, $102 million Edwin Díaz signed with the Mets, Hader is going to get paid like the star he is.

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Signed: Five-year, $95 million contract with the Houston Astros

2. Robert Stephenson

2023 Stats: 52.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 15 HLD, 13.24 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 0.9 fWAR

Robert Stephenson’s full season numbers are impressive already, but you really need to ignore his first 18 appearances with the Pirates and focus on his 42 games with the Rays.

After being traded to Tampa, Stephenson posted a 2.35 ERA and 2.45 FIP in 38.1 innings of work, striking out 14.09 batters per nine. It’s impossible to know if he can maintain those numbers with a new organization, but suitors are lining up to let him try.

Signed: Three-year, $33 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels

3. Aroldis Chapman

2023 Stats: 58.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, 6 SV, 14 HLD, 15.89 K/9, 5.55 BB/9, 1.8 fWAR

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After a disappointing performance in his final season with the Yankees, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman might be getting ready to call it a career. However, he quickly changed the narrative during his brief stints with the Royals and Rangers in 2023.

Chapman will be 36 next year, but he still throws high heat and racks up strikeouts. A pitcher with his raw skills and track record won’t have trouble finding a lucrative deal this winter, although his various off-field issues might prevent teams from offering more than a one-year deal.

Signed: One-year, $10.5 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Yariel Rodriguez

2022 Stats (NPB): 54.2 IP, 1.15 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9

Is Yariel Rodriguez a starter? Is he a reliever? It could go either way, and that’s enough for me to put him on this list. Although he’s been a starting pitcher for most of his pro career, Rodriguez came out of the bullpen for the Chunichi Dragons in 2022 with great success.

Signed: Four-year, $32 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays

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5. Hector Neris

2023 Stats: 68.1 IP, 1.71 ERA, 31 HLD, 10.14 K/9, 4.08 BB/9, 0.8 fWAR

After years of slipping under the radar, Hector Neris might finally be overrated this offseason. He won’t repeat his 1.71 ERA next year, but Neris is a solid middle reliever. More importantly, he’s as durable as they come. Since his age-30 season, he leads all relievers in appearances and ranks third in innings pitched.

6. David Robertson

2023 Stats: 65.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, 18 SV, 10 HLD, 10.74 K/9, 3.44 BB/9, 1.2 fWAR

If only there were a pitcher named Stephen Davidson to complete the trifecta… but I’m getting off track.

David Robertson has been excellent since his return from late-career Tommy John surgery, pitching 141 innings with a 2.87 ERA and 3.57 FIP. Before that, he was one of the best relievers in baseball for nearly a decade. Perhaps, then, he belongs in a higher spot on this list, but it’s hard not to have some hesitations about a pitcher entering his age-39 season.

Signed: One-year, $11-12 million contract with the Texas Rangers

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7. Jakob Junis

2023 Stats: 86 IP, 3.87 ERA, 10.05 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, 0.7 fWAR

Like Yariel Rodriguez, a team could sign Jakob Junis for the rotation; prior to last season, he was primarily a starting pitcher. However, Junis looked great as a swingman for the Giants last year, and he could thrive as a full-time reliever.

In 86 frames, Junis struck out 96 and walked just 21, good for a 4.57 K/BB, easily the best of his career. His pitches were faster, and opposing hitters didn’t know what to make of them, especially his slider.

8. Ryan Brasier

2023 Stats: 59.1 IP, 3.02 ERA, 10 HLD, 8.45 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, 1.1 fWAR

I wrote about Ryan Brasier back in December, calling him “one of the most fascinating question marks of the offseason.” After a disappointing start with the Red Sox, he was otherwordly for the Dodgers last season, posting a 0.70 ERA in 39 games. However, he’s 36 years old and doesn’t have much of a track record. Can he keep it up outside of L.A.?

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 16: Relief pitcher Ryan Brasier #57 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after the final out of the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 16, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

9. Jesse Chavez

2023 Stats: 34.2 IP, 1.56 ERA, 13 HLD, 10.13 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 0.7 fWAR

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My gut is telling me not to believe in Jesse Chavez – he’s 40 years old and spent half of the 2023 season on the injured list. Still, I can’t argue with the numbers, and the numbers are good. His 1.56 ERA might be unsustainable, but his 3.05 FIP, 3.35 SIERA, and 3.58 xERA should make the veteran an appealing target for plenty of teams.

10. Matt Moore

2023 Stats: 52.2 IP, 2.56 ERA, 22 HLD, 10.25 K/9, 2.56 BB/9, 0.6 fWAR

The Matt Moore renaissance continues. After flaming out as a starting pitcher, Moore saved his career by adding velocity, refining his pitch mix, and learning to shove out of the bullpen.

Over the past two years, he has made 113 relief appearances, pitching to a 2.20 ERA and 3.29 FIP. He wasn’t quite as dominant in 2023 as he was the year before, but he also improved his control, bringing his walk rate down below league average for the first time in his career.

Signed: One-year, $9 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels

11. Shintaro Fujinami

2023 Stats: 79 IP, 7.18 ERA, 9.46 K/9, 5.13 BB/9, 0.2 fWAR

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Sometimes you have to bet on upside. Shintaro Fujinami was awful last year in his first taste of MLB action, but he boasts a blistering fast four-seam, a diverse arsenal of secondary pitches, and at 30 years old, he still has time to grow. Perhaps the right pitching coach could unlock something truly special here.

12. Keynan Middleton

2023 Stats: 50.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 11.37 K/9, 4.09 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR

If there’s one number that deserves your attention, it’s that strikeout rate. Over the first six seasons of his career, Middleton averaged 8.46 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2023, that figure shot up to 11.37 – that’s a 91st-percentile strikeout rate. The 30-year-old isn’t exactly a workhorse or a proven talent, but it’s hard not to dream on a strikeout rate that high.

13. Phil Maton

2023 Stats: 66 IP, 3.00 ERA, 10 HLD, 10.09 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, 0.6 fWAR

Phil Maton isn’t a flashy name, but there’s something to be said for a reliever who can go out there year after year and give his team a full season’s worth of serviceable innings. Maton ranks seventh among all relievers with 218.2 IP over the past four seasons, and while his 3.93 ERA in that time didn’t top any leaderboards, every team could certainly do a heck of a lot worse.

14. Collin McHugh

2023 Stats: 58.2 IP, 4.30 ERA, 7 HLD, 7.21 K/9, 3.37 BB/9, 0.3 fWAR

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Reputation is doing most of the heavy lifting here. Collin McHugh wasn’t great in 2023, by any stretch of the imagination. Still, he’s not so far removed from back-to-back dominant seasons in 2021 and ’22. In 95 games across those two years, he posted a 2.09 ERA and 3.2 fWAR, striking out 149 batters and walking just 26.

McHugh will turn 37 in June, but if his disappointing 2023 season turns out to be a blip on the radar, he could be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason.

Update: Collin McHugh announced his retirement from baseball on Monday, January 22.

15. Scott Alexander

2023 Stats: 48.1 IP, 4.66 ERA, 6 HLD, 5.77 K/9, 2.05 BB/9, 0.7 fWAR

The 2023 campaign was Scott Alexander’s first full season since 2018, and although his ERA was subpar, the rest of his numbers were pretty impressive. Alexander uses pinpoint control and a well-crafted arsenal to generate weak contact, as demonstrated by his 83rd-percentile hard-hit rate, 94th-percentile barrel rate, and 98th-percentile groundball rate.