Free-agent relievers to draw heavy interest – MLB.com

Hot Stove Tracker

Morrow and Shaw are free agents now, and they could be bellwethers for other relief pitchers in this Hot Stove season.

One prominent agent told MLB.com recently that he expects teams to invest heavily in relievers, but that the money will be spread more evenly than one year ago, among a larger number of free agents.

“Just about every team is looking for relievers,” the agent said, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want closers.”

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The Cardinals are positioned to heavily influence the market for closers. Left-hander Tyler Lyons, who saved three games this year, would be the team’s closer if the season began today, but the Cardinals are seeking outside upgrades after missing the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 2008.

The Cards also have been linked to the pursuit of a slugging outfielder, such as Giancarlo Stanton via trade or J.D. Martinez in free agency. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch may wait to see how much they spend on a bat before offering a Melancon-type contract to Wade Davis, the top free-agent closer available.

Davis is the only free-agent reliever who saved at least 30 games in 2017 with an ERA below 3.00. On the preference lists of many front offices, he’s likely followed by former Royals teammate Greg Holland and Brandon Kintzler, an All-Star this year who saved 28 games for the Twins before a July trade to the Nationals.

Juan Nicasio, 31, is a wild card. A mediocre starter for much of his Major League career, he’s

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