Editor's note: Free agency has started and Keith Law picks out possible best values, worst values and trade targets across every position group. He has already written about the outfielders the infielders/catchers, and here's a look at relievers who have hit free agency, as well as some potential trade targets.
Relief pitching is the one subset of this winter's free agent class that is loaded – maybe overloaded, as I'm not certain there are enough teams with the money and need for a high-end closer or late-game reliever to employ everyone who's on the market right now.
There are three high-end closers available on the market, all of whom I ranked aggressively on my top 50 free agents list – Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and Mark Melancon. There are more than three teams looking for some kind of late-game or high-leverage relief help, especially since teams like Cleveland showed that having two such guys (in their case, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller) was a huge advantage, and those three guys are likely to cost more than teams in the bottom half of the league's payroll tier want to spend. Here are some potential alternatives to the Big Three as well as some others who could be trade targets this winter.
Alternative closers among the free agents (potential bargains)
Daniel Hudson: I ranked Hudson fairly aggressively because now that he's back and healthy, we've seen what Hudson can do in a short-relief role -- and I feel strongly that he'll be better away from Arizona, where pitcher regression was the rule of the day in 2016. His 5.22 ERA doesn't get at the full story of his '16 season. He had a six-week period of sheer awfulness, allowing 31 runs (26 earned) in 9 2/3 innings from June 23 to Aug. 2 but gave up nine runs in 51 more innings the rest of the season -- and the fact that he was so effective after that stretch gives me reason to believe he can do it over a longer period, especially in an organization with a better infrastructure.