Future Jays Closer Poll Review: Jays Fans Pick Soriano


It’s always interesting to see what the sentiment is within the fan community in terms of possible acquisitions. This poll’s aim was to see just what price Jays fans were willing to pay in return for a closer who could close the door in the potent AL East. Well, the votes are in after a few weeks and here’s the question followed by the summary.

“Which closer on the market would you like to see close for the ’11 Jays?”

Total Voters: 142

That Rafael Soriano got the most votes is no surprise when you consider his talent and proven track record in the AL East. He is by far the best arm available for the role this off season, no question about it. However, I am very surprised that Jays fans would be willing to let a 21st overall draft pick to the Rays and about $12-$16 million per season go in return for a recently injury plagued closer. Make no mistake, Rafael will be demanding 2-3 years this off season and will be asking close to – if not slightly over – the $15 million per season that Mariano Rivera got from the Yankees. I would be stunned if he were the choice of the Jays this off season, but as with the fans that voted in this poll, I would love to have his talents on board to be sure. I love the aggressive pursuit of the best guy on the board shown by these votes!

Heath Bell makes a whole lot of sense at #2 and would cost a more tolerable price than what Rafael could cost, but would leaving the National League hurt his stats? I’m not so sure since his stats away from home were better than at Petco. Heath is the kind of guy who rises to the occasion and gets better as the pressure mounts, so the AL East is the perfect place for him. He was rumored to be part of a possible deal to the Red Sox for a while, along with Adrian Gonzalez, but it seems like that part of the deal is unlikely now – according to rumors.

The most surprising and interesting rank overall, however, is Kerry Wood sitting in 3rd place – only 1% behind Bell. Kerry excelled big time with the Yankees and his performance was noticed by knowledgeable Jays fans. He only allowed 2 ER in 26 IP with the Yanks for a 0.69 ERA and held a career low 4.9 H/9, indicating just how nasty his stuff was. Kerry also increased his K/9 to 10.7, which is pretty impressive. However, I’m not sure that the price will be as affordable as some may think. He made $10 million in 2009 and $10.5 million in 2010. You have to believe that only a desperate team will pay close to that despite his strong performance for the Yankees. A 2-year deal would make sense for Kerry’s services with the hope that he doesn’t implode as he did while with the Indians. I like the upside Kerry would bring to the Jays and do believe that Alex and the Jays would be interested if his price was right, I’m just not sure it will be. He’s the most likely of the top 3 to be attained by the Jays, by far.

The next glut of guys are fairly similar in terms of risk and upside and each got similar attention as a result. I expected to see more votes for Bobby Jenks and do believe some may have voted differently if they knew he wouldn’t cost the Jays a pick or need to be traded for. It is interesting that Kevin Gregg got so little support. I’m not saying it’s not warranted because he was the heart attack kid throughout 2010, but what happens if the Jays are stuck bringing him back in 2011 due to the way the market plays itself out? I’m not sure Jays fans would be comfortable with that based on these numbers and I can’t blame them since his saves always seemed to be harder to get than they should have been.

Jonathan Broxton and Leo Nunez got good support in the poll and seem to be very viable options if the Jays can work out a trade for either. Jays fans rightfully slipped Brian Fuentes in behind them as he carries the most risk to under-perform and doesn’t bring much else than experience in the role.

Frank Francisco and Chad Qualls rightfully bring up the rear. If the Jays are stuck having to decide between one of those 2 pitchers as a closer, I would much rather see them use Jason Frasor or David Purcey in the role.

This poll was very interesting overall and is telling of the direction Jays fans want to go. Bring in the best and win now seems to be the new motto. Hopefully Alex Anthopolous and the Jays are dialed in to that channel and as aggressive as usual during the winter meetings. It should be fun to monitor their progress.

Look for the next poll due up today, and as always, thanks for voting!

– MG

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