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Deep Dive: Free Agent Right-Handed Relievers

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Many (aging) right-handed bullpen arms are still available when the lockout ends.

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox
Many fans are hoping that Ryan Tepera returns to the White Sox for the 2022 season.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Arizona)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on a White Sox player
  5. Free agent options

The White Sox on paper boasted one of the best bullpens in baseball in 2021. The Sox were loaded with power arms like Liam Hendriks, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Kopech and Ryan Tepera from the right side and Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet on the left. Reynaldo López helped in the rotation when needed, while Ryan Burr and Jimmy Lambert provided aid in lower-leverage situations.

However, the lack of results from many of the arms last year was somewhat befuddling, as pitchers simply struggled with command, health, fatigue, and simply being placed in positions they weren’t accustomed to. Barring a surprise, Kopech looks to be part of the starting rotation, so numerous other questions for the 2022 pen abound. Will the White Sox trade Kimbrel, and if so, will one of the guys they receive be a bullpen piece? Would the team consider re-signing Tepera, who was fantastic after his July trade? Was López a fluke, or is he a real deal as the sixth starter/long reliever? Would the White Sox keep José Ruiz, who was good when it didn’t really matter but fared horribly when asked to pitch in higher-leverage situations? Is Crochet going to be healthy? Will any shifts be deployed to assist ground ball pitchers like Bummer?

With so many questions, it may behoove the White Sox to seek a trade or make additions via free agency. If the team can’t swing a trade due to his weakened farm system, it may inspire them to pursue a free agent reliever(s) to help out in case any of those questions will prove to be a “no” once the season starts.

Below are some of the still-available right-handed relievers, in descending order by bWAR. Everyone with a bWAR of 0.5 or greater is listed. The Sox seem to like their closers, with Hendriks, Kimbrel and Kendall Graveman currently in the fold, so I’ve added anyone who saved more than 13 games in a season onto the list (with the exception of Dillon Betances, who was so superb when healthy with the Yankees). I’ve also added ex-Sox players, as the Sox have unfortunately proven that they’re willing to go to the same well on multiple occasions.

(age as of April 1, 2022)


Andrew Chafin
2021 bWAR: 2.9
Oakland Athletics
Age: 31
2-4, 1.83 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 5 SV, 68.2 IP, 64 K

Chafin had a career year this year with the Cubs and Oakland.

Kenley Jansen
2021 bWAR: 2.3
Los Angeles Dodgers
Age: 34
4-4, 2.22 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 38 SV, 69 IP, 86 K

Jansen has amassed 350 career saves for the Dodgers.

Richard Rodriguez
2021 bWAR: 2.0
Atlanta Braves
Age: 32
5-4, 2.94 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 14 SV, 64.1 IP, 42 K

The former Pirate reliever consistently produces Alex Colomé pre-2021 numbers, but lost a ton of velocity and had an awful end of the season after his trade last summer from Pittsburgh to Atlanta.

Collin McHugh
2021 bWAR: 1.9
Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 34
6-1, 1.55 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 1 SV, 64 IP, 74 K

McHugh won 19 games as a starter for the Astros in 2015.

Ryan Tepera
2021 bWAR: 1.8
Chicago White Sox
Age: 34
0-2, 2.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 2 SV, 61.1 IP, 74 K

Tepera pitched well for both Chicago teams last year, but can the Sox keep him on the South Side?

Mychal Givens
2021 bWAR: 1.5
Cincinnati Reds
Age: 31
4-3, 3.35 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8 SV, 51 IP, 54 K

Givens saved 11 games for the Orioles in 2019.

Ian Kennedy
2021 bWAR: 1.4
Philadelphia Phillies
Age: 37
3-1, 3.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26 SV, 56.1 IP, 62 K

Kennedy saved 30 games for the Royals in 2019 with a 3.41 ERA, and 20 games with the Diamondbacks in 2011.

Bryan Shaw
2021 bWAR: 1.3
Cleveland
Age: 34
6-7, 3.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2 SV, 77.1 IP, 71 K

Shaw has either tied or led the league in appearances on four different years.

Steve Cishek
2021 bWAR: 1.2
Angels
Age: 35
0-2, 3.42 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 68.1 IP, 64 H

The former White Sox saved 39 games for the Marlins in 2014.

Juan Minaya
2021 bWAR: 1.1
Minnesota Twins
Age: 31
1-1, 2.48 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 40 IP, 43 K

Minaya saved nine games for the White Sox in 2017.

Brad Boxberger
2021 bWAR: 1.1
Milwaukee Brewers
Age: 33
5-4, 3.34 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 4 SV, 64.2 IP, 83 K

Boxberger saved 41 games for the Rays in 2015.

Jesse Chavez
2021 bWAR: 1.1
Atlanta Braves
Age: 38
3-2, 2.14 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 33.2 IP, 36 K

Chavez has pitched for nine different teams in 14 years.

Jimmy Nelson
2021 bWAR: 0.9
Los Angeles Dodgers
Age: 32
1-2, 1.86 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 29 IP, 44 K

Nelson was 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA as a starter for the Brewers in 2017.

Hunter Strickland
2021 bWAR: 0.9
Milwaukee Brewers
Age: 33
3-2, 2.61 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 58.2 IP, 58 K

Strickland saved 14 games for the Giants in 2018.

Blake Parker
2021 bWAR: 0.9
Cleveland
Age: 36
2-1, 3.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 43.2 IP, 37 K

Parker saved 14 games for the Angels in 2018.

Adam Ottavino
2021 bWAR: 0.8
Boston Red Sox
Age: 36
7-3, 4.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 11 SV, 62 IP, 71 K

Ottavino produced a 2.43 ERA, 0.99 WHIP & 112 K’s for Colorado in 2018.

Yusmeiro Petit
2021 bWAR: 0.8
Oakland Athletics
Age: 37
8-3, 3.92 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 2 SV, 78 IP, 37 K

Petit posted a 1.66 ERA and 1.11 WHIP for the Athletics in 2020.

Archie Bradley
2021 bWAR: 0.7
Philadelphia Phillies
Age: 29
7-3, 3-71 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 2 SV, 51 IP, 40 K

Bradley compiled a 1.73 ERA and 1.04 WHIP for the Diamondbacks in 2017.

Joe Kelly
2021 bWAR: 0.7
Los Angeles Dodgers
Age: 33
2-0, 2.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2 SV, 44 IP, 50 K

Kelly was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA for the Cardinals in 2013.

Tyler Clippard
2021 bWAR: 0.6
Arizona Diamondbacks
Age: 37
1-1, 3.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6 SV, 25.1 IP, 21 K

The former White Sox saved 32 games for the Nationals in 2012.

Tommy Hunter
2021 bWAR: 0.5
Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 35
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8 IP, 6 K

Hunter went 13-4 for the Rangers as a starter in 2010.

Nick Vincent
2021 bWAR: 0.5
Minnesota Twins
Age: 35
1-0, 0.71 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 9 K

Vincent posted a 2.14 ERA in 45 games for the Padres in 2013.

AJ Ramos
2021 bWAR: 0.2
Angels
Age: 35
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 4.2 IP, 3 K

Ramos saved 40 games for the Marlins in 2016.

Greg Holland
2021 bWAR: 0.1
Kansas City Royals
Age: 36
3-5, 4.85 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8 SV, 55.2 IP, 53 K

Holland saved 47 games for the Royals in 2013.

Jeurys Familia
2021 bWAR: 0.0
New York Mets
Age: 32
9-4, 3.94 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 1 SV, 59.1 IP, 72 K

Familia saved 51 games for the Mets in 2016.

Mike Wright Jr.
2021 bWAR: 0.0
Chicago White Sox
Age: 32
0-1, 5.50 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 18 IP, 11 K

Wright posted a career-best 5.50 ERA this year — his sixth in the majors.

Dellin Betances
2021 bWAR: 0.0
New York Mets
Age: 34
0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 1 IP, 1 K

Betances posted a 1.50 ERA for the Yankees in 2015 while fanning 131 in 84 innings.

Trevor Rosenthal
2021 bWAR: 0.0
Oakland Athletics
Age: 31
Didn’t pitch in 2021 due to injury.

Rosenthal saved 48 games with a 2.10 ERA for the Cardinals in 2015.

Hansel Robles
2021 bWAR: -0.1
Boston Red Sox
Age: 31
3-5, 4.43 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 14 SV, 69 IP, 76 K

Robles saved 23 games with a 2.48 ERA for the Angels in 2019.

David Robertson
2021 bWAR: -0.1
Tampa Bay Rays
Age: 36
0-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 12 IP, 16 K

Robertson saved 37 games for the White Sox in 2016.

John Axford
2021 bWAR: -0.1
Milwaukee Brewers
Age: 39
0-0, 54.00 ERA, 9.00 WHIP, 0.1 IP, 0 K

Axford saved 46 games for the Brewers in 2011.

Brandon Workman
2021 bWAR: -0.2
Boston Red Sox
Age: 33
1-2, 5.46 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, 28 IP, 25 K

Workman saved 18 games for the Red Sox in 2019 with a 1.88 ERA.

Keone Kela
2021 bWAR: -0.3
San Diego Padres
Age: 28
2-2, 5.06 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 13 K.

Kela saved 24 games twice as a Rangers closer and excelled in middle relief for the Pirates for two years as well.

Chris Devenski
2021 bWAR: -0.3
Arizona Diamondbacks
Age: 31
1-0, 8.59 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 7.1 IP, 5 K

Picked in the 25th round by the White Sox in the 2011 draft, he posted a 2.68 ERA with 100 strikeouts of the pen for the Astros in 2017.

Brandon Kintzler
2021 bWAR: -0.3
Philadelphia Phillies
Age: 37
2-1, 6.37 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 22 K

Kintzler saved a combined 29 games for the Twins and Nationals in 2017.

Brad Brach
2021 bWAR: -0.6
Cincinnati Reds
Age: 35
1-2, 6.30 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 30 IP, 33 K

Brach saved 18 games for the Orioles in 2017.

Wade Davis
2021 bWAR: -0.6
Kansas City Royals
Age: 36
0-3, 6.75 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 2 SV, 42.2 IP, 38 K

Davis saved 43 games for the Rockies in 2018.

Alex Colomé
2021 bWAR: -0.7
Minnesota Twins
Age: 33
4-4, 4.15 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 17 SV, 65 IP, 58 K

The former White Sox saved 47 games for Tampa Bay in 2017.