Ken Rosenthal recently gave us details on the vesting option for Brett Myers re-worked contract. All Myers needs to do is finish 45 games and not finish the year on the disabled list, or get enough points in an undisclosed point system. What this means is that they Astros are likely to trade Myers -- they don't need a $10M closer next year -- and that the Astros will likely be eating a lot of money.
Getting to 45 games finished is not going to be a problem for Myers unless he's traded to a team that is willing to use him in the eighth inning as a setup man. John Paul Morosi has a quote from a rival executive saying that the vesting option won't be an issue, however, I doubt any team will do the Astros any favors in trade talks. The Astros may have to offer up extra money to cover the option in case it does vest to get any return value in a deal.
Despite the kink in contract details, Myers has helped his value by pitching really well so far this season. In 21.2 innings he has 15 saves and a 2.08 ERA, however, as an analytically leaning site and readers we all know better than to just leave it at that. Digging deeper, we find Myers has a .186 batting average on balls in play and has left runners on base 94.2% of the time. Both those numbers are well better than league average marks and highly unsustainable. Over the next several weeks expect Myers' numbers to normalize.
Still, that doesn't mean he's a bad reliever, SIERA 2.88 and top 20 in Shutdowns, it just means he's probably not this good and probably not the best reliever available -- Brandon Lyon has a 2.87 SIERA. Which is why it would behoove the Astros to move him sooner rather than later.
In terms of Shutdowns (SD) and Meltdowns (MD) he's been the Astros best reliever with 12 SD and only three MD. Shutdowns and Meltdowns are given when a reliever either improves or decreases his team chance to win by 6%. Pitching the ninth has given him more opportunities than most, but he's still getting the job done. Wilton Lopez and Lyon are the only other two relievers in the bullpen with a positive SD to MD Differential.
In looking for good trade candidates I've used the same criteria above. I first looked at a teams SD to MD differential to find teams that are struggling in key situations. The downside to this method is that not every team has the same opportunities to collect either stat. Which is why I have combined my search with a team's bullpen SIERA, a predictive stat of ERA. I think looking at SD and MD gave me a good idea of what the state of a team's bullpen is, and SIERA gives a good idea of where that bullpen is heading.
I then weeded out contenders and non-contenders and then looked at each possible destination team's bullpen and looked at each relievers SD and MD to determine who has been the most effective in those key moments of a game and how many have been effective.
For example, a team like the Angels have a decent SD to MD differential, but a bad SIERA. Looking at their pitchers though Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri have been pretty good and I don't think the Angels would want to trade for a guy like Myers to pitch the seventh inning. I think a Brandon Lyon or Wilton Lopez would probably be a better fit, so I took them out of consideration for Myers. That doesn't mean that a team I've subjectively eliminated won't make a play for Myers, it just makes more sense for the teams listed below. It also makes more sense for the Astros to target teams with a bigger need so they can extract the most value out of Myers deal.
Before getting to the five teams listed below I want to make note that stats are from Tuesday and don't include last nights statistics. Also, when I discuss best reliever I'm talking in terms of SD to MD differential so far this season. Using other metrics, career numbers and potential you can certainly make a case for another reliever being the best reliever in a teams bullpen.
Honorable Mentions: Milwaukee Brewers, their bullpen has been a mess this season, however, they already have a Myers like reliever in Francisco Rodriguez and I just can't see them taking on a similar contract.
5) New York - 33-29
Now this one is dependent on whether or not you think the Mets are a playoff contender. Many do not, however, if there's a bullpen that could use a closer or even depth, the Mets are that team.
Currently Frank Farncisco has 15 saves but a 5.55 ERA, that's 10 SD and five MD. Their next best reliever -- or maybe even best reliever -- is Tim Byrdak with 11 SD and four MD. Miguel Batista is the only other reliever with more SD than MD.
Overall the Mets bullpen has a positive SD to MD differential of five and a below average SIERA of 3.66. I don't suspect the Mets will be looking for bullpen help this summer, but you never know and the fact that they're a big market team helps with paying the option.
4) Philadelphia Phillies - 29-33
Ed Wade jokes aside, the Phillies already have a dominate closer in Jonathan Papelbon and a good setup guy in Antonio Bastardo, their next best option, though, is Chad Qualls who has seven SD to five MD. Overall the bullpen has a SD to MD differential of nine and a, not unsightly, SIERA of 3.25. Their is the Myers Phillies connection there, but that may or may not work in the Astros favor.
There's also the fact that the Phillies are below .500 and are in an interesting division with Washington, Atlanta, Miami and the surprising Mets. They may be just desperate enough to make a trade, and if Ed Wade can rip them off I shudder to think what Jeff Luhnow could do.
3) Chicago White Sox - 34-27
Chris Sale was a starter, then a closer, then after only one appearance out of the bullpen he was sent back to the rotation. Addison Reed leads the team in saves with seven and SD with 10. Jesse Crain, Will Ohman and Hector Santiago are the other relievers with a positive SD to MD differential. They White Sox could acquire to Brett Myers to close -- Kenny Williams once claimed Alex Rios and his seven year $70M contract -- or they could acquire him to pitch the eighth inning.
They have a middle of the pack ERA, 3.73, and SIERA, 3.32, so at the moment they're an average bullpen that could improve with the addition of Myers.
2) Miami Marlins - 32-30
The Marlins have 17 more SD than they do MD, yet their ERA is 4.15 and their SIERA is 3.75. Meaning their bullpen as it stands is below average. Heath Bell has been one of the biggest problems with the bullpen, but he may be starting to turn it around.
After signing a big contract to close for Miami he does have 13 save, but also 10 SD to 8 MD. Needless to say Bell has struggled a bit in the closers role. The next best reliever is Steve Cishek with nine SD and three MD. Randy Choat, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica do all have positve SD/MD differentials, but adding Myers probably makes him the second best or even possibly the best option out of the pen.
It's worth noting that Bell has begun to turn it around so the Marlins might not necessarily need a closer, which helps with the games finished issue. Adding Myers would certainly give them a solid eighth inning option.
1) St. Louis Cardinals - 31-31
Among teams competing St. Louis is the only one with almost as many Meltdowns as Shutdowns. The Cardinals best reliever has been Mitchell Boggs with nine SD and four MD. Jason Motte their closer has seven SD and six MD. Victor Marte is the only other reliever with more SD than MD. They haven't been entirely dominate in those high key situations.
Their 4.26 ERA is near the bottom of the league, but their SIERA is middle of the pack at 3.36 so they're probably due for some favorable regression in the bullpen. Still that's a league average bullpen and adding Myers gives them a reliable late inning reliever that they don't have to use in the closer role.
Will the Cardinals trade within their own division? Maybe, with the Astros leaving for the American League next year the Cardinals may be more willing to deal someone to the Astros that they know won't come back to bite them in their own division. There's also Luhnow's connection with St. Louis which may or may not work in his favor.