Relief pitchers always make up the bulk of the trades prior to each season’s deadline. Every contender can’t have enough, and every seller always has at least one to move. Actually, it is surprising that as of this writing, with only four days left until this year’s deadline, there has been only one swap involving a reliever. And it was Phillip Diehl, who isn’t exactly a big name.
But rest assured, there will be many bullpen arms changing teams between now and Aug. 2. Here is a list of the top available relievers.
2022 MLB Trade Deadline: Best Available Relievers
David Robertson, Chicago Cubs
Stats: 1.83 ERA, 39.1 innings, 50 strikeouts, 14 saves
Robertson is the high-profile reliever who is most likely to be dealt this year. The 37-year-old has bounced back from a couple of injury-marred seasons to become one of the best closers in the National League. He turned a one-year deal from the Cubs in March into an All-Star campaign. His 31.4% strikeout rate ranks in the 90th percentile in the majors.
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
Stats: 1.91 ERA, 37.2 innings, 43 strikeouts, 21 saves
Another great story from a 37-year-old reliever. Bard is a former first-round pick who didn’t pitch in the majors from 2014-19 and was basically retired for a couple of those years. He then returned in 2020 and is having a spectacular season in Coors Field. His expected batting average (.169) and expected slugging percentage (.269) are among the best in baseball in each category. He will be a free agent after this season.
Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers
Stats: 2.84 ERA, 38 innings, 36 strikeouts, two saves
Fulmer is a former Rookie of the Year starting pitcher who has transformed into a highly effective middle reliever. He has a 2.65 ERA over 95 innings out of the bullpen since the start of last season. His top selling point is weak contact; Fulmer has allowed only one barrel in 102 batted-ball events this season. He, like Bard, is a pending free agent.
David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates
Stats: 2.76 ERA, 45.2 innings, 61 strikeouts, 17 saves
The Pirates are listening to offers for Bednar, but it’s unclear how motivated they are to move their All-Star closer, who is under team control through 2026. But if he is traded, he would absolutely bring back the biggest haul of any reliever on the block. Since the start of 2021, Bednar has registered a 2.45 ERA with 138 strikeouts and only 33 walks over 106.1 innings. He’s allowed a lot of hard contact this year, but also misses plenty of bats, as proven by his 33% strikeout rate.