1) Alex Lange, DET
Alex Lange narrowly edges out Finnegan for the #1 spot on this list. He has the lowest 2023 ERA of any closer mentioned. He has the highest strikeout potential. And, in all likelihood, he will carry the highest price tag.
All of this begs the question: Is pursuing a trade worth it for a team like the Marlins? Indeed it is!
While the importance of Tanner Scott's performance during Miami's 2023 playoff run cannot be overstated, there are metrics that indicate regression could occur in 2024.
The veteran has a career ERA of 4.00. He posted a poor 4.31 ERA in 2022, and an abysmal 5.17 mark in 2021. Additionally, he has no closer work on his resume aside from that which he has acquired in Miami over the past two seasons. In most of those cases, he was forced to step up after the club's intended closer faltered.
Scott is undoubtedly a great weapon and Miami's most dangerous bullpen arm. However, there is a certain wisdom in targeting an established reliever for 2024 and beyond.
And Lange is certainly established. He thrived in his role as Detroit's closer in 2023. Despite pitching for a sup-par Tigers team, he was able to record 26 saves in 32 chances (81% save rate). At just 28-years-old, Lange also has the potential to continue to develop and thrive in late-inning work.
The Tigers' closer also holds a stellar ratio of 79 strikeouts in 66 innings in 2023. This holds well with his career marks of 200 Ks in just 127 MLB innings. This type of strikeout potential is exactly what teams hope for in their closer.
While Lange does not have the elite track record of a free agent like Josh Hader or a prime trade target like David Bednar, he does hold a much lower price point.
With a super-affordable $1 million salary in 2024, Lange is an ideal security net for a club like Miami. He would instantly allow the franchise to form an top-tier tandem with Scott, with both splitting 9th inning duties or with Lange locking down the saves and Scott being used as a super-utility reliever in high-leverage situations.
Either way, this is a bargain bin addition that could totally transform Miami's bullpen for the better.