There are plenty of methods to win a World Series. Most will load their starting rotation with top-tier talent, as evidenced by the Washington Nationals last year. But, you can't forget about the Chicago Cubs in 2016, where they built up a super bullpen to win their first championship in 108 years.
Many teams have followed that path in recent years, and it's not slowing down. Having the luxury of having lethal weapons in the bullpen would be enticing for many contending teams, which could lead to them paying hefty prices to make the necessary move.
Here are five relievers who contending teams will pay a premium price for this upcoming MLB trade deadline.
5. Craig Kimbrel
The Chicago Cubs were uncharacteristically quiet this offseason, but were rather loud when it came to potentially trading away star players like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. If the Cubs are looking to cut costs and revitalize their farm system, they should be able to do so by trading closer Craig Kimbrel. His statistics last season were hindered due to a holdout, but if he were to light it up for the first half of the 2020 season, the Cubs will get calls from contending teams.
4. Brad Hand
The Cleveland Indians' championship window is rapidly closing, and if the team is expected to move on from star shortstop Francisco Lindor, they might as well put everyone up for sale. And that includes reliever Brad Hand. who has two years remaining on his deal. Last year with the Indians, Hnad converted 34-of-39 save opportunities to coincide with a 3.30 ERA. Having an extra year of team control will help Cleveland drive up their asking price for Hand.
3. Ken Giles
Ken Giles isn't a surprise on this list. Just last season, Giles was the most pursued reliever on the market, as evidenced by his 1.45 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 31 innings prior to the All-Star Game. However, the Toronto Blue Jays lost out on the chance to trade him due to an elbow injury that Giles sustained just prior to the deadline. Considering that Giles is a free agent following the 2020 season, expect the Blue Jays to trade the closer for a prospect package.
2. Kirby Yates
Kirby Yates has solidified himself as one of the league's best closers. Entering the 2020 season, Yates enters the final year of his current contract. Given that the Los Angeles Dodgers will have a stranglehold over the NL West, the San Diego Padres may opt to trade assets to build around stars like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack. Just last season, Yates posted a ridiculous 1.19 ERA through 60 games. Yates will command a rich return from a contender.
1. Josh Hader
Josh Hader was the hot name during the winter meetings, as the Milwaukee Brewers put the closer on the trade block. Teams like the New York Yankees were linked to him, but the talks died down shortly afterwards. Given that Hader lost to the Brewers in arbitration over a month ago, and still has three years remaining, he could command a king's ransom as arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball.