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The best remaining free agent relievers

As teams look to fill out their rosters before spring training, look for these relievers to find employers.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

As foretold by Chris Cotillo, the reliever market is heating up:

Since that tweet, Carlos Torres, Eric O'Flaherty, Cory Luebke, and Blaine Boyer have reportedly signed deals. But there's still plenty of relievers left. Let's take a look at the best options:

5. Randy Choate

King of the LOOGYs. Choate has epitomized the lefty, one-out-guy role. Last season, Choate made 71 appearances and only faced 117 batters. To put that into perspective, the qualified reliever -- at least 50 innings pitched -- with the fewest batters faced last season was Hunter Strickland. He faced 191 batters in 51.1 innings. That's 3.72 batters per appearance compared to Choate's 1.65.

Perhaps Choate's age -- he's 40-years old -- is scaring teams away. Perhaps it's hard to find a spot for such a specialized guy on a roster. After all, it's not ideal to have a reliever throw only 30 innings. However, for that team looking for that LOOGY to round out their pen, Choate could be the guy.

4. Casey Janssen

On July 19, 2014, it was revealed that Janssen spent his All-Star break in the Dominican Republic with his family. What would have been a completely non-news trip, Janssen apparently suffered some pretty serious food poisoning. He required IVs and lost seven or more pounds due to the illness.

So why is this notable other than being some unsolicited travel advice? In Janssen's 470 innings pitched before the trip he posted a home run per flyball rate of nine percent, a strand rate of 74.8 percent, a strikeout rate of 18.1 percent and a FIP of 3.62. Since the trip, Janssen has seen his home run per flyball rate reach 11.3 percent, his strand rate plummet to 63.6 percent, his strikeout rate fall to 15 percent and his FIP reach 4.85 over 63.2 innings pitched. Who knew some bad shrimp could make your stats pale too?

Anecdotal evidence only tells a portion of the story, but there should be a belief that with the right team and in the right role, Janssen can put it back together. He's 34-years old so his time to figure it out could be now or never. He's only one season removed from having the 'proven closer' tag, and his 90 career saves will interest some team's reclamation instincts.

3. Franklin Morales

Morales has called Coors Field home for two seasons of his career: 2010 and 2014. Without those seasons on his resume, Morales has pitched 315 innings in the majors and accrued 2.2 wins above replacement by FanGraphs estimations. As a member of the Rockies, Morales has pitched 171 innings of -1.2 fWAR. Yikes.

Last season, we saw another productive season from Morales, who posted his best career FIP of 3.52. Steamer projects Morales to be barely worth replacement level, but so long as he's in a pen nowhere near Colorado, it seems like he could give his team a good chunk of surplus value. Over his career, left-handed batters have mustered a measly .276 wOBA against him. The 30-year old could be a great option for a team looking for one last lefty in their pen.

2. Joe Nathan

Nathan has the second-most saves of any active reliever. Behind only Francisco Rodriguez, Nathan's 377 saves put him eighth on the all-time list. The 41-year old missed almost all of the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery.

There's quite a bit to like about Nathan, but it all comes with his caveats. He's got 19.1 fWAR on his career for instance. But he hasn't accumulated even a fraction of a win since his 2013 season. For what it's worth, Steamer projects Nathan to produce 0.1 wins above replacement for his future team and break that idle streak. Is it possible that Nathan never pitches in the majors again? Definitely. But, for some reason, it feels just as likely that he hits one last crescendo for some team willing to find some pretty low-risk value.

1. Tommy Hunter

All of relievers on this list seem to come with some sort of baggage. Hunter's only baggage seems to be being surrounded by other great relievers. Arguably no other reliever has had his value depressed more by this.

At the beginning of the 2014 season, the Orioles proclaimed Hunter their closer. After going 11 for 14 in save opportunities with a brief stint on the disabled-list, Zach Britton had taken his job. Hunter still worked admirably out of the bullpen, posting a 3.15 FIP.

In the following season, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Despite struggling with his new team (in part thanks to a core injury that he has since had surgery on), 2015 was still productive, and Hunter posted a 3.83 FIP. If Hunter can settle with a team in a non-closer role, it seems pretty clear that he can be successful. He's 29 years old and seems to have the right stuff to be a successful starter-to-reliever conversion -- that's that thing the Kansas City Royals did, right? Going into his fourth consecutive season as a pure reliever, Hunter has sat as a free agent for too long and will provide surplus value to his 2016 employer.

Honorable mention
Greg Holland

There's no doubt that Holland is the best reliever on the free market. Unfortunately, he likely won't pitch in 2016 due to a torn UCL. The Boras client was reportedly looking for a two-year deal and may still get one. One of the most exciting closers in baseball over the past four seasons, Holland will only be 31 years old in 2017.