The Yankees will certainly need to make some moves if they want to keep their division hopes alive. So, which relief pitchers could be on their radar?
Now that Brad Hand and Juerys Familia have been dealt, it’s officially open season on relievers. Last year, the Yankees made a big midseason trade with an eye to upgrading their bullpen.
The Bombers added David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in a July 19 trade that also brought over Todd Frazier. Robertson and Kahnle were clutch down the stretch in 2017 and helped solidify a bullpen for a Yankees team that eventually went to Game Seven of the ALCS. Will the Yankees add a big bullpen arm again in 2018?
Possible Reliever Targets
1. Zach Britton – LHP
Contract: $12M / 1 Years (2018)
vs. L – .250/.400/.450
vs. R – .188/.316/.250
K/9 – 7.47
BB/9 – 5.74
HR/9 – .57
Zach Britton's 97mph Sinker movement. 😳 pic.twitter.com/MpXpCn7Xca
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 24, 2017
With Brad Hand being moved to Cleveland, the Oriole’s Britton becomes the premier left-handed reliever on the market. In a small sample size, Britton has been underwhelming. He has been injured most of this year and missed most of 2017 as well.
In 2016, however, Britton was one of the best arms in the league and even finished 4th in AL Cy Young voting. The Yankees aren’t the only team trying to get Britton, however. Given the competition for the O’s reliever and the other options available, I don’t see the Yankees being willing to give up much for this rental, despite his obvious upside.
Yankees interest level: Medium. The Yankees need a left-handed reliever, but Britton’s cost may be too high for a mere rental (and he hasn’t exactly been good at getting out lefties…)
2. Felipe Vazquez – LHP
Contract: $22M / 4 Years (2018 – 2021) + 2 Option Years
vs. L – .206/.229/.206
vs. R – .229/.318/.298
K/9 – 12.54
BB/9 – 3.61
HR/9 – .21
Felipe Rivero, Unfair 3 Pitch Sequence to Jay. 100mph FB/Overmatched, 100mph FB/Cheats to Get a Piece, 85mph Slider/Forget it. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/qjjFb4MdB2
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2017
Wait, how could Vazquez (the artist formerly known as Rivero) be on the market? The Pirates just signed their young closer to a long-term deal and he will presumably be around if they’re ever ready to compete again.
Well, for months the Padres said Brad Hand wasn’t really available, and then boom, the Indians made them a ridiculous offer and off Hand went to Cleveland. I’m not saying the Yankees should sell the farm to land Vazquez, but they certainly could.
Yankees interest level: Medium. I’m sure Cashman has asked what the Pirates want, and I’m sure they’ve asked for a king’s ransom. Will the Yankees be willing to part with a top-tier prospect for another elite bullpen arm?
3. Raisel Iglesias – RHP
Contract: $27M / 7 Years (2014 – 2020)
vs. L – .235/.295/.430
vs. R – .139/.225/.250
K/9 – 9.63
BB/9 – 2.93
HR/9 – 1.26
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 20, 2017
Like his counterpart in Pittsburgh, Iglesias is the Reds young stud closer who recently signed a long-term deal. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the price will be steep, possibly more than the Padres got for Brad Hand.
Yankees interest level: Medium. See Vazquez.
4. Jared Hughes – RHP
Contract: $4.5M / 2 Years (2018 – 2019) + 1 Option Years
vs. L – .224/.289/.267
vs. R – .236/.297/.324
K/9 – 6.88
BB/9 – 2.47
HR/9 – .35
Presenting…the aforementioned birthday gift from Billy Hamilton to Jared Hughes.
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) July 5, 2018
Jared Who(se)? Looking past Iglesias in the Reds ‘pen, we find Jared Hughes. On the surface, Hughes is having a phenomenal season. The righty sports a 1.59 ERA in 51 innings for the Reds. Standing 6’7″ tall, you would think Hughes would have overpowering stuff. However, he only strikes out 6.88 per 9 innings.
His opponents put the ball in play, which leads to his defense needing to make plays like the one in the video above. While Hughes has a cheap and controllable contract, his age (33) and lack of strikeouts will probably mean the Yankees pass on him.
Yankees interest level: Mild. Simply put, he doesn’t strike out enough batters. That being said, he could come with a package involving Matt Harvey if that trade materializes.
5. Craig Stammen – RHP
Contract: $4.5M / 2 Years (2018 – 2019)
vs. L – .250/.292/.373
vs. R – .245/.288/.296
K/9 – 10.08
BB/9 – 1.71
HR/9 – .19
Craig Stammen: A Play in Two Acts… pic.twitter.com/cffFY5J9bB
— jesse agler (@jesseagler) March 9, 2018
Stammen seems to have figured something out. His K/9 is up almost 2 points and he’s cut his walk rate in half from 2017. He’s giving up a minuscule .19 home runs per 9 innings as well. At 34 years old, and having a career year, you could say he’s a prime sell-high candidate for the rebuilding Padres.
A low contract price and control through 2019 will make Stammen a hot commodity that the Yankees will no doubt look into.
Yankees interest level: High. With no obvious platoon split, and the ability to throw multiple innings, Stammen might be a perfect fit for the Yankees.
6. Mychal Givens – RHP
Contract: $0.5M / 1 Years (2018) + 3 arbitration years
vs. L – .279/.367/.442
vs. R – .225/.317/.297
K/9 – 10.26
BB/9 – 4.14
HR/9 – .18
Bases loaded. 3-0 count. Mychal Givens bent but didn't break, working a full count and striking out Mitch Moreland with the bases loaded! pic.twitter.com/1ijA1fiAAt
— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) June 12, 2018
Mychal Givens has quietly become a dominant reliever for the Orioles. He’s struck out over 10 batters per 9 innings in each season in the majors and he’s been effective at limiting the long ball with the exception of 2017 (1.14 HR/9).
Givens is 28 years old and has three arbitration years left before he becomes a free agent. While most eyes on the Orioles are focusing on Britton, Givens may fetch the loftier prize, if the O’s are willing to part with the flamethrower.
Yankees interest level: High. The question is whether the O’s feel they need to trade Givens, and secondly whether they want to see him in Pinstripes.
7. Joakim Soria – RHP
Team: White Sox
Contract: $25M / 3 Years (2016 – 2018) + 1 Option Years
vs. L – .275/.324/.406
vs. R – .184/.238/.227
K/9 – 11.29
BB/9 – 2.21
HR/9 – .49
Joakim Soria with the BIG hook at 68mph to Russell Martin.
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) April 5, 2018
The “Mexicutioner” was the 2nd overall pick way back in 2006. Now he’s a 34-year-old journeyman currently serving as the White Sox closer. And serving he is. Soria is striking out batters at his highest rate since 2009 and has his lowest walk rate since 2014.
One cause for concern is his fly-ball propensity. Soria’s GB/FB rate is the worst of his career at .80. Not a good recipe in Yankee Stadium, although he is performing well in the bandbox that is U.S. Cellular Field.
Yankees interest level: Medium. New York was trading partners with Chicago last season, so the parties are familiar. Soria is battle-tested, however, he would most likely only be useful against right-handed batters.
8. Kirby Yates – RHP
Contract: $1.1M / 1 Years (2018) + 2 arbitration years
vs. L – .296/.387/.377
vs. R – .075/.140/.076
K/9 – 11.47
BB/9 – 2.63
HR/9 – .24
Following a 1-2-3 8th, Kirby Yates' ERA now sits at 0.79.
— FOX Sports San Diego (@FOXSportsSD) July 1, 2018
Is this the same guy? The former Yankee couldn’t manage an ERA under 5.00 in 2016, but he’s cleaning up in San Diego this year. Yates has always had strikeout potential, but he’s cut down on his walk rate significantly and he’s stopped giving up home runs by adding a splitter to his arsenal.
One glaring hole in this reformed version: Yates can’t get out lefties. Like Soria, Yates will only be useful against right-handed batters, though he is absolutely overpowering them.
Yankees interest level: Medium. The Yankees are certainly familiar with Yates, but not in a warm, fuzzy sort of way. If Yates makes his return to New York, it will most likely be as part of a package involving Stammen as well.
9. Seung Hwan Oh – RHP
Team: Blue Jays
Contract: $2M / 1 Years (2018) + 1 Option Years
vs. L – .327/.426/.558
vs. R – .165/.192/.271
K/9 – 10.57
BB/9 – 1.96
HR/9 – .98
— Joseph Kim (@blackwings2011) January 3, 2017
Oh, the former Cardinals closer (vid related?), is having somewhat of a bounce-back season after a mediocre 2017. While the overall numbers look great, the splits give us the whole picture. Lefties are mashing against Oh (no!).
Yankees interest level: Mild. Doubtful that the Yankees will be interested in a reliever who can’t get lefties out.
10. Drew Steckenrider – RHP
Contract: $1.1M / 1 Years (2018) + 2 team control years + 3 arbitration years
vs. L – .243/.384/.414
vs. R – .215/.263/.239
K/9 – 10.43
BB/9 – 4.09
HR/9 – .41
— MLB HD (@MLBTube) October 30, 2017
Steckenrider has an electric fastball that grades out at a 70 on the 20-80 scale. In 2017, the Marlins reliever struck out an otherworldly 14.02 batters per 9 innings.
However, his walk rate leaves a lot to be desired as he’s allowed over 4.00 BB/9 both this year and last year. The Marlins might be wary of trading the fireballer, as he comes cheap and is controllable for the next five years.
Yankees interest level: Mild. Will the Marlins trade with the Yankees again after sending Giancarlo to New York in the offseason? Perhaps, but it’s unlikely that Steckenrider will be on the move.