With the New York Yankees centered on re-signing DJ LeMahieu, it will probably leave little money to sign a true number two starting pitcher. That will put more strain and stress on the Yankee bullpen. With each passing year, the bullpen of all teams takes on more significance, with starters not going as deep into the game as the one did. And for the Yankees, it will be even more important this season with a starting rotation that will lack experience following ace Gerrit Cole.
Today I will examine my picks for the New York Yankees’ best options to replace the important Tommy Kahnle, who has had Tommy John surgery and is now a free agent unable to pitch in the 2021 baseball season. Any replacement for Kahnle takes on even more significance because of the unknowability of Adam Ottavino bouncing back from a dismal season in 2020. Here are my picks in no particular order.
1.) Liam Hendriks: ($5M) Liam Hendriks is the best reliever in baseball over the last two seasons. Since 2019 Hendriks has an ERA of 1.79 in 99 games with an astounding 13.1 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Acquiring Liam Hendriks, the closer for the Athletics, would give manager Aaron Boone the ability to mix and match Hendriks, Britton, and Chapman to suit the opposing hitter in must-win games. I have never been and still am not a big Chapman supporter; although his stats are good, he most often seems to fail in the most important moments. Having three closer types might seem extreme, but it seems really good to me. Hendriks would also not put a huge dent in the New York Yankee finances.
2.) David Roberson ($7M) Yes, he has been with the Yankees twice already, and each time he left, the Yankees lost out. Here is where the risk comes in, D-Rob is now 36 years old and is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but in my opinion, the potential reward far outweighs the risk involved. Before the 2019 season, he became a Philadelphia Philly for $23 million and a two-year contract. Unfortunately, his time with the Phillies was not a productive one; he required Tommy John surgery and pitched in only seven games in 2019 and none in 2020. The Phillies did not exercise his $12 million option for 2021. For the Yankees, few pitchers have pitched better than David Robertson during the last 12 years. He has a 38-22 record with the Yankees with a tiny ERA of 2.75.
3.) Brad Hand ($6M) For the New York Yankees, itâ€™s intriguing that Brad Hand is available. The Indians declined Handâ€™s $10 million option in a cost-cutting measure, and now the man who led MLB in saves in 2020 and has a 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, and a 157 ERA+ over the last five years is on the market. It should be a no-brainer for the Yankees.Â A southpaw, Hand is particularly stingy against left-handed hitters. They havenâ€™t hit better than .196 against him over the last four years, and a lefty hasnâ€™t taken him deep in two seasons. What makes Hand most remarkable is that he is insanely consistent in an art that is seldom consistent.
4.) Mark Melancon ($6.5M) Last year with the Braves, he helped bring them to a near World Series win going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.78 in 19 games, allowing only one home run on the season. Although primarily a closer, he has pitched middle innings for the Braves. Obviously, the Yankees donâ€™t need a closer, but Melancon would be an excellent replacement for free agent Tommy Kahnle as a setup man for both Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman and could fill in closing any game for the Yankees. Melancon is a perfect fit for the Yankees and Yankee Stadiumâ€™s short right porch. Hitters canâ€™t take advantage of the short porch if they canâ€™t get the ball in the air. Mark is a ground ball pitcher, getting ground balls 56% of the time. He has an excellent curveball and cutter and will throw an occasional fastball and changeup.
5.) Shane Greene ($5M) Greene throws a mid-90s two-seam fastball with great movement and a nasty slider effective against both lefty and righty batters. Greene has a â€œshort-armâ€ throwing motion, which is deceptive to hitters and can provide a fastball’s sneaky fast feeling. In 2018, he recorded 32 saves but had a 5.12 ERA. The next season, he bounced back with 22 saves and a 1.18 ERA before the trade deadline. When Greene arrived in Atlanta, he was used as a late-inning reliever and did okay. Most recently, Greene bounced back with a 2.60 ERA in 28 games during the shortened 2020 season. He was an important member of the solid Braves bullpen in 2020 and will be wanting a good contract offer during the offseason.
My pick to shore up the New York Yankee bullpen would be Liam Hendriks due to his record over the last two seasons, but I will put him as my number two choice. Here is my reasoning for choosing David Robertson as my number one pick. Robertson we know can pitch under the bright lights of New York and the demanding fans that sit in its stands. A lot of good pitchers have failed in New York. Hendriks has never pitched for a huge market team that eats up its players with extreme scrutiny.
Don’t get me wrong the Yankees would do well to pick up any of these five fine players. The dollar amount you see after each name is how much I believe will be required to sign them in this depressed market.