Aaron Boone announced earlier today that the Yankees will be adding a pitcher to the roster via either Free Agency or an internal option. As of right now, the Yankees are rolling with 12 pitchers on their roster. The internal options are all quite solid, as the trio of Matt Krook, Greg Weissert, and Ian Hamilton all did quite well this spring. The last of the three, Hamilton, was particularly impressive as he hurled 9.0 innings of scoreless baseball. However, there are a few options on the FA market that could be enticing.
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A nice reunion could be in store for the Yankees:
The first of which is a reunion with Zack Britton. Though he didn’t have the best end to his Yankee tenure, when he was healthy, he was great for the organization. In 2021 & 22, he tossed 19.0 total innings and posted an ERA north of 6.00. He was clearly battling injuries, and his sinker wasn’t moving as it should. Now, he’s fully healthy and has begun throwing for teams in showcases to show that he still has what it takes.
However, if you look back at what he did when he was healthy, there’s no denying his talent. In his two full seasons in the Bronx, albeit one was the shortened 2020 year, he was dominant. He posted a 1.91 ERA and 3.74 FIP over 61.1 innings back in 2019 and posted a 77.2% GB%. He forced soft contact regularly, got some swings and misses, and was one of the go-to options out of the bullpen.
His 2020 year he pitched well additionally, as he fired 19.0 innings of 1.89 ERA baseball. He continued to get the grounders, as he posted a 71.1% GB% that year. Adding Britton could be a nice addition to the bullpen, and he would likely be the last guy deployed out of the bunch. He’s 35 years old and certainly not what he used to be, but if the Yankees can get him on a cheap deal, it could be a nice move. It also helps that he’s a lefty, as the team only has Wandy Peralta as the sole lefty in the pen.
Archie Bradley was once the man for Arizona:
The next option is Archie Bradley, who was once a stalwart in the DBacks’ pen once upon a time. The big righty hasn’t been himself since the shortened 2020 season, but he was solid in ‘21 and could add some more length to the Yanks’ pen. He still has good stuff and would certainly sign for cheap, as his 2033 season was cut short due to a forearm strain he suffered back in early September.
He has the pedigree, and despite finishing last season with a 4.82 ERA, his FIP indicates he got unlucky and had some poor defense behind him, as it sat at 3.33. The full season he had prior, with 51.0 innings to the ledger, saw him post a 3.71 ERA with a 4.35 FIP. He still gets some swings and misses, though those days or near-10 strikeouts per nine seem to be behind him.
The last two years, however, since he hasn’t been able to get as many K’s, he’s upped his grounder percentage. He posted a 55.7% GB% in ‘21 and a 57.1% in 2022. Prior to those two years, the last time he had GB% over 50% was his rookie year back in 2015. Bradley is now 30 and is a righty, but I could see the Yanks taking a flier and use him in lower-leverage situations.
Corey Knebel has had back-to-back solid campaigns:
The third option I’m intrigued by is Corey Knebel. The former Brewer staple in the bullpen is coming off back-to-back solid campaigns following his disastrous 2020 season that saw him depart Milwaukee with a bitter taste in his mouth. Not to mention, he pitched for two contending teams, with the Dodgers in ‘21 and the Phillies last season. He has the ability to be great, and unlike the two alternative options I named, still registers strikeouts at a great clip.
In 2021 he posted a 10.52 K/9 with LAD and walked just 3.16 guys to boot. His ERA was a sparkling 2.45, with a 2.90 FIP to pair with it. He was great with the Dodgers, even if he pitched just 25.2 innings for the club. He still features the same pitch mix, and he also has posted back-to-back years of a sub-1.00 HR/9.
Last year with the Phils, he tossed 44.2 innings for the NL champs and posted a 3.43 ERA with an 8.26 K/9. He didn’t register as many swings and misses, but his track record does indicate that he’ll still get some guys down swinging, even if it’s not up to snuff with his elite stretch during the 2015-2018 years, where he was sitting around 13.00 per nine.
Knebel could be a sneaky nice addition, and with Matt Blake’s guidance, it could be a match made in heaven. Honestly, any of these guys under his tutelage could have a nice renaissance season. All three wouldn’t cost much, and all three would be signed on likely-veteran minimum deals. The Yanks’ current roster construction is a bit different and unsure of itself, though that could be solved by nabbing one of these three guys.
Opening Day is today, and tomorrow is when the Yankees will likely make a move. It’s an off day and will allow for them to pick someone up and restructure their 26-man. As of this moment, both Florial and Franchy Cordero are on the roster, though that should change soon. I like these three options, but I would certainly prefer the team roll with an internal guy, even if it means using one of their options.