Tommy Kahnle, one of the most dependable bullpen arms of the New York Yankees in recent years, is now a free agent. Something that seemed so far-fetched at the beginning of the season is now a reality: the right-hander is no longer with the Bombers.
Kahnle elected free agency today in lieu of accepting an outright assignment, according to what the club reported via Twitter. The changeup artist will miss the entire 2021 season after he suffered an elbow injury that eventually required the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Basically, Kahnle was outrighted off the Yankees’ 40-man roster but elected to become a free agent rather than accept an assignment to the minor leagues. He got the surgery in early August and may take his time to sign with a team until late next season or even next winter.
The medical procedure was performed, on August 5, The reconstructive elbow procedure was performed by the New York Yankees’ doctor Chris Ahmad.
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There is a chance he eventually re-signs with the Yankees later down the road when he’s healthy, but it is certainly not a given. He may not be ready until the 2022 campaign.
Kahnle, now 30 years old, only threw one scoreless inning for the Yankees this summer, but had a solid 3.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts over 61 1/3 innings in 2019.
The Yankees had a particularly dominating bullpen from 2017 on, and it was, in part, because of Kahnle. He came from the White Sox that year and helped push the unit into elite status.
Kahnle had a 2018 to forget (6.56 ERA in 23.1 frames) but rebounded nicely in 2019 to help the Yankees make another postseason run.
His injury in 2020 severely damaged the Yankees’ bullpen, and it was the start of a downfall that saw a once-deep unit reduced to having only three trustworthy arms deep in the playoffs: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, and Zack Britton.