Yankees could bolster bullpen with extremely efficient free agent

Andrew Chafin, mets, yankees
Sep 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Andrew Chafin (37) throws during the seventh inning of the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Brian Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are in the market for more bullpen support, as suggested by both general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner.

Cashman has already made one move, extending friendly face Tommy Kahnle, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitched just 12.2 innings. In fact, Kahnle has only pitched 13.2 innings over the last three years, so paying $6 million per season for his services is certainly a gamble.

Nonetheless, there are several free agents who fit perfectly for what the Yankees need. Specifically, Andrew Chafin could be an ideal target for Cashman, coming off a stellar season with the Detroit Tigers and posting a 1.83 ERA in 2021 with Chicago and Oakland.

The Yankees could add a legit piece in Andrew Chafin:

In 2022, though, he earned a 2.83 ERA, 3.27 xFIP, 10.52 strikeouts per nine, and a 51.3% ground ball rate over 57.1 innings. His ability to generate weak contact and leave runners stranded on base is exactly what the Bombers are looking for, despite a slight increase in his HR/FB ratio to 9.6%.

Chafin utilizes a 4-seam fastball, slider, and sinker combination. As a left-handed bullpen arm, he would essentially replace Zack Britton or Aroldis Chapman. Impressively, his 4-seam fastball generates 62% more break than the average pitcher with 9.6 inches. His slider incorporates 40.7 inches of vertical movement and enacts a sweeping style, which pitching coach Matt Blake prefers.

Chafin signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Tigers, but he opted out of the 2023 season in search of more money and a bit more length to his future deal.

Given he was earning $6.5 million per season, he could see that number balloon to around $10 million at 32 years old, even if he cashes in for another two or three seasons coming off consecutive dominant campaigns.

There is a lot to like about Chafin, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees are willing to spend egregiously on another bullpen arm. The more likely scenario is they look to trade for a hidden gem, similar to Clay Holmes. Of course, that doesn’t always pan out the way Cashman intends, but it is a worthwhile strategy if they can find some valuable pieces at a cheaper price point.