Yankees could bring back flame-throwing reliever on cheap deal

New York Yankees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton (93) pitches in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have an opportunity to bolster their bullpen depth by re-signing a valuable player from their previous roster.

Right-hander Keynan Middleton, now an unrestricted free agent, came to the Yankees from the White Sox at the last trade deadline and demonstrated remarkable potential as a high-leverage option in relief pitching.

Middleton’s Strong Show in 2023

The 30-year-old delivered an impressive performance in 2023, registering a 1.88 ERA across 12 appearances with New York and striking out 17 over 14.1 innings. Moreover, opposing teams found Middleton challenging to hit, managing a mere .143 average with just seven hits during his stint with the Yankees.

Assessing the Yankees’ Bullpen Dynamics

Middleton isn’t the only Yankees reliever exploring the market; left-hander Wandy Peralta is also on the verge of potential departure. Should Peralta exit, the Yankees might see the logic in negotiating a cost-effective, team-friendly contract to retain Middleton.

Last season was tough on the Yankees’ bullpen, plagued by injuries affecting key players. Johnathan Loaisiga was side-lined for several months, while Lou Trivino and Scott Effross missed the entire season. The anticipation is high for their full recovery and return next season. Having Middleton rejoin a squad that potentially includes a fit trio, Clay Holmes, and Ian Hamilton, could significantly enhance the bullpen’s overall quality.

Lefty Conundrum: Balancing the Bullpen

However, the team stands at a strategic crossroads: should they prioritize adding a left-handed pitcher over Middleton? Peralta was the sole left-hander in the bullpen last season, and given Matt Krook’s disappointing run, his readiness for the big league is questionable.

Starting the upcoming season without a lefty reliever might handicap the Yankees, stripping them of the strategic edge in pitching matchups. This scenario underscores the need for careful consideration of their bullpen composition.

Opportunity Knocks: Decision Time for the Yankees

Despite these concerns, Middleton represents a low-risk, high-upside option for the Yankees. His previous season’s performance highlights his capability, offering a compelling case for his reacquisition. The ball is in the Yankees’ court to determine whether a reunion is in the cards.

Follow this writer on X: @DylanBacker_

Mentioned in this article:

More about: