Yankees could jump into marketplace for elite closer

mlb: colorado rockies at san diego padres, yankees, josh hader
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees routinely have one of the best bullpens in baseball, but there’s no harm in adding an elite level closer to the mix to help reinforce an already strong unit. The truth is that the Yankees need more pitching, and if they can’t secure the services of a premium starter, they could go in the direction of a supercharged bullpen.

Ideally, they would land a starting pitcher, if not two, and a relief arm to support their World Series aspirations in 2024. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Yankees have had discussions around Jesus Luzardo of the Miami Marlins and Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians.

However, Nightingale also references the idea of the Yankees jumping into the Josh Hader market, which would certainly be a surprise, but he represents one of the most talented pitchers available.

The Yankees Could Add a Truly Elite Closer to the Fold

As mentioned, the Yankees frequently walk out one of the best bullpens in the game, but Hader would take things to another level.

At 29 years old, he’s coming off a truly dominant season of the San Diego Padres. Over 56.1 innings, Hader enjoyed a 1.28 ERA, 13.58 strikeouts per nine, an 88.8% left-on-base rate, and a 35.5% ground ball rate. He recorded a career-low 5.8% HR/FB rate, giving up only 0.48 runs per nine. This is no ordinary relief arm, this is one of the best in the sport, if not tier one.

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This would open up the Yankees’ game plan when it comes to the bullpen, allowing them to use Clay Holmes and Ian Hamilton a bit more strategically, with Hader in the primary closer spot. Since Aroldis Chapman locked things down in his prime, the Yankees haven’t had a truly consistent and dominant closer. Holmes has done his best act, but he was a bit inconsistent at times and 2023, which posed a few problems.

Looking at Hader’s pitch mix, he utilizes a sinker and slider combination. His sinker generated a .190 batting average against with a 27.9% whiff rate at 96.1 mph. It is extremely rare for a fastball of this nature to have such a low batting average, which attests to his pure dominance. His slider was one of the best in baseball last season, enjoying a .100 batting average with a 51.7% whiff rate and 38.4% put-away rate. That pitch produced 35.8 inches of vertical movement, meaning it has a gyro shape paired with a sinker that dances around the strike zone with elite accuracy.

There have been rumors that Hader would prefer to stick on the West Coast, but if the Yankees are willing to offer up a nice chunk of change, he could bring his talented arm to a team looking to make a World Series run this upcoming season.