Yankees focusing on upgrading one specific unit this offseason

Alexander Wilson
yankees, Clay Holmes

While landing a big-name shortstop or starting pitcher might be the obvious off-season move for the New York Yankees, they have one specific unit in mind to upgrade over the next few months.

Last week, owner Hal Steinbrenner suggested that the bullpen could use a bit more support, and general manager Brian Cashman mimicked that assessment over the weekend, indicating he is actively looking to improve that specific group of players.

“I’m looking to improve our bullpen,” Cashman said at a Covenant House charity event.

Cashman acquired Lou Trivino and Scott Effross off the trade market at the deadline this past August, but Effross underwent Tommy John surgery and will likely miss the entire 2023 season. Trivino signed a one-year deal to stay with the Yankees on Friday after posting solid numbers after transitioning from the Oakland Athletics.

The Yankees have several great relief pitchers but want more:

Cashman believes that the team has their primary closer in Clay Holmes, who dominated over the first half of the 2022 season but struggled during the second half. The 29-year-old posted a 2.54 ERA, 2.90 xFIP, 9.19 strikeouts per nine, and a 74.4% left-on-base rate over 63.2 innings.

“But, yeah, I believe we have a closer. That doesn’t mean we can’t play on someone who is a quote-unquote closer because ultimately the more the merrier. You want as many high-leverage guys that you can collect as you possibly can. So, the bullpen is an area that we want to improve upon. We certainly had some injuries that took us out of having access to some of those guys.”

Despite the team’s abundance of talent in the bullpen, especially with youngsters like Ron Marinaccio and Greg Weissert expected to make a bigger impact moving forward, Cashman would still like a few high-leverage arms he can trust in big moments.

“I feel really good about Clay Holmes being our closer but that doesn’t preclude us from entertaining outside players via trade or free agency if it makes us better,” Cashman added.

Specifically, the Yankees could consider trading infielder Gleyber Torres to the Seattle Mariners as a possible way of acquiring a solid relief pitcher. The Mariners have Paul Sewald and Matthew Festa they could float in negotiations, and with Anthony Volpe expected to make the jump to the MLB next year, Torres’s role may diminish over time anyway.

Aside from constructing a dominant bullpen, the Yankees have a few other needs on the roster, starting with the retention of Aaron Judge. The Yankees have offered him a sizable pay increase, but his representatives are still trying to create a bidding war to drive up his price tag.