Yankees lose yet another bullpen arm to the free agent market

MLB: New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees find themselves in a challenging position as they aim to enhance their bullpen, with notable options dwindling in the free-agent market.

The recent signings of Hector Neris by the Chicago Cubs, Wandy Peralta by the San Diego Padres, and Keynan Middleton by the St. Louis Cardinals (via Robert Murray of FanSided) underscore the competitive nature of securing experienced relief pitchers.

Yankees’ Bullpen Strategy Amid Free Agency Challenges

Middleton’s departure marks a significant missed opportunity for the Yankees. After delivering an impressive performance in the latter part of the 2023 season, his re-signing seemed a valuable prospect for bolstering the bullpen.

Averaging 95.7 mph on his fastball, his ground ball rates skyrocketed to 56.6% after finishing at just 26.5% in 2022. He hosted a 71% ground ball rate with the Yankees over 12 appearances, but clearly, general manager Brian Cashman didn’t see a desperate need to re-introduce him.

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Evaluating the Bullpen and Future Moves

The Yankees’ bullpen remains solid, with the anticipated return of Scott Effross adding depth to the relief corps. While the bullpen’s foundation is solid, the addition of experienced arms could have provided an extra layer of security and effectiveness.

However, Cashman’s cautious approach to free agency indicates a preference to maintain payroll flexibility or a belief in internal options stepping up in the 2024 season.

As the off-season program approaches, the Yankees may still explore affordable moves to fine-tune their roster. With pitchers and catchers set to report for spring training in about two weeks, the team’s strategy and any last-minute adjustments will become clearer. The emphasis appears to be on leveraging existing talent while remaining open to cost-effective opportunities to enhance the bullpen’s capabilities.