The New York Yankees are coming off a day when they dominated the baseball news with three important signings. First, they finally finalized a deal with DJ LeMahieu, which he accepted for a surprising six years at $90 million, which could lead him into retirement at age 38. Then they avoided arbitration by signing Yankee slugger Aaron Judge to a $10.175 million contract for 2021. They ended the day’s transactions by signing two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to an $11 million one year deal.
After an offseason that before yesterday that was stuck in the mud, with these signings, Yankee fans are thinking, what next? Will, the Yankees, go after Luis Costillo to further strengthen the starting rotation, or will they now target the bullpen that also needs help? There is a bevy of relief arms available in free agency. My guess is that the New York Yankees, now knowing what their finances look like, will bounce sooner than later. The Yankees have more flexibility now that they got both LeMahieu and Kluber for what they thought they might have to pay for LeMahieu alone.
Will the Yankees target bullpen help next?
The New York Yankees have questions in the once best in baseball bullpen. With the poor performance of Adam Ottavino in the past two seasons, he enters the final year of his contract, wondering if he can bounce back. Additionally, the Yankees are suffering from the loss of their number three man out of the bullpen, Tommy Kahnle, who signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is still an abundance of arms to choose from. Brad Hand is one of the best arms out there, but it’s doubtful that the Yankees will spend for him.
Another choice that wouldn’t break the banks is another low-risk, high-reward arm like Corey Kluber. After having a poor season in 2020 due to injury, Kirby Yates surely dragged down his worth on the free-agent market. With incentives, the Yankees could probably land him for about $5 million. During 2019 he pitched 60.2 frames with a tiny ERA of 1.19.
The Yankees could also choose the safest route and bring back Justin Wilson, who dominated the 2015 Yankee bullpen. The Yankees could use a lefty out of the bullpen. In 2015, he posted a 3.10 ERA and a 2.69 FIP in 61.0 innings. In his career, he averages 10 strikeouts per nine and gets both lefties and righties out. Last year with the New York Mets, he was 2-1 with an ERA of 3.65 in 23 games.
Another lefty choice is Aaron Loup, he would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look in the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays. After a regressive tenure in Toronto, Loup found his best stuff with the Rays in â€™20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. Heâ€™s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldnâ€™t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.
There is no question the Yankees will look to improve the bullpen, but it’s a fool’s game to guess who they will choose with so many relief arms available. They have to date, they have added old friends Adam Warren and Nestor Cortes Jr., but they are not equal to the quality of Tommy Kahnle.