Is the Yankees’ bullpen overstocked?

Nevertheless, it did make me wonder if the Yankees aren’t saturated with bullpen talent and, if so, if it might not make some sense to shop some of those bullpen arms for a younger position player. Think about it, the Yankees opening day bullpen will definitely include Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Boone Logan as the lefty specialist, will probably include Cory Wade (who makes a heck of a last guy in the bullpen), and could see Phil Hughes added to the unit as well. And oh yeah, at some point next season Joba Chamberlain will returnto be thrown back into that mix too. That’s an abundance of riches to be sure, and even if Cameron is wrong about the value of middle relievers, it’s hard to see where the team will come up with meaningful innings to give to all of those guys.

With that in mind, I’m not sure it wouldn’t behoove Brian Cashman to shop David Robertson around to see what teams might be interested in giving up to acquire the Yankees’ strikeout happy set up man. Don’t get me wrong, I love D-Rob as much as the next guy and would be sad to see him go, but his value is probably as high as it will ever be right now, and he probably isn’t really as good as his 2011 numbers make him out to be. We all know he can generate strikeouts, of course, but he also continues to walk a lot of batters in the process(4.73 BB/9 last year), which is going to come back to bite him when his 0.14 HR/9 and 2.3 HR/FB% catch up to him. If Robertson’s numbers move closer to the 3.82 ERA and 3.58 FIP he registered in 2010 with much more normal peripherals, losing him wouldn’t hurt nearly so much if the return was sweet.

Ideally, the Yankees could swap some of their excess pitching for a talented young corner outfielder who is ready to play int he big leagues right now. This would fix their short term hole at the designated hitter position by allowing them to have Nick Swisher fill the role of primary DH and help them meet their 2014 payroll target by filling an open starting spot at tremendous value. If they get the right player in return, it’s basically a win-win for the short and long term.

The question, of course, is who this player might be. The name that springs to mind immediately is the Phillies’ Dominic Brown, and such an idea doesn’t seem as improbably to me as it should. The Phillies are in win-now mode to the extreme, given a) their aging roster b) the strain on the payroll Ryan Howard‘s contract is going to begin to create and c) the fact that Cole Hamels looks likely to become a free agent at the end of this season, they spent big on the bullpen by bringing Jonathan Papelbon to town (before which they were reportedly willing to spend big to keep Ryan Madson in town), and they might be enticed by the possibility of adding one of the best setup men in baseball from last season to the mix as well and, quite frankly, general manager Ruben Amaro just doesn’t seem to be a fan of the idea of letting Brown become a regular for the Phillies anytime this decade. The standard “my trade proposal sucks” disclaimer applies here, but I’ve got a hunch this might not be so crazy. And depending on what the ancillary pieces of the trade are, a Robertson-for-Brown swap could be a huge windfall for the Yankees.

Not that I’ll mind watching Robertson strike out the side wearing pinstripes when he doesn’t get traded this month by any means.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

80 thoughts on “Is the Yankees’ bullpen overstocked?

  1. I am not sure I get your point about expansion. In addition to dilution among pitchers, there is also dilution among hitters, so why wouldn't that cancel out?

  2. I am too infatuated by such a strong bullpen to want to move any of them. Domonic Brown is an attractive add, I'll give you that. But other than acquiring such a talent, I love the idea of throwing three strong arms at you every night and being able to alternate nights so that nobody gets overworked.

  3. It seems that Dominic has been on the verge for a while. Why do people still feel that he is fair return for D Robb. Just curious. It is not like he has done anything at the ML level…

  4. I hear what you are saying about DRob. In fact, I might agree that his value is higher than it has ever been, and he might make good trade bait. However, a trade for Domonic Brown makes absolutely no sense.

    David Robertson was an All Star caliber reliever last year. It makes sense to trade top prospects in order to receive top prospects (a la Pineda). However, you can't trade a reliever that struck out the entire MLB (not AAA) last year for someone who "might" be a very good player one day.

    I'd be interested in a better-than-average Major League bat for David Robertson, not a better-than-average Minor League one.

  5. Going back to 2008, the Yankees have been able to coax at least 30 league-average relief innings from a total of 15 different pitchers.

    It's not terribly difficult to find these guys, so I would be willing to trade just about any reliever in baseball for a quality starting position player.

  6. I would do this deal all day everyday. Potential young, cost controlled, impact bat for a reliever is something you do all day everyday, especially seeing as how volitile relievers are from year to year. Love D-Rob but this is a no brainer

  7. Say it with me; "You can never have to much pitching."
    Say it with me: "someone will get hurt this year, and miss significant time"

  8. The kid is 26 years old, he had an amazing year last year, and I'm not so sure his peripherals are ever going to look more "normal" given his high swing and miss, strikeout and walk rates. He may just profile different than a normal reliever. I would probably give him up for someone that could be a starting position player, but given the success rate of free agent relief pitchers, I would love to keep D-Rob in town. He was actually one of my favorite Yankees to watch last year, so no doubt i'm a bit biased.

  9. I think for a guy like Robertson, a trade is a no brainer, but for players like Chamberlain and Hughes, you shouldn't. Joba and Phil both have a low trade value, as opposed to Robertson's, whose value is at an all time high. No way just Robertson could get a guy like Domonic Brown, but he'd be a valuable trade chip.

  10. He's a favourite when he strikes out the side, but when he starts giving up key runs, people will have a different view of him. This is New York after all, you can't have an off year and get away with it.

  11. I'm surprised by this reaction in the comments. I think the problem is reverse — it's not giving up too much by the Yanks but giving up too little. D-Rob is too light a return for a prospect of Brown's caliber. I don't see why the Phils would do this. That said, if they would agree, I think you have to laugh all the way to the bank if you're the Yankees. Love DRob as much as the next guy, but he's a reliever, who are by definition crazy volatile and often have a short shelf life.

  12. I agree with Brien's premise that Robertson's value will never be higher. I also agree that if anybody might be duped into "buying high and selling low," it's probably the Phillies, but I think even they balk at the suggested trade. The fact is, a reliever who's already getting pretty sizable arbitration awards is going to have a really hard time producing as much value over the life of his contract as a rookie outfielder, especially one with Brown's skill set. I think it's unrealistic to expect to get an elite prospect for D-Rob.

  13. There's something no one seems to have considered. Rivera is 42. He's already said this might be his last year. Even if it isn't, how much longer can we expect him to pitch, particularly at the high level we've come to expect? Robertson would seem to be a excellent candidate to replace him. Soriano has already had arm trouble, and I don't see anyone else in the organization being able to take on the closer role.

    I think trading Robertson would be a huge mistake.

  14. It would be TOTAL insanity to trade Robertson, whose talent and upside is INCREDIBLE. Plus, being around Mariano for so long has no doubt helped his mental makeup. Dominic Brown has a HUGE hole in his swing that may never be corrected. This would be a HORRIBLE trade for the Yankees.

  15. I cannot believe the feedback on this page about that theoretical trade. If the Phillies somehow accepted just Robertson for Brown, I'll drive him to Philly myself. You do that trade 10 out of 10 times if you're the Yankees. Look at what other elite setup guys have gotten in trades lately. David Hernandez of the Orioles fetched Mark freakin Reynolds when he was traded and he was very good. Elite relievers for top prospects just don't happen.

  16. How many Times Last year Did RD come in with the Game on the LINE Two or Three men on Base
    and Get out of the Inning, as we went on the Wine the Game?? HOW MANY TIMES?? Answer?

    MANY TIMES How quickly we Forget I would never trade this year Before seeing How Hughes Pitches.

    Think of what it would look like, If Mo. had Problems It will Happen Eventually but if this year
    WE Have RD, and Soriano, To take us to the finish Line, and if Mo is Mo as I Pray he will be,
    We can Shorten Games and Give the YOUNG Guns Time to Establish themselves , Backed by a Lights Out Bull Pen. Yankee For EVER.

  17. Tell me: How many teams failed to make the playoffs because they just had too much pitching????? This is and idiotic idea. Trade Burnett for anything and eat the contract. Otherwise, trade for MORE pitching for God's sake!!!!

  18. We,s could trade Rafael Soriano-p to P .Phillies for of Ddominic Brown & another minor league player. The Yankees will not be tradeing David Robertson or Phil Hughes

  19. Mo's heir apparent is being read into too much. Rivera is the greatest reliever of all time, do you really expect anybody who replaces him is going to be nearly as good? Just because D-Rob had a good season doesn't mean he is the obvious choice to take over. Hughes, Chamberlain, Soriano, and maybe even Betances or Banuelos could take him spot. I think you trade the guy whose value is at it's highest and that's obviously D-Rob.

  20. Bad article !!! Highest gonna be in the rotation . N you can't have enough guys in the bullpen example joba situation

  21. To those saying you could never have too much pitching, the Yankees lost last season because of a lack of offense. Just saying, it they could have pushed 2 more runs against the Tigers that series, they would have won it.

  22. Dumb. This assumes Brown is a top bat. Which even Philly doesn’t think he is. Y take a strength n make it a weakness? Some people over think everything