The 2013 bullpen

First off, how is everyone? I know a large portion of our readership is certainly in the Tri-State Area and I hope you and yours are doing well. Now, let’s get onto some baseball matters as a nice distraction.

As you probably could’ve guessed by midseason, Rafael Soriano has officially opted out of his contract with the Yankees. ACcording to that same link, the Yankees will give Soriano a qualifying offer (which he likely won’t accept) and are willing to give him a two year contract. In the simplest of terms, there are a few ways that this can shake out:

1. The Best Case Scenario:

In this scenario, the Yankees get their cake and eat it, too. They get Mariano Rivera back on a one year deal and Soriano takes the qualifying offer. That would give the team two dynamite back-end bullpen options and keep them free, moneywise, for 2014 and Plan 189. Short term commitments to relief pitchers are more than desirable; a one year commitment each to a duo of two great relievers would be downright fantastic. I won’t attach a number to it, but the chances of this happening seem as high as any of us reaching base against a Major League breaking ball.

2. The Second Best Case Scenario:

Rivera returns and Soriano takes the two year deal. The commitment to Soriano isn’t long and it gives the Yankees an option at closer for 2014 when Rivera (presumably) retires. Like the above scenario, this option is pretty unlikely to actually happen.

3. The Mixed Bag Scenario:

This is the one that seems most likely, and it features just one of these talented pitchers returning to pinstripes. If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll be Rivera who returns and Soriano who does not. If that happens, I’m sure i’ll be because Soriano has gotten a three-plus year contract somewhere else. If/when that happens, who will be able to blame him? No one. Of course, it’s also possible that Mo retires and Soriano is the one who stays.

In all three of those scenarios, the bullpen order is pretty predictable. Rivera closes if he’s there and Soriano closes if he is and Mo isn’t. David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, and Boone Logan do their middle-relief things and we’ll all be on our merry little way. Then there’s…

4. The Not-so-pleasant Scenario:

Rivera retires. Soriano leaves for another team. While this prospect would probably ruin the bullpens of most teams, it merely hurts the Yankees (though it wouldn’t exactly be a small pain to endure). This would leave the Yankees with a few options. Aardsma has closing experience, but I doubt they’d hand the reins to him since he’s pitched so few innings of late. Joba was once anointed as the closer-of-the-future, but do they really trust him that much? Robertson would probably be fine, but do they trust his new found control? Do they trust him enough overall? Any of these three could probably do a fine job closing and if Rivera does retire and Soriano does leave, I’m sure one of them will be tried out in that role. And while I think any of these three could perform (more than) ably, it would still be a step down in bullpen strength. For that, the Yankees could look to the free-agent market to help add to the bullpen depth.

The Royals declined their option on Joakim Soria, who missed all of 2012 after requiring Tommy John Surgery. As I’m sure many have said by now (sorry if I can’t credit you; I’ve been Internet-blind for some time now!), giving him a contract heavily loaded in incentives would be a great move; I’m sure all 30 teams, including the Royals, will be after Soria. There is another Tommy John patient worth kicking the tires on with a similar deal, and that’s Ryan Madson. Yes, I’m getting a bit video game-ish with the ‘load your bullpen with former closers’ rosterbating here, but I think both of those guys are realistic options. They’d be most valuable in the ‘doomsday’ no Mo/no Soriano scenario, but even if Rivera and Soriano do return, the Yankees should take a look at Soria and Madson.

About Matt Imbrogno

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

6 thoughts on “The 2013 bullpen

  1. You mention Soria and Madson…I know Madson is 32 years old, but Soria and how about Jonathan Broxton? They are 28 years old and could be given a multi year deal…and hopefully not fall off a cliff. They could be seeing some good years in the next 3-4 and it’d be a shame for someone else to get those. If we need two relivers, I’d say Broxton and Soria. Then get Taylor Buchholz and Evan Meek to sign minor league deals as insurance!

  2. Also…is there anyway that we can acquire one free agent OF and one OF via trade and then flip Granderson for some pitching? I’d think we could get O’Flaherty and Varvaro, maybe even Gearrin too for him from Atlanta. What do you think?

  3. I don’t like #2. I think if Sori leaves, Mo will be more motivated to play. A 2 year deal for Sori is not the best allocation of money. I guess $13.5m for this year is fine, but I would NOT spend it for 2014, when our budget is so tight.

  4. Montgomery may profile better as a closer long-term. Robertson has always had a high walk rate, while Montgomery has both the strikeout pitch and pretty good control. It is possible that Robertson has improved his control numbers, but they were different post-injury and might reflect temporary changes to his approach to try to mitigate any left-over ill effects from that.

  5. If Mo and Sori don’t return, I’d go with Robertson and Aardsma sharing the closing duties, Logan and a re-signed Rapada as the lefties, Chamberlain and Eppley as the middle-inning guys (the former a potential setup man as he certainly has the stuff and mental makeup), and either Octavio Dotel re-signed for 2013 only or another farmhand (ideally not Phelps so he could further develop as a starter.)

    I think The Davids, D & D, The D & D Boys, Double David (pick your nickname – I’ll go with the first one) could close 40 games between them, the rest of the bullpen 10. Figure six blown saves tops (five by The Davids and one by someone else), no worse than 3-3 record in those games, no big deal about the blown saves if the Yanks go 3-3 or 4-2 in those games, and who gives a #$%! if they go 5-1 or 6-0.

    Remember the Yanks could always win a game their closer blows especially if they’re at home. What you want is just a tie at home as much as possible.

    Also remember the Yanks had only one walk-off win last season, so they’re due to have a season with at least two or three – maybe one of them is a blown save game.