Over the last few days, there’s been a little bit of trade discussion surrounding Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain. Mike touched on this yesterday and I’d like to expand on his value as a trade piece and to the team.
If the Yankees really could get Mike Olt or someone of his ilk for Joba Chamberlain, then there is absolutely no excuse for not executing the trade. But, that is not likely the case. For the Yankees to fetch someone of that caliber, they’d need to give up a lot more than just Joba. The thing is, that’s just not going to happen. As a reliever entering his contract year, he’s none too desirable, at least not right now. If the Yankees fall far out of contention at some point later in the year, say around the trade deadline, maybe they can flip him to a team that needs that one last guy to get it over the hump. Wouldn’t that be something for Joba? Come up in 2007 and help push the Yankees into the playoffs as a reliever, then do the same for another team in 2013? The chances of that happening, though, seem slim. Despite all their supposed and real flaws, the Yankees still have a good shot at making the playoffs. As such, Joba is more important to the team as a pitcher than he is as a trade piece.
As we’ve stressed over and over again during Spring Training–and as is true for most Major League teams–with a more-than-slightly-depleted offense, pitching will be paramount for the Yankees in 2013. And while he won’t be the set up guy, Joba is still an important piece in a deep bullpen. He will be able to pitch in almost any short relief scenario and with his arsenal, he can get both left handed and right handed batters out. Given the possibility that both Boone Logan and Clay Rapada could miss the start of the season, Joba’s value is increased. If that scenario goes down, Joba really does hold his value in his own hands. If he pitches well and the team falls out of it, he will be set up to go somewhere and compete. If he pitches well and the team does well, that’s a win-win for everyone.
This will most likely be Joba’s last season in pinstripes and it’s, perhaps, the first season in which he’ll be truly unrestricted and unrestrained. In 2009, he had to prove himself as a starter. In 2010, he had to reprove himself as a reliever. In 2011, he had to fight injury. In 2012, he had to come back from two major injuries. Now, finally, Joba seems free. Unburdened by injuries and free of any sort of expectations, perhaps this is when he puts it all together as a reliever and turns in a season that makes it even easier to forget about Rafael Soriano and his departure to Washington.