The Yankees have set themselves up with a strong bullpen featuring Mariano Rivera as the closer, David Robertson setting up, and Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma for the 7th inning. Boone Logan looks like he’s ready to start the season healthy, and Vidal Nuno may take Clay Rapada‘s role at this rate. The Yankees could use Nuno as a long man as well, or the loser of the Ivan Nova v. David Phelps starter battle could be moved to a relief role. Waiting in the minor leagues, the Yankees have a number of pitchers, Shawn Kelley and Mark Montgomery who could step up later on in the season. Pitching is a strength for this team, but with the offensive woes, the Yankees have explored dealing relievers for hitters.
Earlier this month, the Rangers scouted Chamberlain, and we know Cashman is still looking for a left-handed corner infielder. If the team decides to deal from the bullpen, the free agent market still has some rather big names available to replenish the system.
Francisco Rodriguez- It feels like Rodriguez has been playing forever, but he’s actually just 31 years old in 2013. The right-hander spent his last year with the Brewers as their setup man. Though he produced just a 4.38 ERA, it was behind a 3.83 FIP. His strikeout rate has fallen in recent years, but he still owned a 23.6 K% in Milwaukee. His 69.6 LOB% was 10% lower than his career rate, and his 12.3% HR/FB was 50% more than his 8.3% career rate. Miller Ballpark is more of a hitter’s ballpark, and thus you could consider his 2012 season looks like some bad circumstance. He still has plenty of closing and setting up experience, and the Yankees could sign him to replace Chamberlain in the rotation, though it’s a mystery why the Rangers wouldn’t just sign him themselves.
Jose Valverde- The 35 year old Valverde is known more for his antics on the mound, rather than his pitching. Last year he earned 35 saves with the Tigers, but he still can’t seem to find a job. Though Valverde is very hard to hit, he can be wild at times, and his strikeout rates have plummeted over the years. He’s worked himself into a flyball pitcher, which while acceptable for Comerica Park, is worrisome in Yankee Stadium. Last year’s 3.62 FIP is right on pace with his career average, and I wouldn’t expect much more from him and his declining strike out rates. He could be of use in the bullpen, but his fly ball style and absurdity on the mound is not a great fit for the Bronx.
Brian Wilson- Wilson has been sidelined over the last year as he recovers from his second Tommy John surgery. His most recent season, 2011, had him throwing 55.0 innings with a 3.33 FIP and a 3.11 ERA. Though the recovery from a second Tommy John surgery is risky, the surgery still has a high success rate compared to most other major procedures. The likelihood of him returning to form is decent, and the Yankees took a similar chance last year with David Aardsma. Wilson is much further in the recovery process than Aardsma was, and he could be ready to join a team as soon as May, but is only willing to try out when he’s feeling 100%. Wilson is reaching the 12 month recovery time in just a couple of weeks and should grab a major league deal.