The Runner Sports

Shopping For Relievers: Who Should Be The Third Head Of A Potential Yankees’ Bullpen Monster

According to Brian Cashman via CBS Sports, the New York Yankees will be “careful buyers” at the trade deadline this season. With the deadline half a month away, there will be rumors flying around about the Yankees. Whether they will go after a starting pitcher, a corner infielder, or a bullpen piece, the Yankees will be newsworthy gossip. However, that gossip could be brought to a standstill depending on how the team comes out of the All-Star break. Starting off against the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees will be playing two playoff contenders on the road to kick off the second half. Sitting 3.5 games back of the Sox for the AL East lead, the three-game series can influence the Yankees to buy or sell at the trade deadline. After the Red Sox, the team ships over to Minnesota for a series against the Twins.

Heading into the All-Star Game, the Yankees could not have been on a worse stretch. Since June 1, the team sports a record of 15-21. On the positive side, Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, and Starlin Castro are all expected to return shortly. Hopefully, the All-Star break came at the right time to prevent the Yankees from sliding worse than they already did. The break might have prevented an absolute disaster of losing any chance of postseason play. If the Yankees can turn their bad fortunes around, the postseason will be highly probable. However, this current roster will not make it past the Wild Card Game.

While the current roster might not be postseason ready, it is only a tweak or two away from being competitive. Even with a trade, I would not expect a World Series Championship, but being able to compete in the ALDS against the top AL team would be a win for this club. First base would seem to be the top area of concern for the club. After all, Chris Carter was released during the All-Star break and the two young players (Greg Bird and Tyler Austin) are currently injured. However, on Thursday, the Yankees made a trade to add depth at the position.

Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers traded for Yankees’ lefty reliever Tyler Webb for minor league first baseman Garrett Cooper. Who is Garrett Cooper? The 26-year-old Triple-A player has had a standout 2o17 in the minors. In 75 games, Cooper is batting .366/.428/1.080 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs. Ji-Man Choi is the most recent edition of the carousel of first basemen. Despite hitting two mammoth home runs, he is only batting .182 in his brief stint. Choi is only a hold over for Bird and Austin. With Cooper and the returning Austin, the Yankees will have viable first base options. Plus, Bird might return and the Yankees have one of the best offenses without much help from first base.

Meanwhile, the bad run since June 1 has exposed a flaw in what was supposed to be a strength. The bullpen has shown major weaknesses. When looking at the 21 losses, 12 of them have been as a result of the bullpen. One might think that those losses are mostly coming from the less prominent pitchers. However, Dellin Betances and Tyler Clippard have been horrendous since June 1. Clippard supports an 11.68 ERA with opponents batting .280 against him. Betances, while not as bad, has not been on All-Star form. His ERA since June 1 is 7.36. While batters are only hitting .154 off of him, Betances has walked 17 batters in only 12 innings.

The bullpen has been an issue. In the mentioned stretch, Aroldis Chapman only has one save. Granted, he returned to action June 18, but that is still one save in 20 games. Betances and Clippard are not bridging the gap from the starters (or early relievers) to Chapman. This is why the Yankees are in desperate need of a bullpen piece. Another plus reliever could be significant to helping rejuvenate the bullpen. It does not need to be a big splash such as Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman from last season. It does need to be a good reliever who can help get the Yankees from the 6th or 7th to Chapman.

Who Can Help the Bullpen?

Every trade deadline, it seems that there are numerous relievers who are available. This season is no different. There were two relievers in the All-Star Game who will most likely see new homes by August. Brad Hand and Pat Neshek were both NL All-Stars who are on losing teams. They will most likely be traded to a team who is in need of relief help, such as the Yankees. Hand has actually been attached to the Yankees, along with seven other teams. Other names that are in the rumor mill include Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Justin Wilson, and Rafael Iglesias. There could even be a reliever traded who is a complete surprise.

The Wish: Brad Hand

Over the past two seasons, Brad Hand has been an emerging lefty bullpen ace for the San Diego Padres. Between last season and the first half of 2017, Hand has a 2.71 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 136.1 innings, and an opponent’s¬†batting average of .198. At 27 years old, Hand looks primed to become the next Andrew Miller of relievers. After watching him pitch the All-Star Game, I was sold on how good this pitcher is and can be for the club. He could easily fit in with the rest of the bullpen.

However, there is a reason why he is the wish. Hand will be an expensive piece to acquire for a rental player. His contract runs out after this season. Plus, the Padres have been reportedly asking the Yankees for top prospect Gleyber Torres. Along with the Padres’ high asking price, the number of teams who are in on Hand will only drive that price up. Rather than being able to negotiate down, a team more desperate for a reliever (such as the Washington Nationals) might give up a haul similar to what the Yankees received last season for Chapman.

More Likely: Sean Doolittle

The Oakland Athletics are in the basement of the AL West. Sitting 21 games back of first place, the Athletics are in a familiar place. They have already waived two veteran players (Stephen Vogt and Trevor Plouffe) and the rebuild is on. Sonny Gray is also on the trading block. With these factors, Doolittle will be a cheaper alternative to Hand. While he is not having as good of a season as Hand, Doolittle is still doing quite well. He has a 3.54 ERA and .689 WHIP in 22 appearances.

Other than the fact that Doolittle is a cheaper alternative, he is under contract through 2018 with club options for 2019-20. Normally, this would mean he would be more expensive than Hand with his expiring contract. However, Doolittle’s age (30), slightly lesser performance, and Oakland’s lower asking price will add up to a better deal for the Yankees. While it is more likely, it is not a guarantee that the Yankees will add Sean Doolittle to the bullpen.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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