Relief Options Still Exist for New York Yankees
With David Robertson heading to the disabled list and an already young and inexperienced bullpen, the New York Yankees must explore the several relief options that still remain on the free agent market in an attempt to upgrade their roster.
While the likes of David Phelps, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno have held their own through the start of this young season, the Yankees lack relievers with both veteran leadership and closing experience. Even when Robertson returns, manager Joe Girardi may sleep easier with a more established setup man in his pen than Kelley. He could probably use an experienced arm in the middle innings of games.
The players mentioned here are by no means All-Stars, at least not anymore, otherwise they would have found a team by now. Instead, they could provide veteran leadership and a safety net should Robertson and his fellow young relievers hit a skid along the way.
All stats were obtained via Baseball Reference.
Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.
Gregg had one of his best seasons in 2013, posting a 3.48 E.R.A. with 33 saves in 62 games with the Chicago Cubs. Over the span of an 11-year career with the Angels, Marlins, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Chicago, Gregg has pitched in 571 games and over 700 innings while accumulating 177 saves.
Things got dicey in Chicago last season when Gregg was removed from the closer's role in favor of Pedro Strop. Being a young and rebuilding franchise, the Cubs wanted to test Strop in the ninth. This did not sit well with Gregg, who publicly voiced his complaints about then-Cubs manager Dale Sveum and GM Theo Epstein. The comments nearly led to his release, but the air eventually settled. Still, Gregg now finds himself a free agent with the 2014 season already underway.
For the Yankees, Gregg could prove to be a viable middle reliever or even setup man for Robertson once he returns.
No one has experience quite like Dotel. In 15 seasons he has pitched for 13 teams, including the Yankees, while throwing 951.1 innings. During that span, Dotel has 109 career saves and a 3.78 ERA He also won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.
Dotel was limited to only six games in 2013 after being sidelined by elbow inflammation. His last full year was in 2012 when he pitched 58 innings and had a 3.57 ERA for the Detroit Tigers.
Primarily a setup man throughout his career, Dotel could do the same in the Bronx. Still, he is 40 years old and coming off of a major injury, making him quite the risk.
Madson has had a rough go of it the past few years, having not thrown a big-league pitch since 2011. That year, his first and only year as the Phillies closer, Madson had a 2.37 ERA with 32 saves in 62 games.
Since then, Madson has struggled while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He left Philly after 2011 and signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. That spring, he tore a ligament in his right elbow, which led to the surgery. He signed with the Angels last offseason, but never fully recovered.
Now, Madson is a free agent again. With a clean bill of health, he could aid the Bombers as a pitcher with exposure to the closer's role.
Betancourt has been one of the more reliable relievers in the game over the past few seasons, so it is a bit of a head-scratcher as to why he still remains a free agent. 2013 was not his best year, as his 4.08 ERA will tell you, but he has been quite effective over his 11-year career.
In those 11 seasons, Betancourt has a 3.19 ERA and 74 saves with the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies, serving mainly as a setup man throughout his career. His best year came in 2012 when he saved 31 games for the Rockies while posting a 2.81 ERA.
As a Yankee, Betancourt would be a major upgrade over Kelley in the eighth, and could even close out games should Robertson struggle or need a rest.
Of all the relievers still remaining on the free agent market, no one has as much upside as Hanrahan.
After being acquired by the Boston Red Sox to be their new closer last season, Hanrahan only pitched in nine games before being forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. He was eventually released.
Hanrahan, the Pittsburgh Pirates former closer, was once dominant. From 2011-2012 he saved 76 games for the Buccos while putting up 2.24 E.R.A. in 133 games. In seven seasons, he has a 3.85 career ERA.
According to NBC Sports' Hardball Talk, Hanrahan will soon hold a throwing session for any interested teams. Following the injury to Robertson, it is expected that the Yankees will be in attendance. ESPN's Buster Olney also believes the New York Mets will be there as well following the loss of Bobby Parnell.
Should Hanrahan be healthy and sign on in the Bronx, he brings an established presence and the skills necessary to close out ball games should Robertson not be fit for the job.