The Yankees Killer B’s are now down to just two. Granted, for the last couple seasons it is questionable whether Andrew Brackman should have been included with Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos as a Killer B, but for the sake of clever monikers we’ll just accept that he was.
The Yankees’ decision to decline Brackman’s 2012 option and make him a free agent couldn’t have been an easy one, but it was the right one. In the course of 4 years Brackman went from a Baseball America top-10 prospect to nothing short of a total (and expensive) bust. As Mike Axisa at FanGraphs points out today, the $11M the Yankees have committed to Brackman since he was drafted in 2007 makes him the most expensive draft bust to date. And to make it worse, it’s not as if the Yankees didn’t know what they were getting. Every MLB team knew going into the 2007 draft that Brackman would need Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees were the team willing to take a chance on him. After all, he had a huge upside if the gamble worked out, but the cost of coming to the table was huge.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and three full minor league seasons and a career 5.11 ERA later it is abundantly clear that the Yankees gamble didn’t pay off. As our friends over at Seedlings to Stars recently noted, it’s not as if Brackman has lost the great stuff that peaked the Yankees’ interest four years ago – he simply has been unable to harness it into any form of consistent success. And the fact that Brackman has failed to do so while working with some of the game’s best pitching coaches points to the strong possibility that he never will.
There may still be hope for Brackman’s career – after all, he will only turn 26 years old this winter. But Brackman’s career as a Yankee is over, as it should be. The Yankees committed to an $11M gamble on Brackman and lost. Cutting their losses now by declining his 2012 option was the smart decision. Yes, the Yankees are fortunate in the sense that they have the financial padding to make costly mistakes without crippling the organization. But the cost of holding onto Brackman was just too high, even when playing with Yankee money. Maybe another team will take a chance on Brackman. And maybe he will turn things around and finally come close to looking like the prospect he was touted as four years ago. But as John Sterling would say, “You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn!” and in the absence of prediction all you can do is make educated guesses, all of which point toward Brackman remaining a highly paid bust.