With Mariano Rivera no longer the closer in the Bronx, the New York Yankees are seeking possible options to be his replacement in 2014. You would think the next-in-line would be current setup man David Robertson. That might not exactly be the case!
The Yankees are evaluating the closer’s market and one of the names that New York is reportedly interested in is former A’s closer Grant Balfour. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees are one of five teams that are interested in Balfour’s services. The other four teams that are interested are the Rockies, Angels, Rays, and even the Tigers.
Over the last three seasons, Balfour has been consistent as the A’s closer. He has 62 saves over the last two seasons and has a 2.47 ERA over those three years. He had a streak last year of saving 44 straight games for the team that went on to win the AL West for the second straight season.
As for the general closer market, it is something that the Yankees are monitoring internally. According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, closer/relief pitching is one of the needs the Yankees are monitoring.
“It’s on the list of potential things that [the Yankees] are looking at,” a source with knowledge of the club’s inner workings told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday. “It may not be at the top of the list, but it’s there.”
Balfour is going to want closer type money, so it is tough to see him signing with the Yankees if it is not as the closer. However, the 36-year-old Aussie has had experience as a set-up man. He was the 8th inning guy for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2007-2010 and was the bridge to Andrew Bailey for the Athletics in 2011.
The Yankees could also look to other relievers like Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, and Joaquin Benoit for help on the market. However, David Robertson should be given the first shot in trying to win the closer job.
This morning, there was a report in the New York Daily News that Brian Cashman will not “anoint” Robertson the closer just yet.
In 2012, Robertson struggled in his brief stint as the closer before the job was given to Rafael Soriano. Now, D-Rob has an offseason to prepare to be the player to finish games for the 2014 Yankees. Relief pitching won’t come cheap in terms of the Yankees sticking to that $189 million plan. Yes, Robertson has been great as the 8th inning guy for the last couple of seasons, but it might be time to see if “Houdini” can succeed with his magic in the bright lights of the 9th inning.