Free Agent Profile: Phil Coke


Last season, Phil Coke was 5-2 for the Tigers with a 3.88 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 58 innings of work.  He rebounded nicely from a disastrous 2013 campaign that included a 0-5 record and ERA over 5.  Coke is a former Yankee who was included in the three way deal that saw Curtis Granderson come to New York, Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth and Coke land in Detroit and Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy go to the Diamondbacks.  Now five years after that deal was made, the 32 year old situational lefty might be primed for a return to the Bronx.

Coke was part of the 2009 World Series team for the Yankees as the main lefthander out of the bullpen.  He appeared in 72 games that season and went 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA.  A year after Boone Logan was allowed to sign with the Rockies as a free agent and his replacement, Matt Thornton, traded during the season, the Yankees are in the market for a new left handed reliever.

Many believe Yankee first round pick Jacob Lindgren will be the front runner to be primary left handed reliever in Joe Girardi’s bullpen next season.  Lindgren, whose nickname is “The Strikeout Factory,” progressed from Rookie ball to AA ball in his first professional season.  However, he may need more seasoning than the 8 games he appeared in at the AA level before he can make the jump to the majors.  While certainly a candidate for the roster sometime over the summer, odds are he will start the season in the minors. 

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Therefore, the Yankees will need to fill that vacancy through free agency.  Coke made $1.9 million last season on a one year deal.  He will likely get a raise to about $2 million and want at least a two year deal.  A two year $4-$4.75 million deal sounds about right for the lefty.

Coke makes sense for the Yankee bullpen because of the added flexibility he gives Girardi.  He is not a LOOGY.  Coke can pitch to both lefties and righties.  This would allow Girardi to play matchups but also allow him to leave Coke in against righties rather than have home face only one batter.

Coke has also demonstrated an ability to pitch in big situations.  Coke was a huge part of the 2012 American League Pennant winning Tigers bullpen.  During the postseason that year he posted Mariano-esque numbers that included a 0.84 ERA, 1 ER, and 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings.

Phil Coke is a solid lefty reliever that would be a good compliment to an already strong Bomber bullpen.  He provides flexibility and big game experience that would be a major asset in the Bronx.  The Yankees should certainly investigate a one or two year deal to bring him to NY while Lindgren finishes his grooming in the minors.