3 non-tender candidates that can save Yankees money for DJ LeMahieu deal
2. Ben Heller
The Yankees have given Ben Heller a lot of chances. This is probably an easy one.
Ben Heller was the Yankees’ best chance to get additional value out of the ancillary pieces of the Andrew Miller-Clint Frazier/Justus Sheffield swap, but four years later, we’re still sort of spinning our wheels here.
Though Heller has exceptional stuff and has performed admirably whenever he’s been given the chance to handle low-leverage situations, the expectation was he’d have more placed on his shoulders by now. Unfortunately, one of the best abilities is availability, and Heller hasn’t had enough time on the mound to advance past the entry-level gigs in the Yankees ‘pen.
He underwent Tommy John surgery at the start of 2018 after a successful amount of limited 0.82-ERA duty in 2017. Since then, it’s mostly been a mirage for Heller, who’s dealing with a biceps nerve issue now, and likely won’t be able to capitalize on his momentum entering 2021.
At a certain point, enough is enough. It’s unclear if Heller will be arb-eligible this offseason (it’s a judgment call, based on his limited participation in 2020’s slate), but either way, odds are high the team will pull a Kahnle here and prioritize prospects over an injured pitcher who has more rehab left ahead of him.
Sad, but true.