Anyone who’s been watching the New York Yankees over the last three months knows that there’s an incoming seismic shift to the bullpen after the 2021 season.
Whether or not Zack Britton needs Tommy John surgery, we’re not expecting him back in 2022. Will Aroldis Chapman still be here, too? Honestly, we can’t say we’re sure. Perhaps at this point the Yankees would be fine with eating some salary, finding a trade partner, and using the leftover money for newer, cost-effective options.
And what about Chad Green? He’ll be entering his final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason and he hasn’t exactly been great this year.
What is general manager Brian Cashman going to do with all of these veterans?
That’s a question we don’t have the answer to, but it’s at least evident the foundational blueprint for the bullpen in 2022 and beyond is present.
Let’s project what the cast of relievers (as well as the hierarchy) might look like after 2021. And don’t forget, we have a really deep class of free agents hitting the open market this November. The Yankees can easily upgrade for a fraction of the cost that Chapman and Britton cost them.
What does the future of the Yankees bullpen look like?
- Closer: Jonathan Loaisiga
- Chad Green
- Wandy Peralta
- Lucas Luetge
- Clay Holmes
- Luis Severino
- Joely Rodriguez
- Albert Abreu
And that leaves 2-3 spots open for guys to return or trades/signings. How does that look to you? We hardly think it’s a question that Loaisiga has earned the right to be the full-time closer, assuming Chapman continues to falter, and Green, for all his faults in some high-leverage situations, is a valuable “fireman” option the Yankees can still retain at a team-friendly price.
You might also see Luis Severino was snuck onto the list. Why? At this point, it’s really hard to envision him returning to the Yankees at any point as a starter. They’re stuck with him for at least through 2022 (he has a team option for 2023 that probably won’t be exercised) and there’s no need to risk bringing him back as a starter after all the injuries he’s dealt with. He might be suited for shorter bursts of action to preserve his elbow/shoulder, especially since he definitely hasn’t gotten enough work in the last two years to build endurance for a starter’s workload.
Joely Rodriguez has a $3 million team option that the Yanks might as well exercise since he’s been effective and will hardly be a hit against the luxury tax. You know Peralta, Holmes and Luetge are here for the foreseeable future given how controllable they are at a cheap price.
And finally, if Albert Abreu continues to avoid massive implosions, he’ll have a spot in the ‘pen. He’s not a free agent until after the 2026 season, so you can bet the Yankees will take advantage of that, especially if he’s locating his fastball.
There will be more additions, but we can safely say we believe these aforementioned guys are here to stay and at least play some sort of role in building the next Yankees’ bullpen.