The New York Yankees have plenty of holes to fill now that the free agency curtain has been raised, but many expected them to be dormant in one key roster area: the bullpen.
After all, it’s the most fungible aspect of any roster, the running back room of MLB. Plus, the Yankees have been burned there several times in recent years, from Aroldis Chapman’s two deals to Zack Britton to Adam Ottavino.
Considering they were able to develop Michael King, Clay Holmes and Nestor Cortes Jr. into weapons last season (and are still stuck with Chappy’s deal), why would they spend there again?
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, though (starting at the 48-minute mark of this ESPN podcast) … expect the Yankees to be active yet again in the ‘pen.
Hopefully, whatever they do is in addition to adding a first baseman, shortstop, center fielder and starter. Otherwise, we’ll be left confused.
Might as well extend Saquon Barkley, too, while you’re at it.
Yankees Rumors: NYY will be aggressive on bullpen in free agency?
So … what does that mean, exactly? Kenley Jansen, formerly of the Dodgers, is the No. 1 most well-known ‘pen arm on the market. Are the Yankees really going to be among those heavily pursuing two or three years of an aging closer?
In terms of mid-range free agents, Ryan Tepera, Collin McHugh, and Andrew Chafin will all be available, and will likely require multi-year commitments. Considering how much the Yankees worship the Rays, perhaps McHugh is the direction they’ll go in?
One-year flyers include Alex Colomé, Archie Bradley, Joe Kelly and former Yankees Chris Martin and Ottavino. None of these options seem like relievers anyone should be clamoring for and upsetting their offseason apple cart.
In addition to singling out the bullpen as the Yankees’ focus, Olney seems to have one other free agent in mind for the Bombers: Freddie Freeman, who could be off the board shortly.
Of course, it was only two weeks ago that Olney was saying the Yankees wouldn’t get Freeman.
Somehow, that fit has been the drum he’s beaten the hardest since the offseason restarted on Thursday.
Whether you believe in Olney’s insight or not — and he’s famously plugged into Yankees news — the “bullpen expenditures” theory doesn’t make much sense.
Despite past interest in Jansen, he doesn’t fit this roster nearly as well as he might’ve the last time he hit the open market. All other relief names listed feel like their production could easily be topped by internal options like Ron Marinaccio and Stephen Ridings. Very perplexing.