2. Royals: Taylor Clarke and Co.
So many MLB teams are discernibly “bad,” but so few of them have veteran relievers on one-year deals to dangle for a two-month windfall. Weird and sad! Poor planning!
Also, so many discernibly bad MLB teams are, like, a game out of the Wild Card because that’s what baseball is now. The Red Sox are well under .500. They’re also probably among the favorites to grab the sixth playoff spot. Can’t count anyone out!
Except the Royals. You can count them out, and the Yankees should be trying to pick apart their bullpen tree come July, regardless of whether or not their own ‘pen feels stable.
Taylor Clarke, a former Diamondbacks third-rounder turned bullpen option, carries a 1.091 WHIP through 14.2 innings pitched in 2022. Clarke’s hard-hit percentage and xWOBA rank in the 81st and 82nd percentiles respectively, and while fastball spin isn’t his strength (46th percentile), he induces chases at an elite rate (89th percentile). There’s plenty for Matt Blake to work with here.
Perhaps the Yankees prefer Gabe Speier and his 0.83 WHIP in in 13.1 innings? He’s also elite at limiting hard contact, but both his fastball spin and chase rate lag behind. He’s controllable through 2027, an unheard-of time for any team to trade any player. He’ll be dirt cheap for years, so the Yanks would likely have to overwhelm KC in exchange for someone who isn’t a sure thing.
Scott Barlow? He’s got a 0.87 WHIP in 18.1 innings with 16 strikeouts, as well as bright red glowing Statcast metrics. He spins his fastball better than anyone we’ve previously discussed (59th percentile) and is in the 97th percentile for inducing chases. This also isn’t his first go ’round as a late-inning reliever. He’s under control through 2024, somehow making him the easiest name to pry away in trade.
Pair any one of these three arms with Andrew Benintendi and get to talking.