Unexpected Yankees trade target could be the next Clay Holmes


The New York Yankees are going to need bullpen help at the 2022 deadline beyond the impending returns of Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga. As beloved as this team is, Michael King, Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes are where the circle of trust currently ends, with names like Miguel Castro, Lucas Luetge, Clarke Schmidt and Ron Marinaccio all showing pleasant flashes, but nothing more.

So, how are the Bombers going to get the help they need? By hopping into a bidding war and overpaying for a mid-30s asset having a great first half like Alex Colome or Jose Quintana? By hopping into an even crazier bidding war for an eternally controllable asset like David Bednar?

Or by getting in the weeds and dangling something somewhat enticing to a trade-happy merchant like Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, in exchange for an under-performing asset? Bingo!

Despite many projections claiming the M’s would make a 2022 leap from the Wild Card race to the AL West battle, the team has been far too inconsistent despite an impressive surge from breakout star Julio Rodriguez. Mired below .500, it’s much more likely now that Dipoto will sell — well, actually, doesn’t he almost always buy and sell?

In that case, expect Matt Festa to be a leading candidate to depart after an up-and-down first half featuring a metric ton of swings and misses and far too many home runs allowed.

If the Yankees start asking about an underwhelming reliever, opposing GMs should start to get suspicious, especially in the wake of this season’s Clay Holmes turnaround. If Brian Cashman can sneak one more past an eager goalie, though, Festa just might be this summer’s reclamation project.

New York Yankees could trade for erratic Mariners reliever Matt Festa

Scrolling through Twitter, it seems the homer-prone Festa has become a particular target of Mariners fans’ ire, likely due to the propensity to allow moon bombs. If this feels familiar, it’s because it is; we scrolled through the exact same chatter when the Yanks sent Triple-A slap-hitting king Hoy Park to Pittsburgh in exchange for the erratic Holmes and his 4.93 ERA (4.07 FIP, though!).

Festa’s numbers are remarkably similar, though with one key (and impressive) difference.

The blasts are absolutely a problem, and five in 19.2 innings (for a 4.58 ERA/4.76 FIP) will turn heads in the wrong direction. The rest of Festa’s numbers paint the picture of a better reliever, though, from his remarkable 30 whiffs in under 20 innings to his 1.119 WHIP (Holmes, by contrast, struck out 44 batters in 44 Pirates innings last season).

Though he cannot keep the ball off the damn barrel (second percentile!!), the rest of Festa’s below-the-hood numbers also indicate a star in the making (90th percentile hard-hit, 95th percentile xBA). The one apparent downside? No changeup in the arsenal; Festa’s 99% reliant on a four-seamer/slider combo.

Who knows? Maybe we’re being fooled, just as the Mariners are. Maybe we have too much faith in Matt Blake and the Yankees based on one successful reclamation project where all the pieces fit last summer. Maybe the Bombers don’t have enough time to fix everything, a la Andrew Heaney.

But maybe Festa’s the guy. He’s certainly a culture fit, after all.

Born in Brooklyn. High school in Staten Island.

Need we say more?