If there’s one thing that can be definitively determined from the way Brian Cashman handled the Baby Bombers Era, it’s that the New York Yankees committed far too much money to veteran relief pitchers.
The Yankees doled out big-money deals to Aroldis Chapman (more than once), Zack Britton, and Adam Ottavino, living to regret every single one of them. They also paid JA Happ, who was something between a bulk reliever and a sales associate by the time Cashman paid him out. Time and again, the Yankees would embark on the same process, developing a cadre of cash-effective bullpen arms like Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clay Holmes, then capping them with one or two expensive deals that didn’t end up “supplementing” much of anything.
With very little money to spend beyond a potential Aaron Judge contract and a supposed promise to Judge to spend more if they do retain him, the one thing Matt Blake’s Yankees shouldn’t get distracted with is the veteran relief market.
And yet … here’s ex-Phillies closer Brad Lidge with that exact pitch on MLB Network Radio on Monday afternoon.
35-year-old Kenley Jansen, anyone?
Yankees should sign closer Kenley Jansen, per Brad Lidge
This is so 2014 Yankees it hurts. Maybe they should also sign Brad Lidge?
Why not go for Chapman again, too? He should come cheap!
The fact is that Jansen still can sling it, according to his 2022 season in Atlanta, where he posted 41 saves, 85 strikeouts in 64 innings, and a 3.38 ERA. However, those numbers were already regressive from his age-33 season with the Dodgers in 2021 (2.22 ERA/3.08 FIP down to 3.38/3.21), and LA fans will tell you the big man wasn’t exactly a cinch in high-pressure situations, even at his peak.
Plus, there’s Jansen’s heart issue, the terrifying elephant in any room.
The Yankees could use a defined closer, but odds are they’ll promote someone internally or roll with 2022 All-Star Clay Holmes after an offseason’s worth of back treatment.
In the olden days, the Yanks absolutely would’ve signed Jansen when he was right on the verge of a total cliff plunge. Nowadays, Cashman probably won’t toss a big pile of guaranteed money at a cutter-reliant 35-year-old just to have someone who’s been there before holding down the ninth inning.
Someone might get one or two more good years out of Jansen. Maybe it’ll even be Lidge’s Phillies, who were a piece or two short in the bullpen. Expect the Yankees to make a savvy reliever trade before they splash $30 million of cash in this pool, though.