The offseason got off to a promising start for the New York Yankees when they quickly re-signed Anthony Rizzo and squashed the Houston Astros rumors immediately. But multiple tall orders remain. Aaron Judge needs to be re-signed … and then some.
That “some” will more than likely consist of bullpen upgrades, because the unit was beyond shaky despite largely delivering throughout 2022.
Michael King’s health, even though he’s progressing, will still be a question mark given the severity of his injury back in July. Clay Holmes’ regression from “best closer in the game” to “no longer the Yankees’ closer” cannot be ignored. Scott Effross is out for 2023. Will Lou Trivino remain a valuable asset? If Clarke Schmidt isn’t utilized properly, should he even be on the roster? Will Greg Weissert and Ron Marinaccio emerge as legitimate options? Which Jonathan Loaisiga are we going to get?
At this point, it feels like the Yankees only “know what they have” in Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge. And that’s not what you’d call “good.”
There are few high-profile options in free agency and on the trade market, but once prices come into focus, that’s when general manager Brian Cashman will strike. If you ask MLB insider Jim Bowden, he has an extensive list of relievers the Yankees already have their eyes on.
MLB insider Jim Bowden thinks the Yankees could target these players for 2023
"“Free-agent targets: Aaron Judge, OF; Brandon Nimmo, OF; Andrew Benintendi, OF; Michael Conforto, OF; Taylor Rogers, LHP; Andrew Chafin, LHP; Michael Fulmer, RHP; Brad Boxberger, RHP; Seth Lugo, RHP; Chris Martin, RHP“Trade targets: Bryan Reynolds, OF; David Bednar, RHP; Alex Lange, RHP; Scott Barlow, RHP; Joe Mantiply, LHP; Camilo Doval, RHP; Jason Adam, RHP; A.J. Puk, LHP; Alexis Díaz, RHP”"
This list is 80% relievers! Ones we’ve talked about in previous years, too, such as Chafin, Fulmer, Bednar, Barlow and Mantiply. If we’re talking money alone, all of Rogers, Chafin, Fulmer, Boxberger, Lugo and Martin are worthy options to help bridge the gap to the ninth inning, or potentially cover some work in the ninth at a price Cashman would be willing to pay. The Yankees probably don’t need an indisputable closer; they just need more stability from top to bottom.
As for the trade options? We wouldn’t count on those. Bednar, Lange, Barlow, Doval, Adam, Puk and Diaz either won’t be dealt because of their value (from a team control perspective) or have never seen their value higher. Cashman won’t be paying top dollar for pitchers who are more “flash in the pan” options compared to those who have a more consistent resume.
Regardless of the options Bowden put in front of us, expect the Yankees’ offseason to feature considerable attention to the bullpen.