3 high-upside trade options who can fill Jonathan Loaisiga's role in Yankees bullpen

It'll work itself out.
New York Yankees Spring Training
New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

The New York Yankees have made a meal thus far in 2024 of welcoming strangers into the bullpen and letting them cook. When Ian Hamilton and Clay Holmes are unavailable, the likes of Jake Cousins, Nick Burdi and Dennis Santana have been integral in relatively close wins. Theoretically, someday, both Tommy Kahnle and Scott Effross will return to the bullpen mix as well.

But their long-term returns aren't enough to backfill Jonathan Loaisiga's role, after the right-hander was officially lost for the season to elbow surgery over the weekend. The Yankees purportedly intended to stretch Loaisiga out to be their Michael King replacement. That either did not happen, or partially led to the early demise of his season (and, potentially, his Yankees career -- he's a free agent after 2024).

The Yankees were probably going to have to target bullpen options at the trade deadline even if Loaisiga stayed healthy. Matt Blake has shown an advanced ability to emphasize the best pitches of also-rans and turn them into viable arms, but having veteran, playoff-tested, high-leverage arms for an October run is probably preferable to wishing for another Dennis Santana.

With Loaisiga officially ruled out for the remainder of the season, the Yankees should key in on these bullpen alternatives. And yes, even if Kahnle and Effross return full-strength, they'll still be able to fit an addition or two into the picture. The numbers always, sadly, work themselves out.

3 bullpen trade options Yankees should consider already to replace Jonathan Loaisiga

Tanner Scott (or AJ Puk?), Miami Marlins

The Marlins are in town this week, so Yankees fans can see Miami's slate of options for themselves as Peter Bendix and Co. reportedly entertain an earlier-than-expected sell-off.

The Yankees have long been connected to Jesús Luzardo, Edward Cabrera and Tanner Scott, with the latter's worrisome spring training (to say the least) throwing some folks off the scent a bit. Once the regular season started, Scott began to look like a close variant of his normal self. The command woes were still there (six walks in four innings), but he remained unhittable (a singular hit, actually) and struck out five, allowing a single earned run in the process. Six walks is, of course, less than ideal. But taken in context with his spring training (10 hits, 10 runs, seven walks in 5 2/3 frames), he looks like Greg Maddux out there.

Scott comes with a good deal of variance, but last season, he might've been the most valuable reliever in baseball, striking out 104 men and allowing 53 hits in 78 innings. The best thing for the Yankees right now would be hoping his price drops even further ahead of his potential arrival.

And keep an eye on AJ Puk, who's starting on Tuesday, but was a key high-upside lefty in Miami's bullpen last year with downright tantalizing stuff (78 more strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings with a 3.59 FIP). If they decide to pivot on the rotation experiment, they know where to find us.

Ryne Stanek, Seattle Mariners

Playoff tested, Matt Blake approved. This iteration of the Seattle Mariners seemed to be so close to contention in 2022, but haven't successfully built on their budding foundation, instead aiming for mediocrity and winning 54% of their games. Thanks, Jerry Dipoto!

The AL's most prominent trader might find himself trying to offload assets -- or, at the very least, trying to reshuffle the deck this summer. Stanek, a flamethrowing righty on a one-year, $4 million deal, feels like a safe bet to find himself elsewhere if Seattle continues to stagnate in a difficult AL West.

Through Stanek's first three appearances, he's completed 2 2/3 innings, whiffed three, and allowed an earned run. More importantly, he pitched extensively (and quite well) throughout the 2021 postseason, allowing one run in five games against the '21 Red Sox in a six-game ALCS. He's nasty and he has the stamina of Wandy Peralta in a short series? Sign us up.

Matt Moore, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

If the Yankees need a left-hander who fits somewhere between crafty and nasty, 34-year-old Matt Moore could be on the table, presuming the Angels fall out of the race in the -- say it with me now! -- rough-and-tumble AL West. If you're not the Rangers or the Astros, it just might be a problem for you.

Moore has reinvented himself as a left-handed reliever after stalling out as a top prospect starter with the Tampa Bay Rays, and he's done it quite well. In 2022, he struck out 83 men in 74 innings for the Texas Rangers, allowing just 49 hits. Last season, he ended up midway through a nightmare after falling victim to the Angels' dreaded waiver purge, and played for three teams, holding the fort down for all of them (4 2/3 innings in Cleveland, 4 in Miami).

Clearly, he wasn't too soured on the LA Angels experience, though, re-signing with the club on a $9 million, one-year deal. That's a bit pricey for the Yankees, who might not have room in their midseason budget for even the pro-rated total. If Moore continues to rock batters to sleep rather effortlessly with his less-than-overwhelming arsenal, though, Blake and Brian Cashman could certainly be convinced.