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Yankees trade rumors: New York interested in relievers James Russell and Antonio Bastardo

We need more lefties

Brian Garfinkel

In their attempt to bolster their pitching before the trading deadline, the Yankees have turned to improving the bullpen if they can't add another starting pitcher. They have already shown interest in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, but he's owed $8 million in 2015. Aside from Benoit, they have looked at other relievers who are under control for more than one year, but are much cheaper, namely James Russell of the Cubs and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies.

Russell, arbitration eligible for the last time in 2015 at the age of 28, has had success at the major league level for the last three years by pitching to a 3.42 ERA and 3.98 FIP during that time. He's dropped below that level in 2014 and has also struggles with control by walking a full batter per nine innings more than the 3.3 level he's maintained since 2012. As a left-handed reliever, Russell is a LOOGY who has been allowed to face right-handed hitters far too often. In his career he maintains a 3.65 FIP against lefties and a 5.05 FIP against righties, however his platoons have reversed in 2014.

Bastardo is also arbitration eligible for the last time in 2015, is also 28, and is also a left-handed reliever. He has great strikeout numbers with an 11.1 K/9 since 2009, however his 4.2 BB/9 shows that he lacks control and he's now hit 5.0 this season for a career-high. Despite his 4.17 ERA, his 3.75 FIP suggest he's a bit unlucky in 2014. For a left-handed reliever, Bastardo doesn't show any platoon splits over his career, however, he's struggled a bit against lefties this year.

Both Russell and Bastardo are dealing with reverse splits this year, making them unlikely to be upgrades over Matt Thornton or even David Huff. Brain Cashman is clearly trying to upgrade over one of them and give Girardi a better second lefty option down the stretch. Unfortunately, neither pitchers are much of a solution.