The search for an upgrade continues as the Yankees try to improve the team they have without giving up prospects like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Jorge Mateo. It's unlikely that they'll be able to make a significant trade for a starter without one of those pieces, so it might be worthwhile trying to add even more depth to an already amazing bullpen. This way, they can either hope the bullpen makes up for a weak rotation or make a trade involving someone like Adam Warren without it compromising their strength.
The Yankees have reportedly been scouting relievers from the San Diego Padres, which of course, means they having been looking into closer Craig Kimbrel and his set-up man Joaquin Benoit. Both have been very effective in 2015 and both would be under contract beyond the 2015 season, so this could be some longterm thinking.
Kimbrel has $24 million of guaranteed money left on his contract spread over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. After that, he has a team option for $13 million in 2018 with a $1 million buyout. That would mean he makes more per year than New York's own closer Andrew Miller. Maybe the Padres take on enough money to not make it a problem, but I have a hard time believing that this organization would take on a higher paid player and allow him to pitch in the 'lesser' role, even if Kimbrel could be used in higher-leverage situations before the ninth. That could either mean we'll have a new closer before too long or this rumor ends up going nowhere. Benoit, meanwhile, only has an option for 2016 at $8 million and a $1.5 million buyout, so he's not as much of a long-term piece as Kimbrel would be. Acquiring Benoit would have lesser repercussions on the Yankees roster.
So far this year, Kimbrel has been effective, but he hasn't entirely been his typical dominating self as his 2.75 ERA and 2.48 FIP represent the highest marks in his career. He's even striking out batters at a lower rate with a 12.58 K/9 against his 14.56 career mark. Even so, he's still one of the best in the game and has collected 29 saves, so it might not be a huge concern. Benoit has a weird line going for him with a great 2.27 ERA, but a suspect 4.01 FIP. The scary thing is his home run rates outside of the spacious PETCO Park:
Seeing as how his other batted ball rates are pretty comparable between at home and on the road, it looks like he's been very, very fortunate to play half his games in one of the biggest ballparks in baseball. He might sound like a solid and relatively cheap option, but it looks like he has the potential to blow up big time if he comes to New York. I'd stay away, especially if it means someone like Chasen Shreve loses innings.
It's hard to say how much of this is New York preparing for a trade and the organization simply doing their due diligence and keeping tabs on any possible trade target, but I'd probably guess the latter if anything. The Yankees already have Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve, and Justin Wilson; they don't need another reliever unless they're planning to trade from the bullpen to improve the rotation or second base. We'll see.