We live in a post-No Runs DMC world, and the Yankees will have to cope with that. One way they’ll definitely deal with that reality is by dipping into the free agent market, where they could very well sign one of the top closers available, like Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Even if they do sign one of them, and especially if they don’t, more depth can’t hurt. This is why Brett Cecil could be a decent signing.
Cecil, 30, is best known in Yankees circles as a former member of the division rival Toronto Blue Jays, where he transformed himself from failed starter into a legitimate high-leverage relief pitcher.
Since (mostly) abandoning the starter role in 2012, Cecil has put together an impressive resume: a 116 ERA+ over 266.1 innings, with 10.5 K/9 and a 3.32 K/BB ratio. He also has averaged a 46.7% groundball rate in that time, which isn’t necessarily a barometer of performance, but it is important if he were to pitch in a fly ball park like Yankee Stadium.
There are, of course, quite a few obstacles to an unlikely signing with New York. Firstly, he already has a three-year offer in hand from the Blue Jays. MLB Trade Rumors predicted that he would get three years and $18 million, and that sounds just about right. It could be a slight overpay if you do the back-of-the-napkin math that he’d be worth about a win a year, but there’s always the possibility of using him in a role that’s more flexible, especially if the Yankees sign a capital-C Closer.
There are still a number of relievers out there on the market, not to mention players within the system that can be utilized. There are free agent arms such as Fernando Rodney, Sergio Romo, Luke Hochevar, and Santiago Casilla. The problem, of course, with all of those pitchers is that they don’t give you the same platoon advantage against left-handed pitchers, so Cecil could be used as both a high leverage reliever and a LOOGY if he’s on short rest or they only need him for a batter.
As far as left-handers go, who do the Yankees have on reserve? There’s Richard Bleier, Tommy Layne, Jacob Lindgren, and Chasen Shreve. The only one I would even remotely trust is Tommy Layne, who has done a fine job, but he definitely does not have the track record of Cecil. If the Yankees want a cheap depth option, especially in a year where they may not want to splurge on free agents, Cecil might be a solid choice—unless the Blue Jays sign him first.