2016 Statistics: 1.64 ERA, 71.1 IP, 8.20 K/9, 2.42 FIP, 1.8 fWAR
Age on Opening Day 2017: 32
Position: Right-handed reliever
After trading Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the deadline last season, the Yankees were left with a bullpen mainly comprised of Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances. While Betances is certainly capable of being the Yankees’ closer, it’s probably not going to happen for him in 2017. New York has shed considerable payroll, and the most plentiful free agent commodity this season comes in the form of closers.
Chapman, Mark Melancon, and Kenley Jansen are all free agents. Because they were traded last season, neither Chapman nor Melancon would require giving up a draft pick. From purely a baseball standpoint, the Yankees probably can’t go wrong with any of the options. All have proven to be good at closing out games. Not having to waste a draft pick probably makes them lean more toward the two that have already been in pinstripes, however.
Melancon was traded from the Pirates to the Nationals last year on his way to a 47-save season. He kept the ball in the park really well, which is obviously something to consider when discussing whether or not the Yankees should be interested. His 1.64 ERA was the lowest it had been since his 2013 season with Pittsburgh when he was worth 2.5 fWAR across 71 innings.
The Yankees, of course, already had Melancon once before trading him to Houston. At that point it looked like he may never really figure out the whole big league closer thing, but he has certainly squashed those fears. He has proven himself to be quite good at it, and would be a very good addition to the Yankees’ bullpen for 2017.
When deciding between all the factors out there, Melancon seems like the best choice if the Yankees are only going after one of the big name relievers. He has performed well, doesn’t cost draft compensation, and will likely come at a more reasonable cost than Chapman or Jansen. Seems like a pretty easy decision.