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Yankees 2017 Potential Free Agent Target: Luke Hochevar

The former first-round pick has been a valuable middle relief pitcher during the previous three seasons

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Last week, the Yankees added a major relief pitcher in Aroldis Chapman, signing him to a record breaking five-year, $86 million contract. Chapman joins Dellin Betances and Tyler Clippard to form a strong late-inning trio that should help the Yankees win most games where they take a lead into the seventh inning. Given the Yankees’ weak rotation, however, their middle relief will most likely be called upon to pitch a lot of innings. With only a handful of unproven middle relievers currently on the roster, the Yankees may look to free agency for some more established pitchers.

Luke Hochevar was taken first overall in the 2006 draft by the Kansas City Royals. In his first five seasons, he pitched exclusively as a starting pitcher and struggled to be successful, owning a 5.45 ERA in 758.1 innings and was worth just 6.7 fWAR. In 2013, the Royals switched Hochevar to the bullpen where he was excellent, finishing the season with a 1.92 ERA in 70.1 innings. Unfortunately, he missed the entire next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2015, he returned to the mound and threw 50.2 innings with a 3.73 ERA. Last season, he was still an effective reliever but his season ended with thoracic outlet syndrome—though he is expected to be healthy by spring training 2017.

2016 Statistics: 37.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 9.64 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, 0.2 fWAR

Age on Opening Day 2017: 33

Position: Relief pitcher

I think that Hochevar could be a good fit for the 2017 Yankees because he probably won’t cost much to sign. His previous contract, only $10 million for two years, was signed after his best season. Coming off a season where he only pitched 37+ innings and received major surgery, he probably will accept a low one-year contract, maybe even just a spring training invitation.

It was great to see Hochevar find success as a relief pitcher during the Royals’ resurgence (he was the winning pitcher in the Royals’ World Series clinching game 5.) For years, he struggled to live up to the expectations of a first-overall pick, but really became a good player in the bullpen. If he’s fully recovered in 2017, he should be able to be a valuable part of a major league bullpen. If Cashman is really done spending major money this offseason, I’d expect him checkout a potential bargain player like Hochevar.