Going into the offseason, no one knew what to expect from the Yankees. It was entirely feasible that the Yankees might avoid the free agent market for the second year in a row, but that did not end up being the case. At this point, the Yankees have made moves to strengthen the lineup by signing Matt Holliday, and similarly strengthened the bullpen by bringing back Aroldis Chapman. The bullpen is certainly better off with Chapman and Dellin Betances at the back, but the ‘pen can always use improvement.
Over the past two months PSA has gone through just about every potential free agent target available. We have just about hit the bottom of the barrel, but there are still several players that have yet to be considered. Should the Yankees take a chance on one of the following relievers?
2016 Statistics: 31.2 IP, 3.41 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 4.55 K/9, 2.27 BB/9
Age Opening Day 2017: 28
Maness was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011, and although he worked as a reliever and a starter in the minors, he has worked strictly out of the bullpen since making his debut in 2013. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in 2013 and 2014, but saw that number jump up to 4.26 in 2015. Maness struggled in 2016 before being demoted to Triple-A. At that time, he requested an MRI on his elbow and the Cardinals discovered that Maness had a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. Maness later stated that his arm hadn’t felt right since spring training. He made his way back to the majors from June to August before undergoing season-ending surgery on his arm. Evidently, Maness did not have Tommy John surgery, so he might be ready to go by spring training.
2016 Statistics: 49.2 IP, 5.98 ERA, 6.15 FIP, 6.34 K/9, 3.81 BB/9
Age Opening Day 2017: 32
Jepsen’s 2016 season was by and far the worst of his career. He had a rough start to the season, but showed improvement in July and August. However, Jepsen finished the season on a bad note, giving up six earned runs through four innings pitched in September (including a grand slam to Mark Teixeira). The wheels certainly came off for Jepsen in 2016, but he is only a year removed from a 2.33 ERA season. Historically more of a groundball pitcher, Jepsen’s GB/FB ratio dropped to a career low of 0.73 last year, while his HR/FB ratio jumped to a career high of 16.9%. Those numbers wouldn’t bode well for Jepsen’s success in Yankee Stadium, but he may have just had an off year.
2016 Statistics: 43.1 IP, 3.12 ERA, 5.11 FIP, 7.48 K/9, 4.57 BB/9
Age Opening Day 2017: 32
Manship was drafted by the Twins back in 2006 and his career has been all over the place as he’s bounced between the AL and the NL and spent time with four different teams. He spent the majority of his time in the minors working as a starter, but he has spent the last three years in the majors as a reliever. Manship has experienced varying levels of success and holds a career ERA of 4.82. He put together his best season in 2015 when he posted a 0.92 ERA with 7.55 K/9 and 2.29 BB/9 through 39.1 innings pitched.
The best thing about these three pitchers is that they should all be available for cheap. Any one of these relievers may not make the Yankees a playoff team, but the Yankees wouldn’t have anything to lose by taking a chance on one of them, and you can never have too much pitching.