The Yankees (like every other team) are always on the hunt for pitchers. Their bullpen has some very dependable arms in Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren. After that, however, there are several promising but unproven pitchers whom the Yankees are hoping can fill up the middle innings. While it’s true that no pitcher is a sure thing, the Yankees would be foolish to not look for an established pitcher to help in middle relief such as veteran Matt Belisle.
2016 Statistics: 40 G, 46 IP, 1.76 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 6.26 K/9, 1.37 BB/9, 0.7 fWAR
Age on Opening Day 2017: 36
Position: Right-handed relief pitcher
Belisle was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1998. After spending several seasons in the minors, Belisle was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he was a reliever for two seasons before pitching an entire season in the rotation with so-so results (5.32 ERA in 177.2 IP). In 2009, he signed with the Rockies where eventually became a great relief pitcher. From 2010-2014, he pitched 381.2 innings with a 3.75 ERA and 3.06 FIP, in a notoriously difficult stadium to pitch in. Since then, he’s had two decent seasons that have been hampered by injuries, one in St. Louis and one in Washington (where he pitched last season).
Belisle’s previous two seasons were pretty short because of a handful of DL stints but there is no reason to think he isn’t healthy now. He made $3.5 million last season to play for the Nationals, but it seems possible that he would sign a deal for less than that this offseason because of the injury concerns. The Yankees should consider a player like Belisle, because he’ll be a cheap relief option that doesn’t cost a draft pick. With so many question marks in the starting rotation, the Yankees are going to need to get a ton of innings out of the bullpen. Even if Belisle only pitches around 50 innings, he should be able to earn his contract.
You might be tempted to argue that the Yankees should just pitch their young arms because they’re in the middle of a semi-rebuild. I disagree though, because signing Belisle wouldn’t hurt anyone’s development and I actually think the 2017 squad has a chance at getting a wild card spot, if everything goes right. I’d like to see them try everything possible to improve and compete without hurting their chances in future seasons. Belisle would be a good match for that type of strategy.