Since the departure of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, the Yankees’ bullpen outside of Dellin Betances has been a bit scary. The options to get the ball from starting pitcher to closer have been anywhere from decent (Tyler Clippard) to disastrous (Anthony Swarzak), and it’s pretty clear that the team could use some reinforcements in relief.
Although the upcoming free agent class leaves a lot to be desired in most places, relief help isn’t one of them. Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen, Drew Storen, and Chapman, among others, will all be hitting the free agent market. The Yankees are shedding payroll this offseason, and could use the money saved to boost the bullpen in the absence of other impact players on the market.
The Yankees haven’t shied away from having an embarrassment of riches at closer. They didn’t hesitate to have multiple closers in their bullpen arsenal, and this offseason would be an excellent time to get that sort of band back together. Bringing in two of the guys mentioned before would go a long way toward cementing the bullpen as a strength of the team again in 2017.
Whether or not the Yankees will keep Betances in the closer role and build the bullpen behind him, or move him back to more of a fireman role and boost the backend of the bullpen with a new closer remains to be seen. Betances has done nothing to lose his job as the Yankees’ closer, but he was also sort of thrown into the job by necessity after the departure of Miller and Chapman.
Imagine, if only for a moment, the Yankees turning the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings over to Betances, Melancon, and Jansen. Perhaps it is a bit unrealistic, but it isn’t beyond the Yankees’ capability. They’ve done it before just this season.
With a presumably improved offense in 2017, the Yankees would have more use for a strong bullpen. The 2016 version of the Yankees couldn’t utilize the three-headed relief monster to the fullest because of their struggles, but that would hopefully be less of a problem with a few weak spots replaced by better players.
The one place the Yankees can truly make a splash this offseason in the free agent market is by strengthening the bullpen. It would almost certainly require them to give up a draft pick or two, which the team has been a bit reluctant to do, but it may be worth it. Their strong second half has them contending for a Wild Card spot more than contending for a high draft pick. It may make more sense for them to bring in the relief help while it’s available to them than to hold on too tightly to a mediocre draft slot.
Which of the available relievers would you most like to see the Yankees pursue this offseason? Do you think they should go for broke and bring in more than one of the available options, or should they play it safe and only get one. What role should they give Betances next year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.