The Yankees figure to have a stacked bullpen in 2018, and a lot of it will be addition by subtraction. A full season without Tyler Clippard is incredibly exciting.
Still, there are some question marks beyond the outfield wall. What version of Dellin Betances will return in 2018? Can Aroldis Chapman be effective for an entire season? Is Chad Green heading to the starting rotation? Do we have to watch more Bryan Mitchell?
A full season with David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle should help alleviate the stress on the Yankees’ top bullpen arms. Still, the bullpen was heavily relied upon down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs, and fatigue began to show in the ALCS. Would a deeper bullpen help the Yankees cause? If so, they could take a look at Addison Reed.
Aside from being consistently effective over the past two years (2.40 ERA, 9.8 K/9 over two seasons), Reed would bring value in his durability. The 28-year-old has never been on the disabled list, and has experience as a closer with the White Sox and Diamondbacks. That should be especially appealing to Randy Levine and his yearning for the “closer gene.”
Reed enjoyed another successful season in 2017, finishing with a 2.84 ERA with the Mets and Red Sox. His ERA increased after being traded to Boston, but his WHIP, hits per nine innings, and strikeouts per nine innings all improved. Reed is among the best relievers on the free agent market outside of the top tier arms like Wade Davis, and is projected to earn $36 million over four years according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Reed’s talent is clear, but the Yankees’ need for him is not. If anything, the Yankees could use a left-handed arm in the bullpen, as Chapman is the only shutdown southpaw in the pen as of now. The Yankees could look for a lefty to get outs in earlier innings and save Chapman for the eighth and ninth, unless they decide to give Chasen Shreve more chances, which is a bit unsettling to think about.
Reed would actually be an upgrade over Shreve, particularly against lefty batters. Lefties are hit .234 against Shreve in 2017, while Reed held lefties to a .231 average.
Brian Cashman has said Chad Green will report to spring training as a starter, which would leave a major hole in the bullpen given how effective Green was in 2017. Reed would slide in nicely to take Green’s place, although he would be more expensive. The $46 million coming off the books thanks to the expiring contracts of Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia means there will be more to spend, even if Hal Steinbrenner is set on getting under the luxury tax threshold.
Again, whether the Yankees consider an arm like Reed to be a necessity is up for debate. Whatever they decide, recent postseasons have shown that you cannot have too many arms out in the bullpen.