For a normal contender, fortifying the bullpen would be a high-priority goal for the trade deadline. The Yankees, however, can be a little more relaxed. The Bronx bullpen ranks first in FIP- and second in fWAR among their MLB cohorts, with Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, and Zack Britton all having solid-to-vintage years.
Yet, while the Yankees’ bullpen is far from a liability, it’s not like help wouldn’t be appreciated. Dellin Betances isn’t going to return anytime soon, and in the meantime, there aren’t many attractive late-inning options for Aaron Boone beyond the aforementioned quartet. Plus, relievers, even good ones, are notoriously fickle, so it makes sense to hoard as many solid arms as possible to guard against the risk of the entire bullpen going through a rough patch at once.
So, the Yankees would be prudent to grab an above-average reliever at the deadline. At the same time, seeing as their existing bullpen is already pretty great, they shouldn’t go overpay for a big-name closer. Luckily for Brian Cashman, there’s a name that fits the first bill while being conspicuous enough to avoid the second. That name is Sam Dyson.
Dyson, 31 and right-handed, is hardly a well-known player among casual fans. However, he’s having himself quite a season for the San Francisco Giants. Over 43 appearances and 45 innings, Dyson has posted a 2.80 ERA and a 2.77 FIP to match. Even by park-adjusted measures, which take into account the bat-chilling effects of AT&T Park, Dyson has been magnificent to the tune of a 66 ERA- and 67 FIP-. Those numbers would put him in the circle of trust in any bullpen, even one as stacked as the Yankees’.
If you’re wondering if 2019 is a breakout year for Dyson, that’s not exactly the case. The man has posted sub-3.00 ERA marks in four of the past five seasons, 2017 being the sole exception. I’d be accused of trying to write a puff piece if I didn’t address what happened that year; basically, Dyson broke inexplicably, getting lit up to the tune of a 6.09 ERA. However, the fact that he bounced back in 2018 to give the Giants 70.1 innings of 2.69 ERA ball should give Yankee fans some reassurance.
What makes Dyson so effective? While he lacks the high strikeout totals of today’s big-name relievers, Dyson neutralizes offenses by using his state of the art sinker to induce groundballs. In this way, he’s a lot like Zack Britton, except he gets more strikeouts (2019 K% of 24.6%, compared to Britton’s 18.9%) and allows far fewer walks (3.4% walk rate to 12.6%). Essentially, Dyson is 2019 Zack Britton but better. Wouldn’t that look good in the Yankees’ bullpen?
Dyson is an effective reliever whose groundball tendencies could come handy in YSIII, and he’s signed to a very reasonable contract to boot (one year, $5 million). Should the Yankees empty the farm for him? Absolutely not. Should he be the Yankees’ main target this trade deadline? No, they have other needs. However, if Ninja Cash can work a reasonable deal for Dyson as part of an active trade deadline, then Yankee fans should have every reason to rejoice.