clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: Aaron Loup

New, comments

With limited resources to address multiple needs, the Yankees may target affordable relievers like the 33-year-old Loup.

World Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Six Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

After dealing Adam Ottavino and prospect Frank German to the Red Sox — with Boston taking the vast majority of Otto’s salary for 2021 — the Yankees will have around $10 million to spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold, set at $210 million. Re-signing DJ LeMahieu kickstarted the Yankees’ offseason. After that, they signed Corey Kluber to a one-year pact and traded for fellow starter Jameson Taillon. Now, they need to improve their bullpen and perhaps bring a left-handed bat, presumably Brett Gardner.

The Yankees could conceivably bring back Gardner or another lefty bat with the remaining budget, and sign one or two relievers. If they ink, say, Trevor Rosenthal or another big-name pitcher, that would leave little room to bring another piece for the bullpen, and it would have to come on the cheap.

As it turns out, you can sign relievers for around $1 million, maybe a little more. Aaron Loup, for example, has never earned more than $1,812,500 in his nine-year tenure in Major League Baseball, and he has a career 3.38 ERA and a 3.50 FIP in 351 innings. Cheap, indeed.

Loup is a free agent, and he makes sense for the Yankees under the current circumstances. They have two other high-profile lefties in Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another one to the mix.

Unlike the other two, Loup does have some platoon issues, but they are, or have been to this point, manageable:

Career vs. lefties: .233/.302/.320, .279 wOBA, 2.96 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, 4.16 K/BB

Career vs. righties: .264 /.332/.424, .324 wOBA, 3.91 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 2.70 K/BB

While it’s true that Loup was more valuable before the three-batter minimum rule was implemented, he can still help a contending team. That’s why the San Diego Padres employed him in 2019, and the Tampa Bay Rays did so in 2020.

Loup isn’t particularly young at 33 years old and doesn’t miss a lot of bats — he ranked in the 10th percentile in whiff percentage — but limited batters to a 33.3% hard contact rate in 2020, enough to rank in the 70th percentile, to go alongside a 4.2% walk rate.

His stuff isn’t extremely exciting (low 90s sinker, cutter, curveball, changeup) but despite his uncharacteristically low 39.7 GB% in 2020, his career mark is 53.4%. He usually gets his grounders, and if he increases the usage of his changeup — an offering that had a 46.2 whiff rate last season — he could potentially miss more bats.

His cutter, when it’s on, can be a respectable weapon too, as you can see here from a few years back:

All in all, Loup is a very competent reliever, and he would improve the Yankees’ bullpen after it suffered the loss of Adam Ottavino.

Loup could be very valuable when the other team has multiple straight lefties, or, say, two of the next three or three of the next four. For example, left-handed batters Yordan Álvarez and Michael Brantley are projected by many to hit third and fourth for the Houston Astros, with Kyle Tucker not too far behind. It would be, however, better to avoid using Loup against extremely talented righties.

Assuming that the Yankees address the left-handed batter need and bring a high-profile reliever, Aaron Loup can give the Yankees some cheap, quality production out of the ‘pen in 2021.