Despite some recent struggles, Pittsburgh Pirates reliever David Bednar would fit in like a glove in the Yankees’ bullpen. Not only has he had an incredible season, but the right-hander was very good last year, too. He is on the right side of 30 at age-27, controllable, and efficient.
At the moment, the Yankees’ bullpen has two dominant relievers in Clay Holmes and Michael King, and a bunch of modest-to-good arms in Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, Albert Abreu, and Miguel Castro. Jonathan Loáisiga has been activated from the injured list and could potentially from an elite late-inning triumvirate with Holmes and King. Ron Marinaccio’s on the IL, Zack Britton is still a ways from returning post-Tommy John, and though active, Aroldis Chapman is a mystery all his own. That’s the current landscape of the Yanks’ relief corps.
Adding Bednar to that mix would give the Yanks a minimum of three elite relief arms, with the potential for more. The Pittsburgh native currently owns a 2.95 ERA in 36 games for his hometown team. He has 56 strikeouts and a solid 1.08 WHIP while accumulating 16 saves for a ballclub that’s en route for at least 90 losses.
2022 Stats: 36 games, 42.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 32.4 K%, 7.5 BB%, 1.1 fWAR
2022 Contract Status: Earning the league minimum ($715,000), in his second year of team control (4.5 years left)
Armed with a three-pitch mix that includes a high-octane fastball that averages close to 97 mph, a curveball and a splitter, Bednar has the tools to succeed in any bullpen.
David Bednar, 8 out Save (4 Ks). pic.twitter.com/PZzoC8KDSG— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 16, 2022
Bednar dominated last year, too, with a 2.23 ERA in 60.2 frames, 77 punchouts and a 0.97 WHIP. In other words, this is not just a random reliever who broke out this year out of nowhere to become a first-half wonder. To the contrary, he was always highly-regarded by the Pirates, as he was part of the return package in the pre-2021 trade with the San Diego Padres for ace Joe Musgrove.
Even if Bednar has struggled a bit as of late – he has a 5.40 ERA in his last seven games – he would be a fine trade acquisition for the Yankees in a vacuum. However, there are situations going on around the Yankees, the Pirates, and Bednar that make a trade unlikely.
Simply put, it’s fair to be skeptical about whether or not the Pirates will even deal him this year. He is too good and still has four and a half years of cheap team control left. That’s the deal-breaker, in reality — they would probably trade him in the blink of an eye if he had a year and a half left or arbitration. After all, the Pirates do have a rich, recent history of dealing stars as they approach free agency. But believe it or not, the Pirates think they can compete eventually, and Bednar’s owner-friendly contract situation makes him the perfect fit for them at the moment.
This is not to say that there is a no chance whatsoever that Bednar is flipped to another team, but the odds are probably lower than five percent. The Yankees would have to lure the Pirates by throwing names they don’t want to trade in a hypothetical offer (yes, probably one of the two top shortstops), and that’s not going to happen for a reliever.
All things considered, there is no doubt that a pitcher like Bednar would put New York’s bullpen in a tier of its own – if a team values having an elite, difference-making and deep relief corps, it’s the Yankees – but in my estimation, the Pirates have little reason to entertain an offer for him unless they are truly blown away.