The Yankees often find some new and interesting ways to add cheap talent with upside. Last year they managed to remake the bullpen completely and now that Adam Warren and Justin Wilson are good, they might have to do the same thing again. While there are trades to be made that could add pitching for the 2016 season, there are at least a few free agent options out there who could be low-risk/high-reward investments after they recover from injury.
They make moves like this every year and 2016 probably won't be much different. They signed David Aardsma to a two-year deal in 2012 as he recovered to Tommy John surgery and they signed Andrew Bailey in 2014, hoping to get back the lights-out closer he once was. Of course, neither of those signings worked out for the Yankees, but they were so cheap that neither made much of a difference either. There are five relievers the Yankees could sign this offseason to bank on an eventual rebound:
Once part of the Royals' core of relievers, Crow pitched to a reliable 3.43 ERA in 233.2 innings over four seasons in the big leagues. He fell off a bit in 2014, seeing his K-rate drop to 5.0 K/9 and his ERA balloon to 4.00+ for the first time. Kansas City quickly flipped him to the Marlins, but the right-hander never pitched. He struggled with elbow injuries in this spring and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery. He'll be out a full year, so it shouldn't be long before Crow is ready to contribute at the big league level. At the age of 29, he'll be looking to have a bounce back year and hopefully prove his health and get a better free agent deal next offseason. This would probably mean a one-year deal from the Yankees, but he would help replace Warren in the 7th innings in 2016.
Here is proof that Tommy john is never a sure thing, even though we like to tell ourselves that it is. After racking up 74 saves over his first three seasons and winning the Rookie of the Year Award, he was converted to a starter in 2012 and everything crashed and burned. After undergoing Tommy John surgery, he made it back in September of 2013, missed the first half of 2014, and completely bombed in 2015 with a 6.38 ERA. The Rangers finally gave up on him and theTigers didn't see much hope in his future, but the tricky part comes in his contract. Like Crow, he's a year away from free agency, but Feliz has been a mess for a few years now. At 28, he's probably going to want a one-year deal, but there might be a chance he agrees to a cheap two-year contract since he's running out of time to make guaranteed money.
There's not much of an argument here; since 2010, Greg Holland is the fifth best closer in baseball with a 9.8 WAR. He went down with Tommy John surgery in 2015, but if the Yankees are patient, he could rebound and be a real asset in the bullpen. Holland has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can hit 100 mph, but his velocity took a hit as his elbow fell apart. I will admit that I think pitchers who hide their injuries from their teams are incredibly stupid, but if he can learn from his foolishness and his fastball returns, the Yankees need to pounce–especially if they're looking for a cheap option. Holland has one more year before free agency, which is why the Royals non-tendered him this offseason, but he probably needs more than half a season to return to the mound. Throw a few million his way and he can probably be signed to a two-year agreement that will be designed to get a return in 2017. He'll be 31 by the time he's ready to return–the same age as Bailey–so the Yankees shouldn't be scared off.
At 41 years old, Nathan's career is likely over, but if he somehow manages to recover from his second Tommy John surgery, the Yankees could at least take a look. A poor 2014 and an elbow injury has probably made him look a little scary, but he pitched a 1.39 ERA and 10.2 K/9 as recently as 2013. Since he had surgery in April, he's had a while to recover, so if they think he can return before the second half, he would be worth a cheap minor league deal. Of course it'sJoe Nathan, but at least he wouldn't have to face Alex Rodriguez again.
The once-effective reliever has been beaten to death by injury in recent years. Parnell had a 2.79 ERA in 213 innings between 2010 and 2013, but circulation problems, a herniated disk in his neck, and 2014 Tommy John surgery hasn't done him any favors since. He won't be getting anything better than a minor league deal at this point, but at 31 years old, he could have something left that he could give the Yankees. Parnell would start off in Triple-A Scranton before eventually moving to the majors, but he'll have plenty of competition to beat out before he gets a chance.
Of course, none of these players could end up working out for the Yankees, but if they find the right player, a seemingly-insignificant deal could turn into a season-changing steal. All five pitchers should be interesting to follow this offseason, but Holland, Feliz, and Crow should keep New York's attention a little longer. Personally, I'd love to see the Yankees grab Holland and Crow, but what do you think?