Just a few months removed from decimating their major league bullpen at the trade deadline, the Yankees will have their pick of the litter this offseason. They liked having Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman so much that they are planning to puttogether another super bullpen in 2017. According to Jon Heyman, they might be looking at Aroldis Chapman before anyone else.
Sine the trade that sent him to the Chicago Cubs, Chapman has been even more effective than he already was. He finished the regular season with a 1.01 ERA and 0.82 FIP in 26.2 innings. His strikeout numbers also saw a jump to 15.5 K/9, and in the postseason, he is approaching 20 strikeouts with three runs allowed in 13 innings. Jansen, on the other hand, maintained a 1.83 EAR and 1.44 FIP with a 13.6 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 over 68.2 innings with the Dodgers.
The Yankees have been rumored to be interested in a reunion with Chapman, but the presence of another top closer like Jansen should give them a nice alternative. The key factor to keep in mind is that signing Chapman would not require draft compensation, while Jansen would, once LA extends him a qualifying offer. This could be the biggest reason why the front office would want to try and bring back the left-hander over the right-handed Jansen.
Heyman’s report also offered an interesting piece of information we didn’t already know. According to him, the Yankees will only be looking to add one reliever in order to pair him with Dellin Betances. Adding Chapman would give the Yankees a nice righty/lefty tandem at the back end of the bullpen. After seeing the benefit of a three-headed bullpen monster, as well as the amount of money the team has coming off the books, it makes little sense for them to stop there. Adding another top tier non-closer through free agency or trade would seem like a great way to balance the bullpen out.
If the Yankees miss out on both Chapman and Jansen, the next best option would end up being Mark Melancon, who will be 32 years old next year. With very little talent available in free agency this winter, expect a lot of competition for the few top names out there. New York may be forced to look at alternatives if they don’t completely blow away the competition (which I don’t recommend them doing for a free agent reliever).
Heyman’s piece also mentions that rival scouts believe Luis Severino to be a future reliever. While it’s hard to say what the front office believes him to be, it can’t be ignored how well he turned things around this year once he made the move to the bullpen. It might be too early to decide on his future, but if the Yankees can add to their group of relievers by acquiring a starting pitcher and moving Severino into the bullpen (for now), then it might not be the worst idea in the world.
If it were up to me, I would have no problem signing Jansen to a contract because he has proven to be just as good while being a whole lot less wild. It wouldn’t be a huge deal to sacrifice a first-round pick this year after all the talent the organization brought in this summer. Then there are pieces like Joe Blanton, Tommy Hunter, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Smith, Brad Ziegler, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla who could help to fill out the middle of the bullpen. The Yankees like to use internally developed pitchers for those roles, but it has clearly not worked in recent years. I would also opt to keep Severino in the rotation to start the year.
Do you agree with their plan to go after Chapman first? Why or why not?