This offseason the Yankees have signed Matt Holliday to a one-year deal to serve as the team’s designated hitter. They also brought Aroldis Chapman on a record contract to serve as the team’s closer for the next three to five years. The bullpen is likely set for the offseason, however, the starting rotation is still a work in progress. Now that Ivan Nova has left in free agency and Adam Warren is likely to be used in starting rotation, the Yankees could bring someone in to fill the role of swingman.
If the rotation consists of two of Warren, Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Bryan Mitchell, one of the losers could easily be installed as the team’s swingman. However, if they are better off throwing regular innings in Triple-A, the Yankees could look to a veteran candidate who has seen success at the major league level. Vance Worley could prove to be the perfect addition for the role of swingman.
2016 Statistics: 35 G, 4 GS, 86.2 IP, 3.53 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 5.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
Age on Opening Day 2017: 29
Position: Right-handed starting pitcher and relief pitcher
Worley spent a few years as a solid backend starter with the Phillies until bombing out in 2013 with the Twins. He underwent a rebirth with the Pirates the following year—because of course they fixed him—before spending the next two seasons split between the bullpen and the rotation. As a swingman over the last two seasons, he pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 12 starts in 158.1 innings. Worley hasn’t been worth too much according to WAR, but there is value in the role he has served in.
His peripherals don’t look like the numbers of a valuable reliever, but he makes up for a lack of strikeouts with an impressive ability to generate ground balls. Over the last three seasons, Worley has maintained a 47.9% ground ball rate, which is close to elite status. He is able to get the job done thanks to a mix of six different pitches in his arsenal that allows him to keep hitters off balance. This makes Worley the perfect candidate for such a role.
Despite his age, Worley still has two years of arbitration left before he is eligible for free agency, making him a potential two-year addition if he proves to be successful. The Yankees would might prefer a player making the league minimum over someone on a few million dollar contract, however, a $2.6 million salary won’t be too hard to fit into the team’s budget. Adding Worley would allow a young pitcher like Luis Cessa or Luis Severino to hold a spot in the rotation, while giving the likes of Jordan Montgomery some time in Triple-A.
We know this team’s rotation is not going to be a strength no matter who they add. Bringing in someone like Worley would allow them to maintain the type of depth the Yankees like to have in the place of pure talent. He isn’t the perfect addition, but at this point, who would be? At least Worley can give some of the kids a chance to grow on their own time.