The Yankees currently seem to be out of money based on their recent comments. Although Brian Cashman has gone on record to say that they likely haven’t done enough, rumors and indications suggest that the team has no more money to spare. This offseason, they have spent $30 million toward the 2017 season, adding Matt Holliday on a $13 million one-year deal and Aroldis Chapman at $17 million a year. While the back end of the bullpen seems to be set, they are still interested in adding a left-handed reliever to the mix. Whether this interest has ended since signing Chapman has yet to be seen.
Last year, the Yankees employed Andrew Miller and Chapman with a collection that included Richard Bleier and Tommy Layne, as far as left-handed options were concerned. After trading Justin Wilson, the team never really had a reliable lefty reliever that they could deploy in key matchups all season long. Bleier and Layne were fine in a small sample size, but maybe current free agent Jerry Blevins would be a better option if they can scrape together the money.
2016 Statistics: 73 G, 42 IP, 2.79 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 11.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
Age on Opening Day 2017: 33
Position: Left-handed reliever
I don’t bring up Blevins because I believe he is someone they need to prioritize. Instead, I mention him here because I think he is a better option than the pitchers they are rumored to have interest in. Apparently, the Yankees have considered bringing back Boone Logan on a free agent contract, and they have been in contact with the Tigers about reacquiring Justin Wilson. Both would serve as fine lefties for the bullpen, but the price the team would have to pay to add them would be too great.
Instead, Blevins offers everything they could want from a left-handed specialist and will likely cost far less. At six-foot-six, he possesses the height that the Yankees look for in their pitchers. Over his career, Blevins has maintained excellent numbers against left-handed batters, holding them to a .260 wOBA with a 10.24 K/9, a 2.04 BB/9, and a 2.75 FIP. He was also a flyball pitcher earlier in his career before he dropped his fastball usage in order to focus on his sinker. As a result, Blevins has been a ground ball machine capable of keeping the ball in the park.
The one drawback I see in adding a left-handed specialist like him is the fact that he can’t pitch to righties. He hasn’t been nuclear waste against them like Logan as been, but that’s mostly because Terry Collins has limited his appearances to one or two batters a game during his time with the Mets. If the Yankees were in a position to carry multiple left-handers capable of being dispatched in key situations, Blevins would be a great addition. Right now the bullpen is anything but a finished product. They have a good trio of late-inning relievers, but not much else. If they want to add some extra talent, getting someone who could be used more often would make more sense.
Of course, we all know the Yankees don’t have any more money at this stage of the offseason. It’s unlikely that Blevins, or any left-handed reliever, would cost all that much, but if this team has really hit their financial wall, then Bleier and Layne will somehow have to do.