Now that MLB has a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees can finally take an earnest approach to the offseason. The front office says they will be taking a break from making any signings until they can figure out what the new CBA means to the organization, but with the Winter Meetings starting on Monday, it shouldn’t be long before the Yankees start implementing their offseason plan.
The Yankees will need to add both starting and relief pitching, however, quality starters are few and far between on the open market. This means that they will need to move potential bullpen pieces, like Adam Warren and Luis Cessa, into the rotation. They can sign a closer like Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, but for a trusted swingman, the Yankees might look to someone like Scott Feldman.
2016 statistics (HOU/TOR): 40 G, 5 GS, 77 IP, 3.97 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 6.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 102 ERA+
Age on Opening Day 2017: 34
Position: Right-handed starting/relief pitcher
Feldman spent most of his career with the Texas Rangers, flipping between above and below-average seasons from 2005 to 2012. He was incredibly inconsistent over that time, but as a 30-year-old free agent, Feldman finally found the consistency he had always lacked. From 2013 to 2015, he averaged a 3.83 ERA over 470.1 innings for the Cubs, Orioles, and Astros, making up the best stretch of his career. Unfortunately that streak came to an end when he suffered a shoulder injury to close out the 2015 season.
In 2016, the Astros decided to move Feldman to the bullpen where he managed to succeed for much of the year. A 2.90 ERA over 62.0 innings made him an easy trade candidate, and he was moved to the Blue Jays. His time in Toronto proved ugly, however, when he allowed an 8.40 ERA over 15 innings and was left off the team’s playoff roster. It’s easy to see why the Yankees shouldn’t make an effort for a pitcher in his age-34 season with the sub-par peripherals he has, but he actually does have his benefits.
Feldman has always been a decent innings eater, but his success in the bullpen makes him a little more intriguing for the Yankees. There was no clear difference in his velocity out of the bullpen, so it makes sense to add him as a valuable swingman to pitch a few innings out of the bullpen or fill in for a starter whenever needed. He offers a four-pitch mix that should be able to keep hitters off balanced, and while he has never been a big strikeout guy, his cutter and sinker allow him to put up great ground ball rates that can help him in Yankee Stadium.
Given his age and track record, he isn’t the ideal player the Yankees should be targeting. That being said, we don’t know what kind of financial commitments the team is going to be comfortable with a year after signing no free agents and ridding themselves of most of their expensive contracts. Feldman would be an easy one-year deal that could allow them to keep their more valuable arms in the Triple-A rotation, developing into the types of arms that will make the Yankees a contender again.