Yankees should seek late-season bullpen help

The Yankees could probably trade for one of these guys right now. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The Yankees could probably trade for one of these guys right now. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The last week or so has been total hell on the Yankees bullpen. David Robertson (shoulder) and Boone Logan (biceps, elbow) are both banged up and Shawn Kelley (triceps) spent a few days on the sidelines as well. Joba Chamberlain has been forced into high-leverage work and that just isn’t a good idea. Mariano Rivera, who clearly isn’t the Mo of old right now, has been asked to record more than three outs three times in his last four appearances and figures to see even more multi-inning work before the season ends in 19 days.

Robertson is expected to rejoin the team this week — perhaps as soon as today — and hopefully that is the case, but you never know with the Yankees and their recent history of setbacks. Pretty much everyone has one. Logan’s test results will be reviewed by Dr. James Andrews and that’s never a good sign. The Yankees re-signed journeyman Mike Zagurski yesterday, which is an indication they are at least somewhat concerned Logan will not be returning anytime soon.

A trade in September is not something you see all that often, but New York swung one last night to acquire infield help in the form of Brendan Ryan. They should also consider trading for bullpen help at this point. Like Ryan, whoever they acquire at this point would not be eligible for the playoff roster since they weren’t in the organization on August 31st, but there probably won’t even be a playoff roster in a few weeks if Yankees don’t get help. Here are three bullpen arms on non-contending teams who could be available in a trade at this unusual time.

Burke Badenhop, Brewers
Milwaukee is one the very worst teams in baseball and they don’t have a whole lot of desirable tradeable chips — aside from untouchables Carlos Gomes and Jean Segura, that is — which is why their deadline sell-off featured only Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford changing addresses. The 30-year-old Badenhop was rumored to be on the block as well, but he ultimately stayed put and has a 3.60 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 60 innings this summer. He’s essentially a righty specialist — has held righties to a .251 wOBA while lefties have tagged him for a .377 wOBA (more walks than strikeouts too) — who limits walks (1.80 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%) and gets ground balls (51.6%) but doesn’t miss many bats (6.15 K/9 and 16.8 K%).

If used correctly, Badenhop can be a real weapon against right-handed batters in the later innings of a game. He pitched with the Rays last season and was pretty effective (3.03 ERA and 3.62 FIP), so the AL East and a postseason race and all that won’t be new experiences. Badenhop is only owed approximately $240k the rest of the season and, as an added bonus, he will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2014. The Brewers took Grade-C prospects for K-Rod and Axford, who had much sexier track records than the sinker/slider guy Badenhop, so the cost shouldn’t be prohibitive.

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

Frank Francisco, Mets
Frankie Frank missed almost the entire season with bone spurs in his elbow and, according to Adam Rubin, there are some in the organization who think the 33-year-old had a “lack of urgency” during his rehab. He did return this past weekend and has pitched in two games, facing four total batters while allowing a single and recording a walk, a strikeout, and a ground ball. Francisco managed a 5.53 ERA (3.90 FIP) in 42.1 innings while missing time with oblique and elbow problems last season. He’s always been a high strikeout (career 9.92 K/9 and 25.6 K%), high walk (3.98 BB/9 and 10.3 BB%), low ground ball (34.4%) guy.

One team official told Rubin it is “certainly possible” the Mets will look to trade Francisco before the end of the season just to save some of the $715k they still owe him. That same official responded “Why wouldn’t we work something out with them?” when asked if they’d be open to trading with the Yankees. Francisco has late-inning/closer experience and will be a free agent after the season, plus the Mets would probably give him away at this point. Remember, we’re not talking about replacing Robertson or Kelley here. We’re talking about replacing Jim Miller or Matt Daley.

(Rich Pilling/Getty)

(Rich Pilling/Getty)

Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Lindstrom, 33, has very quietly been one of the most effective relievers in baseball over these last three years. He has a 2.89 ERA (3.03 FIP) in 56 innings for the ChiSox this season and a 2.87 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 157 innings since the start of 2011. After coming up has a super-hard-thrower who didn’t always know where the ball was going, Lindstrom has scaled things back in recent years and now uses a mid-90s sinker/low-80s slider combination to generate a ton of ground balls (53.9%) and infield pop-ups (10.4%). Both his walk (3.70 BB/9 and 9.7 BB%) and strikeout (6.91 K/9 and 18.1 K%) rates have taken steps back this year, however.

As we saw firsthand last week, the White Sox are truly awful. Worst non-Astros team in the AL awful. They acknowledged that by trading away Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, and Matt Thornton at the deadline, so it stands to reason that Lindstrom would be available as well. He is owed roughly $355k through the end of the year with an affordable $4M club option ($500k buyout) for 2014 season in his contract. The Yankees need relievers, both right now and next season with Rivera and Joba (and Logan) due to become free agents, and Lindstrom is the kind of guy who can help both situations. He’s no bullpen savior, but if nothing else, he sure and the other two guys in this post would add useful depth — as opposed to the Daleys and Millers of the world who are just there because they’re warm bodies — to the bullpen down the stretch.

Categories : Trade Deadline
  • Eddard

    But they can’t give up a young arm, they couldn’t possibly spare a young arm even if it means getting a ballplayer who will hit 15 HR in 6 weeks. Hal Steinbrenner for Executive of the Year.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      You put out a lot of junk these days.

      But then you talk about Lewis and Clark and redeem yourself. Guess we just have to slog through the crap too.

      • JU

        Actually, he was talking about LOIS and Clark – the New Adventures of Superman spinoff from the 90s…Dean Kane got snubbed for the Emmy…

        Does this change your opinion of him?

      • MannyGeee

        Sometimes, Eddard will surprise you. Most of the time he’ll make you want to drink bleach, but sometimes… ohhhhhh sometimes.

  • JPW

    It might also be nice if Girardi, you know, actually, tried using Betances once in a while.

    Nobody’s saying toss him into high-leverage situations right away, but given his stuff and his success since moving to the pen in SWB, I don’t understand why he hasn’t been used at all.

    • Kosmo

      you beat me to it. I was gonna suggest Betances too. He could have done a little mop up here and there to get his feet wet but Left Brain Joe refused to do so. Now if Betances is called upon his lack of use would probably show.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        And when he has that rust, and allows 1-2 runs, he’ll go back into the doghouse for 2 weeks.

        • MannyGeee

          Yeah, this is pretty much what I expect too. Shoulda trotted him out there a couple times last weekend and get his beak wet. Now when we’re down to him or Vernon Wells in the 15th inning, he’ll be the guy who cost us the season.

          Thems the breaks, I suppose…

  • RetroRob

    How about Cabral and Betances because the only way an arm will be useful is if they use them!

    • Kosmo


  • Frank

    Yanks have arms from the minors like Warren, Marshall, Cabral and Betances sitting in the BP. Other than Warren, the other three are pretty much collecting dust. That tells me the Yanks have absolutely no confidence in these guys, despite all the hype they get as being some of their better pitching prospects. This is further supportd by their signings of Miller and Daly last weekend, one of whom was sitting on his couch, and both of whom pitched in a blow out game on Saturday while Betances couldn’t get a sniff of the mound. And they signed Zagurski yesterday, a recent castoff of the A’s. I for one like what I’ve seen from Cabral. I’m curious about Betances and Marshall. I like what I’ve seen from Warren. Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith. Yanks don’t seem inclined to do so. That’s too bad.

    • Kosmo


    • I’m One

      Their (lack of) use of the recent pitching call-ups is quite frustrating. Definitely should see what they have there before using throw-aways. Don’t understand why they haven’t used them. Maybe they’re considering off-season trades (except for Betances) and don’t want to expose them and reduce their value.

  • Vern Sneaker

    It’s difficult for me to believe that pitchers with major league experience who aren’t good enough to avoid being DFA’d or traded for practically no return are better than unproven AAA guys who are good enough to be promoted — though I accept that the difference between a true AAA pitcher and even a marginal major leaguer is huge in terms of how they get hit by big league hitters. Betances and Cabral seem good enough to me.

    • Mickey Scheister

      Only one, dark, scenario remains…they’re ALL injured.

  • FLYER7

    They seem more inclined to take leaps out of spring training, i.e. Phelps, Warren, Claiborne, most recently but not so in season, curious at best

  • Monterowasdinero


    From Scranton Cy Young to Sayonara…..


  • Fernando

    One thing about Francisco. It was reported that he can’t pitch on back-to-back days.

    • MannyGeee

      neither can the rest of these gimps.

  • Fernando

    I’m not included to add any of these short term solutions for the sake of a playoff spot. Let’s see more of Claiborne, Betances and Cabral. I was hoping Whitley would have been given a chance. Saw someone say they didn’t want to be forced to add him to 40 man roster and make him Rule 5 eligible.

    • Fernando

      Typo correction: Make that “inclined” instead of “included”

  • KD

    Injured, or scheduled for preemptive TJ surgery…

  • JAG

    Lindstrom is a really interesting target, especially since the bullpen needs to be revamped for next year anyway. Anyone who can help them now and is controllable for next year should be looked at.

  • MannyGeee

    I like Badenhop… not so much the pitcher, but the name ‘Badenhop’ is fun to say… Bay-Den HOP!