Sherman: Yankees looking to add late-inning reliever

McCullough: Yankees, Javier Lopez have "expressed mutual interest"
Business Notes: Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi

Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are looking to add a late-inning reliever to either replace David Robertson in the eighth inning or take over as closer if Robertson doesn’t run away with the job. “I definitely need to improve the bullpen and provide as many arms out there for [Joe Girardi] to choose from,” said Brian Cashman to Andy McCullough earlier this week. “I’m definitely interested in exploring all available options that would improve the pen, from the left and right side.”

At the moment, the only locks for next year’s bullpen are Robertson and Shawn Kelley. Adam Warren and David Phelps could also be in the mix depending on how the rotation shakes out. Both Dellin Betances and David Huff are out of minor league options and will get chances to win jobs in camp. Other guys like Preston Claiborne and Cesar Cabral will be in the mix, but they can be sent to Triple-A if need be. Relievers are the riskiest investments in baseball, but I think the need for another veteran late-inning guy is pretty obvious. The Yankees have already been connected to Grant Balfour and could also target free agents like Jesse Crain and Jose Veras. Sherman speculates the rehabbing Joel Hanrahan could be a possibility.

McCullough: Yankees, Javier Lopez have "expressed mutual interest"
Business Notes: Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi
  • nycsportzfan

    I like hering the rumours of Javy Lopez, Balfour, and Crain being talked about. Those are 3guys i’ve mentioned in previous posts as guys i’d like the yanks to add.

    • I’m One

      Depends on the cost for Lopez. While his stats were better than Logan’s, what’s the cost difference? Logan, in a strict lefty specialist, has been just fine. Certainly better than “good enough”. I’m not sure that adding a true “lock down” lefty specialist is the best place to spend money.

      I do like Balfour and Crain and feel money invested in them might be better spent than money on Lopez. Again, depends on the costs.

      Then again, if Hal is banking on A-Rod being suspended & is willing to blast through e celery cap if he isn’t, then fine, go spend the team’s money on the best available FA’s out there. I hope that’s his position.

      • jjyank

        Yeah. No budget, sign me up for Lopez. With the budget? A LOOGY is probably a good area to go cheap. Ditto relievers in general, so yeah, agreed that cost is a big factor. I feel like Balfour would be the most expensive of that group, so I doubt he winds up in pinstripes.

      • Havok9120

        Yeah. If we’re gonna be in the market for a LOOGY I’d test the waters with Logan before even considering Lopez unless money for the roster is falling from the heavens. If Cash and Girardi think it’s a priority, then I defer to their judgement (they’ve been great with bullpen construction and usage), but nothing anyone has said so far indicates they do.

        Get us some position players and starters, kthnxbi.

  • Dicka24

    IIRC, Balfour is a flyball pitcher. Not sure I’d want to look in his direction in Yankee Stadium.

    I hope the Yankees don’t hand out big money contracts to bullpen arms. One of Girardi’s real skills, is in managing, and crafting a pen. If I’m the Yankees, I think I sign a closer, keep Drob in the 8th, and look to sign some veteran pieces to balance the pen. I certainly wouldn’t be handing out $4-5 million per for a lefty specialist. Not if the team is legit about that $189 million budget figure. If the team does opt to move Drob to closer, then they could theoretically use the difference in cash (Drob $5 million, Balfour type would cost $8-12 million) to sign more proven late innings guys to support him. Personally, I sign a closer and keep Drob in the 8th. There is no guarantee that Drob can handle closing. Stuff while sure, but closing is about more than just stuff.

    One guy to consider, is Chris Perez. He wouldn’t be ideal, but his price will be low, considering he was non tendered at $6 million or so I think. He would serve as a plausible stop gap, or bridge closer, till someone else arises as a long term answer (Betances maybe?).

    • Bavarian Yankee

      I think they’d rather sign Manny than Perez. That’ll tell you what a guy Perez is.

    • jjyank

      I’m confused. First you say that you hope the Yankees don’t hand out any big contracts to bullpen arms, then you follow it up with advocating for a proven closer, who will likely cost more money than sliding Robertson in as closer and getting a set up man.

      Also, Chris Perez career GB% – 36.4. Grant Balfour career GB% – 35.2. Those tendencies are pretty much the same. I agree that Perez would be an interesting option, but not to leapfrog Robertson.

    • Havok9120

      What quality veteran pieces are you signing without “big money?” And what closer are you getting with a record of success for around what DRob is making?

      I’m confuzzled.

  • TWTR

    Another reliever would be nice but they need offense and starters a lot more.

    I would like to see Betances get an extended opportunity to play an important role.

    • Captain Turbo

      Another reliever would be nice but they need offense and starters a lot more.

      This. No more Bronx Bunters, please.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’d be down for a Veras reunion.

  • RetroRob

    I suspect Betances is basically a lock for one of the slots coming out of ST, even if his results are spotty in camp. The investment and potential is high, so I don’t see them just cutting him based on ST results, especially when they need arms and he looked dominant once switched to the pen in AAA. Cut him just on ST results and then watch him become a quality reliever for another team? I don’t see them doing that without giving him a shot on the MLB team first. Now, if he doesn’t produce he’ll be cut, but with six bullpen slots, they can give him a legit opportunity.

    As for signing a reliever, they do need one more solid, “sure thing” to pair in the late innings now that Mo is gone.

    One area I have faith in is the Yankees ability to construct bullpens. It’s been a strength under Cashman/Girardi.

    • Havok9120

      I agree completely on how they’ll likely use Betances. Unless they go on some surprise reliever spending spree at some point in the offseason, there will be plenty of room for him.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I could see him be quietly dealt or DFAed at the end of ST just as easily, I’m afraid. That’s certainly not what I’m rooting for.

  • Matt DiBari

    I didn’t particularly enjoy Veras Round One.

    • Mac

      He had one pretty solid season for them, his only full season with the team.

      Since leaving he hasn’t had a season with an ERA over 4. He’s not some elite RP, but I wouldn’t assume that he’s more likely to be as you remember him from a short sample in NY than how he’s been since.

  • Neil

    Crain ($10 mil / 2 years)
    Lopez ($10 mil / 2 years)

    Claiborne should be used as trade bait. Pair maybe him with Steward/Cervelli/Nunez to get a very league average 3B or OF.

    Phelps should compete for the 5th starter spot with Pineda.

    I would also be in favor of signing Hanrahan to start the year rehabbing as well.

    • Havok9120

      I want no part of 5 mil/yr on a LOOGY unless it’s Logan or someone else with a reasonable shot of getting a righty out. Especially if Cabral will also be in the ‘pen.

      Claiborne, Steward (I’m playing along), Nunez, and a year Fankie don’t net you a darn thing, certainly not a “league average 3B” (whoever that might be) from the Mystery Team. Those guys are looking to contend this season.

      • Matt DiBari

        Yeah, aren’t multi year, eight figure deals for relievers the kind of things we pretend only a true moron like Randy Levine would make?

        • Mac

          Isn’t there a difference between 2/10 and 3/35?

          I wasn’t particularly against the Soriano signing, but setting an arbitrary cutoff at 8 figures allows you to make two totally unlike things seem alike.

        • Havok9120

          I mean, I’m up for a big deal for a reliever under the previous conditions. This is exactly the kind of thing we can skimp on with a budget; relievers are the one thing we’ve proven able to consistently find/produce for peanuts. I’d like another reliable late-inning guy, but I’m not at all certain it’s a must when compared to our other needs.

          And, even under the old logic, that kind of deal for a pure specialist was never something I was in favor of.

  • mat

    I know Yanks are being linked to everybody right now by reporters but given Cashman quote about Yanks looking to add relievers I see no way they hit the $189 million while simultaneously spending $5.5 million on Drob (projected MLBTR arb raise),$9 million on Balfour (MLBTR predicts a 2 year $18 million contract), and $4-5 million on LOOGY type like Lopez (he already makes $4.5 million a year and has been godd the last couple of years). They still need 2 starters (who need to be of a quality to earn $10-$16 million apiece (Kuroda, Tanaka types) plus bats at catcher, RF replacement, left side replacment/back-ups, and resigning Cano at higher than his current $15 million AAV.

    I really thought that they would go young in bullpen (besides Drob) in order to hope to to reach $189 million by at most getting a Jesse Crain or Jose Veras type (who probably will be cheaper than Balfour since Crain is coming off injury and Veras switched to set-up after trade to Detroit and has a shorter track record as a closer than Balfour). I definitely thought they wuld not spend significant dollars on LOOGY role and just try Cabral – Lopez is not coming cheap.

    Of course all these talks are preliminary and I guess we just have to see who Yanks actually do sign. One side of me is therefore cautiously optimistic that $189 million plan is over and done with but the other side of me is worried that this means that Yanks will cast a wide net and get whoever they can eventually sign (whether they turn out to be starters/relievers/bats) and quickly shut it down when $189 mm is imminent, meaning significant portions of team will suck because they will quickly hit up against $189 million cap with a lot of remaining holes.

    Also I guess even though they go overboard in stating publicly they are counting on Arod coming back for whole year until told otherwise, internally there must be some salary savings suspension number they are using to allow these possible free agent salaries in a S189 milion world.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    Andrew Bailey and most likely Daniel Bard will be available as well if you want a few reclamation projects.

  • Axisa’s Doctor

    If they want to get under the 189 threshold, they have to try and not to over spend on relief pitchers.. Why not give Mark Montgomery a shot for the 7th or 8th inning?

    • CashmanNinja

      I’d love to see what Montgomery can do. He’d be cheap, has great stuff, and has options (I think the latter is the most important part after the being cheap). Guys like him, Claiborne, etc. really provide value because they are dirt cheap and can be sent down, so any production you get out of them is like striking oil. I have no problem with giving younger guys a shot because relievers will go from having great years to having bad ones and then bouncing back again. The only reliever I feel would be worth the money is Joe Nathan. Maybe Grant Balfour if he’s willing to take a short term deal and not want something like $7+ mil a year.

      • Mac

        You have to have some reason to expect that the young/cheap guy will P well for the cheap option to have more value than the more expensive option. If you keep cycling through cheap guys who stink so badly they need to be sent down all season you might have some lucky runs but in the end you might easily be better off just paying for some relative certainty.

        • Havok9120

          While this is true in a vacuum, the team doesn’t operate in one. The budget plays a role which must be considered. Effectively, the guy playing for the league minimum has value added by his low salary.

          Not to mention that we won’t know what his value on the field is until we give him a try.

          • Mac

            I don’t think that actually addresses my point at all. What I said was that at some point it is not worth saving the money to get inferior performance. That was my whole point. Teams operate with the budget, but that budget is in theory a function of their revenues. Revenues are driven largely by wins, outside of location, tv deal, and other fixed inputs. Wins are the most important driver the team controls. Simply having a budget is not an end in itself, it is a means to the end of making a fat profit. If paying $5 million to one guy is going to generate $7 million in revenue and paying $1 million to another is going to generate $1.5 million in revenue… which guy do you choose? You take the first guy. So if at a P90 level you project 4x the fWAR for a proven RP you might be willing to pay him quite a bit more than the cheap guy who you’re not even sure is above replacement.

            What’s the issue today? You keep butting into conversations to “prove me wrong” or something, and not actually joining the conversation but just trying to nitpick one thing that you’ve taken out of context.

  • CashmanNinja

    The other day there was a blurb that the Yankees had been “in contact” with Joe Nathan. If he could be had for a short term deal (1-2 mil) then I’d MUCH rather invest some money in him rather than give a LOOGY $5 mil a year. I just hate the concept of having a specialist who can only get lefties out. Lopez is absolutely useless against righties so if we needed him to go a few batters then chances are he’d get hammered. He’s great against lefties, but I feel we need less one-dimensional players. We already have some of those like Ichiro and, to a lesser extent, Vernon Wells. So if we’re going to spend any money in the ‘pen then it should be for someone like Nathan who has tons of AL experience.

    Nathan, Robertson, Kelley, Betances, and young guys could work just fine. Hell, we’ve got Cabral who could be just fine if you want to use him strictly against lefties. He’s insanely cheap in comparison and I think he could do “good enough” in that role if they’re that desperate. Oh, and let’s not forget Adam Warren who could go multiple innings. I love having those types of middle relievers who can spot start in an emergency and Warren is fantastic in that role in my opinion.

    • Mac

      A “one-dimensional” P is completely different from a “one-dimensional” position player. You have to field, run the bases, and get yourself on base (the closer to home the better) as a non-DH position player. You can make a few subs a game, obviously, but you can’t only allow him to do what he’s good at more than a small fraction of how often even a bench player plays. You’re going to have ~7 RPs in the pen no matter what, so you might as well have guys who do something well. Obviously a total stud who gets everyone out almost all the time is preferable. Since you’re not likely to find 7 of those, though, you can mix and match.

      There’s not a trade-off between having Warren and a LOOGY. They’re going to have 7 RPs in MLB plus some depth in AAA. You can, and probably will, have both. At some point at the margins of the roster you’re usually going to be making a choice between a RP who is mediocre against any kind of hitter and a specialist who can get same-sided hitters out. If you’ve already got one or two guys like Warren, for example, who can eat up some innings and a couple of late inning studs… why not get the guy who can dominate a large portion of top hitters in critical situations?

      • CashmanNinja

        I simply feel a “one dimensional pitcher” is a waste of space unless they’re simply a good value. If you’re paying $4-5 mil for a guy who can ONLY pitch against lefties and for 1 inning max then I don’t see it as a plus. So you have him come in to face Ortiz, but unable to pitch to the guy behind him. In a pure situational role that’s fine if he could get the lefty out, but if your pen runs thin, which is a possibility since we’ll most likely be using a lot of young guys this year, then you simply need to have guys you can rely on. I’d feel more comfortable having guys who can eat up innings. I get what you’re saying about having the ability to have a LOOGY if you’ve already got a few long relievers, but with the way our roster is/most likely will be I still view a LOOGY as a luxury rather than a necessity.

        • Mac

          I really think you need to analyze the situation more thoroughly.

          Your argument as stated above is that in such a situation as all 6 other RPs are not able to be used you need a guy who can go for multiple innings. Over the course of an entire season, how many times do you think said situation arises? How many of those times are extreme extra-innings games? I’d guess you might be talking about one or two non-extra innings situations a season, and in extra innings situations just about any team’s staff gets pressed at some point.

          My argument, as I already stated it above, is that having someone who is likely mediocre but able to go multiple innings is less valuable over the course of the season with one BP spot than having someone who can consistently get good LHH out at a well above average rate. If you have 7 guys who are better than mediocre and can pitch multiple innings effectively against both sided hitters, awesome. I just don’t know that any MLB team has ever had that.

          It’s all a case by case things, though. It depends how good specifically the LOOGY is and the next best alternative is. Obviously you also have to consider salary. Just about every team has room in their BP for a LOOGY, though, because there aren’t enough good all-around RPs to go around and there are a lot of tough LHH you need to get out in key situations.

          (Also, I was talking generally about LOOGYs. Not specifically about Lopez. Looking back at your original comment, though… Joe Nathan is coming off a 2.5 fWAR season, 4th among RPs in 2013. In what world are you getting him for $1-2 million? Did you mean $12 million? MLBTradeRumors projects him for 2 yrs/$26 million.)