Yankees sign Robert Coello to minor league deal, continue to add to bullpen stockpile

Rosenthal: Yankees sign Yangervis Solarte to minor league deal
Fan Confidence Poll: January 13th, 2014

The Yankees have signed right-handed reliever Robert Coello to a minor league contract, reports Matt Eddy. Coello is a local guy from Bayonne. I assume he receives an invitation to Spring Training as well. That’s pretty standard.

Coello, 29, has a 5.90 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 29 career big league innings with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Angels. He managed a 3.71 ERA (2.52 FIP) with an excellent strikeout rate (12.18 K/9 and 31.5 K%) in 17 innings for the Halos last year, spending some time as their primary setup man. Shoulder inflammation sidelined him for more than three months.

If nothing else, Coello is fun to watch because he throws what amounts to a knuckle-forkball, alternatively titled a forkleball or WTForkball. I prefer to the latter. You can see it in the video above. Eno Sarris spoke to Coello about the pitch back in September, if you’re interested. The change of pace allows his 90-ish mph fastball to play up quite a bit.

The Yankees really need bullpen help and they’ve been stockpiling arms — Coello, Yoshinori Tateyama, Brian Gordon, Matt Daley, and David Herndon, specifically — on minor league deals in recent weeks. They figure to compete against youngsters like Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances in camp. I hope they add a legit late-inning arm (Grant Balfour?) or two at some point before the season, but they’ve certainly addressing the bullpen depth in general.

Rosenthal: Yankees sign Yangervis Solarte to minor league deal
Fan Confidence Poll: January 13th, 2014
  • zs190

    Robertson, Kelley, and Thornton have spots locked up, one or more of Warren/Phelps/Nuno will get the long reliever spot most likely. That leaves 2 or 3 spots to be filled.

    Claiborne pitched fine last year and he’s on the 40 man roster so he’s quite likely to get a spot.

    Realistically there are only 2 spots to be filled with a ton of depth at AAA. Aside from the guys Mike listed, Cabral, Betances, Jim Miller, Whitley, and Mark Montgomery all have experience at AAA as well.

    If they can get an elite reliever like Balfour then they should probably go for it but otherwise they have more than enough arms for the majors and AAA bullpen.

    • Farewell Mo

      They have enough arms to fill out a pen but the quality is severely lacking.

      They need a lock down set up man in the worst way otherwise they’re taking a major gamble with all these unproven guys.

      • Big John Stud

        Exactly, they are filling out slots not building roles. To think that Thorton or Kelley is the setup guy is extremely troublesome

        More to the point: They have three starting pitchers. They will need a decent bullpen and to cover significant innings. There are no where close to that.

  • BamBamMusings

    That is some pitch! If he can get that down consistently, this would actually be a great signing.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Big deal–I’ve seen Nunie throw like that for two or three years now.

      • Jessica’s Yankees

        Its better than nothing. Certainly fun to watch major leaguers with bewildered looks after a pitch.

  • Slu

    Plan 189 at work! In all seriousness, this is how you should build a bullpen. Stockpile arms and see who sticks. Ride the hot hand until it cools off and then cut bait and try the next man up.

    • Big John Stud

      No this is how you fill out a bullpen. But you still need to start with something. They have Robertson and nothing else. Kelley was replacement level in 2013. Thorton has been on a rapid decline over the last five years.

      • Farewell Mo


        The Yankees have always stocked the pen with high quality arms, often splurging for essentially dual closers in addition to Mariano with arms like Nelson, Stanton, Wettland, Quantrill, Tom Gordon and later with Soriano and Robertson.

        Unless they sign Balfour or Rodney, IMO, they aren’t gonna have a set up man even close to that level unless they catch lightening in a bottle.

        • Laz

          But paying that second guy $10M+ is unsustainable if you have a budget in mind.

          • Farewell Mo

            True Though if they indeed are shooting for $189, we’ll all have to accept an inferior product for as long as that lasts.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        You have a weird definition of rapid decline.

  • Big John Stud

    “I hope they add a legit late-inning arm (Grant Balfour?) or two at some point before the season, but they’ve certainly addressing the bullpen depth in general.”

    Certainly? They are throwing a bunch of %$#@ against the wall and hoping something sticks. We’ve seen this story before.

    Another indicator to me they have no intention of breaking 189 this year – they would sign at least one legit bullpen arm. And no, Thorton doesn’t count. So it’s Roberts, Thorton, and Kelly.

    And to be clear – both Thorton and Kelly were replacement level last year.

    So the 2014 Yankees have:

    Five outfielders
    An injury prone 1B
    Replacement level 3B, SS, and 2Bs
    A catcher

    Three starting pitchers
    One excellent bullpen arm

    Even 189 Million doesn’t buy what it used to.

  • Upstate Bomber

    I have seen a lot of Angel fans complaining about losing him. They really liked him and his strikeout potential. I think this may have a chance to be a steal.

    • Big John Stud

      And YFs loved Colter Bean.

      Coello has a 4.11 ERA in 220 innings in AAA. He’s the proverbial $%#@ meets wall.

  • dasani

    Funny how they have 25mill coming off the books and now ownership goes back to being frugal.

    • Chip Rodriguez

      It’s a minor league depth signing. I’d be worried if the FO was signing big checks for this.

    • Get Phelps Up (looking for a new name)

      How dare they not sign Tanaka, Drew, Balfour, Garza and trade for David Price within 24 hours of ARod being suspended.

      • The Thumb

        Great comment haha

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Every team signs for depth. This only matters to you because the information is easily available to you on the Internet.

  • BFDeal

    I love how certain people get themselves worked up over depth signings.

    • Laz

      Right. You always lose guys throughout the year. Need people to bring up without messing up your prospects development.

  • jjsabo16

    Do they really have room for two? I wouldn’t mind the following staff. I guess they could use one loogy. But i would hope one of Daley, Betances, whitley and burawa should be able to contribute something. Hanrahan would be nice


    • The Thumb

      That’s hoping for a lot at this point honestly. Also, I think the yankees were really lucky with the few decent games they got out of Huff. I’d much rather see that spot go to Cabral.

  • MB923

    Sorry to bring up an A-Rod question here but this just came to my mind now.

    Aren’t the Yankees better off just paying him the final 3 year/$60+ million left and getting rid of him? It saves them from future luxury tax problems (luxury tax money is only accounted for players on the 40 man roster which A-Rod is not on in 2014). It also prevents them from paying those stupid milestone HR bonuses they gave out to him. And for those who don’t know, that $ count towards the team payroll

    From an article online – Payroll figures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions, such as money included in trades. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

    My question has probably been asked numerous times but I did not go in the A-Rod suspension thread so bear with me. I just wonder if the Yankees legally can buy it out and not pay for those milestone HR numbers and only pay him for what he’s owed.

  • RetroRob

    Hopefully he doesn’t break McCann’s wrist when he throws him whatever that thing is.

    Wouldn’t be surprised at all if Coello found a spot in the Yankees MLB pen.

    • jim p

      It would be Cervelli’s wrist, or forehead, or something.

  • The Thumb

    Actually really like this as a depth signing and hope he find a way onto the big league club. I’m a little biased because I picked him up in fantasy for holds when he was the Angels set up guy and he won me a week.

    But in all seriously, you can do a lot worse than this especially at only a minor league deal.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Excellent buy-low pick-up here. Some nice depth signings this weekend who could really wind up contributing more than that.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      They didn’t trade for Kenley Jansen or Craig Kimbrel. Terrible moves.

  • Farewell Mo

    This move is fine, nothing to lose on a minor league deal and maybe they get lucky though a 29 yo with 29 big league innings coming off a season where he missed extensive time with shoulder pain who was available for any other team to sign for no guaranteed money isn’t someone I’d get too excited over.

    It doesn’t address the gaping hole in the pen replacing Robertson in the 8th inning however.

    • BFDeal

      When has anyone insinuated this signing was to address “the gaping hole” in the bullpen?

  • Tom

    People keep saying “depth” and spout this seemingly every time one of these deals are announced.

    Is it depth? Most of these contracts have opt out dates and are basically ST tryouts. I guess it’s depth in spring training or maybe in the month of April, but folks seem to be operating under the assumption that these guys are on full minor league deals and under team control for more than a month or two.

    It’s only depth if he stays in the minors and doesn’t opt out, but a lot of these guys opt out if they don’t make the club. Maybe Coello is a guy who is willing to stick around if he doesn’t make the club out of spring training, but I think people are too quick to throw out the “depth is good” meme.