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


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.

Categories : Transactions


  1. zs190 says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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.

  2. BamBamMusings says:

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

  3. Slu says:

    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 says:

      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 says:


        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.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        You have a weird definition of rapid decline.

  4. Big John Stud says:

    “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.

  5. Upstate Bomber says:

    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.

  6. dasani says:

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

  7. BFDeal says:

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

  8. jjsabo16 says:

    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 says:

      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.

  9. MB923 says:

    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.

  10. RetroRob says:

    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.

  11. The Thumb says:

    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.

  12. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

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

  13. Farewell Mo says:

    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.

  14. Tom says:

    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.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.