Possible relief targets for Yankees
May, 5, 2012
By Jim Bowden | ESPN Insider
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesBrandon League will be a free agent next winter and could be available via trade.
There aren’t many teams that could withstand losing a sure-fire future Hall of Famer. But the New York Yankees can.
While much of Gotham was trying to figure out who the Yankees should target in trades, the fact is the Yankees own significant bullpen depth that might make a trade unnecessary.
When Mariano Rivera went down in a heap after tearing his ACL shagging a fly ball in Kansas City on Thursday, it already was a natural assumption that setup man David Robertson would slide into the closer’s role. Similar to how Rivera served as understudy to John Wetteland in the late-1990s, Robertson has cut his teeth under Rivera to become one of baseball’s top five closers-in-waiting.
The Yankees also boast bullpen depth with right-hander Rafael Soriano, who was the AL’s second-best closer to Rivera when the Yankees signed him two years ago. He provides a solid backup plan if Robertson struggles. Cory Wade also is ready to step up after starting the year with a 1.46 ERA, with 15 strikeouts and just two walks in 12 1/3 innings. Further, lefty Boone Logan has posted an impressive 0.96 ERA in 12 appearances.
On top of that, Phil Hughes or David Phelps remain candidates to be moved back to the bullpen when Andy Pettitte makes his first start in the next 10 days.
Despite losing his all-world closer, Yankees president Hal Steinbrenner must be quietly pleased with himself, as he pushed to sign Soriano, going against general manager Brian Cashman’s advice a couple years back. Now that signing looks critical. Because of that depth, the Yankees don’t necessarily have to make a trade for relief help. In fact, the Yankees’ bigger need is starting pitching, but they are who they are and they’ll take the temperature of the relief market anyway.
In fact, they match up extremely well with the Houston Astros. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and closer Brett Myers are easily their most tradable pieces would solidify the Yankees' bullpen and rotation. To obtain both Rodriguez and Myers, however, it will be expensive, probably costing a couple of top prospects.
With a 1.17 ERA and six saves in his first eight appearances, Myers has successfully made the transition back to the bullpen after four years of starting. Remember, the last time he closed games on a regular basis was with the Phillies in 2007, when he had 21 saves in 48 relief appearances. Along with Wade, Myers could serve as the Yankees’ seventh-inning bridge to Soriano and then Robertson.
Of course, a trade for Myers and Rodriguez would cost the Yankees some farm system depth, and that might not be something they are willing to do. If the Yankees decide to go outside the organization, here are six other relief pitchers who could be available at a lower cost: