Despite the lack of a blockbuster trade or free agent signing, the New York Yankees seem to finally have the players in place to assemble their 2013 25-man roster. Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli will be the backstop tandem. The infield is set with Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Kevin Youkilis and Derek Jeter. The outfield is also set with Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki. Travis Hafner looks to be the left-handed DH with either Juan Rivera or Matt Diaz serving as the right-handed DH and fourth outfielder. Jayson Nix can return in his role as the utility infielder with Eduardo Nunez serving as a pinch runner, occasional DH and extra utility man. C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes will head the starting rotation with Ivan Nova and David Phelps battling it out for the last spot. The “loser” will head to the bullpen as the long man while Boone Logan and Clay Rapada serve as lefty specialist, Joba Chamberlain serves as a middle reliever, David Robertson as set-up man and Mariano Rivera as the greatest closer of all-time.
Taking a count of the players mentioned above, that gives the Yankees a 24-man roster, meaning there is one spot left. With that said, the team should look to add an extra right-hander to the bullpen and the perfect man for the role would be former Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde. Why do you ask? Let’s run down some reasons.
While each member of the bullpen should be at full health to begin the 2013 campaign, three of them come into the season having endured injuries last season, with Rivera’s ACL injury the most devastating of the three. Let’s not forget that David Robertson suffered through a strained oblique from the middle of May to the middle of June and Chamberlain was limited to just 22 appearances after rehabbing for most of the season from a severe ankle injury. Adding Valverde would give the Yankees an insurance policy in the event any of their three-main righties out of the bullpen fall victim to another injury in 2013.
Even if the trio of Chamberlain, Robertson and Rivera can remain healthy in 2013, the team has yet to address the loss of Rafael Soriano. In his two seasons with the Yankees, Soriano pitched 107 innings compiling a 2.94 ERA with 27 holds and 44 saves (42 of those after the injury to Rivera last season). As long as Valverde is willing to take a set-up role, there is no doubt he can serve in the role, as he’s picked up 22 holds in his career.
There are other options the Yankees could add. Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Isringhausen, Brian Wilson and Kevin Gregg are still unemployed. Internally, the Yankees have former Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma they could use as well. However, Valverde is the best of this bunch. Rodriguez is coming off a career worst 4.38 ERA last season. Wilson is coming off Tommy John surgery while Aardsma made just one appearance last season after rehabbing most of the year from the same surgery. Gregg and Isringhausen both have put up an ERA over four in their past two seasons combined respectively. As for Valverde, he’s had an ERA under four the past six seasons as well as a WHIP no higher than 1.24 and has struck out 397 batters in 394.2 innings pitched.
The Yankees plan for winning in 2013 is to depend more on its pitching. If that’s the case, adding Valverde is a necessary move.