The New York Yankees made the first of what should be many roster moves this spring training. In a trade with the Seattle Mariners, the team acquired right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley in exchange for minor league outfielder Abe Almonte. Almonte has been in the Yankees system since 2006 as a 17-year old. His highest level in the minors was AA. For his career (573 minor league games), Almonte has hit to the tune of a .263 average with 32 homeruns and 224 RBI. A speedster, Almonte has stolen 176 bases, obtaining a career high of 36 steals in both 2006 and 2009.
As for Kelley, the right-hander has a chance to grab a spot in the Yankees bullpen, as the team has not addressed the loss of former set-up man and last year’s closer, Rafael Soriano. Soriano, who opted out of the last year of his contract with the Yankees, signed a two-year deal with the Washington Nationals. Last season, Soriano pitched in 69 games, amassing 67.2 innings and posting a 2.26 ERA. He struck out 69 hitters and saved 42 games after Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in early May and missed the rest of the 2012 season.
Kelley has spent each of his four major league seasons with the Mariners. Last season, he pitched 44.1 innings over 47 games, posting a 3.25 ERA and striking out 45 hitters. For his career, he has a 3.52 ERA and has struck out 122 hitters over 128 innings. He could find himself competing against his former teammate David Aardsma for Soriano’s vacant bullpen spot. Aardsma missed all of 2011 and most of 2012 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He appeared in just one game for the Yankees last season, allowing a solo home run in his only inning of work. In 6.2 innings pitching in the Yankees minor league system, he compiled a 2.70 ERA and struck out eight men. He was the Mariners closer in 2009 and 2010, picking up 69 saves in the two years combined.