With the New York Yankees looking to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold next season, there were thoughts the team would be looking at trading some of their current players. Most notably, Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes were seen as the Yankees best trade bait. Both men are in the last year of their current contracts and it is believed the Yankees will not re-sign either. Now a new name has hit the trade winds.
According to reports, Texas Rangers officials have been seen scouting reliever Joba Chamberlain. Like Granderson and Hughes, Chamberlain is in the last year of his deal. Once the prize jewel of the Yankees minor league system, Chamberlain has been something of a headache for the Yankees. First it was the years of deciding whether he was a reliever or a starting pitcher, then injuries and this season it was his comments suggesting he could be the Yankees closer of the future but that he still sees himself as a starting pitcher caliber.
Chamberlain came up like a lightning bolt for the Yankees. After spending just months in the minor leagues in 2007, striking out 135 hitters in 88.1 innings, he was promoted to the big league team in July and kept his dominance up. In 24 innings, he struck out 34 hitters and allowed just one earned run.
The following season, Chamberlain began the season in the bullpen as the Yankees worked on a plan to convert him into a starter. He eventually made 12 starts and finished the season with a 2.60 ERA. In 2009, he broke spring training as a starter and made 31 starts but struggled to the tune of a 4.75 ERA and was back in the bullpen for the postseason. Over the past three years, he’s worked out of the bullpen, compiling a 4.02 ERA and 44 holds. He’s battled thru Tommy John surgery and a severe ankle injury that threatened to keep him out all of last season.
If traded, the Yankees would have a big hole to fill in their bullpen unless they get another arm in return. While Mariano Rivera and David Robertson fill the closer and set-up man roles respectively, Chamberlain was expected to be the seventh inning man and replace the innings lost when Rafael Soriano departed for the Washington Nationals.