Could Edward Mujica be the Answer to Mariano Rivera’s Retirement for New York Yankees?
Now that the New York Yankees are in full off-season mode it won’t be long before the free agency courting period begins and the Yankees will have plenty of holes to fill. One of the biggest will be at the back end of the bullpen where Mariano Rivera’s retirement has left a hole the size of Yankee Stadium. Right now, it looks like the Yankees are content going into next season with David Robertson as the closer but have not made anything official just yet. They could also look on the free agent market for a little insurance and there is one reliever on the market that could make a lot of sense, Edward Mujica.
Mujica assumed the closer’s role with the St. Louis Cardinals after injuries forced him into the role. He fared pretty well in that role, notching 37 saves in 65 games with a 2.78 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He doesn’t walk anyone, allowing less than a batter per inning to get on base via the free pass this season and owns a career BB/9 ratio of 1.4. He also keeps the ball in the ballpark with a career 1.2 HR/9 and a 2013 mark of 1.3/9.
The one knock on Mujica might be his strikeout ratio which declined this season from a career-high of 9.3 K/9 in 2010 all the way down to 6.4 K/9 this season despite the league average going up. His stuff is still as good as it ever has been and might even better than it was earlier in his career.
The Yankees might be on the lookout for a little insurance at closer and Mujica could be that guy. It is unlikely the 29-year-old right-hander will be offered a qualifying offer which means the Yankees wouldn’t have to surrender a draft pick to sign him. The one problem would be the price it could take to land him.
Mujica will certainly be looking for a multi-year deal and will almost certainly want a job as closer somewhere. The Yankees can offer both, or at least one and a shot at the other. It might take a three-year, $20 million deal or four-year, $24 million deal to land Mujica depending on how willing teams are to overpay for a potential closer but guaranteed late-inning reliever.
Right now, the Yankees’ late-inning options are pretty solid with Robertson getting a shot at closer and Shawn Kelley becoming the likely late-inning set-up man. However, with a bullpen that will likely also feature youngsters Dellin Betances and Preston Claibrone, the Yankees could use a little insurance and Mujica might be the best insurance policy on the market this off-season.