With all of the holes on the New York Yankees’ roster one area that has been overlooked in the early going of the offseason is the role of the left-handed relief specialist. Boone Logan, who has filled the role fairly well for the Yankees for the last four seasons is a free agent and could demand a higher salary than the Yankees are willing to pay which means GM Brian Cashman will have to fill that spot.
There aren’t many options in-house for the Yankees. Cesar Cabral, David Huff and Nik Turley are the only lefties on the 40-man roster at the moment and Turley is a starter and has only one game at Triple-A. There is also Vidal Nuno but the Yankees might need him in rotation.
On the free agent market there is of Logan, of course. There is also J.P. Howell but Howell might command more in free agency than Logan. Eric O’Flaherty is another intriguing option, if he is healthy. There is also old friend Pedro Feliciano but I doubt the Yankees go down that road again. On the back end of the market there is Tim Byrdak but even in an emergency he isn’t an upgrade over Cabral.
The Yankees like Cesar Cabral but I don’t know if he is worthy of stepping in as the primary lefty set-up man. The best option might be for the Yankees to splurge and re-sign Logan or to make a push to sign Howell. Howell, 30, has AL East experience from when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays and saw quite a bit of success when he was moved from the rotation to the bullpen. He spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and posted a 2.03 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 67 games. He held left-handed hitters to a .164/.225/.227 slash line with a 4.00 SO/BB ratio and allowed only one home run in 121 plate appearances.
Howell has held left-handers to a career line of .227/.306/.328 with a 2.24 SO/BB ratio so the evidence is there. The only concern is how much he will command in the open market.
Price will be a motivating factor for the Yankees this offseason. Already Boone Logan has garnered some interest from the Washington Nationals and Howell has had interest from several teams. If the Yankees deem their left-handed reliever a must-have this offseason then they will pay to keep Logan or pay to bring a veteran like Howell in. If not, they might roll the dice with Cabral or Huff and see what they get in return. It is quite possible Huff or Cabral could be the answer but the real question might be are the Yankees willing to take the risk?