Just four months removed from missing the playoffs for the second time in the past 20 years, the New York Yankees have filled their dugout with high-priced free agents, but they didn’t attend to their bullpen.
With a less than stunning free agent market for relief pitchers, perhaps they didn’t forget about the bullpen, but instead made the best of what they had. Nevertheless, the Yankees’ biggest uncertainty to begin the season will be the guys trotting in the game to succeed the starters.
The Yankees saw Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Phil Hughes leave the team via free agency; Matt Thornton was the team’s lone free agent acquisition. The Yankees’ bullpen currently includes Thornton, Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, David Robertson and possibly David Phelps. The organization will hope that Dellin Betances earns his way to a roster spot, but there are no guarantees.
This leaves the Yankees with very few options. Robertson is the opening day closer, but he could very well lose the spot early on. With limited options, I believe the Yankees should consider reliever Fernando Rodney.
While with the Tampa Bay Rays, Rodney had a legendary 2012 season with 48 saves and a 0.60 ERA, but then followed his historical performance with mediocrity. The Dominican Republic native posted a 3.38 ERA with just 37 saves in his 2013 contract season. Not awful, but those aren’t stats that warrant him replacing Mariano Rivera. However, with the bullpen’s capability unknown, there is nothing to lose by signing Rodney. The market for him is extremely thin and the 36 year old doesn’t have any basis to demand a long-term contract if the World Series contending Yankees come calling.
Rodney could serve as either a set-up man or simply a contingency plan to Robertson if things go south. The bullpen’s status is in limbo and Rodney would at least fill in as a guy who has proven that he can get MLB batters out.