Can New York Yankees’ Chase Whitley Crack Opening Day Roster?
Despite the fact that New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said that his team is done spending this offseason, the incomplete bullpen is hard to ignore. However, as the Yankees sometimes seem to forget, improvement doesn’t always have to happen out-of-house.
There has been chatter of possibly signing 36-year-old free agent right-hander Fernando Rodney, but I would argue that an internal candidate might be a good fit as well. Rodney is on the wrong side of 35, and he would certainly be more expensive than promoting from within – he made $2.5 million last year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Chase Whitley was drafted in the 15th round, 475th overall by the Yankees in 2010. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-3 reliever is a non-roster invitee to Spring Training for the third straight year, and many believe the righty’s chances of making the Opening Day roster are as good as any.
Since 2010, Whitley has bounced around the minors, spending the last two seasons with triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He pitches well against both righties and lefties and only issues three walks per nine innings. He has compiled a 2.66 ERA in his years in the minors along with a 1.145 WHIP across 280 total innings pitched.
Whitley will face some internal competition to win a right-handed reliever spot – the Yankees have signed nine new players to minor-league contracts, including reliever Robert Coello. Coello, 29, appeared in 16 games for the Los Angeles Angels last season and posted a 3.71 ERA.
Another intriguing internal possibility is Mark Montgomery. The 23-year-old righty was selected by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He has posted a stellar 2.22 ERA in three seasons in the Yankees’ minor league system, using primarily a low-90s fastball and a deceptive slider.
There is room for more than one additional arm in the bullpen, but competition is definitely coming out of the woodwork. Whitley does have a year on Montgomery, and that could be a factor in a decision by the Yankees if it comes down to one or the other. It’s shaping up to be a competitive couple of months in Tampa, that’s for sure.