The first impact move that the Yankees made during the offseason was trading Brian McCann to the Houston Astros. They obviously need to add two or three starters since Hal Steinbrenner has said that he expects to have two rotation spots open to begin spring training. This means that it is unknown who will be in the rotation after Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia.
A move that the Yankees should make that involves their bullpen is acquiring an elite closer so that Dellin Betances can go back to being an elite set up man. Betances broke down and was much less effective during the end of last season and it’s possible that that might not happen if he is pitching primarily in the eighth inning instead.
He was outstanding in the first five plus months of the season as he had an ERA of 2.05 and a WHIP of 0.94 before his appearance on September 5, which was his 64th game of the season, but his results were much worse after the 5th of September. After allowing eight earned runs combined from June through the first two games of September, he allowed 10 earned runs in his final nine games of the season.
Betances struggled with his control as he walked eight batters in September, which came after allowing eight walks combined in April, May and June. He was an All-Star for the third season in a row this season after being an elite set up man during the first half of the season while Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were still on the team. The 28-year-old who grew up in New York City had a 3.08 ERA after finishing with a 1.50 ERA while still having a very good WHIP of 1.123 and striking out 126 batters, which was the most in the American League among relief pitchers. Betances primarily throws a nasty 12-6 curveball (85 mph) and a fourseam fastball (98 mph)
As of now, the primary set up men behind Betances are Tyler Clippard, Tommy Layne, Chasen Shreve and Richard Bleier. The veteran Adam Warren could be in the rotation or the bullpen, and other young pitchers who could open the season in the bullpen are Jacob Lindgren, Jonathan Holder, Nick Goody, Ben Heller and Johnny Barbato. There is not much proven major league success beyond Betances, Clippard and Warren if he ends up in the bullpen, which is why the Yankees should sign a veteran closer and another relief pitcher to lengthen the game and add to the depth of the bullpen.
The Yankees are rumored to be interested in signing Chapman, who they traded to the Cubs on July 25 for top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and Warren. Chapman, who regularly throws 100 mph or faster, had a outstanding 2.01 ERA in 31 games (31.1 innings) with 44 strikeouts, eight walks and an outstanding 0.894 WHIP with the Yankees this season before they traded him to the Cubs. During his 28 games with the World Series champion Cubs, the Cuban Missile had a 1.01 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.
He is a proven commodity in the league as he has performed at an elite level in his last five seasons. Chapman was an All-Star with the Reds in every season besides his rookie season and he pitched well enough last season to be an All-Star but didn’t pitch in the first month of the season because of his suspension for domestic abuse. Chapman has recorded between 33 and 38 saves in every season since 2012, his ERA has been at 2.54 or below in all those seasons, he recorded an astounding 122 strikeouts for a reliever in 2012 and his low in that span was 90 strikeouts this past season and his WHIP has been between 0.809 and 1.146 in every season.
Another proven commodity at the closer spot who is currently available is Kenley Jansen. The native of Curacao started in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a 16-year-old catcher and made his debut as a relief pitcher for the Dodgers when he was 22 in 2010. Jansen is coming off of his best season of his career as he was an All-Star for the first time after finishing with a 1.83 ERA in 71 games (68.2 innings) with 47 saves, 104 strikeouts, 11 walks, 35 hits allowed and a remarkable 0.670 WHIP. Jansen also has the ability to be effective in more than one inning, which is a plus if some other relievers aren’t available or are struggling.
Jansen has been the Dodgers closer since the 2012 season and has had an ERA of 2.76 or lower in every season since then. In 2014, he had a 2.76 ERA, which is a good bit higher than his ERA from this season, but he did have 101 strikeouts and 44 saves. The pitches that he throws are a cutter (94 mph), slider (83 mph) and sinker (95 mph), according to Brooks Baseball.
Jansen and Chapman both made their major league debuts in 2010. Jansen turned 29 in September and Chapman will be 29 in February. Chapman’s ERA in his seven seasons in 2.08 and his WHIP is 0.992 and Jansen’s ERA in his seven seasons is 2.20 and his WHIP is 0.893. Their stats are similar and the Yankees couldn’t really go wrong with either one.
An advantage to signing Jansen instead of Chapman would be that he likely would not command as high of a contract as Chapman (he is rumored to want a $100 million contract for five years). Another positive for Jansen is that he doesn’t regularly throw 100 + mph like Chapman does, which means that he will be able to keep his fastball at the mid 90s velocity that his is at longer than Chapman’s velocity will stay over 100.