Previously, we discussed the Yankees’ starting rotation. It is guaranteed to get younger with the departure of CC Sabathia and has a long-term arm in Luis Severino. Time will tell on what becomes of: Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka and Nathan Eovaldi, all of whom have potential expiring contracts by the end of 2017, a timeframe the Yankees will also look to find an ace either via trade or free agency regardless.
Now we look at the final aspect of the team, the bullpen. Perhaps the biggest strength, the Yankees are loaded in the back of the bullpen with a three-headed monster unprecedented in the sport between Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. The trio can last anywhere from no time at all to 3+ years and will certainly contribute to the youth movement one way or another.
Bullpen: Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees’ farm system.
Dellin Betances: He’s 27 and under arbitration through 2019, which makes him an ideal asset to the Yankees, likely more valuable on its own roster than in any trade scenario as a reliever. Betances may never be the closer in New York, but he could close for any team in the majors if called upon. He is likely a cornerstone of the bullpen and not going anywhere.
Andrew Miller – Miller will step aside after perhaps the best season of any reliever in the AL and move into setup duties with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman. That makes him a great lefty reliever and a team player. At 30-years-old and with two dominant seasons under his belt, Miller is signed through 2018 in a deal initially scoffed at by most critics. Instead, he represents a valuable trade piece signed to just $9 million per season and with just three years left on his contract.
Aroldis Chapman – The newest, and perhaps most controversial, addition to the Yankees’ bullpen. Initially, it seemed Chapman’s arrival meant the end of Miller’s tenure in the Bronx but now it seems like another example of Brian Cashman hedging his bets. With a shaky but high upside rotation, Cashman has assembled a bullpen capable of ending the game after the sixth inning every night and is likely to keep it that way unless he’s blown away with an offer. It’s a potential to win now formula with long-term promise by keeping a trade asset to potentially help fix the initial problem in the first place, the rotation. Chapman comes with plenty of question marks unrelated to his numbers.
The first hurdle will be finding out over the next two months how MLB handles the allegations related to Domestic Violence Chapman was involved in over the past half year. A long-term suspension would give the Yankees an extra year of control, whereas no suspension or a short one does very little in the long run. Suspension aside, Chapman is in a walk year and though the Yankees gave up very little to acquire him, it would be surprising if Cashman took him as a gamble on replicating the Royals’ bullpen and then collected a pick on Chapman next winter. With Betances and Miller under mostly controlled salaries, expect Chapman to be a candidate for an extension assuming his off-the-field issues are resolves accordingly. Chapman is just 27, so extending him to say, a four year deal, would not stray from the script for the Yankees.
Rest of bullpen: Take solace in the fact though the Yankees traded for their closer and signed their former closer in free agency, the status quo in the Bronx has been developing its own bullpen, which was the case with its third closer in Betances. With this in mind, it’s unlikely a whole lot of the bullpen over the next 2+ years will come from outside the organization and if it does, it would be almost impossible to predict. That said, Jacob Lindgren, Chasen Shreve, Nick Goody and Nick Rumbelow are likely front-runners for bullpen roles this season with Brad Pinder acting as the long man and Bryan Mitchell the seventh starter. James Pazos and a slew of additional prospects can emerge, but with relievers, they can be on the scene and off the next and vice versa.