With news coming down yesterday that Joba Chamberlain was ticketed for the 15-day disabled list with an elbow issue, I couldn’t help but think the worst. I’m optimistic that he won’t miss extended time and I’m hoping Rafael Soriano will be back when he’s supposed to, but my hopes mean nothing. There’s always the possibility that both guys end up out for an extended period of time. If so, the Yankees will have to dip into their (considerable) resources and make a move for a reliever.
Before exploring any trade, though, I’m sure the Yankees would like to look internally. They could call on Ryan Pope who’s on the 40-man, as is Kanekoa Texeira, but he’s hurt right now. Steve Garrison could be called on to replace Boone Logan, but is that really going to help? Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman are on the 40-man as well, but calling either one of them up to pitch in the bullpen at this point would not be wise. I’d imagine we’d hear George Kontos and Kevin Whelan discussed as possibilities as well. If they want to go outside the organization, pickings may be just as slim.
Going solely on guys who will be free agents next year, there aren’t many worthwhile trade options. I picked out three from the list: Oakland’s Michael Wuertz, Minnesota’s Matt Capps, and San Diego’s Heath Bell.
Wuertz is striking out plenty of batters, as he usually does, though he’s also giving up his fair share of home runs, which is unattractive. His HR/9 sits at 1.02, above his 0.93 career mark. His 2.55 ERA is nice, as are his 3.95 FIP and 3.71 xFIP. He’s also upped his grounders a lot, and sports a 50% GB rate, up from 41% last year and 44.1% for his career. His strand rate, though is at 85.5% (75.2 career) and his BABIP is at .178 (.277 career). It seems like there are some mixed signals coming out of Wuertz, but he’s definitely worth a look at the deadline.
Matt Capps has a “meh” 4.33 ERA and 4.05 FIP, but his xFIP is is 3.73. Strikeouts are down and homers are up for Capps, which is not good, but his walks are way down at 0.67 BB/9 (1.67 career). His groundball rate is down to 33.3% which is also alarming, especially if we transpose him to Yankee Stadium. Lots of flyballs = no bueno in the Bronx.
Heath Bell is having a Heath Bell season, though his strikeouts are down a lot.
Are any of these guys going to be available? I think Wuertz and Capps definitely will be since their teams are already out of it or are on the way to being out of it. They could probably be had for something relatively cheap. Bell I wouldn’t count on, but the Padres are in last in the NL West right now. The Cardinals and Rangers have already checked in on him, and I assume the Yankees will do the same at some point. Does that mean he’ll be available? Not necessarily. If he is, though, I can see the Yankees throwing their hat in the ring. Bell’s cost, though, would likely be higher than your average reliever since he is, well, better than your average reliever.
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