The Yankees will be adding another elite arm to an already dominant bullpen, giving the club a certain advantage over virtually the entire league.
New York and free-agent right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal on Thursday, SNY.tv's Andy Martino confirmed.
With Ottavino, the Yankees have once again created a "super bullpen," as Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green will join him as late-inning options. The Yankees have also solidified their rotation, trading for James Paxton and re-signing J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia, and fortified their infield by signing Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu.
With about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting, the question is will they make other roster changes in the near future?
Trading Sonny Gray
Of all the offseason to-do's on Yankees GM Brian Cashman's list, trading Gray seemed to be at the forefront. Considering the language Cashman used to let the market know of Gray's availability, it is hard to believe the 29-year-old righty is still on the roster. Chatter has picked up of late, especially since Sabathia has been cleared to workout and participate in baseball activities after undergoing an angioplasty a few weeks ago.
The Yankees have added substantial payroll this offseason, so trading Gray, who is owed $7.5 million this season, will help to keep the club comfortably under the largest luxury tax penalty tier ($246 million) should they need to add additional resources before spring training or midseason. Finally, while the Yankees could have found a spot for Gray considering Sabathia's condition, with Cashman's tone it would have been a tough situation for Gray.
Add starting pitching depth or swingman?
If Gray is eventually removed from the roster, the Yankees might be interested in signing a pitcher that can either be a straight-up starter that can stashed in the minor leagues at a lower cost point or a swingman hurler at the major-league level. This pitcher would be mostly a wild-card type that could step in if one of the starting five has any injury concerns to start the spring.
This might be a great idea if there was someone out there worth signing. Of the available pitchers on the market, the only one that comes to mind that the Yanks might feel comfortable with is Adam Warren. Would they ask Warren back for his third spin in pinstripes, and would he be willing to come back?
Add a utility infielder?
The first question here might be, where would the Yankees put such a player?
As it stands, the Yanks have six infielders, two of whom are first basemen. Since the Yankees signed LeMahieu to be a roving infielder (one that will start more than sit), he would likely see some time at first base. Would the Yankees truly want to keep two first base-only players on the 25-man roster? Doubtful.
In that regard, either Greg Bird or Luke Voit might not be around come Opening Day, potentially opening up a true bench infielder spot for the club. (Remember, the outfield is five men deep.) Again, this would have to be a low-cost option, someone along the lines of Adeiny Hechavarria, whom the Yankees were said to have liked in the role after he was received in a waiver deal in August last season.
The MLB roster is set; depth is within
Not enamored with the options above? The Yankees might not be either, and the good news is the club has internal options to lock down any remaining holes it might endure. The better news is that the choices at the club's disposal are more than sufficient to fill voids compared to those that might be available in free agency, and the upside potential for the internal players is legitimate.
On the starting pitcher/swingman front, the Yanks can trot out the likes of Domingo German (26 years old) and Jonathan Loaisiga (24), both of whom have had shining moments on a major-league mound already. As for the infield, the Yankees could turn to Tyler Wade as an option. Wade received some reps in 2018, but failed to make the most of his time when the opportunity presented itself. Wade is just 24, so there is the chance that the Yankees decide to give him another shot if the outside alternatives are believed to be unattractive.
I presume Gray will be gone over the next few days, likely the 40-man roster move that makes space for Ottavino once that signing becomes official. I do not foresee the Yankees signing a pitcher at this stage, other than for minor-league depth. A utility infielder addition makes more sense considering Wade's issues last season, especially if the Yanks feel as if having Bird and Voit on the roster is defeating in some way. In my view, the Yankees' internal depth is better than the options that they might consider as the final members of the 25-man roster.