The conversations I’ve been having about Dellin Betances are interesting. Apparently, lots of people are convinced that he cannot handle the closer role. I tend to disagree. Still, I see the point that maybe his blown saves were higher than we would have liked in 2016 – 5 blown saves in 17 opportunities. While this year’s free agent market is pretty thin, there are a few Closers that may get the attention of the Yankees.
The obvious one is Aroldis Chapman. Even when the trade was a lone little rumor, the talk was that the Yankees could trade him and then go after him again in the winter. That may still happen, but it will be a bidding war when he’s on the mound for the save in the World Series clincher. There is no question that he has lethal stuff. His 2016 stats - K/9 of 14, a BB/9 of 2.8, a WHIP of .862, and 2 home runs over 58 innings work – paint an amazing picture of his capabilities. Someone is going to lock him in to a long-term deal, probably at 13-15M per season. With the Yankees’ eye on the luxury tax savings of getting under the limit, I don’t see that happening.
Then there is Mark Melancon. Remember him? Yeah, we drafted him back in 2009 and we traded him when he faltered in a deal that brought us Lance Berkman. Remember him? Yeah, I don’t want to either. But Melancon found his groove as the Pirates closer. He led the NL in saves with 51 in 2015 and he’s been converting saves at the rate in the mid-90% range. He played a key role in helping the Nationals make the playoffs and had a good individual postseason. This one is my favorite option, if only because he was one of ours.
The last one the Yankees may consider is Kenley Jansen. He accumulated 189 saves in his 7 years with the Dodgers with a save conversion rate of 88%. In 2016, of the 14 runners he inherited coming into games, only one scored. The thing that makes him appealing is a long track record of success and helping them get to the postseason. The downside on him will be his price tag. I expect him to sign a long-term deal at around $12M per year. At age 29, he will be a catch.
It’s not clear that the Yankees will even go shopping for a closer. They could easily go with Betances and support him with the young players coming up from the farm. If you listen to Brian Cashman, his interest in his young talent is still pretty high. Still, it’s nice to have options.
–Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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