Kiko Calero had a 1.95 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP through 67 appearances last season. Chad Bradford missed much of the year with injuries, but was healthy for the final month and a half and has only twice in the past 10 years finished with an ERA in the 4.00s. Jose Valverde had a 2.33 ERA last season and led the National League in saves the previous two seasons.
All three are still free agents. So are Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg and D.J. Carrasco. Same with lefties Ron Mahay and Jamie Walker, who were not so long ago multi-year, multi-million-dollar pitchers.
The Yankees seem to have interest in absolutely none of them, and that’s probably a good thing. In the unpredictable world of relief pitchers, every team seems a bit hesitant to dish out big money and long term contracts, and the Yankees have not needed to do either in recent years. They’ve filled a spot here and there, but the Yankees have largely built their bullpen from within. They developed Dave Robertson, did a great job scouting Alfredo Aceves and found success in temporarily converting Triple-A starters to late-inning relievers.
When the Yankees have run into bullpen trouble — Ron Villone’s 5.04 ERA in 2006, Kyle Farnsworth’s 4.80 in 2007, LaTroy Hawkins’ 5.71 in 2008 and Damaso Marte’s 9.45 in 2009 — it’s generally come from players brought in from the outside.
There is occasionally a desire to be proactive rather than patient, but in the bullpen, cheap youth seems to trump expensive experience. That’s been the Yankees model these past few years, and it’s been working.