The Yankees are hosting their annual Holiday Food Drive this morning at the Stadium. Mariano Rivera will be there to collect donations for an hour, then he’s going to speak to the media about his new contract. It’s a two year deal that once again puts the ninth inning in safe hands for the Yankees.
The eighth inning is, as usual, up in the air.
Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson give the Yankees two young internal options, but the bullpen didn’t come together last year until the Yankees added Kerry Wood at the trade deadline, and bringing in a similar veteran this winter could solidify the late innings.
But the options are dwindling by the day.
Chicago took a chunk out of the market yesterday, with the White Sox agreeing to a deal with Jesse Crain, and the Cubs nearing an agreement with Wood. The Yankees are also known to be looking for a lefty, and another of those also came off the board yesterday with Randy Choate’s deal in Florida.
There are still plenty of names out there, including the top reliever on the market, Rafael Soriano. If Soriano gets a ninth-inning job, the market also offers guys like Bobby Jenks, Jon Rauch, Grant Balfour, Octavio Dotel and Chad Qualls, guys who have late-inning experience and — like so many relievers — have seen various degrees of dominance and unreliability in their careers.
Brian Fuentes, Pedro Feliciano and J.C. Romero are still available from the left side.
As the Yankees shift their offseason focus, the free agent market is no longer able to remake their rotation, and most of the top available hitters are primarily designated hitters who don’t fit the Yankees plans. But free agency could still have a significant impact on the bullpen. The ninth inning is in good hands. Might be time to solidify the seventh and eighth.
Associated Press photo of Wood