As long as everyone stays healthy, the Yankees won’t have many immediate bullpen openings available in spring training. But with several key relievers heading toward free agency, opportunities will present themselves soon enough. And the team has invited some interesting young arms to camp.
For these five guys, a big league job is theirs to lose.
Now in his second year after Tommy John surgery, should be fully healthy and ready to play a late-inning role.
Also now in his second year after Tommy John. Started to find a rhythm last last year. No trampolines, please.
Claimed off waivers last spring, had a surprising impact as a groundball specialist. Needs to win a spot all over again.
Back from knee surgery. The greatest ever. Perpetually answering questions about how much longer he can do it.
One of the very best setup men in the game, and the only one of these five who doesn’t become a free agent next winter.
MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENTS
Two guys claimed off waivers and a guy initially signed last winter. I’m really pushing the definition of minor league free agent, but I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at.
Former Rockies reliever was hurt when the Yankees signed him last winter. Assuming he can actually pitch this year, could be a big league option at any moment.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery. Expected to be available mid-season.
Claimed off waivers from the A’s, then passed cleanly through waivers by the Yankees. Had good numbers with Oakland, but was much better against lefties than against righties.
The Yankees actually have a lot of legitimate relief prospects climbing through the system, and a lot of them are on the verge of the big leagues.
Made 20 appearances in Triple-A last season. Largely overshadowed in this group.
Last year’s sixth-round pick out of LSU, he’s already made a handful of High-A appearances and shown impressive strikeout totals. Could move quickly.
Fifth rounder in 2010, he had 72 strikeouts in 52 innings with High-A Tampa last season. Big, powerful arm.
Top relief prospect in the system. Has insane strikeout-to-walk numbers in the minors. Could be a big league option by mid-season.
Never really been a big-name prospect, but a terrific Double-A season has him firmly on the radar.
My friend Patrick over at Pinstripes Plus is high on Pinder. Needs to cut down on the walks, but has good stuff. Should be in Double-A this year.
Had a spot on the 40-man not so long ago, but injuries have slowed the former third rounder. Showed some improvements in the second half last year in Double-A.
Drafted in 2010 and already has 80.1 Triple-A innings. Has consistently pitched two or three innings at a time. Legitimate long relief candidate on the verge.
COULD SEE TIME AT THE POSITION
Seems silly to list every single minor league starter who was invited to camp. Instead, I’ll list the starters who stand out as bullpen options for one reason or another.
Will compete for a spot in the rotation, but could be considered the favorite for the Yankees long relief job out of the pen.
Doens’t have much bullpen experience, but could go there if Phelps wins the last rotation spot.
No one expected Phelps to break camp with the Yankees last spring. Warren could be that guy this year.
Because of the fastball, because he’s on the 40-man and because he’s slated to open this season in Double-A. He’s close enough and throws hard enough that the bullpen could be a tempting shortcut if the need arises.
Drafted just last year and has been a starter. I’m mentioning him largely because of his power fastball and the fact he was drafted out of college, which suggests he could move quickly if moved to the pen.
Associated Press photo