The guy behind the guy • 11.09.10
Of all the issues the Yankees have this offseason, one of the most important also figures to be one of the simplest: Bringing back Mariano Rivera.
We know it’s going to happen. If there’s, say, a 5 % chance that the Yankees don’t work out a deal with Derek Jeter (if that much) than there’s like a .0001 % chance they don’t get Rivera signed (maybe a two-year deal, though there are rumblings that maybe Rivera just wants to go year-to-year now). In other words, the Yankees have their closer.
But what about their setup guy? Kerry Wood did a nice job after coming over late, but he (understandably) wants to try and close somewhere next year. And as the great MLB Trade Rumors site mentions here, he isn’t be the only one. With a glut of closer hopefuls likely on the market and few actual closing jobs available, it figures that the Yankees might try and add a high-end reliever to work behind Rivera. If you can’t be a closer, I’d say that setup man for the Yankees is about as good a gig as there is.
Would the Yankees bring in someone from outside to pitch ahead of Joba Chamberlain or Dave Robertson? I wouldn’t be surprised. Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Kevin Gregg and another (sort of) intriguing injury reclamation in J.J. Putz, who bombed with the Mets but had 65 strikeouts in 54 innings for the White Sox last year, are some of the possibilities. Depending on how the trade and non-tender markets shape up, someone like Heath Bell or Leo Nunez could be available, too (though the package, especially for Bell, might be pretty steep).
One name I get emailed all the time from people is Scott Downs. Obviously he had a very nice year for Toronto and would give the Yankees another lefty (something we may talk more about later this week), but don’t forget: He’s a Type-A free agent. Giving up draft picks for Mark Teixeira is one thing, but I’m not so sure the Yankees would want to give up picks for a lefty reliever.
Remember, the Yankees got ultimately Wood for two extremely low-level prospects – the deal at the time was actually for cash or a player to be named. The key for bullpen acquisitions is always finding high value for low price since production typically varies so wildly from year to year.