While discussing upcoming plans with reporters yesterday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman targeted lefty relievers as an area of their roster that he would like to address this offseason. So I figured now would be a good time to discuss their options.
Here is a list of free agent lefty relievers:
- Brian Fuentes (35) – Type-B
- Joe Beimel (34)
- Randy Choate (35) – Type-B
- Scott Downs (35) – Type-A
- Pedro Feliciano (34) – Type B
- Mark Hendrickson (37) – club option
- Ron Mahay (40)
- Will Ohman (32)
- Dennys Reyes (34)
- Arthur Rhodes (41) – Type A
- J.C. Romero (35)
- Bobby Seay (33) – Missed 2010 with shoulder surgery
- Scott Schoeneweis (37)
- Hisanori Takahashi (36)
- Taylor Tankersley (28)
Out of the pitchers on this list Arthur Rhodes had the best ERA+ last year at 175. He is followed by Scott Downs with a 158 ERA+, Brian Fuentes at 147, Joe Beimel at 137, Will Ohman at 133, and Ron Mahay at 122.
Ohman is the biggest strike out guy with a 9.2 K/9 rate. Behind him is Fuentes at 8.8 K/9, Scott Schoeneweis at 8.6 K/9, Hisanori Takahashi at 8.4 K/9, Rhodes at 8.2 K/9, and former Yankee Randy Choate at 8.1 K/9. It should be noted though that Schoeneweis had the highest walk rate with a 6.6 BB/9.
The wildest pitchers on this list are J.C. Romero who had a 7.1 BB/9 rate, Schoeneweis at 6.6 BB/9, Taylor Tankersley at 5.3 BB/9, Dennys Reyes at 5.0 BB/9, and Ohman at 4.9 BB/9.
Downs might be the best pitcher on this list. Not only is he coming off a strong season in 2010, but he’s had a very strong career over the past four years with a 184 ERA+ during that time. The problem is that as a type-A free agent the Yankees would have to give up a draft pick to get him. It’s hard to see the Yankees doing that when they have other options.
The next best is probably Fuentes. He consistently has a high ERA+ and strikeout rate, but he’s almost certain to look for a closer role.
After that it is a bit difficult to say who the Yankees should target. Ohman has had some impressive seasons and a strong strikeout rate, but his walk rate is alarming. Rhodes seems to be getting better with age, but at 41 you have to wonder if his expiration date is coming up.
Joe Beimel is a pitcher I would like to see the Yankees take a look at. He had an ERA+ of 137 and has been more or less consistent over the past few years (His ERA+ over the last three years was 147). His strikeout rate isn’t high, he has just a 4.2 K/9, but he held batters to an impressive .221 batting average last year.
If I had to pick one pitcher on this list to endorse it would probably be Beimel. At 34, he isn’t too old, he has a track record of success, and best of all he won’t cost the Yankees any draft picks. His strikeout rate leaves something to be desired, but his success against lefties makes up for it.
Ohman was considered, but that walk rate scares me. If they did fail to get Beimel he might do though. His career BAA vs. lefties is .208. Even with the huge walk rate his WHIP against lefties is just 1.20. As a strict LOOGY he could work out.
Beimel is my choice, what’s yours?