The Yankees signed Pedro Feliciano last offseason to be the second lefty to pair with reliever Boone Logan in the bullpen. Unfortunately a shoulder injury kept him off the field and now they are once again looking for that elusive second lefty.
Here is a look at the free agent market for left handed relievers:
- Mike Gonzalez (AGE: 33, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: .539): Gonzalez has struggled in recent years, but not against lefties. He’s probably the most attractive lefty reliever on the market which can be a problem as it will likely take a multi-year offer to land him. The Yankees haven’t had good luck signing big name lefties to multi-year deals in the past. He’ll be 34 next May.
- John Grabow (AGE: 33, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: .640): Grabow hasn’t had a consistent season in years, but is the youngest of the free agent lefties at 33. His K/9 was down to 5.5 last season from a career average of 7.6. His mediocre 4.0 BB/9 last season was right near his career average.
- Damaso Marte (AGE: 37, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: N/A): The Yankees aren’t going to trust that his arm is healthy after it was pretty much dead for the last two years. Thank you for the 2009 playoffs.
- Trevor Miller (AGE: 38, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: .686): Miller will be 39 next May. He had a good year for the Cardinals in 2009, but mostly he is inconsistent. At most he’s a guy that gets offered a non-guaranteed contract.
- Darren Oliver (AGE: 41, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: .550): He is a Type-A and 41-years-old. Besides those two things there is nothing wrong with him. He has just gotten better with age since being turned into a reliever in 2006. He’s not just a LOOGY either. The age does really bother me as he would probably sign a one year deal, it’s the draft picks. The Yankees already have a strong bullpen, he’s not worth the price.
- Arthur Rhodes (AGE: 42, OPSA vs.LHB in 2011: .763): He’s only a Type-B free agent so he won’t cost the Yankees a draft pick. His age isn’t a deal breaker to me, but the Yankees would need to be sure that his medicals are 100 percent perfect so they don’t repeat a Feliciano scenario (Rhodes was never abused the way Feliciano was, 42 is just old).
- J.C. Romero (AGE: 35, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: .470): The Yankees actually had him in their organization for a short period in 2011 and for whatever reason didn’t like him. Probably because he’s not very good. I don’t see him coming back except maybe on a non-guaranteed contract.
- George Sherrill (AGE: 34, OPSA vs. LHB in 2011: .586): Sherrill had a vey decent year for the Braves last year. His ERA was 3.00, his K/9 was an impressive, and his BB/9 of 3.0 was solid enough. If he is reasonable in his contract demands this is certainly one the Yankees could target.
In the end, relievers are a very volatile bunch. It’s hard to say whom the Yankees should go after exactly. They could go, and probably will, go the safe route and not sign anybody for a long-term or big money deal being as they are still paying Feliciano not to pitch. Or they could decide to be more aggressive as that was the lone weakness in the ‘pen last year. We’ll probably know more about this around the Winter Meetings in December.