After posting his worst outing of the season, Aroldis Chapman has left the Yankees in a position where they need to quickly decide if he just had an isolated bad outing, or if it is a symptom of a physical breakdown. Chapman declined his invitation to participate in last week’s All-Star game to rest his left knee which has been confirmed as having tendinitis. It was further disclosed by Yankees manager Aaron Boone in a post-game interview that Chapman has been dealing with tendinitis for about two months. A bad outing mixed with a physical problem can be a red flag, which is why it is rumored by several baseball analysts, including Jon Heyman, that GM Brian Cashman has raised the team’s need for another closer higher up his trade deadline priority list.
The problem with the current roster of available closers is that it is slim pickings. The Mets already moved Jeurys Familia to the A’s. Zach Britton is available according to NJ.com, but Angelos will make Cashman pay a steep price for him if he will trade in his division at all. And the list of suitors for Britton is long and they all have deep pockets and prospects to spare, just like the Yankees. That leaves a collection of decent pitchers on the market that may be fair fits, but not the answer.
Tampa Bay can move Sergio Romo, who is currently closing, for little more than a package of mid-tier prospects. The problem with Romo, however, is that his slash line is nothing to brag about, and the last time he compiled more than 20 saves in a season was 2014. Scouting reports label him as rusty but improving, and right now, it is not likely the Yankees will gamble on how fast he can shake that rust off.
Fernando Rodney, a newly minted U.S. citizen, has plenty of closer experience, and he won’t cost anyone looking to acquire him very much, but at 41-years-old, the worry swirling around him is that he is one bad landing, one muscle tweak, or just one over-thrown pitch away from being done. As a second backup, he is a nice piece to have in the pen, but as the go-to in a pennant race, most feel Rodney is not up to the challenge at this point in his career.
Toronto looks prepared to move Tyler Clippard with Roberto Osuna returning shortly. As a former Yankee, Clippard is Bronx tested, and although he has posted nice numbers, his slash doesn’t represent someone that is a shut-down type closer. The problem with Clippard is he hasn’t been a dependable closer since 2012, and his last stint with the Yankees last season resulted in a 1-5 record with an ERA barely south of five, so reacquiring him would be highly unlikely.
Joakim Soria presents a different issue for Cashman. Soria was once a stud closer, and then he bounced around and struggled. This season, however, he has notched 14 saves on a 2.70 ERA, and while he doesn’t mirror the All-Star he was in the past, he looks sharp according to PitcherList. He looks like a guy that could close or setup effectively. Add in that the White Sox are already out of the race this year, they will move Soria and his $10 million club option for next season just to free up some money. It’s the salary that could keep Cashman away though, so unless the Sox agree to eat some of it, or take a lesser package of prospects, this may not work on paper even if it makes on-field sense.
The final option is to make no trade at all. Chapman could have had just one bad outing, as discussed on the Inquisitr. Aside from Britton, who may be untouchable for the Yankees, no one else on the market looks like a fit aside from Soria who may be too pricey. In addition to that, David Robertson is on the Yankees roster already, and he is a tested closer. From 2014-2016 he saved 110 games for the Yankees. He was the de facto successor to Mariano Rivera. He’s 7-3 with a pair of saves, an ERA of 3.05 and a WHIP of.095 according to Baseball Reference. The answer to their potential needs could be in the clubhouse already.