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Bullpen A Focus As We Turn To 2019

Just days away from 2019 and neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado have a home for the upcoming season, but that is no big surprise. The money that the pair of superstars are expected to rake in certainly warrants cautious negotiating on the part of their suitors. In the meantime, hopefuls and contenders are looking for other ways to bolster their respective rosters, and the Yankees are no exception. Yesterday, Jon Heyman reported via Twitter that the Yankees are looking at Adam Ottavino as a possibility for the bullpen, as well as potentially bringing back Zach Britton or David Robertson. Once again, it is no big surprise that the Yankees are expressing interest in the top relief arms on the free agent market. But, their path to landing one of these coveted pitchers could be obstructed by a Red Sox obstacle. With Joe Kelly signing with the Dodgers earlier this month and Craig Kimbrel asking for more than $100 million on a long-term deal, the World Champs might very well be in a shopping mood. If the two teams get into a bidding war over any one of these pitchers, it would make for a great story as we get ever-closer to Spring Training.

Yankees are focusing on pen while they wait on Machado market to play out. Ottavino, Britton and Robertson all in play. Still possible they could sign more than 1, depending on price. Remember, like Red Sox they are currently down two, as both Britton and Robertson were theirs. — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 28, 2018

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Boston has been most linked to Ottavino this offseason, but nothing of substance has surfaced regarding this connection. It comes down to this: the Yankees have their closer in Aroldis Chapman, not to mention Dellin Betances who has “closer stuff.” Meanwhile, the Red Sox have Matt Barnes, with no experience closing games, as their best in-house option. As of right now, the bullpen is the one area where I believe the Yankees have a clear advantage over the Red Sox, and I’m sure they would like to keep it that way. In an offseason where the two big bats on the free agent market have been linked to the Yankees, let’s not forget the importance of relief pitching in the neck-and-neck A.L. East. On that note, it would be interesting to see if the Tampa Bay Rays can continue to close the gap to New York and Boston with their “opener” strategy, or is big money for big arms still the way to go as we embark on Major League Baseball’s 150th season?

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