The Tuesday Discussion: 2023 Closer?
November 8, 2022
This week we presented the following to our writers:
The Mets just resigned Edwin Diaz. How should the Yankees look to handle to closer position in 2023?
Here are their replies:
Ed Botti - According to the Yankees, they are already ready to win. So, they may look from within and let Loaisiga close and move on from Holmes as the closer.
Or, they may decide that Lou Trevino, after relieving Cole in Game 4 of the ALCS, is now tested and ready to close.
If they admit that they are not in fact a championship team, they may decide to attempt to trade for a closer. Coming off of a bad year, Josh Hader may be available. He did look like himself in the Playoffs.
Daniel Bard in Colorado has had 2 pretty good seasons in a row. I might call them and inquire about his services.
Would it surprise anyone if Billy Bean called up Cashman and worked out a deal for Dany Jimenez and his 3.41 era and 11 saves to the Bronx for Anthony Volpe or Jasson Dominguez?
I hear Jimenez has a great process! As we know, the process is all that counts! He may only have had 11 saves, but he did have 40 procedural successes!
Cary Greene - My short answer is that based on the class of available free-agent relievers being underwhelming, now that Edwin Diaz has signed a record contract for a reliever that was offered by the Mets, I think it would be very prudent for Brian Cashman to walk-the-talk and finally take a look at his “process” for evaluating internal pitching talent and make some wholesale changes to it because the results frankly stink.
I’ll have more on this coming in the days ahead, but suffice it to say that I think if the current Yankees bullpen can come back healthy for 2023, there’s enough in the cupboard to put a unit together with multiple high-leverage options.
Ultimately Clay Holmes would be poised to begin the season as the closer, but over the course of another full season, he may revert more towards his Pittsburgh Pirates form than the flashes he’s shown as a Yankee to date. That’s fine because at worst, he’s an excellent situational-reliever to bring in against tough stretches of right-handed hitters and that’s really what Cashman had in mind when he traded Diego Castillo and Hoy Park for Holmes in advance of the 2021 Deadline. We all know what his ceiling is though so there is hope that, if healthy, he could be a good closer.
There are actually other options. The Yankees could look to Mike King if he can come back healthy and there’s always the chance that Jonathan Loaisiga could do the job as well. Not many teams have internal options like the Yankees do. I say roll with them and focus more on the internal “Process” that Cashman’s been using to identify internal minor league talent (and keep it) which is obviously dreadfully bad.
Lincoln Mitchell - Thanksgiving is around the corner and I just ordered a big turkey because we are having a big family dinner. My mother, who grew up rooting for the Joe DiMaggio era Yankees will be flying in from San Francisco. So, with that in mind, I am going to make a Thanksgiving metaphor. A bullpen is like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. You have to have it otherwise the meal isn’t quite right. Every now and then you get a truly extraordinary cranberry sauce, like the one my sister-in-law makes from scratch every year. If you are fortunate enough to have a Mariano Rivera of cranberry sauce it makes the meal better, but you can have a pretty good Thanksgiving meal with the cranberry sauce from the can. It won’t taste or look as good, but it will provide texture and flavor that enhances the turkey. However, if the turkey is too dry, undercooked or flavorless you can’t have a good Thanksgiving meal. So, that is a long way of saying that the bullpen is the least of my concerns. Good teams and good front offices can put a bullpen together over the course of the season. While I would not be abject to picking up another solid relief arm, my approach to the bullpen would be to get a good and well cooked turkey, I mean some more offense, and some good pies for dessert, I mean another starting pitcher, and then I would worry about the bullpen.
Tim Kabel - I would not sign any big relief pitchers. I might make a move for Rafael Montero of the Astros because, he is a solid pitcher and signing him would weaken the Astros. The Yankees have Michael King possibly returning next year. They will also have Ron Marinaccio back, after losing him to injury at the end of the year. Greg Weissert was named the international league pitcher of the year. Stephen Ridings should be back from his injury. If the Yankees can acquire another diamond in the rough relief pitcher as they have with Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes, they can add that pitcher to the mixture. That might very well be the best way to address the bullpen.
Mike Whiteman - I'm a bit leery of signing any relief pitcher not named Mariano Rivera to a long term deal, so Diaz would not have been an option for me had I been Yankee GM.
What I would consider is a short term deal with a veteran to put in the mix with the internal options (Loaisiga, Holmes, King). I would consider Craig Kimbrel on a one-year deal, David Robertson as well. I would not overspend, and would be content to work through the internal options if need be.
Paul Semendinger - The Yankees seem to do just fine in the relief pitcher department. I would stay away from the over-priced bullpen stopper and just use, judiciously, the excellent pitchers the Yankees already have.
Ethan Semendinger - Great discussion. I've said this before and I'll say it again: The Yankees have no need to spend on relief pitching. It is the one thing that Brian Cashman does very well. He knows who to target and who to convert. He's been very good at this. (Here's my full article on this.)