What To Do With the Bullpen:
Chapman and Loaisiga are going to be back soon, and the MLB has agreed to limiting 13 pitchers maximum on the active roster. Who goes?
The Current Bullpen:
Not counting the 5 starting pitchers that the Yankees have, the Yankees employ just 12 pitching arms on their current roster. For the bullpen, that includes the following players:
Manny Banuelos (LHP)
Miguel Castro (RHP)
Clay Holmes (RHP)
Michael King (RHP)
Lucas Luetge (LHP)
Ron Marinaccio (RHP)
Wandy Peralta (LHP)
Clarke Schmidt (RHP)
As of writing this post, Schmidt was optioned down to Triple-A for Albert Abreu
Per Fangraphs data, the Yankees bullpen over the 2022 has produced to the:
2nd best ERA (2.92) - Houston leads (2.55)
4th best FIP (3.24) - Atlanta leads (2.91)
3rd most fWAR (3.5) - Atlanta leads (4.4)
2nd most Saves (25) - Milwaukee leads (27)
5th most Holds (46) - Chicago (AL) leads (55)
T-10th (with 7 teams) in Blown Saves (10) - Tampa Bay leads (16)
26th in Innings (237.0) - Tampa Bay leads (299.1)
23rd in Strikeouts (236) - Chicago leads (334)
16th best K/9 (8.96) - Atlanta leads (10.42)
When we take a look at it this way, the Yankees bullpen has been extremely good thus far, as seen by their strong overall fWAR. They hold very strong rate-metrics in ERA and FIP, are able to hold down and finish games (from holds, saves, and lack of many blown saves), and don't rely on a single type of approach (as seen by a middle-of-the-pack K/9 rate). It's also been favorable to the bullpen with how the starting pitching has been as they've been given a pretty low workload this season. That is a huge benefit to the Yankees as in years past the bullpen has had to clock many hours of overtime and tend to be well worn by the time the playoffs have come along.
And, with Chapman and Loaisiga returning soon it should only get better.
But, who's going to stay and whose going to go?
Options, Options, Options:
The most important thing for baseball teams in our modern era is not necessarily winning- though it is a nice benefit- but it is control over players. Thus, while it would be easy to point to the two weakest links in the bullpen and say "those guys are going to go", it would not necessarily be the most logical move for the Yankees. Instead, we have to look at who has options left to go back down to the minor leagues.
Of our 8 relievers from above (swapping out Schmidt for Abreu), the following pitchers have MiLB-Options:
We've already seen Marinaccio be moved up-and-down from the major and minor leagues twice this season, and we should be expecting it again soon when Aroldis Chapman comes back from the IL. That's no knock on Marinaccio as he's been good while in the MLB, but he's the lowest man on the totem pole and the Yankees won't lose him when they need to make a pitching spot on the roster.
Wandy Peralta is an option to option down to the minors come the return of Jonathan Loaisiga. Believe it or not, he had one final option remaining on his contract when the Yankees traded for him in 2021, and his lone 3-game MiLB stint was on a rehab assignment so the option is still there. The Yankees may see that they would have 4 lefty relievers between him, Chapman, Luetge, and Banuelos, though, he's also been coming up in high-leverage situations, and has the 3rd best stats in the bullpen. I really can't see him being moved off the team, even temporarily.
Michael King has options, but is not going to be moved. He's been amazing.
So, where does that leave us? We're still going to need a place for Loaisiga.
Should I Stay, or Should I Go?
It's an interesting question. Who is there next to consider moving on from? Luckily, I have four players in mind:
Manny Banuelos (Unknown MTV)
Miguel Castro (-1.2 MTV)
Lucas Luetge (+1.1 MTV)
Albert Abreu (-0.4 MTV)
Manny Banuelos is a feel-good story. He was a part of the "Killer B's" Yankees prospect hype of pitchers back in the early-2010's along with Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances, and found his way back to the Yankees. However, over the past month since he was selected by the Yankees he's been used in only low-leverage situations and has pitched just 8.1 innings. He's a story line right now and should not be preventing the Yankees from bringing back or bringing in better talent. Though, teams could always use a good mop-up reliever guy and Banuelos is doing that job well.
Miguel Castro was gotten from the New York Mets right before the season for Joely Rodriguez. At this point it's been a pretty moot trade as they've each been disappointing with ERA's/ERA+'s at 4.35/89 and 4.76/85 respectively. He's an interesting talent, but he is a prime candidate to be moved- especially as a right-hander- if his numbers and control don't improve quick.
Lucas Luetge seems to be a player on-the-cusp if the Yankees decide to bring in any extra talent at the trade deadline. He's an above-average reliever and a lefty, who had a dominant 2021, and comes with another 3 years of control. Though, he is also 35-years-old. He's not going to be moved away from any time soon, but I could easily see him being added at the trade deadline...hypothetically in a swap with the Chicago Cubs for, let's say...David Robertson? (Please make this happen, Yankees!)
Albert Abreu just rejoined the Yankees team after being traded for Jose Trevino before the season began, returning after being DFA'ed by the Kansas City Royals. Suffice it to say, if the Royals aren't willing to keep you around that is not a positive sign. I believe Abreu will be given a shot to prove his worth before Jonathan Loaisiga comes back in 2 weeks or so. If he doesn't show it, he'll be DFA'ed.
Ethan's Totem Pole of Bullpen Moves:
The way I see it, the Yankees have 4-5 players they can work around in their bullpen. This is my order of who/how/when they could/should be moved:
Ron Marinaccio - Optioned down to Triple-A for Aroldis Chapman
Albert Abreu - DFA'ed to make room for Jonathan Loaisiga
Miguel Castro - DFA'ed to make room for Zack Britton
Lucas Luetge - Traded to make room for David Robertson
Manny Banuelos - Moved for any move
Ron Marinaccio is the easy and obvious first move. The Yankees lose nothing and still have room for and time to evaluate other pitchers on the list before they go on the chopping block.
Albert Abreu is the next lowest player on the totem pole. He has great stuff and potential, but he has yet to show it at the Major League level. Give him 2 weeks to prove it, and if not, let him go.
I'm giving a longer leash to Miguel Castro because up until the last week or so he was doing very well. Britton is not due back until August (at the earliest), so he has plenty of time to prove his worth with the team. If not, he's a good mop-up innings arm in blow-outs for the other team to keep the game from getting out of hand.
I have nothing against Lucas Luetge, but he's the perfect trade option out of the bullpen. He has control, he's a lefty, and he's good. Problem is the Yankees have enough of those players already and could use some truly great arms (David Robertson) to fill out the team with. It's a shame.
Manny Banuelos could be moved whenever the Yankees decide. I have no set timetable for him. I like his story and I think he does the mop-up/multiple innings in a low-leverage spot well. No need to have to waste good arms on games like that.