Monday, December 1, 2014

Yankees turning left in bullpen?

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports via Twitter that the New York Yankees are in “serious pursuit” of prized lefty reliever Andrew Miller which could spell the end of David Robertson’s tenure in the Bronx.

Miller has already received multiple three-year deals this offseason, pushing speculation that a fourth year will ultimately be needed. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, both of whom Miller pitched for in 2014 are interested in bringing back Miller. Robertson on the other hand is looking for a contract in the four-year, $50 million neighborhood as a starting point.

Major League Baseball Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes estimated a four-year, $32 million deal for Miller, but that number figures to rise.

What’s interesting about the pursuit of Miller is not just the length and cost of the deal for a player who might not be considered a closer, but the fact that it will provide the Yankees with three talented southpaws in the bullpen. The Yankees just traded backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for lefty Justin Wilson (controlled through the 2018 season) and used their first pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Jacob Lindgren who is believed to be knocking on the big league door.

Miller and Wilson are able to get right-handers out just as well as lefties, so this is far from a too many LOOGY’s in the pen issue. But it does provide Lindgren with a soft landing spot in the bullpen to do exactly that – simply get lefties out – as he gains experience.

Further, if the Yankees indeed sign Miller and choose to walk away from Robertson, the Bombers would net a compensation pick in the 2015 draft as the right-hander was tagged with a qualifying offer.

How do Miller and Robertson compare over the last three seasons?

Andrew Miller


Generated 12/1/2014.

David Robertson


Generated 12/1/2014.

At first glance, it appears that Robertson has been more consistent, while Miller, who was once a starter, has reinvented himself and truly took off as a reliever in 2014. Miller has seemingly found a way to lower his walks which makes his strikeout rate all the more appealing.

Ultimately, the Yankees could get a reliever every bit as good as Robertson at the moment for far less in total compensation (I'm thinking $10 million less) and also grab another draft pick. The extra draft pick should not be taken lightly as the Yankees have outwardly suggested that they need to concentrate on rebuilding their farm system.

I was all for the Yankees keeping Robertson and combining him with Dellin Betances to form a top duo for the eighth and ninth innings. Looking at the factors here, it wouldn't be a stretch to consider a combination of Miller and Betances every bit as good.

The fact that Miller is a lefty and Betances a righty would provide manager Joe Girardi some leverage in deploying them in the eighth and ninth innings. Girardi would not have to necessarily have a single closer, but could use Miller and Betances based on the situation at hand.

The Yankees could spend less and earn an extra pick in the draft without sacrificing expected performance. We'll soon see how interested they really are in building a lefty dominant bullpen.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.