Could Yankees break up dominant bullpen?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees currently sit at 26-30 entering play on Monday, in fourth place in the AL East. The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox have held control of the division for much of the early season, and the Toronto Blue Jays are not far behind the two front runners.

With June now upon us, teams have to begin deciding if they’ll contend, or sell as the trade deadline nears. The Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, are not looking to become sellers just yet. Heyman reports the Yankees’ brass made a collective decision that now is not the time to sell, but it sounds like the Yankees will leave the door open as it gets closer to August 1.

If, over the course of June and mid-July, the Yankees continue to falter in the AL East standings, they very well could sell off their biggest assets. For the Yankees, that is the back end of their bullpen. The Yankees have three valuable pieces: Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. As a group, the three of them form a dominant 7-8-9 group in the final three innings of games. But if the Yankees aren’t in contention, a dominant bullpen won’t mean much come August and September.

There has already been interest in some of the Yankees relievers. Ken Rosenthal reported that the San Francisco Giants are interested in Miller. The Washington Nationals, per MLB.com, have made adding to their bullpen their No. 1 priority. Along those lines, the Nationals are “hoping” either Miller or Chapman is available as August 1 draws closer.

Chapman is set to be a free agent after this season, and the Yankees could look to get something in return for him. Miller’s contract runs through 2018, and is relatively inexpensive in comparison to his level of performance. He’ll make $9 million per year through 2018. Teams looking to acquire Miller could slot him in the back end of their bullpen for the next few years, as compared to Chapman, who at this point as a trade candidate has to be viewed as a rental.

Betances, with just over 2 years of service time, is under team control through 2020. There have certainly been more rumors around Miller and Chapman than Betances, but if the Yankees look to become sellers, teams would likely inquire about all three.

In 28 appearances this year, Betances has a 3.54 ERA, with a WHIP of 1.071, and a FIP of .145. While Betances hasn’t had the opportunity to close, he does have 14 holds on the season. Chapman, once he returned from a suspension, has appeared in 13 games. He has 9 saves, with an ERA of 2.25. As for Miller, he’s appeared in 23 games, with a 1.14 ERA, and 6 saves. He also has 8 holds.

The Yankees’ biggest asset is undeniably their bullpen, and if they decide to sell, the Yankees will certainly be a team to watch around the deadline. Trading their relievers would allow the Yankees to stock their farm system, if they decide to retool this season and look toward 2017.

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