The Yankees’ bullpen was one of their biggest strengths in 2019. Their core group of relievers (Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green) all returned in 2020. Unfortunately, that group has already taken a hit, as Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. Even without him, the Yankee bullpen is arguably the best in the league. However, Kahnle’s spot will need to be replaced somehow.
More likely than not, the Bombers will look to replace Kahnle from within. Nick Nelson looked great in his major league debut on Saturday, and Jonathan Loaisiga could be asked to step-up as well. But what if Brian Cashman decides he needs to add a reliever? After all, you can never have enough pitching. Here are a couple guys the Yankees’ GM could be inquiring about later this month.
Josh Hader, Brewers
Swinging for the fences right away with this one. Hader is one of the best relievers in baseball, and has dominated since his debut in 2017. A tall, hard-throwing lefty, Hader boasted a 2.62 ERA and 16.4 K/9 in 2019. He wouldn’t just fill Kahnle’s spot, he would instantly become the best reliever in the Yankees’ pen.
Josh Hader is the only pitcher in the expansion era with at least 25 strikeouts in a span of 9 innings pitched.
However, since Hader is so dominant, he would not come cheap. He’s under control for three more seasons past 2020. It would take a large prospect package to acquire him, if the Brewers even made him available. They’re off to a slow start, so maybe if they get the right offer, Milwaukee would trade him. For right now though, it’s probably nothing more than a pipe dream.
Ken Giles, Blue Jays
I know what most of you are probably thinking. Yes, THAT Ken Giles.
Giles was actually great for Toronto in 2019, pitching to a 1.87 ERA and a 14.1 K/9 in 53 appearances. The Yankees were apparently interested in Giles at last year’s trade deadline, however he was battling elbow tendinitis at the time. He’s also currently out with a forearm strain, so we’ll have to see if he’s able to make a return before this year’s deadline.
If Giles is healthy, he actually makes a lot of sense for the Yankees. He’s a free agent at season’s end, and as we saw with J.A. Happ, the Blue Jays have made deadline deals with the Yanks before.
Ian Kennedy, Royals
There could be a potential reunion brewing. Kennedy was a former Yankees’ top prospect and part of the “Big Three” with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. Although that trio never quite panned out, Kennedy has made a nice career for himself. He saw success after transitioning to a relief role last season, posting a 3.41 ERA in 63 appearances. Although he isn’t as dominant as the first two guys I mentioned on here, the Yanks probably wouldn’t have to give up as much for him. Like Giles, Kennedy is a free agent after 2020, so the Royals would likely be willing to move him.
Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks
The Yankees were briefly tied to Bradley at last season’s trade deadline, and it makes sense why. Bradley has a lot of upside, pitching to a 1.73 ERA in 2017 and receiving some MVP votes. He wasn’t as dominant the last two seasons, pitching to mid-3 ERAs, but Bradley is a very effective reliever. Plus, the guy can rake, too.
The Diamondbacks are off to a 3-8 start and Bradley has just one year of control left, so it’s possible they’d be willing to deal him. The deadline is still a few weeks away, so for now, all we can do is wait.