Yanks Add Bullpen Depth in Kelley

Cashman made a nice pick up in Kelley.
Cashman made a nice pick up.

A little more than a week ago, I wrote about the possibility of adding another arm to the bullpen. Considering the loss of Rafael Soriano and the questions surrounding Mariano Rivera‘s return from knee surgery, it seemed logical to bring in another capable warm body. Well, yesterday Brian Cashman made such an addition, but in the trade market rather than free agency as I had suggested.

Shawn Kelley was designated for assignment last week when Seattle signed Kelly Shoppach, so the Mariners essentially were left with two options: lose him in waivers, or get something marginal in a trade. Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik chose latter, sending Kelley to the Yanks in exchange for minor leaguer Abraham Almonte. To make room for Kelley, Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 60-day disabled list (which makes me wonder if it was possible to make the Travis Hafner signing official later so Russ Canzler could be kept. Michael Pineda or Manny Banuelos could have been placed on the 60-day).

Almonte, 24 in June, is a non-prospect. His one redeeming quality is speed; Baseball America rated him the fasted baserunner in the Eastern League (Double-A) in 2012, stealing 30 bases in 35 attempts.

Kelley has undergone Tommy John surgery twice in his career, but was healthy for all of 2012 spending the majority of the season in the big leagues. He posted impressive strikeout numbers (9.14 K/9) and good control (3.05 BB/9) in 44.1 innings. Overall, he posted a 3.25 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and 4.20 xFIP. ZiPS pegs Kelley as a 3.65 ERA pitcher in 2013.

In terms of cost control, Kelley is still 3 full years away from free agency, and will make less than one million this season. He also has one more option year remaining.

The most noticeable drawback is his batted ball stats; batters get the ball airborne just under 54% of the time in his career, and just about 51% last season. This could be troublesome in Yankee Stadium, but then again, odds are he rides the Scranton-New York shuttle most of the season with one more option remaining.

Barring injury, I’d anticipate Kelley beginning the year in Triple-A. Assuming a 7 man bullpen, the obvious members will be Mo, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, and the loser of the 5th starter spot (Ivan Nova/David Phelps). Kelley is an upgrade over Cody Eppley as a Triple-A stash. The two will likely bounce back and forth between Scranton and the Bronx all season depending on the circumstances.

Ultimately, while it’s no big acquisition, it’s a nice low profile move by Cashman. You can never have enough warm bodies for the bullpen in the marathon.

Photo by Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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