Monday, July 12, 2010

Potential Trade Targets - Bullpen

With Chad Tracy now in the system and Garret Atkins on the radar, as well, the Yankees may have solved their bench depth issues for the time being. I don't have a great deal of confidence in either player, but I cannot bash such a low-risk, moderate-reward sort of move.

Though many seem to believe that Vazquez would have been on the move if the Lee debacle had ended more favorably, I'm of the mindset that Hughes would have been moved to the set-up role, strengthening both the rotation and the bullpen. While Hughes has been very good this year, his late-season and postseason value will likely be in relief anyway, considering his innings limit and such. That being said, I cannot help but think that the Yankees will look to improve their bullpen prior to the July 31 trade deadline. In my mind, the team has plenty of internal options worth considering - Sanchez, Nova, Melancon, Ring, and Schmidt, for example - but none have received much of a shot thus far, and the season is past the halfway point. With that in mind, here are a few potential targets, all of which will be either free agents or arbitration-eligible this offseason.

Scott Downs, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Downs has posted very good numbers since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2007 - 212.2 IP, 2.33 ERA, 2.58 K/BB, 1.17 WHIP. Despite being utilized as something of a LOOGY, Downs has demonstrated nearly equal effectiveness against both lefties and righties, which would be a great help to the Yankees bullpen. Additionally, Downs garners a great deal of grounders (56.3% career), keeping the ball in the park.

Jason Frasor, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
While Frasor's numbers aren't terribly encouraging this year (4.86 ERA, 1.68 WHIP), it's worth noting that the hard-throwing righty has dealt with some pretty horrific luck on balls in play - his .379 BABIP is about sixty point higher than expected, and his FIP is 3.61. Frasor keeps the ball on the ground (50% in 2010), racks up strikeouts (9.5 K/9 in 2010, 8.3 K/9 career), and is usually difficult to hit (.236 BAA).

J.J. Putz, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Putz has been nothing short of fantastic this season, essentially replicating his stellar numbers from 2006-2007 - 10.64 K/9, 2.09 FIP, 6.50 K/BB. I'm not quite sure how the White Sox will end up selling, but the recent injury to Peavy is certain to hinder their season and Putz is a valuable trade chip. He and Thornton (who I won't cover due to the White Sox uncertain trade position) may be the most costly bullpen arms on the market.

Chad Qualls, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Qualls is the quintessential buy-low candidate. He's posting an excellent 9.2 K/9, 54.8 GB%, and 3.49 xFIP, and his BABIP is over 120 points higher than expected. For those of you who would take his base 2010 numbers to heart, had a career 3.32 ERA and 1.19 WHIP coming into 2010, never before posting an ERA over 3.76. With the Diamondbacks all but out of contention, they are quite likely to be sellers - and I wouldn't be surprised if Qualls could be had for pennies on the dollar.

Any other relievers you'd like to see the Yankees go after?

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