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3 New York Yankees trade targets to strengthen the bullpen

Matt Johnson
New York Yankees
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees sit atop the MLB standings months before the trade deadline, finding themselves in the perfect position to compete for the World Series. While this certainly looks like the best team in baseball, there is room for improvement.

Sitting at No.1 in weekly MLB power rankings, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that New York ranks top five in runs scored, wRC+ and OPS. On the pitching side, the Yankees’ rotation sports the second-lowest ERA and the third-highest FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement this season.

Even the bullpen is excellent, but injuries have demonstrated why reinforcement is necessary. Pitching depth is paramount in the MLB playoffs and it stands out as an area of improvement for this club.

Here are three potential relief pitchers the New York Yankees can target via trade.

David Robertson, Chicago Cubs

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago Cubs
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

One important factor the Yankees must keep in mind his how a player will handle the pressure of joining this ballclub. Success isn’t a guarantee. Sonny Gray and Joey Gallo are two of the latest examples highlighting quality starters who struggled after landing in New York.

That’s not a problem for Robertson. The 37-year-old righty posted a 2.75 ERA across nine seasons with the Yankees, becoming one of the best relievers in baseball. Years later, he has rediscovered himself in Chicago as one of the few bright spots in the Cubs’ bullpen.

Between his status as a half-season rental, his familiarity with Yankee Stadium and his career 3.11 ERA in the playoffs, Robertson checks a lot of boxes. There would be competition for him, but the New York Yankees trade history with the Cubs and their past with Robertson could help influence a deal.

Andrew Chafin, Detroit Tigers

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

New York anticipates late-inning arms Jonathan LoĆ”isiga and Aroldis Chapman to return in the weeks ahead, but there is another issue. As any casual observer of the team knows or even a cursory look at the Yankees’ roster highlights, this team is this on left-handed relievers.

Wandy Peralta (1.66 ERA, .184 BAA) is doing a phenomenal job. He’s the only southpaw in this bullpen who can be trusted. With general manager Brian Cashman seeking reinforcements, Andrew Chafin stands out as a potential target.

Signed to a $13 million contract this winter, Chafin is one of the few players not disappointing in Detroit. Through 20 appearances, he boasts a 3.52 ERA, .252 batting average allowed and a 26.9% strikeout rate. Everything about what he is doing is legitimate, with an impressive 15.2% Swinging Strike rate.

Chafin does hold an opt-out following the 2022 season, thanks to a $6.5 million player option. If he pitched well for the Yankees in October, the constant need for left-handed relievers by contenders would suggest he turns down the option to secure more guaranteed money on another multi-year deal.

David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

David Bednar is the crown jewel of relievers targeted at the 2022 MLB trade deadline. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ closer, boasting a 1.29 ERA and 0.75 WHIP across 28 innings this season. Whether the Yankees deployed him as a closer in 2022 or simply deployed him in high-leverage spots, he would be a huge boost for New York.

  • New York Yankees trade: Ken Waldichk, Trey Sweeney, Antonio Gomez
  • Pittsburgh Pirates trade: David Bednar

The cost of landing him is high. Bednar is under team control through 2026, not even becoming eligible for arbitration until 2024. Theoretically, this is a player the Pirates’ organization might want to keep. years away from contention, though, Bednar could be flipped for talent who can make a greater impact long term.

Related: New York Yankees schedule

Bednar could become one of the best closers in baseball with the help of the Yankees’ coaching staff. Look at what this organization did with Clay Holmes, acquired from the Pirates. Bednar’s 31.7% K-BB rate and 16.9% Swinging Strike rate are elite. If he somehow takes another step forward, the Holmes-Bednar combo will make Chapman a forgotten man when he departs this winter.