If there was any question before as to who has the best bullpen in baseball, the Yankees just settled the debate by signing All-Star reliever Adam Ottavino to a three-year, $27 Million deal on Thursday. The former Rockie will be an official Yankee as soon as he passes a physical.
Ottavino was a stud in 2018 and received his first career All-Star nod en route to saving six games while posting a 2.43 ERA and striking out 13 batters per nine innings across 77.2 innings of work in 75 games. Even more impressively, he played half his games in a pitcher’s worst nightmare, Coors Field.
Ottavino will now join fireballer Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green in the Yankees already seemingly invincible bullpen. The Yankees have made six deals this offseason, trading for All-Star starter James Paxton, re-signed free agents starting pitcher J.A. Happ and relief pitcher Zach Britton and adding former star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and former National League Batting Champion DJ LeMahieu.
The Yankees will be missing starting shortstop Didi Gregorius for half of the 2019 season after he underwent Tommy John Surgery this offseason. The Yankees needed to sign some infielders to fill in for Gregorious and with those acquisitions, the Yankees offense won’t lose too much pop. As for the pitching rotation, the Yankees’ acquisitions and signings have been a great step in the right direction with the starting pitching getting another ace and the relief core looking better than they have in a long time.
The Yankees finished first in baseball in home runs and came in second in runs batted in behind the Red Sox. On the pitching front, they were seventh in batting average against, tenth in ERA, and second in strikeouts. The Yankees pitching can only get better with this offseason’s acquisitions and signings and will come back with a vengeance after being manhandled by their arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in the American League Division Series.
Ottavino did himself no help in endearing himself to Yankees fans by telling MLB’s Statcast podcast in December that he “would strike out Babe Ruth every time.”
“I had an argument with a coach in Triple-A about Babe Ruth’s effectiveness in today’s game,” Ottavino said. “I said, ‘Babe Ruth, with that swing, swinging that bat, I got him hitting .140 with eight homers.’ … I’m like, ‘I would strike Babe Ruth out every time.’
“I’m not trying to disrespect him, you know, rest in peace, you know, shoutout to Babe Ruth. But it was a different game. I mean, the guy ate hot dogs and drank beer and did whatever he did. It was just a different game.”
If Ottavino struggles as a Yankee, you can bet that Ottavino will go under fire from Yankees, but if he is able to replicate his 2018 season, he may be able to find forgiveness from Yankees fans for disrespecting baseball royalty.
Ottavino will now be yet another strong piece in an already dominant rotation. While Yankees fans are more accustomed to big money being spent on sluggers than pitchers, but this bullpen will do big things for the Yankees and could be one of the core reasons why they could win their 28th ring come October.