Four relievers are among the 11 Yankee free agents, but the KC Royals should pass on them all.
When the Yankees signed right-handed reliever Dan Otero to a free agent pact last winter, they hoped he could replicate four stellar seasons—two in Oakland and two in Cleveland—that proved how good he can be.
Otero was 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 33 games with the A’s in 2013, then 8-2, 2.28 in a whopping 72 appearances the following season. He declined in 2015, but landed in Cleveland and immediately returned to form with a 5-1, 1.53 effort in 2016, followed by 3-0, 2.85 in 2017. But he declined again, posted ERAs of 5.22 and 4.85 in 2018 and ’19, and found himself looking for a job last winter.
The Yankees, probably relying on those four campaigns and his 22-8 career record, picked him up but he didn’t pitch for them in 2020. Otero can be good, but he’s inconsistent and hasn’t pitched well since 2017. The KC Royals shouldn’t be looking for a reliever who’ll be 36 in February, and their bullpen is already dominated by righties.
Avilan has surrendered too many runs for a reliever the last two seasons (5.06 ERA with the Mets in 2019 and 4.32 last year with the Yanks), has lost about four miles per hour off his fastball in five years, and suffered shoulder inflammation late in 2020.
Abad, who’ll turn 35 next month, broke into the majors in 2010; after pitching for Boston in 2017, he signed with the Phillies but was released in March, then signed a minor league deal with the Mets but was suspended for 80 games later in the year after a positive steroid test, and didn’t pitch in the majors again until 2019. He signed with the Yankees last July and made the club’s Player Pool, but never pitched for the big club. His career 8-29 record is also troubling.
Finally, there’s Tommy Kahnle, a right-hander with 285 major league relief appearances and a 9-9 record in seven seasons. He had Tommy John surgery in August and will miss most, if not all, of 2021; although San Diego just signed Mike Clevinger, who’s in the same Tommy John boat, to a two-year deal, Kahnle isn’t Clevinger and the KC Royals shouldn’t sign him not to pitch.
The Yankee have almost a dozen free agents, some of whom are beyond Kansas City’s financial wherewithal. But James Paxton and Matt Duffy might be affordable help.