New York Yankees

Yankees have an edge in the race to sign Adam Ottavino

Patrick Corbin may not be the only lifelong Yankees fan interested in coming to the Bronx. Adam Ottavino may also fall into that category.

It’s been widely reported that Patrick Corbin’s status as a die-hard Yankees fan might lead him to sign with New York this winter. Evidently he isn’t the only pitcher who might be swayed by that sort of emotional attachment to the franchise.

According to current Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino also grew up as a fan of the Bronx Bombers. That probably won’t lead to him offering Brian Cashman a discount if he wants to sign him, but it could serve to open up negotiations between the former Rockies reliever and the Yankees.

The quest to fortify the starting rotation has garnered most of the headlines this winter, but the Yankees also have serious work to do in the bullpen. Both Zach Britton and David Robertson are free agents who may want contracts worth more money than Cashman is willing to provide. If either high-leverage reliever does depart via free agency, he’ll leave a massive hole in Aaron Boone’s bullpen.

Signing a player like Ottavino could help soften the blow. He certainly enjoyed a great season with the Rockies in 2018. Any team would happily accept a reliever who pitches over 77 innings out of the bullpen with an ERA of 2.43. In all fairness, Ottavino enjoyed a better statistical season than either Britton or Robertson did last year.

That doesn’t mean he’s a great bet to repeat that stat line. Ottavino has been pretty inconsistent through his major league career. As an example, his 2017 ERA was an ugly mark of 5.06. It’s very possible the team that acquires him this offseason will be buying high on a reliever coming off a career-best campaign.

The Yankees will still likely investigate what’s required to bring Ottavino into the fold. His terrific sinker ball would be a terrific asset in Yankee Stadium. Keeping the ball down and in the ballpark is a requirement for late game relievers who want to thrive in pinstripes.

Cashman should be pretty conservative with the contract he’s willing to give Ottavino though. The 32-year-old right hander will almost certainly be looking to cash in with a multi-year contract. Providing those sorts of deals to relievers with limited track records is fraught with danger. The Yankees might be willing to offer Ottavino a lot of money in a short-term contract, but don’t expect them to be willing to offer any more than three years.

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Ottavino is someone who is absolutely on the Yankees’ radar, but they’ll evaluate a number of other bullpen arms this winter. Don’t look for Cashman to break the bank on this lifelong Yankees fan.

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