The Yankees are in agreement with free-agent right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino on a three-year, $27 million deal. The Athletic’s Robert Murray and Ken Rosenthal were the first to report news of an agreement on Thursday, while Fancred’s Jon Heyman was first with the terms:
Ottavino, 33, was somewhat of a late bloomer, failing to develop as a starter after being selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2006 draft. But after being picked off waivers by the Rockies in April 2012, he developed into a reliable, consistent bullpen option — not the easiest thing to do in the pitcher’s nightmare that is Coors Field. Ottavino, who has a noted fascination with advanced metrics, decided to start pitching higher in the strike zone after examining the data — a decision that helped him to develop a dominant slider. It’s arguable that he was the best reliever in the majors in 2018, as he threw for a 2.43 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP with 12.98 strikeouts and 4.17 walks per nine innings over 77.2 frames.
Ottavino, a Brooklyn native, joins a Yankees bullpen that was already dominant and is now quite clearly the league’s best. He figures to replace David Robertson as a right-hander that will be used in the middle-to-late innings, joining Dellin Betances, Zach Britton, Chad Green, and Jonathan Holder, among others, as part of the group that will bridge the gap to Aroldis Chapman.
Though his age was undoubtedly a factor in his market not being more rich, it appears that Ottavino erred by not signing sooner in the offseason (assuming, of course, that there were offers on the table). He’s getting less than Jeurys Familia (three years, $30 million from the Mets), who has the cachet of being a former World Series closer but is quite obviously a less effective pitcher, and he’ll receive just $2 million more in guaranteed money over the same term than Joe Kelly, who straight-up struggled in 2018 but was able to earn a big contract thanks to his impressive fastball velocity and strong postseason performance. With Ottavino having received an underwhelming deal — and guys like Addison Reed, Greg Holland, Tony Watson, and Matt Albers receiving less than their projected worth after signing late last year — it’ll be interesting to see how much guys like Cody Allen, Craig Kimbrel, and Justin Wilson are hurt by remaining on the market with less than a month to go until spring training begins.